Land of the free. Home of El Gringo. Birthplace of McDonalds, KFC, and Pizza Hut. The nation of stars and stripes. And Disney.
This officially marks the end of a major part of my trip. That is, the America part. Because although I'm now 8/12 months through my trip (that's 2/3 through, for those of you that can dredge up your memories of high school mathematics, and of simplifying fractions :P), I've spent the whole time so far in America — whether it be North, South, or Central, it's all "The Americas". Tonight, I fly east over the Atlantic (the first transatlantic trip in my life, I might add), and I leave the Americas behind, to begin my adventures in Europe. It's been great hanging out here — the lack of jetlag for 8 months has been particularly welcome — but the time has come to fly onward, and to start actually making this a round-the-world trip, rather than just an up-and-down-America trip.
After almost two weeks here, my dad and I are finally saying goodbye to the cousins (and to each other), and leaving Boston. To farewell us in style, the Goldsteins took us to The Cheesecake Factory — a fine restaurant not far from Newton — for a Sunday brunch. The strawberry pancake thingies were sensational: although they were so big that even I, pig-out waste-nothing shoestring-backpacker that I am, couldn't finish mine.
Our friends and hosts Tara and Ashki were very lucky today: they managed to score two free tickets to tonight's Red Sox baseball game, here in Boston's Fenway Park! Normally, Red Sox tickets are virtually impossible to obtain unless you're a club member with a season pass — and even then, you're looking at a minimum of $200 a pop. However, they happen to be best friends with another couple, who are club members, and who do have season passes, but who realised at the last minute that they wouldn't be able to make it to tonight's game. So their friends were kind enough to donate their tickets to them. Not a bad deal at all.
We had a relaxed but really enjoyable day today. Although it was Saturday, most of the Goldsteins were (sadly) busy: Adam and David were off at a golf tourmanent; and Becca was (for a change) working like crazy all day. So it was just my dad, Janine, and myself. Janine drove us over to the town of Lexington, which is about ½ an hour west of Newton (it's almost part of Boston, but not quite), and which is one of the great historic Massachusetts towns from the 18th century War of Independence. Charming place, and filled with monuments from centuries past.
My dad and I returned to the Goldsteins this evening, where the 6 of us went down the road to the Main St of Newton Center, and where we observed Erev Shabbat at one of the area's fine Chinese noodle restaurants. The Chicken Laksa was superb. No better way to honour G-d's creations, and to observe his commandment of rest on the seventh day, than over a big bowl of Malaysian curry soup. That's my interpretation, anyway. So, as they say at the famous Noodle King of Lane Cove, it was time for some "Number Tertee-Tree, Pleess!"
My dad and I went for a wander in the Harvard "Coop" bookshop this afternoon — after Paul's tour — and while there, I couldn't resist buying just one more geeky book. The Art of SQL is a very impressive text, that explains practical problems to some of the most common problems related to SQL querying, SQL data manipulation, and database design. The section on dealing with hierarchical data in a relational environment looks particularly interesting. And as with the drupal book that I bought a few days ago, this one also earned a much-coveted Slashdot review.
We haven't seen much of him so far: so today, my dad and I went and met up with Paul; and he took us for lunch, and also treated us to his own special tour of Harvard. Since Paul is currently working at Harvard, as a professor, it was much more unique and memorable than the standard tour that we went on last week. Lunch was great, too.
Paul Bempechat is Janine's older brother, and hence also my dad's first cousin. Paul's a pianist, a writer, and also a Harvard professor. We saw him at the barmitzvah; and today, we also had lunch and a university tour with him.
This evening, our friends and amazing hosts Tara and Ashki took off north, for a semi-weekend getaway in leafy Vermont. So as of now, my dad and myself are all alone in the big house. It's party time! Call the band, call the DJ, call the caterers (parve please — this is a kosher house :P) — and tell all your friends to get down to Newton Center. Doritos and tomato salsa also welcome.
No matter where we go for the day, it seems that every single afternoon here in Boston, my dad and I inevitably end up standing on the same platform in Park Street station, waiting for a train back to Newton Center where we're staying. I can't help but feel really, really sick of this station! The fact that it's underground, ugly, and badly overheated doesn't help either. Every afternoon, we stand and wait for a train on the same Green C line, looking at the same flamboyant posters advertising iPods, hearing the same drone of pre-recorded announcements. I didn't come to Boston to become intimately familiar with Park Street station. I came to see my family.