Roma, il mio amore – two cheap days in Rome

DSC_0356 copyRome is saturated with history. Around every corner is some testimony to architectural capability in varying states of decay. You would never be able to see everything in one weekend, and nor did I particularly want to. In the July heat I would rather pick and choose a few sites to enjoy than slog through basilica after basilica.

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I flew into Ciampino airport on Saturday night. This is the smaller of Rome’s two airports, and the one commonly used by budget airlines. From the airport, a very comfortable shuttle bus will take you directly to the central station for only €5.
I stayed in the Hostel des Artists. This is a cheap, clean, and comfortable hostel offering 3-bed rooms. The staff were very welcoming and happy to suggest places to eat.

I slept a restless night in the heat but forced myself bleary – eyed from my bed at 6.45 am. It was the first Sunday of the month and that meant entry to the Colosseum was free. It also meant the queues would be extreme. My roommate warned me the night before that on an ordinary day I had to be ready to queue. The beauty of the hostel is that much of central Rome is in walking distance and since this was set to be a budget weekend I decided not to opt for public transport. If you’re happy to spend time soaking up the sun and the atmosphere like me, take comfy shoes – none of the beautiful wedge heels the Roman women clip clop around in.

The early morning air is slightly cooler and fresher than the day-time heat and the half – hour walk to the Colosseum is a lovely way to see some of the city. I reached it by 7.50, 40 minutes before opening time, and already the queue was long. By the time it opened, people were disappearing around its flanks. The Colosseum is quite a sight, though I found it more impressive from the outside than in.
It’s hard for me to start a day without coffee so by the time I found myself outside again, I knew I would need to go in search. I recently spent time in Thessaloniki, where I got used to paying €1 for (admittedly not fantastic) coffee. So there was no way I was paying €4.50 for a cappuccino. I had almost given up my hunt when I found Eat Italy, a small cafe around the corner from my hostel. A good cappuccino cost only  €1.30 and it offers a range of vegan and gluten- and lactose- free goodies.
In the afternoon I headed to the Trevi fountain, getting lost on the way. This became something of a recurring theme of my weekend. The fountain is definitely worth a visit. In crowded, stuffy Rome it is like a oasis. In the square I found one of the many counters full of stunning pizzas. Take your pick and they will cut as much as you want, charging by weight. I opted for artichoke heart and prosciutto. It was rich, savory, and earthy and divine

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After lunch I headed to the Parco della Borghese. It was a relief to relax in the shade of the green leaves and I lay for a long while on a bench. Finally I headed back to the hostel, buying food for dinner from the corner shop. I collapsed, exhausted into bed that night and was so greatful for the fan whir lulling me to sleep.

Day two, I allowed myself a much needed lie in, then packed and checked out. The hostel requires checkout by 10 am but there is space for luggage storage if you are not leaving the city for a while.

Over coffee I thought about visiting the catacombs or the Vatican but both were beyond walking distance. Instead I headed for a picnic in the park. On the way I went into the Bacillica Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri. The park around the Borghese villa is huge and meandering and I got more lost here than in the city. I wanted to made my way slowly toward the gallery of modern art on the northern side of the park. On a Monday the park seemed so empty compared to the day before and as I made my way past other galleries and attractions I became increasingly aware of this lack of people. I finally arrived at the gallery to have my suspicions confirmed: closed on Mondays. Still, the walk was nice and the building is impressive even from the outside.

Mid-afternoon seemed to require ice cream. There are some stunning gelaterias around the city and a few with queues out of the door. I headed for one of these smaller ones but even this had a formidable array, especially for someone as indecisive and I am. At €5 it was not cheap but damn it was worth it.

I meandered back through the Roman forum, the ruins shining in the afternoon sun. That night I would be flying so I soaked up what I could of the city. In Café U. Giuliana, near the hostel I had wine and spaghetti Bolognese. What was meant to be a fancy send off – my celebratory meal – was admittedly rather average. The waiter was cool and seemed to prefer not to deal with English speakers and the food was something I could have made at home. But this would not sour my mood.

I took the shuttle bus to Ciampino airport, where I had planned to spend the night before my 6.45 am flight. Unfortunately, the airport closes at midnight. Therefore, the most expensive part of my holiday was the getting a taxi to the nearby Hotel Villa Guilia (€25 taxi, €38 for a single room, €15 shuttle from the hotel back to the airport). Still, the room was comfortable and the staff were very helpful, and happy to organise a lift to the airport at 5 am.

