Boston… day 3 (part 2): Fenway Park Round 2

After a day out on the boat and food at Cheers, it was time to get my jersey out again ready for another Blue Jays game at Fenway.  Off to see Bob, the friendly Usher.  We sat down near where the pitchers were warming up.  I had a hot dog from outside the stadium wrapped up which was much nicer than the stadium hot dog the day before.

The game began with a rain delay before the rain arrived.  The diamond was covered with tarp and Bob advised us to have a plan for when the rain came – to either find a seat higher up under cover or go under and brave the concourse.  It came with a vengeance and we were off to higher ground.  Some people stayed and embraced the rain, soaked to the skin in seconds.  Those people had beer.  The rain delay put the game start back by an hour.  They cleared the tarp, ankle deep in water in some place as it ran off.  

The game began!  I was filled with excitement, missing the claps and the chants of our fans.   I got terribly excited when someone led the “Tulo” clapping.  I got right down by the pitchers warming up up close.  We were right behind Baustista who was being heckled throughout the game.

I got ice cream and we had our photos taken with Wally, The Green Monster who is the team mascot.  The ice cream at Fenway comes with a selection of sprinkles – this pleased me greatly.  It was the nice chocolate sprinkes, the soft ones.

It was another great baseball evening.  We did have a few “words” when my friend wanted to go back to the hotel, but I knew I would regret leaving.  We stayed until the end, which of course went in to extra innings and finished around 1am.  16 innings and we lost!  We had a picture with Bob at the end after a long evening.  I think Bob even had a little snooze towards the end there! 

It made me so motivated, I want to rent a car and travel america seeing all the baseball stadiums!  An adventure for another year. 


Boston… day 3 (part 1):  Whale Watching and Cheers

Up early-ish after the Fenway Park excitment and off to the harbour area to go whale watching.  I cant help but keep comparing to Vancouver in June.  Vancouver Whale Watching were much better, more friendly and just a better experience boat and staff wise, but Boston Harbour Cruises had an excellent whale count – though I suppose there would be more in Vancouver now as well.  The whales were just fantastic.  It was totally worth it.  They were all around us and going right up to some smaller boats – baby whales and their mums.  They were playing with each other, jumping out of the water, diving down so their tails flipped up out of the water and all sorts.  Loved it!  Very difficult to get any good photos but it was amazing to see.

After a few hours at sea, we took a very hot walk in the blistering heat to a little place where everyone supposedly knows your name.  We made it to Cheers and got a table upstairs in the set bar.  Of course the song wasnt playing on repeat in the in the bar the whole time, but it was playing on repeat in the foyer as you go in. Two gift shops in the one place.  The food, although just standard pub food, was actually very good!  I only had potato skins, but the portion was big and they were really good.  It was very busy in waves as the hop on hop off tour buses seemed to stop outside and deliver large amounts of people.  The service was great until the waitress seemed to have a passive aggressive tantrum that we didnt tip the 18-20% the bill suggested!

Back to the hotel to freshen up before Fenway Park round 2!

Boston… day 2: Fenway Park 

I was so excited about going to Fenway Park.  I put on my Blue Jays Jersey and headed for the stadium amidst a sea of Red Sox fans.  There were actually a surprising amount of Jays fans dotted around though.  The stadium was crazy once I got inside, much like Rogers.  There were fairground style entertainments with people throwing balls for prizes etc.  I grabbed two Mikes Hard Lemonades and headed for my seat.  I had come in the wrong door and the friendly Usher, Bob, sent me to the other side of the stadium.  

My seat was soooo good, totally worth it in a field box with in seat food and drink service.  I was right by the Jays dugout behind the cameras on the third baseline.  There were no Ushers around, so I did get to seat hop a bit in the first and second rows.  I was sat beside where the Jays were lined up in the dugout at one point.  The Usher in me was inwardly freaking out at the seat hopping, all the stuff on top of the dugout and people not having to wait at the top of the steps until a break in play to go back to their seats (all things you cant do at the Rogers Centre!).

I saw the Green Monster – a huge green wall that borders one side of the stadium.  The wall stops many hits that would be home runs if it wasnt there. 

