Tag: tour

Scintillating Skagway, Alaska: a Wilderness Wonderland!

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White Pass railway train

Skagway, Alaska is a remote wilderness wonderland, and frequent port on Alaskan cruise itineraries. Nicknamed “gateway to the Klondike,” Skagway has an illustrious history of people embarking on a risky but exciting adventure with the ambition of getting rich during the Gold Rush. Today it’s a sleepy town that resembles an Old West movie set combined with tourist commercialism in response to the large number of cruise ships that dock here throughout the summer. I visited while on the Alaska itinerary for the Norwegian Bliss. Luckily, the commercialism does not significantly detract from the historical interest of the architecture in town.

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“Downtown” Skagway today

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Skagway in 1898, during the Gold Rush (public domain image)

My highest recommendation for what to do in Skagway after a stroll through town to observe the Old West late 1800s architecture is a ride on the White Pass train. This train ride affords spectacular views of the White Pass Mountains, including remote wilderness, vast forests, waterfalls, wildlife, and glaciers (including during the summer.)

 

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White Pass train engine

Besides the scenic views, it is fascinating to contemplate, as you listen to the whistles and chugging of the train and feel the vibration of its powerful motor, the efforts involved in building this rail track through these steep, imposing mountains. You traverse over massive bridges, through long tunnels, and on the edge of the mountain. (Afraid of heights? Consider yourself warned!)

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Views from the train

There are a variety of train routes you may take in varying lengths, the longest making it’s way up into the Yukon Territory of Canada. You may purchase tickets for the train ride directly from the operator in town, or purchase an excursion or tour that includes the train ride as one of the included attractions, as I did.

 

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Gold panning lesson

Another attraction included on my tour ticket was a gold panning lesson. During this experience, a very animated woman in period costume explained and demonstrated the process of panning for gold. Following the demonstration, I was handed a pan and given a trough out of which to pan for my own gold. Staff make the rounds to help anyone in need of assistance, but I was still confused… when turning in my gold for an appraisal, it was appraised at about $5. (You do get to keep the gold as a souvenir.) Others did better than I did! The experience was very touristy, but I learned a thing or two about the Gold Rush culture and process of panning nonetheless.

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Iditarod racer lecture

The other portion of the tour I participated in included a sled dog lesson and demonstration. This began with a lecture given by an Iditarod racer, who showed and explained her equipment and discussed what the experience of participating in the Iditarod entails and what life is like for both racer and sled dog. Her presentation was, albeit somewhat touristy, engaging and informative. A short video presentation was also given.

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Sled dogs on a dry run in the summer

After the lecture, a sled dog “race” was simulated on dirt (given it was summer) on a dry run. The audience was introduced to the sled dogs on the team, and allowed to pet both the sled dogs and the puppies on site.

The train experience was definitely the highlight of any trip to Skagway, but if you can overlook the touristy veneer of some of the other offerings in the area much can be learned about history and culture in Alaska!

You may view my full video tour (including all of the above listed attractions!) here:

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Brilliant Berlin: City of Contrasts and the Vital Lessons of History

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Checkpoint Charlie

Aboard the Norwegian Breakaway’s Baltic Sea cruise, the first stop (after embarkation point at Copenhagen) is Warnemunde, the gateway to Berlin for cruise ships. However, it’s no small feat to get to Berlin from there – as a 2 hour train ride each way is required. Fortunately, the trip is well worth it! Be prepared for a very long but exciting day if you decide to make the trip!

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Holocaust Memorial with Reichstag in the Background

The Holocaust Memorial is one of the most compelling sites in Berlin. I was fascinated by the positioning of the Holocaust Memorial in relation to the Reichstag building. The official name for the Holocaust Memorial is the “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe,” but this name is controversial given the fact that Jews were not the only population of people sent to concentration camps or the gas chambers. As someone with Polish ancestry I can appreciate the spirit of this controversy and will refer to it as the Holocaust Memorial here. The memorial encompasses 2,711 concrete blocks of varying heights lined up in rows. It is a sombre sight, in many ways resembling a cemetery, but one where the departed are nameless and without individual identity, perhaps a metaphor for the way that those who died in the Holocaust were perceived by their executioners. It is movingly fitting that the Reichstag stands tall in the background – its giant glass dome a metaphor for the new transparency that would be imposed on German leadership for the people. It is the Parliament building, where the general population can advance up through the dome and have an overview of the political proceedings below. Like many landmarks in Berlin, these places and their design serve as reminders never to repeat the mistakes of history.