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And thus I was gone as quickly as I arrived.

 

Tanzania with Raleigh International

Over the autumn of last year I went to Tanzania for three months with the charity Raleigh International. This is a taster of life out there. If you have any questions about what we got up to, the work we did, or the ICS programme, leave me a comment!

Healthy travel tips

In September I’m travelling to Tanzania for three months with the charity Raleigh International for a placement. I’m excited and scared. This won’t be a holiday. We undertake pre-departure training and training in country. Independent travel is not allowed and the projects we work on will be constantly under review. To add to the challenge, we will each live with a host family and an in-country volunteer but without other UK volunteers, meaning hosts may not speak much English. My Swahili still needs work… To top it off, our access to electricity and running water will be limited and to phones and wifi to call home: non-existent.

Staying healthy is such an important part of happy travelling. Obvious injections and hygiene are the first part but the internet is a boon of fab tips for new travellers. Here are a few of my finds…
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26 tips to help you survive a long haul flight

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How to stay in shape while travelling

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How to keep fit while you travel

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 15 Home made Travel Snacks

Finally, Raleigh is an amazing charity. As part of our training, we are all asked to raise money. This does not fund the trip. Instead, it ensures the valuable work of Raleigh can continue. To find out more about this amazing charity or the ICS programme, Click Here.

If you can donate, please consider doing so here: JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Athens: one week in the crisis

 

I’ve been putting off writing about this for a long time for fear that I could not do justice to the experience. However I finally think I may have digested enough. Politics seems to be taking the front pages of the newspapers – here in the UK at least – so the refugee crisis has taken a backseat in the public mind for the time being. This doesn’t change the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are displaced.

Near the beginning of this year I got the chance to join a group of students at my university in travelling to Athens to volunteer. The group was brought together by  a student at my university who lived in Athens and had spent Christmas volunteering in Lesvos. She had seen firsthand the people suffering and wanted to do what she could. People often ask whether I traveled with an NGO but the truth is, the situation is not that organised. Most of the work I saw is grass-roots, self-organised with little overarching organisation for an area.

We left home about 2.30am on a cold, misty night. We slept a four hour journey down to the airport and a two hour flight. We wondered zombie-like through the airport and metro and finally found ourselves in the blaring sun in central Athens. After dumping our bags at our AirBnB, we went out for a meal, fueled by the buzz of over-tiredness. Then we headed into the Athens night. This first walk through the humid, rainy city brought home what my week was set to be. None of us knew exactly where we were headed or what we would find. We were exhausted and got lost and I was near tears by the time we got back. But this was a rekkie. We had heard of a number of “houses” set up in abandoned buildings and providing space for as many people as they could. They were run by locals who had the bravery and initiative to make a difference. These places had space for only around 100 people at a time: tiny fraction of those who needed them.There were no maps or advertisements. We simply had to search. We visited two houses that night. Both had people sitting or standing outside, smoking or talking. Some eyed us with suspicion, some smiled. The houses were not built for people – one was an old tax office – and the narrow corridors were almost always full. Only one had any form of planning for volunteers that coming week and when we went to sign up, the schedule was empty.

The next couple of days, five of us took work at the house, while the others went elsewhere. Throughout the week we moved through the camps and home scattered about the city. Each place was so different yet our tasks were almost exclusively sorting, folding, and handing out donated clothing. The first day at the house, we spent hour after hour trying to get the piles, boxes, and shelves in some sort of order so people could find what they needed. I spent one afternoon literally up to my waste in baby clothes, close to despair as I tried to sort them into age groups and force them into the shelving space designed to take half the volume. At Piraeus, the port which seems to have become notorious for its camp, we sat in the dust on the floor of a huge, dark, cold, and grimy warehouse sorting and folding. At what had once been an Olympic hockey stadium, I spend two hours straight slicing bread and blistered my fingers in the process.

I only spent a week there and often I felt like giving up. Hours spent sorting would end in ten minutes of people, desperately searching for coats, scarves, basic clothing to protect them from the cold or replace what they had been wearing for days. By the time the panicked search was over, our hours of work would be totally undone. I can’t help but think of tales of Black Friday in America where violence breaks out over a good deal. Though searches here were desperate in some cases, the people took the clothing with such gratitude. These items were not only free but desperately needed yet those searching through would do all they could to thank us and if they spoke no English, to smile.

