Early start for an early check out and an early arrival at Penn station. Turns out, despite what I'd been told by Amtrak, we were perhaps a little too early as we ended up waiting for hours for our train. But, in a way, it was a good thing to get there at that time as the station was pretty quiet and the woman at the ticket desk seemed unsure about our STA vouchers (everywhere we go with STA vouchers people look frustrated with them!) But she eventually got the travel passes sorted and printed out all our tickets (which turned out to be many) which I now have to look after, talk about responsibility. Although the woman started off a bit moody, she got better and by the end of our time at her booth she was laughing, joking and wishing us a good trip. She also told us to take a lot of photos; preaching to the choir methinks.
The train time printed on our tickets was an hour after Amtrak had told me in our booking, but there was a nice waiting area for Amtrak passengers so it was all good. Dan even found the Penn Station branch of Hot & Crusty so we got out last purple bagels of New York too. Seriously, if you're in the city, have a purple bagel- buttered or plain they are lovely. I bought a magazine from the news agents and couldn't believe how cheap it was- a thick glossy magazine for the equivilant of less than 2 quid! And the English copies they we selling were like 3.50 (can't find the pound key on this keyboard, apologies!) I know the price of magazines may not interest everyone, but it's just another one of those things that I find really interesting. Geek anyone?
The train was finally called and we made our way down to the platform. By this time the station had filled up though so we had to elbow our way around a bit, but we made it onto the train pretty early so we managed to get seats together, near a loo, and with a good window. Pretty perfect. The train was nice and comfy, not a double-decker like on New Jersey day, but still nice. Big seats that reclined and aeroplane tables that fold down. (Yes, I know English trains have them too, but it was still nice.)
The trip was along really pretty areas through Conneticut and Rhode Island before reaching Massachusetts. We were expecting it to be leafy- which it really was- but there are also a lot of lakes and water, very nautical. I tried to take some pictures but the train was going quite fast so they're probably pretty blurry. We passed loads of beautiful houses though, wooden-clad and very traditional looking. If you're a fan of the show Gilmore Girls, there are also loads of little references and, as it's set in Conneticut, there are also loads of places you see that look like the set. So it was fun for me.
I'm teaching Dan to shuffle cards too, he's already pretty much got it so get him to show you when he gets back.
Eventually though, we reached South Station, Boston. With our heavy bags we prepared to brave the subway system. And what a wierd subway system it is too. Confusing is the word I would use. 2 platforms for 4 trains, 2 stopping on each platforms but at different parts of the platform (they're really short trains.) All the stations have really high ceilings and feel like they should somehow be outside. The green line (one of the ones we got) even has trains that look more like old-fashioned trams. You step up into them and everything. Some of the trains do go outside, I don't know about all of them though. But, overall, it was pretty confusing for 2 people used to the London Underground. (By the way, this trip has already taught us to really appreciate the genius of the London Underground, it is so much better than anything we've encountered so far.)
My immediate reaction to people in Boston, well students in Boston is that they come in 2 categories; either they are super smart and just so stereotypically that way it's almost unreal or they're the kids of parents who went to Havard, who have money and went to private schools- they're snobby and quite rude and don't move for you on the subway even though you're carrying a rucksack on your back AND your front! (personal experience there, in case you hadn't guessed... So a little biased, I'll admit.)
It didn't take long to reach the hostel, luckily, although my credit card had problems with the machine- hostel people don't really get the whole security phone call thing and they just cancelled the trasaction so I think they might have messed up my card now. The room is only a 4 bed which is nice, but it's not as clean as the Jazz hostel in NYC (although the beds are more comfortable and we get 2 pillows which is cool.) For those of you who know my uni days it's the hostel equivilant, in terms of cleanliness, as Suffolk Terrace and I've had to learn to just not look up. The worst of the grime is always on the ceiling or just above you so never look up if you're a little bit of a Monica like me.
Before dinner we went for a walk to Boston Common (Dan got us there using his trusty map) but it all looked to pricey for dinner so we turned back. It's a very pictoresque place though, very trendy looking. Doesn't look studenty like we would think of studenty, it's much more trendy. Dan made an interesting observation; that everywhere looks like it's just been built but in the style of something much older and it's so true. Generally speaking, the whole place is so well maintained that it actually looks pretty new! Really pretty area though, and well worth a visit. Also, I already have seen a lot of shopping potential, if you're into that boutique, uber-cool thing. (There are also a lot of the major chains though- Gap, Zara, H&M etc.)
For dinner though, the trendy eateries were not for us, so we came back to the hostel area and got a pizza and this great little place called "Crazy Dough's" which was reccommended by the hostel. It's an award winning pizza place and the pizza was delicious. Another reccomendation from us! We had the Eggplant and Red Pepper because I really wanted veg and Dan was being nice. So not a vintage day for healthy eating but, fingers crossed, we'll make up for it tomorrow.