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Kaiser Wilhelm Church

Another stunning reminder is the ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Church, standing crippled next to its modern reconstruction. It stands testament against the perils and destructive forces of war, at once eerie and beautiful, a deeply moving sight to behold.

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Checkpoint Charlie “soldiers”

Checkpoint Charlie is yet another reminder of the possible consequences of war – of people divided, of people deprived. This was the gateway through the Berlin Wall, passing through which was a dream for many that would never come true. Despite the fact that it is a highly touristy photo opportunity, it is still well worth the visit for its historical significance and the chance to reflect on the lessons of the past.

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Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall is an impressive span of eclectic art, much of it promoting freedom and celebrating human resilience and will. Given that the wall previously represented oppression, this is a fitting message for the former East German area of modern Germany.

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TV Tower

The Fernseheturm, or TV tower is the tallest structure in Germany. It towers over the city of Berlin, in the heart of the former East Germany, like a giant exclamation point amid the capitalist bastion of Alexanderplatz, abound with corporate skyscrapers and an abundance of retail shops. The irony is inspiring!

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Brandenburg Gate

No visit to Berlin is complete without a visit to the Brandenburg Gate, symbol of Berlin. Originally commissioned by Prussian King Frederick William II and completed in 1791, it was here that the ceremony to celebrate the reunification of Germany post-Cold War took place. It aptly represents the span of German history and resilience of the German people.

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Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace, completed in 1713, is the largest palace in Germany. It serves as Berlin’s best answer to the baroque style of architecture so prevalent in many of the historic structures throughout Germany. Here in Berlin, this baroque style fascinatingly stands in such sharp contrast to the brash and minimalist Socialist Classicism architecture of the former East Germany that you can still find in other neighborhoods of Berlin.

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Bebelplatz

Bebelplatz is the site of the State Opera, St. Hedwig’s Cathedral, and university buildings. The greatest draw to Bebelplatz, however, is that it was the location of the Nazi Book Burning in 1933, where approximately 20,000 books were burned by the Nazi Students’ League and Hitler Youth following a speech given by Joseph Goebbels. A memorial of empty bookcases can be viewed beneath a glass panel on the ground.

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Lunch featuring German specialties

Berlin’s a big city to explore, and what better way to refuel your resources mid-visit than a delicious lunch of German specialties? This plate of Sauerkraut, German potatoes, sausage, pork, and tasty meat patty can really give you the energy boost you need to embark on such an adventure!

Berlin is a fascinating city of contrast and the vital lessons of history. You can view my tour here:

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Breakaway to the Baltic: Norwegian Breakaway Cruise through the Baltic Sea

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Norwegian Breakaway: Canvas for Artist Peter Max

The Norwegian Breakaway can hold a capacity of 3,963 passengers (double occupancy), 1,657 crew members, and launched in 2013. It is one of the larger ships on the NCL fleet. I sailed on the Breakaway through the Baltic Sea in May-June, featuring the destinations of Copenhagen, Denmark (embarkation port); Berlin, Germany; Tallinn, Estonia, St. Petersburg, Russia (overnight stop); Helsinki, Finland; and Stockholm, Sweden.

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Trendy Studio Cabin on the Breakaway

I booked a studio cabin for the trip, which, as you can see from the photo, was somewhat cramped but comprehensive, classy cabin. With the studio cabin category, NCL inspires solo travelers to feel like VIPs, through locked door access to the studio cabin hallways (think: velvet rope), a studio lounge with a specialty coffee machine and other amenities, and a dedicated solo travelers’ concierge that arranges meet ups like group dinners, entertainment, and activities for those craving some companionship for others in the same “boat…” Being an introvert myself and someone who tends to stay very busy during a cruise I opted out of these gatherings, but was pleased to see that such an effort was being made to accommodate solo travelers paying a premium to book passage alone.

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Ice Bar, Norwegian Breakaway

The Breakaway has spent much time sailing out of New York City, and this association with New York is heavily apparent in the decor of the ship. One example would be the Ice Bar (photo above,) which features images of the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and Empire State Building. I found this to be an oddity, since I tend to associate the concept of an “ice bar” with Scandinavia, not New York. The Spice H20 outdoor lounge features images of a Rockaway Beach in Queens. Artist Peter Max’s signature Statue of Liberty image proudly graces the front of the ship, and more. Perhaps a reader will “get it” and leave a comment, but I couldn’t grasp the motivation behind featuring New York so profoundly in the ship’s decor. If you are from New York taking a vacation on a cruise ship, isn’t New York probably the last thing you want to look at? Or wouldn’t you want to “breakaway” from the Big Apple?