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Things weren’t always pretty. One morning we found the warehouse had been broken into overnight. One time we had to turn away a pregnant woman asking for shoes, because we had none in her size. When handing out donations, we had to place a limit on what we gave so that everyone got a chance. It isn’t the place of a group of students to deny donations to people in need but the truth is, we could see no better way when there wasn’t enough to go around. It is hard to know how to reconcile yourself with that. Yet there was no clear agency to oversee things. I saw little more of Red Cross and UNHCR than the odd medical van. That is not to say they are not doing what they can. Simply that there is more to be done than seems possible.

One hot day we stood in a shipping container set along the slab of concrete in Piraeus that had become the home of so many, sorting donations for distribution later. The container acted like an oven and we took regular breaks to sit just outside, gulp down water and wipe the sweat from out faces. At regular intervals, people would approach. Some spoke in English, others pointed, all asking for water. In some cases we had to hug our bottles protectively to us “It’s for me. I can’t give it to you. I have no more to give. I’ll have nothing to drink.” We pointed them to the other end of the concrete: “water is that way”. But finally, one of our group decided to make sure our second-hand information was right so we sent off. We had been told a blue shipping container was doing water distributions but as we neared the end of the camp, we found nothing. Several medical vans and charity workers were about. We started with Red Cross. “We don’t know. Check UNHCR.” UNHCR sent us somewhere else. We bounced from place to place seeing no sign of water and I began to feel I had stepped out of reality and lost myself in a Kafka novel. Finally someone came out of one of the canteen to speak to us. She seemed exasperated. “We’re not giving out water bottles” she said as though it was the thousandth time that day. “There’s water on tap that’s fine to drink. They just don’t want to because they’ve come from places where you can’t drink tap water.” I wondered why she wasn’t telling the people around us that. Then I wondered why I wasn’t telling the people around us that. I couldn’t speak there language in most cases and what good was telling one or two people in a few thousand? We traipsed back to the shipping container demoralized. Others came by that afternoon to ask for water and we told them they could fill their bottles from the tap but later that day, when we were gone; that night when more people arrived; next week when god knows what was happening, who would be there to tell people where to get water from?

The essence of the crisis seemed to be that no one could plan ahead. Everyone is so busy just about managing that there is no space to breath and plan, let alone to communicate and coordinate. Everything we did was so necessary but it would be necessary all over again tomorrow.

I was near tears several times during the trip but they weren’t always unhappy. The moments so vivid in my mind were moments of utterly beautiful human nature. One afternoon during our break a group of children asked us by gesture to join their game of catch outside their parents’ tents. A striking woman in a turquoise scarf looked on protectively from one and although she said nothing to us, she looked so glad that her children had these moments of joy. When we went to leave, she called to us and held up a phone to take a photo of us with the children.

The next day one of the little girls from the game of catch ran up to me and held out her fist. I opened my palm and into it she dropped two gold plastic earrings. They are the sort of things I would have treasured for dressing up when I was her age. I would have put up a fight before letting anyone else take them, yet this girl with so little insisted that I take them. After I hugged her she ran away seeming quite happy, tailed by her little sister, who had acquired a plastic viking sword and helmet from the donations earlier that day.

I don’t know what will happen to those people who had such an impact on me, or to the thousands like them. I can’t pretend to have any expertise or begin to make suggestions. I only hope that the generosity and goodness I saw both in migrants and volunteers can begin to counteract the ugliness and difficulty of the situation. Bad things are happening but the only way to act, it seems to me is with some patience and compassion.

If you are considering volunteering, donating, or doing anything for this cause, I urge you to do so. Plan carefully and stay safe if you want to travel to any of the camps. The best way is to contact current volunteer co-coordinators via Facebook or email  beforehand. There are a lot of people already doing incredible work but more is needed. Anything you can do is worthwhile. Expert help is especially treasured but the manual labour to get food and clothes to those in need is also great. I was there for a week and the situation varied from day to day so I can’t comment on how it compares now to when I went but if you are considering doing anything, I urge you to act.

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Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford

I count myself lucky that I grew up in a family interested in museums, in a country where the major ones are free. I’ve seen a fair number around the south of England, but my favourite by a long way is Oxford’s Pitt Rivers collection. The first, large, open room is the natural history museum. A vast, pointed sperm whale jaw greets you at the entrance, pointing you onward.

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Here we see Newton contemplating how the hell this this arrived at this feet…

Science old and new sit side-by-side. The room is sort of a jumble of different things, somehow encapsulating so much in relatively little space. The museum sent me back to the excitement I felt as a child again. Some exhibits made me want to head straight back to university to learn. Others made me lust to wander the world. But, lovely as this room is, follow it through to the back and you will find yourself in the original Pitt Rivers’ collection.

