I enjoyed my little saunter to Boston this past weekend. The weather was glorious despite snow being on the ground from the Nor’easter storm earlier last week, though why they insist on spelling this kind of weather pattern wrong is beyond me. Anyway sat outside for four hours watching the New England Patriots beat Buffalo Bills on Sunday could have and should have been a very cold experience but instead the stadium was basked in beautiful sunshine.
Boston is one of that small band of American cities that relies on people walking it, supplemented by an excellent underground train network. The city is a cluster of neighbourhoods stretching south-west from the airport and we stayed in the North End, which is only a spit away from the airport across the Boston Harbour.
The North End is a very old community and for generations was a gritty immigrant area. In the 1950’s the North End pretty much became forgotten as a huge elevated expressway passed over it. Known as the John F. Fitzgerald Expressway or the Central Artery, the wide bypass became a magnet for traffic and the North End became forgotten as businesses and people moved out.
However America’s most expensive ever highway project known as the Big Dig was the spark to rejuvenate the area as the elevated artery was replaced by miles of underground tunnels. Now there are signs all over the neighbourhood of regeneration, but much of the old still remains such as Paul Revere House, the oldest house in Boston built in 1680.
The North End is also home to a large Italian American population, which meant at every turn streets were heaving with throngs of people and the most wonderful aromas of herbs, coffee, cheeses and pastries. On a solo walk on Saturday afternoon I bumped into one of the guys I was meeting later. He caught me just stood at the side of the busy road taking in the scene and working out if I had the time and the appetite to grab one of the tempting offerings before dinner. We did.
On Sunday night we were back in ‘Little Italy’ and had a wonderful relaxing dinner at Cafe Florentine on Hanover Street. Our experience was only heightened by Lisa our waitress and was wrapped up with a easy drinking IPA called Harpoon recommended to me by Marco.
If Sunday night was laid back then Saturday night was large. Our hosts had booked dinner at Storyville near Copley Square and named for a famous jazz club in the 50’s. This incarnation of Storyville served our every need – restaurant, bar, club – and we rolled out of there at some ungodly hour.
The Patriots v Bills game on Sunday was the focal point of our weekend though and it has been a while since I have been to a live American sports event and I’d forgotten all the razzmatazz. It was Veterans Day of course so rightly the stadium celebrated their serving heroes but the game stopped almost every couple of minutes for some side show or another, although none as attractive as the Patriots cheerleaders.
The Pats should’ve won the game at a cantor, but the battling Bills were always in it. The game was littered with errors but we saw a lot of points scored with the Pats winning 37-31. The Bills were always behind but early in the 4th quarter as the stadium started to get anxious the Bills had the ball at the 0ne-yard-line but another error let the Pats off and they ran out as winners in a stadium where they have only lost twice in three seasons.
Our hero for the day was Pat’s running back Danny Woodhead. Tiny by comparison with hair like Noel Gallagher, he scored two touchdowns and earlier one of our hungover group had walked into the ‘club lounge’ and immediately bidded on a signed Woodhead shirt. After the amount trebled, including him once bidding against himself, he became the owner of the expensive shirt and by the end was proudly waving above his head.
I have always been under the impression that an oceanic storm is named relative to its source area or in other words, from whence it came, rather than where it hits.