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Lido Deck, Norwegian Breakaway

The Lido Deck is expansive and features a water park boasting enormous water slides! Also available are a rock climbing wall, basketball court, ropes course, mini golf, and more. Due to lower Spring temperatures in the Baltic, the Lido was not heavily trafficked on this particular itinerary.

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Bliss Nightclub, Norwegian Breakaway

The Breakaway is almost daunting in its sheer size, but once you get your bearings there are many options for dining and entertainment. Aboard you will find multiple theaters, nightclubs, and restaurants (both complimentary and specialty.) The Breakaway has some of the finest entertainment I have experienced on a cruise ship, including a Cirque du Soleil show, wine tasting musical, and ballroom dancing show all of which I found to be outstanding – a quality comparable to Las Vegas shows. Be prepared to pay extra for some of the shows.

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Le Bistro, a Specialty Dining Venue on Norwegian Breakaway

Public areas of the ship are extremely clean, luxurious, inviting, and well-maintained. Typical of Norwegian’s style, the decor is modern and trendy. The ship is kept in immaculate condition – I found no signs of wear-and-tear or rust.

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Lobby Chandelier Spanning Three Floors, Norwegian Breakaway

The Breakaway Baltic Cruise features a 9-day itinerary, which I found to be far more satisfying than the typical 7-day itinerary. At this time of the year, the Baltic area is experiencing the “White Nights” effect, where it only gets dark for a couple of hours out of each 24 hour day (in the winter, the effect is the opposite, with limited time of sunlight.)

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White Nights: Moon in a Bright Sky at 3:00am

I highly recommend the Norwegian Breakaway, whether you choose to embark on the Baltic Itinerary in the Summer or a Winter itinerary closer to home! You can view a full tour here!:

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Freeport, Bahamas Chill and Thrill!

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Adventure by ATV!

The (regrettably) last stop on our back-to-back cruise on the Pride was Freeport, Bahamas. With little to do at port other than visit a handful of overpriced shops, an adventure was in order instead! This combination thrilling ATV ride, chill-out botanical gardens visit, and brief, beer-enhanced beach break fit the bill perfectly!

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Sights and sounds to delight in

Claude Monet would have relished in the views of the gardens here. Many of the scenes I witnessed resembled the splash of the impressionist brush and would have been the perfect template for the next great Impressionist painting.

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Claude Monet would have approved

The botanical gardens provided a breathtaking array of not only plant life but wildlife. I enjoyed seeing more wildlife on this tour than most of the so-called “wildlife” tours I’ve signed up for in the past, and it was a very pleasant surprise! With my feathery friend and tour guide, I was basking in the beauty of the exotic plants, trees, and flowers as my ears delighted in the sounds of waterfalls, fountains, and singing birds.

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Getting back to your roots

Lush and lively were the botanical gardens, satisfying so many senses with the sights, sounds, and smells. It was a joy to explore, looking forward to what surprises could be found around every corner.

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The scent of these African flowers was intoxicating

I quickly realized why so many in the animal kingdom chose to call this place home. Deterred by a time limit on my tour from getting lost in the labyrinth, I contemplated how found it could feel to spend the day getting lost in there, surrounded by this natural wonderland.

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A bounty of beautiful birds

After frolicking in this fantastic natural wonder, it was time to explore the natural beauty of the Bahamas on four wheels! The ATVs were ready and waiting! I had never tried driving an ATV before, so admittedly I was apprehensive. But it was easy and I had a blast! The tour guides provided a sandbox opportunity to get used to the ATVs before we headed out onto bumpy ground, and I was completely comfortable after this tutorial.

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I went with the Army green!

We traversed bumpy dirt jungle roads on the way to the beach, my ATV navigating huge tree roots and rocks with the utmost conviction. Fending off whiplash, I reveled in the back road excitement and “backdoor” views. GoPro on my chest, I contemplated whether to edit the bouncy footage out of my video and decided that the rugged nature of the experience was paramount in conveying what the experience was like to my viewers. You can view the video below!