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My sister compared it to the room of requirements. And speaking of Harry Potter, recognise this..?

The real head, alongside two…ummm…friends, can be found in cases among the farrago. The whole place makes my skin crawl with horror and delight simultaneously. Each case, cabinet and container is sorted by theme rather than time or place, illuminating cross-cultural links as well as differences. It is easy to think that horrors such as shrunken heads come from some primitive world but in a draw somewhere on the first floor I discovered a little box containing simply the tip of a human tongue. It was beautifully labelled with where it had been collected, that place just so happened to be my hometown in rural southern England…

The room is beauty and horror intermingled, with intricate ivory carvings, capes made of bird feathers or beads and a hundred other, unimaginable wonders alike. I cannot begin to guess at the lifetimes of work which produced all we saw.

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Of course, all of this is set in the wonderful city of Oxford. The broad stone streets, spiraling with ivy, are pretty much an idealised English city. With the general buzz of students and tourists, the town seems to give off a contented hum of life, with something beautiful around every corner.

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And my family being as we are, we had include food in our trip. We stopped by Greens, a wonderfully friendly little cafe, catering to vegan and gluten-free needs as well as the omnivores among us. We took a seat upstairs by an open window to watch the wind play with the leaves of the trees outside and marvel at the good English weather, while we tucked into roast beef and stilton, gluten free tofu-scramble sandwiches, and tomato and lentil soup, and the delectable array of home-baked goodies.

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CSC_0073 A beautiful day in a beautiful city – well worth a visit. The Pitt Rivers is truly a unique experience but the city holds something for everyone.

Foodie adventures in York (low FODMAP style)

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As I talked about in my last post, I’m now on a low FODMAP diet. This can make things difficult at the best of times, particularly when out and about. York is a very foodie city, which can be lovely but it’s more of a torment for me right now. Last week, I found myself alone at home with nothing to do but await my train the following day, so I took myself out into York’s cobbled streets to see where I would find myself. The city truely feels like home now and I was happy to wander aimlessly all day, but inevitably, my stomach rules and I knew I would need nourishment.

The Shambles – perhaps the oldest and loveliest part of the city – has a wonderful daily market with fresh fruit and vegetables, a butcher’s and a fishmonger’s, as well as stands selling burgers, sandwiches and all the lunchtime staples. The main issue for me on this diet is that gluten intolerance leaves me unable to grab a sandwich while out. There is a little deli I’ve passed so many times, tucked away in the market but what I had not noticed before was the menu outside; they sell salads and sandwiches to take away. I ordered a salad pot, which included basic salad topped with a choice of 2 side salads and a choice of main from anything in their stunning and extensive stunning counter, I chose – after much deliberation –IMG_20150724_131206 courgette and tomato salad, picorino peppers and their ‘famous’ crab pate (it deserves fame, I can tell you).

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IMG_20150724_131644I wandered a little more and found myself inevitably craving something sweet. The problem with low FODMAP is that so many fruit and vegetables that are not normally problematic for people become inedible. For those looking for dairy free or vegan food, there are lots of options. A vegan friend of mine took me to a gorgeous little cafe called goji which serves an amazing menu of vegetarian and vegan food (including vegan milkshakes!!). Instead, I decided to explore La Cremeria, a cute little ice cream parlour which promised dairy-free sorbet options. They had 3 sorbets on offer and I ordered 2 scoops of lemon-earl grey. I went for 2 scoops since it was only 50p more and I thought I wouldn’t get much for my £2 just getting one scoop. As usual, I underestimated the generosity of northern portions and was handed a pot overflowing with creamy delicious-ness.

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I found a bench in a relatively quiet spot behind the minster to sit and enjoy my sorbet and got into a conversation with a street sweeper on his break. I’ve been here 2 years and it still surprises me how friendly and open people in the north of England tend to be compared to those in the south. All in all, despite the clouds in the sky, I ended up having a wonderful day of good food and lovely people no further from home than my beautiful little city.

Foodie Finds: The Hairy Fig

This week’s foodie find is not simply an item, but a favourite little deli and café of mine. The Hairy Fig is a “purveyor of fine fodder” in York. When I first walked past the windows of the little shop, it took me a moment to realise I was looking into a food shop. It is formed of two sections in adjacent shops. One is a unique delicatessen selling an array of hard-to-find fresh fruit and veg and home-cooked delicacies common in the north: pies, pasties and sausage rolls.IMG_1490The other half is more difficult to identify. At first I thought I’d found myself in a tiny emporium of wonder. In fact, it is a sweet and treat shop cross café. The shop sells tea, coffee and chocolate as well as specialist liquors. It feels as though each time I enter, there is something new on the shelves to greet me.