I loved Fenway Park.  I loved the atmosphere and everything about the stadium itself.  I did not love the food prices or the unfulfilling “frank”.  The crowd sang Take me out to the Ball Game in the 7th inning, and Sweet Caroline in the 8th.  The jumbotrons were a bit confusing as there were three screens instead of one like at Rogers, so I wasnt always sure where to look.  The seats were definitely more spacious.  Someone proposed on the big screen, a man stood up and yelled “peanuts” and the crowd cheered as a peanut seller pitched them to the guy from a few sections away, a lady had a moth land on her hand and everyone cheered.  The little amusing things that happen always make me smile.

The Jays won which was nice.  It was strange having the majority of people clapping and cheering against the Jays.   At the end of game though, I was pleased to leave in the winning team Jersey.

Boston… day 2 (part 1): Harvard

Today we set off to Harvard, via Starbucks for breakfast.  We have found everyone in Boston to continue the helpful trend, really chatty and just nice people, but not in an annoying know it all way like Canadians (sorry ;)) can be sometimes. 

We found a free one hour tour at the information office and set off in a group of around 40 people.  The tour guide was a student at Harvard and full of fun facts.  I didnt realise that you could study other stuff, I thought it was just law.  I am now full of fun facts about Harvard… it costs $65,000 a year to go (though the guy said there are loads of grants and help with this) and only 5% of applicants offered get a place, Mark Zukerburg and Bill Gates are Harvard drop outs.

No films are actually filmed at Harvard.  In 1970, a film snubbed Harvard students by hiring extras to walk around in fancy clothes because the students wear normal clothes and it didnt fit with their idea of Harvard.  Harvard put a blanket ban on filming and no films have used the campus since.

There is a chap called John Harvard (English) who donated a huge collection of books and money to the University when he died, and they changed its name to Harvard.  Students were not allowed to take these books from the library, however, one night a student did.  He accidentally left a candle burning when he left the library and burnt it to the ground.  He confessed and gave back the one remaining book – The Christian Warfare against the Devil World and  Flesh – before being expelled.  Years later, they wanted to do a statue of Mr Harvard.  As all pictures of him had burned in the fire, they didnt know what he looked like.  The tour guide said that one speculation of who the statue is actually of is a chap called Leonard Hoar or a descendant of his.  He was an early president who did not have a campus house named after him as they didnt want to name it Hoar House.  Whoever he is, his feet are gold and it is supposed to make you clever if you rub his feet. 

One of the Presidents that did get a house named after him was President Massachusetts.  This house had its own interesting story…. the US Army rented the campus many years ago (1775) and the troops staying there took the door knobs and similar furnishings to make ammunition.  Harvard sued the Government and won.  

The last building that particularly fascinated me was the library.  I was disappointed that we were not allowed in though.  The library is huge, but also extends four storeys underground and a vast distance under the gardens.  This is because they needed to expand but the donator of the money to build it stipulated that no exterior modifications could be made, or the building would become the property of the state.  The lady who donated the money for the library did so in memory of her son who died in the Titanic when bringing a big collection of books back from Europe to Harvard.  He was in a life boat with his family (because they were rich) and he went back to try and save his favourite books, never to be seen again.

We walked a lot more, around the shops, Harvard grounds and some more and the area. We found an old athletic stadium that looked closed off at first, but we found an open gate and went and sat inside.  It was gorgeous in the sun.

Back to the hotel with my feet and ankle very unhappy with me.  An hour to shower and get ready for the Jays game!

Boston… day 1

Adventuring again.  This time, fleeing the country in search of excitment in Boston.  Three of us were supposed to go, but unfortunately Erin was in hospital in the night after heat stroke.  Stephania and I set off as a twosome.  First time flying with Porter – you cant check in online if you have an English passport, waited for over an hour while only two members of staff checked people in, just made it to the plane and sat next to a grumpy woman.  Probably wont fly Porter again.  What a ridiculous system.  

Within an hour of arriving in Boston, it was clear to us that it was a great city to be in, the people are so friendly (nothing like those terrible New Yorkers I encountered in 2015).  We keenly listened for that Boston accent we all hear on TV, knudging each other as we heard twangs.  I think the accent is not a true stereotype as not everyone has it! 

