Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A trip to the US East Coast

a couple of years ago we did the 'east coast' thang. A trip I thoroughly enjoyed. We visited Washington DC and did the whirlwind Smithsonian tour; went to Arlington Cemetery (I was particularly desirous of visiting JFK's memorial) and saw the monument to Iwo Jima. I have to admit it was much much bigger than I expected based on the photos I'd seen. We went to the Lincoln Memorial at sunset, Jeffersons whatever it is by the lake and I was amazed at the sheer size of the George Washington needle. I also read some of the names on the Vietnam wall near the Mall. (I wondered if an American Manderson was there; there isn't though there are plenty of American Mandersons). Along the way we enjoyed gentler stuff; a wonderful Italian restaurant in Georgetown and a visit to Mt Vernon. I really enjoyed the Washington Metro system; there's something really cool about arriving at an airport and taking the suburban train to ones hotel rather than hiring a car or calling a cab.

After Washington DC we drove to Philadelphia. Having enjoyed this movie[^] I was particularly interested in seeing that city. I wasn't disappointed. Alas, the Liberty Bell was off limits but we did wander through the oldest continuously populated (by Europeans) street in North America. Tiny tiny houses.

Thence to New York. There we dispensed with the car. There may be good reasons to have a car in that neck of the woods but if you're a tourist visiting Manhattan I can't think of one. I did have the pleasure of dropping the car off so I can claim to have driven in Manhattan; all the way from just east of Times Square on 47th street to just west of Times Square on 49th street; it's maybe half a kilometre (and it's only that far because those streets are one way so one has to overshoot and double back)! Our hotel was 20 metres from Times Square. Naturally we did Central Park including Strawberry Fields and the Dakota Building; it meant rather more to we olds than it did to the kids but that's the nature of life. And we went to Ellis Island; how could I, a new immigrant, not go there? Also Liberty. Alas she was closed so I had to content myself with walking around her feet. (I couldn't do that Woody Allen joke). We also enjoyed 'The Producers' in a small theatre on 42nd street. And, naturally, we did the New York subway thing. Not half as scary as portrayed in the movies.

We went to Coney Island and, on a more sober note, we went to Ground Zero. This was nearly two years after September 11th and the site cleanup was just about complete. It was interesting to note two buildings on the edge; one was an old brick building possibly 80 years old; the other was a rather more modern glass and steel tower - maybe 30 years old. The older building was barely marked; the newer building was still being repaired. What can I say about Ground Zero that hasn't been hashed and rehashed a thousand times? We've all seen the photos before and after; it's not possible to be there with any knowledge of the site and not feel the absence of the towers.

From there we went to Newtown, Rhode Island. I took the opportunity to order Scrod for dinner. Both the kids looked at me with disgust. Well I had not much more idea of what Scrod was than they did but I was willing to give it a go - heck it was the most interesting sounding dish on the menu. Turned out to be boiled cod and it was very tasty. Didn't change their opinion; methinks the word itself is what they object to. I imagine if it were renamed Super Fat Free Energy Food they'd order it in the blink of an eye !

After Rhode Island we wound our way up the east coast toward Boston. I have the privilege, as the foreigner in this family, of claiming that of all the people in my family I'm the only one who has driven through Boston. Uh huh, I was driving .

I'll write about Plymouth Rock and other places soon - that story's too good to waste here .

When we arrived in Boston we checked into our hotel and I dropped the rental car off. When I got back to the hotel we were all hungry. Across the road (Commonwealth Avenue if I remember rightly) was a grill and bar. I suggested we dine there. They agreed. So off we went. Once seated we discovered it was billed as a Korean Grille. I'd never tried Korean so my reaction was 'wacko - this'll be good'. One could see that the kids thought otherwise. But they tried. Andrew never did reconcile the idea of black potatoes with his expectations. I thought they were delicious!

We did the freedom trail though I didn't find the location of the Great Molasses Tragedy of 1919 ( Later research (after leaving Boston) leads me to believe I walked down at least one street affected by it.

That, as it happens, wasn't my first visit to Boston (I visited Boston on a company trip in 1996) so I was the local expert. It was good to play the role of experienced traveller to the family and be their guide through Faneuil Hall let alone the subway system.

I thoroughly enjoyed the trip though I don't want to even think about how much it cost.

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