Saturday, July 16, 2011

Boston (Chinese) Tea Party

We left Cape Cod on Wednesday and headed for Normandy Farms Campground Resort in Foxborough (or Foxboro, its spelled both ways around here), Massachusetts so that we would be close to a train line that would carry us into Boston. But when we got here, we found out that it would be easier and cheaper to take the subway into Boston, but we had to drive further to get to a station. While we were digesting this piece of news, we were escorted to site 1005, yes that's right, there are over a thousand campsites here at Normandy Farms, ranging from the full hookup sites for big rigs, where we are staying, to small patches of lawn where you can set up your tent. There is every kind of campsite in between and I think every brand of trailer and tent is represented here. These Easterners are really into this camping thing and their sites are decorated with lights, flags, screen rooms and hammocks, dog houses for the dog, bikes, scooters, and halloween decorations. Yes, it is October here in Normandy Farms this week and the trick or treaters came around the very night that we arrived. We were given a sign to put in our window to let the little goblins know that we were Not Prepared. So no one came to our door, but they were out in force and the haunted house which was a converted trailer and the haunted cemetary were both open for business. Everyone has a fire in their firepit here in the evening and during the day there are sports programs, three swimming pools, and a clubhouse that is crawling with children. But we are in the quiet old fogie section and for the most part we don't see or hear anyone else. We have since been to Boston twice; the first time to get the lay of the land and figure out the subway system and the second time to hit the used bookstores. On our first subway visit in Quincy Adams Station, (see top left photo) we were able to purchase a charley card for $15 each which allows us to use the card as often as we want for 7 days. When we popped up from the subway, we were in the Boston Commons which was a good place to start looking around. As we walked along we could see that many old buildings were still standing amidst the taller new ones. (See Left photo) From the Commons we headed over to Quincy Marketplace (above right photo) where we had some lunch. Inside Quincy Marketplace it is lined with food stalls of every kind of food from just about every country. When we finally made our choices we had a hard time finding a place to sit and eat as the place was packed with both tourists and locals all trying to eat during the lunch hour. . .We then walked up to the North End, which used to be called Little Italy. And I can see why they would call it that, as every shop was an Italian Deli, or Italian Grocery, or an Italian Restaurant. If we had known what lay ahead of us, it would have made a much better option for our lunch. . . . . . . .Today when we headed into Boston, it was a Saturday and the traffic was lighter, thank heavens as it is usually bumper to bumper, and the subway was not as populated either. This time we stayed close to Washington Avenue where we visited the Commonwealth Book Shop (right photo) where Allan found a copy of Hakluyt's Voyages, a collection of eyewitness accounts of famous voyages in the age of discovery. I found seven books, mostly from the travel section which is one of my favorite sections of a bookstore. Among other titles, I got What Am I Doing Here by Bruce Chatwin (the author of Songlines), Corsican Excursion by Charles Elwell with Illustrations by Edward Lear, which I confess was the main reason I wanted the book, his drawings are so beautiful. I also thought I might like Barbarian In The Garden by Zbigniew Herbert, translated from the Polish in 1985, which is a series of essays about his travels in Italy. And Four Others. I could have easily picked up more, but Allan had heroically volunteered to carry any books we found in the daypack and I did not want to completely weigh him down. Anyway we moved on to the Brattle Book Shop (see photo to the left) a few streets away where they had numbers of books on tables outside for $5, $3, or $1 Dollar. Oh my goodness, I needed a wheelbarrow, but tried to hold back with only six additional books whereas Allan selected only two. He got The Life Of Leopold Bloom by Peter Costello who tries to reconstruct Bloom's life from the clues he finds in James Joyce's Ulysses. And he also purchased another navigation book by a Master Mariner named Captain Alfred J. Green, who tells stories of the voyages on his sailing ship. My greatest finds this time were Rose Macaulay's Pleasure Of Ruins, the complete classic unabridged text of her travels to Thebes, Corinth, Pompeii, and Angkor-Wat.... also I got an autographed copy of Holt's Sixty Years As A Publisher which is a series of essays on topics that originally appeared in periodicals around 1923. . . . and then I had to get ABC ET CETERA, which is the Life & Times of the Roman Alphabet, a book about word roots which is a topic that I got very interested in when I was a biology major in college. . . . . plus 3 more books that peaked my interest. Luckily, the guy at Brattle Books saw that our backpack was already heavy so he gave us a Brattle Bag to carry our new books. From here we headed over to Chinatown to see what was there and get some lunch. There were a few streets with Asian restaurants but it was no competition for the Chinatown in San Francisco which has stalls and shops, and plucked smoked ducks hanging in shop windows. But we did find the Great Taste Bakery and Restaurant, a pretty authentic place to eat, if the fact that we were the only caucasions amidst the remainder of the asian patrons who were all speaking Chinese, as were all of the waitstaff is any indication of authenticity. We had to point to the selections that we wanted and even though they had names that I thought I recognized, what showed up on the table was not quite that. I wanted potstickers, so I ordered fried pork dumplings, and what I got was 3 objects that looked like very large hush puppies. They had been deep fried and the outer layer was sweet bread like stuff with pork meat inside. They were good, but high in carbs and low in protein. I was lucky I got what I did I guess as some of the other options that could have arrived on my table were Chicken Feet with Chinese Medicine or Jelly Fish with Duck Web. After that narrow escape, we headed to the nearest subway station for home, Allan loaded down with books and me carrying the Chinese TakeOut Bag, maps, and camera.

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