We checked in to the hotel (that Erins Dad had treated us to – Hilton, lovely!) and headed for a stroll on Newbury Street where the shops are.  On the way, Erin said she felt better and was in a car on the way to Boston.  It was to be an 8-9 hour journey.  Alas, she made it half way before stopping and feeling ill.  It was a lovely idea!

The shops were nice to explore and we just walked and walked until a little park.  The buildings in Boston are a lovely mixture of nice old ones and shiny new ones in the back drop.  

Lots more walking and looking in shops and then we walked in the direction of Fenway Park.  There were people everywhere throughout our day in the Red Sox gear, with New York Yankees dotted around.  

The atmosphere around Fenway Park was lovely.  Lots of people, all so happy, music inside luring people in, bars all along the street next to the ball park playing music, with people eating, food smells – oh the food smells, the hot dog vendor food looked fantastic!  We walked around soaking it in and stopped for food and a pint at the Cast n Flagon pub.  

I got some deep fried Twinkies.  Not what I was expecting, not a taste sensation but not terrible.  Very strange.  Perhaps better if hungrier.

Aching feet, full tummy and time to plan our tomorrow.

The Week

Last week after a couple of days out, I kept the rental car for the week.  It was so nice to have some freedom in Toronto.  I went to the beach with a friend, then just spent the afternoon at hers with her and the kids.  I went out to a little lavender farm near Hamilton.  It was really pretty and smelt amazing as soon as I got out of the car.  I spent an evening at a friends house eating pizza, chatting and teaching her how to knit (we all seem to be at it right now).  It really hit me on the way home how much I will miss her and how I just wish I could take some people with me.  It has been nice just hanging out at friends houses, I havent been able to do this much here without a car, and I have never had an apartment fit for entertaining.  

I used the car to go to Kingston on Thursday with a pal.  We went to get Butter Tarts from Bettys Butter Tarts in Coburg on the way as they were recommended.  They were amazing butter tarts!  Soooo good.  I liked mine so much I wore some in my hair and down my top all day.  I dropped my friend at her appointment and pottered around Kingston.  I had a pint in the sun at a pub I have been to a few times before, I chatted to a Cornish man I met at the Farmers Market I explorer, browsed the shops, had some food and a milkshake and headed back to the city.   

I dropped the car back on Friday morning and went for a walk with a friend.  It was so hot and humid, we ended up shopping for wool and needles and sitting in the knitting shop cafe for a few hours relaxing.  Pub grub and home.  I slept for a crazy 16 hours! 

Balls Falls Conservation Area

Another day out on Monday and I went to Balls Falls with a friend.  The weather was just right, not too humid but not cold.  I went to the falls in the winter but it was snowy so we didnt make it to the waterfall. We walked up to the top waterfall and then down to the bottom of it.  There were little frogs everywhere on the ground hopping around.  It was so nice to, again, be out of the city and in the countryside.  There are two waterfalls so we also had a look at the lower falls which reminded me of Devils Punch Bowl.  

We didnt realise before we went that there were old barns to look at with the carts to be pulled by horses, a cute little vegetable garden and all sorts of other interesting bits and pieces.  We ran around like children exploring.  There was a tree trunk that showed what happened in the life time of the tree and at what ring.  So, for example, it had about halfway on there that the Titanic sank.  

The gardens near the start were so pretty with lots of different bright flowers and butterflies and bees.  We sat by a pond and had a picnic.  There were so many bullfrogs in the pond loudly, well I dont know, ribbiting? at us.  It was just so peaceful and idyllic.

After our nature time, we browsed the outlet mall.  We were so proud our ourselves for not buying our dream handbags that we found!  It was a definite excuse to stop at Burlington for dinner (pie) in the Queens Head English pub – the only “English pub” I have been to over here that I would count as an English pub.

Last stop… Michaels craft shop… an easy place to waste time and money creating dreams of craft projects that would take ten years to complete them all!  I left feeling full from the pie, inspired and motivated by the craft supplies, excited by the fabulous photos I took and relaxed after a happy day out.  I am still thinking about that handbag though. 