IMG_1491IMG_1493The tiny café at the back has only four tables. On the way in you pass a coffee table with the day’s selection of cakes. Behind you on the wall, a scattering of chalk boards offers the limited but delicious sounding menu. Visiting with a friend, I ordered a pear, walnut and gorgonzola toasted sandwich, served with salad and sweet tangy chutney.

But perhaps the pride of this little place is the liquorice. Shipped over from Europe and presented in glass jars just like an old-fashioned sweet shop, liquorice is present in shapes and flavours I never even knew existed.

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Today, I made it my mission to try something new so I selected 3 unfamiliar types…

Dutch School Chalk liquorice looks exactly like a piece of white chalk. In fact, the outside it a crisp outer sugar coating. Biting into it, the sweet was softer and chewier than I expected, the inside something like dense marshmallow with a lightly salty, aniseed taste. Surprisingly, it left a fresh feeling in the mouth, almost breath-mint like.DSC_0236

Belgian Liquorice and Ginger was much chewier, like a gummy sweet. It also had a much stronger flavour. Though the liquorice was still there, it has a definite heat from the ginger, reminding me of ginger wine.

By far my favourite was the Citrus liquorice. It had a thick, melting outer layer which reminded me of condensed milk. Inside was a large, dense piece of liquorice. Since the outer is something like a rich, citrus/white chocolate truffle, it sits beautifully with the salty, tangy liquorice, which brings out and compliments the rich sweetness.

Not only will you find unique treats here, but the owners are wonderfully friendly and eager to share their experiences with the curiosities on offer. If you ever find yourself wondering the streets of York, it’s certainly worth a visit.

I’ve left my heart in Boston

Late Wednesday night I arrived home with jet lag, a suitcase of gifts and probably an extra couple of inches around the waist, but having left my heart behind. I was lucky enough to spend a week in Boston for a biology conference, and though much of my time was spent in the conference centre, I did manage to get out to see the beautiful city. But before we get onto that, can I ask why all American food is so…

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Don’t get me wrong, I have a veery sweet tooth but all the junk food and soda was getting a bit much for me. Perhaps it was because I was catered through the day at the conference but it didn’t help to diminish stereotypes. That said, I’m going to contradict myself and congratulate Boston on its fantastic coffee culture. Caffeine addicts, the lot of us, we headed without fail for a bakery or coffee shop first thing each morning. First morning we found a Bon au Pain. It seems to be a chain in Boston, though not one I recognize from the UK as with Starbucks. We stumbled in and were immediately greeted by a confusing congregation of stations offering hot food, cold food, coffee in a plethora of flavours and types, and a huge warmed cabinet of a cakes and pastries of confounding beauty. Coffee shops seem to brim over mid morning so we went for a wonder and found ourselves in a lovely, autumnal park. Boston is stunning in autumn; the city is so green and America offers a sight that the UK rarely does: front gardens. The trees were intense reds and yellows and we watched leaves form a glittering cloak behind a guy on a ride-on leaf blower.IMG_1335

As Bon au Pain was somewhat out of our way for the days we needed to be at the convention, we decided to make our way in the mornings with the blind faith that we would stumble upon a caffeine source, and our conviction paid off. Perfectly in our path, we found ourselves at Flour. I’ve added a link for those of you lucky enough to live in the area. The bakery, though small and a little out of the way, was evidently popular and I can understand why. The counter was crammed with delicious freshly baked cakes and pastries of all descriptions. The chilled cabinet offered granola and yogurt, trifles and juice. I would happily eat there every morning for the rest of my life. Sadly, I only had time to sample 3 of their treats: a low fat fruit scone (maybe low fat but glazed in sugar and mouthwateringly good), a creamy yogurt granola pot and a vegan apple and cinnamon muffin. The coffee there too is very good.