The beach break was the last stop, but with the beach swarmed with schoolchildren and cold, local brews beckoning at the bar, I settled on a beer break instead!

You can view my experiences of the day here!:

 

Stay tuned next for my series on Europe including the Baltic Sea cruise on Norwegian Breakaway and independent travel in Germany! Thanks for reading and hope you will join me again next time!

Carnival Pride Tour and Review!

Welcome to installment 2 in my Carnival Pride back-to-back cruise series! The Carnival Pride sails out of Baltimore, Maryland. My itinerary included Bermuda the first week, and Bahamas and Turks & Caicos the second week. I previously posted on the back-to-back cruise experience, which you may read here: Back to Back Cruise Experience.

The Pride is a comparatively small cruise ship, and some cosmetic wear and tear is apparent in the form of rust spots and nicks and bumps on the trim and decor. This will bother different people to different extents. Personally this is something that I am bothered by, but it’s superficial, and I still managed to have a great time on the cruise. Customer service and meals were very good, and the entertainment was hit-or-miss. The shows didn’t have a huge production value and elaborate special effects that I have seen on some other ships, but the performers were talented. The Bermuda leg of the trip was cold and rainy – especially when the ship was in the vicinity of Baltimore. April is still quite chilly in Baltimore, so spring is not an ideal time for a sailing out of this port.

The cabin was larger than any other interior cabin I have ever been housed in on a cruise ship, and unlike with the other Carnival cruises I have taken, I actually had a refrigerator in my cabin this time. I was very satisfied with the roominess! I would say the cabins are probably the best asset of the Pride. If a roomy cabin is a high priority for you, this may be a good ship to look into.

The Lido deck was unusual in that there are really 2 neighboring Lido decks: one with a sunroof, that is closed off from the elements, and a second one that is wide open. I have never sailed on a ship with this arrangement before. People generally crowded onto the covered deck when it was chilly or rainy, and the other deck when things warmed up closer to the port destinations.

The Atrium was also unusual. It wasn’t vast and expansive the way I have experienced on other ships. It was a very tall shaft. Decor seemed to be inspired by the renaissance in most areas, and a kind of mermaid theme on the deck and buffet areas. As I have become accustomed to on Carnival, the decor was somewhat tacky in some areas, but there were other areas of the ship that appeared to be more recently remodeled to retreat to.

Meals were usually good. I enjoyed most of the meals I was served in the main dining room.  Guy’s Burger Joint and Blue Iguana were always great. The pizza was also fairly good. I can’t rave about the buffet, however. The drinks at the bars were very well prepared. I particularly enjoyed the atmosphere and drinks at Alchemy Bar and Red Frog Pub.

The Serenity deck was large, and included many clamshell loungers and even hammocks. Unfortunately, whenever it wasn’t raining it was absolutely packed! I couldn’t get near the hammocks or clamshell loungers even once over the course of the 2 weeks. (I wanted to go out there in between the 2 cruises when there were only a few other customers on the ship, but it was pouring rain!) This was a big disappointment.

There was definitely room for improvement on the Pride, but a Pride cruise is a fun experience nonetheless. If you’re sailing out of Baltimore, be sure to pack some long sleeves unless it’s summer! Shawls and sweatshirts were the hottest sellers in the shops when I sailed because most of us (myself included!) were not prepared for the weather!

Come back next Monday for the next installment in the series – the first stop: Bermuda! In the meantime, here is my video tour of the Pride on YouTube!:

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Spring in Charleston, South Carolina – and the Horse Drawn Carriage Controversy?

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Charleston, South Carolina is quaint, calm, colorful, clean, and a snapshot into the past, so a horse-drawn carriage seemed the perfect way to experience it. I was informed by my tour guide that a local resident has stirred up a “controversy” involving the horse-drawn carriages in the city, which are operated by several different companies. She asserted that the objections she was making about the life of the horses was a guise for her disapproval of having to share the road with the (slower) carriages. But we “pulled over” frequently to let cars pass, and the tour guide was eager to describe the ways in which her company was making a better life for the horses.

The tour guide explained that their horses are purchased from Amish auctions, where they are rescued from the potential of being bought by others which, in some cases, could result in their cruel treatment and even death. Not all countries regulate the humane treatment of animals, and the auctions generate attention from international buyers. Her happiness in describing the regular “vacations” the horses take, and far, far lighter workload than they had become accustomed to on the farms was very apparent. Horses are rotated on the tours and given plenty of rest, water, and food in between tours, and given regular days off out at pasture.