Elora Quarry, Cheltenham Badlands, RAM Rodeo

Me and a friend decided to potter off in search of some nice scenery and an overnight trip.  We went to Elora Quarry about 90 minutes North West.  The Quarry was so pretty with a tiny beach and not many people to share the space with.  The water was pleasant to swim in – although once it got deeper you couldnt see through the water, so you always think about whats under the surface!  It was lovely being in the sun, and it felt like we were hours away on holiday rather than being so close to the city.   We assumed that there would be bbqs to use like the parks in Toronto, so we took burgers and coal.  There were not.  We had to wait hours until someone brought one and we asked to use it!  Delicious, so worth the wait.  Photos cannot do this little hot spot justice.

We checked in to our hotel in Kitchener which was not quite how the pictures represented it.  It was clean, we think! The beds were comfy and we both slept well.  

The evenings entertainment was the RAM Rodeo in Woolwich.  It was full of a really random selection of people in stetsons and cow boy boots.  Id love some cow boy boots, but they would be completely ridiculous back strolling around village in England. Can you imagine?! It was entertaining with bareback riding, polebending, barrel  racing and bull riding.  A photographer didnt get out of the way when a bull swerved and didnt leave the ring… he was trampled and thrown around before being carted off in an ambulance.  That was all a bit crazy.  He had broken some ribs and his sternum.  

The next day, we visited St Jacobs Farmers Market.  It was crazy busy compared to when I went with Dad in April.  More stalls, no cattle auction, so so many people.  We had a nice potter around – ice creams and I got some new wool to knit with.  The alpacca wool is lovely, so so soft!

Our next stop was Cheltenham Badlands.  A conservation area in Caledon.  It is currently closed off for restoration and a man there told us this was largely due to damage being caused by groups of teenagers drinking there.  There was a nice hole in the fence for us to take photos without the fence being in the way.  I read that the hills were once a riverbed that was exposed in the 1930s due to farming practices that caused soil erosion exposing the river bed shale below.  

We found a cute little village called Belfountain for food and more ice creams and then headed back towards Toronto.  We stopped near the airport on the way back under the flight path to do a spot of plane spotting!  Surprisingly entertaining – some people in the same car park had deck chairs for the occasion !

My friend had evening plans, so I dropped her back and went home for dinner.  Still in the out and about mood, I picked up another friend nearby and went to Scarborough Bluffs for a couple of hours to watch the sunset – we had a perfect night with a full moon.

The Maritimes… days 7&8… Bay of Fundy, Burntcoat Head, Maritime Museum

My final two days in Halifax were nice and relaxing.  Well, the whole trip was really!  I was up early for a longish drive to the Burntcoat Head Park, Bay of Fundy.  In 1975, the Guiness Book of Records listed this as the site of the greatest average tide in the world.  I have not suddenly become a tide geek, but it looked pretty, so off I went.  I wanted to be there to see both sides of the tide, so I was there for the tide to be around 0m at about 10am.  I walked around an island, took some pretty pictures in the sunshine and went to get some lunch.  I found a pub that had my favourite cider and my favourite food – breaded/ battered mushrooms! I got two portions and ordered a sandwich to go for later when I realised that mushrooms were not lunch. 

There was a lighthouse near here where I went to take some pictures.  Obviously, I couldnt just stick to the path and had to drive off a side road to explore. I got the car stuck on a dirt track with a really high bit in the middle under the car.  Luckily, on hearing the cars distress when its wheels spun, two lads appeared from nowhere and responded to my loud “whoops” as I got out by helping to rescue the car and send me on my way!

I was back at Burntcoat to see the tide coming in around the island and meeting itself at 1230 and then lay in the sun with an ice cream and book until high tide (approx 13.5m) at 330ish.  It was nice to see it through.

A lovely day in the sunshine.

The next day was my final day in Halifax.  I pottered down to walk along the waters edge and see the last things before leaving.  I went to the farmers market, and to the Maritime Museum.  The museum was on my list because I wanted to see the Titanic exhibit.  It was good and there was a talking parrot there that I found highly entertaining.  The Titanic exhibit was actually smaller than the one in St Johns and not as good or interactive.  It was good that it had more original bits from the shop though.   I wanted to visit the graveyard where the bodies where buried, but the traffic was mayhem and I just got stuck in circles not able to see where the entrance was to visit.  

I popped to the mall and had a look around and then off to the airport.