With our breakfast sorted, we were well set up for the conference as well as for the two days we had either side for sightseeing. As I mentioned, Boston is beautiful in the autumn and my favourite parts had to be the trips we made to Cambridge to visit MIT and Harvard. Harvard Yard is a stunning little haven in the middle of a city, full of trees and traditional architecture. In contrast, MIT paints a beautifully formidable picture in the centre of a busy district. Both Universities have their own charm and are well worth a visit. The presence of the universities give the city a sense of easy homeliness: something I was amazed to feel, coming from such a safe and tiny city as I do. Everyone I spoke to was friendly and eager to help. It was wonderful always having someone to chat to, ask for advice or directions. Occasionally, it gets a little overwhelming for an introverted English girl when every shop assistant wants to stop and talk but the city felt so open and welcoming.

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The absolute highlight of my trip though, was a totally unique chance I got to visit the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, connected to MIT. Due to family connections with one of my travel companions, I had the incredible opportunity to meet the eminent scientist Robert Weinberg. One of the leading scientists in his field, Weinberg was incredibly personable and welcoming. He took our group of 8 into a board room and spoke to us – in relatively simple terms – about the research he was doing, the ways he liked to approach it and the multidisciplinary approach he had to science and education, there and at MIT. He wanted not just to teach, but to inspire and this was a sense I got throughout my trip. The friendliness of Boston seemed to be about encouraging and inspiring the same passion that the locals felt for their homes.

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This was certainly reflected in another sight I was lucky enough to see. On our last evening, a group of us visited the skywalk at the top of the Prudential centre and watched the sunset over our host city. On first approaching the windows, I think all our breaths were taken away. We hadn’t expected a view over a city we barely knew to be so lovely. Boston feels like a city with continuity. I love London’s jumbled architecture, representing its equally jumbled history. The juxtaposition of old and new is startling, lovely and jarring in equal measures. Boston, in contrast, has a juxtaposition which seems to hold together: though the buildings vary is style, age and design, they sit together as though they were meant to be. As the sun set, the city sat sublimely, quiet and homely. Then, as the lights came on after dark, it seemed to come alive. In the same way the building’s differences work, the contrast of easy welcoming days and bright, exciting nights made Boston somewhere I wanted to stay.

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But back to where we started: the food. We simply couldn’t leave Boston without trying some of what is was famous for: seafood! After only a few days I felt as though I could never face junk food again (then immediately contradicted myself by heading back to Flour for breakfast) but the abundance of sugar in so much of the food was getting too much, even for my sweet tooth. For me, sushi is the ultimate antidote to an overdose of sweets, cakes and cookies. It’s light, salty and oh so savoury. We found the most amazing looking freezer cabinets of sushi in one of the supermarkets and honestly, I could have gobbled the whole thing up.

But what Boston is really famous for is the lobster and the chowder. On our first day, we passed a place called Legal Seafood and joked that anywhere that had to put “Legal” in the name was probably dodgy. However, after hearing only good things, we decided to book ourselves a table as a last night treat. It certainly was a treat. Though most things in Boston were noticeably cheaper than home, the menu here made it clear we were in a classy establishment. The staff were so friendly and patient with us while our table made our first attempts at ordering seafood by weight but when it arrived, it was certainly worth it. I ordered a starter of rich, creamy chowder, and popcorn shrimp (from the appetizer menu) to follow: I would never have managed chowder and a main. The portions were massive but all of the fish was cooked absolutely beautifully. After only a couple of mouthfuls of shrimp, I significantly brought down the classiness at our table by manually de-popcorn-ing my shrimp (don’t blame me! There was SO MUCH batter).

I did steal little bites of calamari and lobster from friends in return for tastes of shrimp and chowder. The calamari was the best I’ve tasted. Lobster, though I’m sure it was perfectly cooked like the rest, may not be my thing. I’m not a fan of crab meat and to me this was similar but with less flavour. Overall, we made our way home on the last evening full and contented. Boston had been a wonderful host and we were all regretting we had to leave so soon.

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A day in Zurich…airport

A single day somewhere new can rush by in the blink of an eye. When you travel it can sometimes feel like you’ve barely set foot in a place before you are whisked away to your next destination. In Zurich, this was not the case. Ok, I claim Zurich. In face my “day” in Zurich was 12 hours in Zurich airport. Lucky for me they were separated into two different six hour stints either side of my current trip. For me travelling can be one of the most thrilling and rewarding experiences, but all too often, it can involve a hell of a lot of waiting around. I can’t help but wonder whether seasoned travelers have tips and tricks for dealing with long waits; no matter how good a book, it can only sustain me for so long.

So what are your tips for long periods of travel? Let’s see whether I can make my next visit to Zurich airport slightly more productive!

Here’s a little preview for my posts to come on my current trip!

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