My tour guide’s explanations were compelling. I looked further into the complaints through a local newspaper, The Post and Courier. An article written by Gregory Yee indicates that the protesters are apparently complaining about five main issues. (Yee, Gregory. “Charleston’s carriage tour companies, animal advocates hold opposing events amid controversy over horse conditions,” The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C., 2017: (https://www.postandcourier.com/news/charleston-s-carriage-tour-companies-animal-advocates-hold-opposing-events/article_e0421270-7a0b-11e7-852f-cb7ebfa7e48f.html).

The first issue is the way the carriages can stall traffic. But given that tourism is the top industry in the city, and the carriages have become a major part of it, I find it amazing a local would want to jeopardize a big part of the economic prosperity of their city to avoid a little traffic congestion. The second issue has to do with a horse “throwing” a tour guide off a carriage. But my response is that this is to be expected. Tour guides understand and accept this risk. Horses are intelligent animals, and can be stubborn and exercise a “mind of their own” from time to time. Anyone who has spent any time at all riding horses is probably aware of this. The third issue has to do with someone in a T-Rex costume spooking one of the horses. Again – my take is that this is normal and expected for a horse to get spooked from time to time – and has nothing to do with the carriage companies being “inhumane” to the horses in any way. The next complaint had to do with a horse tripping and falling – an accident that I would argue could easily happen to any horse at any time, anywhere. It’s an accident that can happen to even the most pampered horse – just as well as it can happen to even the most pampered human. The last complaint mentioned was that the horses are out in the heat. Yee quotes Broderick Christoff, Owner of Charleston Carriage Works as saying: “We never had a heat-related incident,” and that the horses’ temperatures are taken regularly, including after every tour. (Yee, Gregory. “Charleston’s carriage tour companies, animal advocates hold opposing events amid controversy over horse conditions,” The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C., 2017: (https://www.postandcourier.com/news/charleston-s-carriage-tour-companies-animal-advocates-hold-opposing-events/article_e0421270-7a0b-11e7-852f-cb7ebfa7e48f.html).

After the tour guide discussed the way her company cares for the horses, it was time for some history. As someone who has visited Savannah, Georgia several times I found it interesting the way she described why Savannah has more Colonial architecture, while Charleston more Victorian architecture: due to fire damage Charleston suffered during the Civil War. The architecture is breathtaking, most notably on “Rainbow Row” where a plethora of pastel delights the eyes – both on the buildings and meticulously maintained gardens they hold. Quaint streets are dotted with the Palmetto palm trees the state is famous for, their leaves rustling in the gentle breeze. Inviting cobblestone alleys lure you to linger and get lost among the fine old buildings and luxurious gardens bursting with life and color.

Of course, no trip to Charleston (or anywhere!) is complete without a place to rest and a good meal after a long day of sightseeing. Hyman’s Seafood is a Charleston institution, established in 1890. The walls are covered with signed celebrity photos – customers of Hyman’s through the years, and tables sport placards with the names of who (famous) dined at your seat. It’s very impressive to see how many celebrities have been drawn to this place. I opted for the fried clams and collard greens, and local beer. The dinner provided a very satisfying and delectable finish to a very satisfying day! I wandered through their country store after my meal and could not resist picking up their “To think like a fish you need to drink like a fish” t-shirt, a fine souvenir of my visit here!

I stayed at the Spring Hill Suites – Riverview. They have a shuttle which will run you into the historic district in the evenings and on weekends. I enjoyed a balcony, mini-kitchen, work space, ample room, and a very comfortable bed. The options at the free breakfast had been reduced since my previous visit and I wished the shuttle ran all day on weekdays, but other than that I had no complaints.

Charleston, along with Savannah, is a great stopover for people heading from the mid-Atlantic and northeast down to Florida, as I have often done on my way to the cruise ports. I will certainly want to return again and again! My YouTube video on Charleston is now live:

 

 

Source: Yee, Gregory. “Charleston’s carriage tour companies, animal advocates hold opposing events amid controversy over horse conditions,” The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C., 2017: https://www.postandcourier.com/news/charleston-s-carriage-tour-companies-animal-advocates-hold-opposing-events/article_e0421270-7a0b-11e7-852f-cb7ebfa7e48f.html.

Boston: Revisiting the Past in the Present

 

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Marcel Proust wrote that the “real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” When you return to your hometown after an extended time, you return with a new perspective – one that is shaped both by nostalgia and expectations based on your current frame of reference. Memories are like the Peanuts character Linus’ security blanket – it is comforting to return to find things the way you left them, like time stopped and preserved home the way it remained steadfast in your memory while you were away. Of course, it is more likely that things have changed… Some changes will be welcomed, others may shock and dismay. It can leave you feeling emotional and even conflicted the way a visit to another destination can’t. But all in all, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience revisiting your past in the present. I am able to have that experience when I return to my hometown of Boston.

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Like my memory of Boston, Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market (shown above) are an example of Boston institutions and historic landmarks that seem to have evaded the passage of time. Surrounded by towering skyscrapers, time has stopped here as sure as the time on the clock tower of the Customs House nearby ticks on. In Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, vendors and stores bustle with activity – selling souvenirs, gourmet delicacies, and all kinds of wares while waves of crowds juggle shopping bags of delights. Street musicians and performers display their skills outside while the bars prepare for a rowdy night of feasting, feting, and fanfare in this nightlife-loving college town. It is a place teeming with energy and anticipation for a fun night ahead, just the way I remember it.

One of my favorite aspects of Boston’s landscape is the way that architecture from many different periods of time coexist in dazzling harmony. Above are the Old State House and the new State House, both surrounded by much newer structures, and emphasizing the timeless quality of Boston – grounded in history but modernistic and avant-garde at the same time. Boston is a rich patchwork of the old and the new.

At first glance, Copley Square looked a lot like I remember, surrounded by the old and new John Hancock buildings, Trinity Church, Copley Plaza, the Boston Public Library, and Old South Church. But appearances can be deceiving. I attempted to enter Trinity Church, which had always welcomed visitors through their doors: parishioner and public alike, just as I had done for so many years many years ago. But upon entering I discovered that a partition had been installed to direct visitors through the gift shop to a ticket station where purchase of a $7 ticket was required for admission ($5 student and senior discount). It reminded me of a theme park ride that corrals people through the gift shop on their way in or out – so commercial, and so out-of-place in the setting of a building which had been an inviting sanctuary to so many for so many years. As a matter of principle, and having had the opportunity to gaze at the richly decorated interior in the past, I refused to pay as a matter of principle and left. It wasn’t the place I remembered, and perhaps never would be again. But at least I was still able to behold the magnificence of its exterior design, which had not been tampered with in such a distressing way (yet, anyway!)

The tour trolleys which allow you to hop on and hop off where you wish are a convenient way to explore the city. They take you to divergent neighborhoods such as Charlestown, which houses the oldest commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy and heroic vessel in the Revolutionary War, the U.S.S. Constitution, and Cambridge, home to M.I.T. and Harvard, as well as stopping at the sites that are more centrally located in town. The buses come by the stops every 15 minutes to whisk you off to the next point of interest, allowing you to see as much as possible over the course of the day. Given how much there is to see and do in Boston, this kind of efficiency is welcome!

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It was Moon Festival time in Chinatown, and I captured some amazing footage a short walk from my Theater District hotel which is posted in my latest YouTube video.

Dragon-costumed performers and groups of musicians were proceeding business to business spreading good fortune amidst waves of colorful flags decorated with Chinese calligraphy. It is always a boon to arrive in a neighborhood at just the right time to catch a special event that you just wouldn’t get to see every day. It was pouring rain, but getting drenched was a small price to pay for being able to join in on the celebration.

After an exhausting day of sightseeing I stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Downtown in the Theater District, which I was thrilled to be able to experience as a historic building that has been beautifully restored and renewed. Not every historic hotel in town has been so lucky… and I was pleased to have been able to support the preservation approach by giving them my business. I am sure to return here again and again. The decor respected the integrity of the historic building, while still providing modern touches that, brilliantly selected, did not seem out of place. The lobby maintains beautiful old woodwork, providing a grand entrance to this historic building – and historic city. The whole Theater District neighborhood has been revitalized in a major way since my last visit as well – one of those changes I am also happy to witness during this hometown return. So while I wasn’t pleased with all of the changes, and it was bittersweet to see a building here or there gone that I remembered from my childhood, Boston was definitely a place I could fall in love with all over again.

Boston from ship

Sailing in the harbor provides the perfect conclusion to witness this impressive skyline all at once. I look forward to what Boston has in store for me the next time I return!

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