Boccia, Cannoli, nerd stores and real witches!

ok, I admit, that title might be a little confusing... but I couldn't find a better way to describe my weekend! Kristen is visiting from Wisconsin, so we decided to explore Boston on friday and ended up spending most of our time in the North End - the area that is also known as Boston's Little Italy :) yep, sounds about right! We started our tour in Cambridge, actually, where we walked over the Harvard campus and went to the Hardvard Bookstore - to buy chocolate, apparently. Then, we continued in the North End, at Mike's pastries to be precise, where we tried Boston's most famous canoli! I actually prefer the Almond Sea Salt Dark Chocolate we got at the bookstore... ;) But, anyways, the North End is pretty cool and we enjoyed parts of the Freedom Trail until we found this little park area, right at the water, where some kids were playing baseball, four elderly men were playing cards while smoking cigars, and four other, well-tanned elderly men were playing Boccia. Boccia! I think, the last time I played Boccia was in my grandfather's garden about ten years ago! Boccia! :) *happy* Kristen had never seen it before, so we stopped and watched them play for a while... But not for long ;)

One of the guys came over (and yes, they really were Italian!) and offered us a second set, so we used the lane right next to them to play some ball :) oh my gosh, I had so much fun.... I felt like I was seven years old again, playing with my grandfather in his garden! It was awesome! And, like I said, the guys were real (Bostonian) Italians, so we were communicating in a very interesting, bilingual chatter that made me even happier! Amo la lingua italiana! :) So, we were playing for fun, at first, but then one of the guys refreshened my memory and taught us the rules again, so we finally knew what we were doing with those balls :D

The idea is to get your balls as close to the pallino (the small yellow ball) as possible. And guess who threw the red balls? ;) Actually, Kristen is a natural and beat me in a couple of games.... We played for almost two hours, we just couldn't stop....

And we couldn't resist the italian charm :D Before we left, we asked for directions for a good Italian restaurant, which we were promptly provided with, and said goodbye to everyone in the good old-fashioned italian way: with a hearty hug and a kiss on each cheek :) oh how I love Italians... :D

After this authentic Italian experience in Boston's North End, we decided to widen our cirle a little bit more and drive up to Salem on Saturday. It was the last Saturday before Halloween - we were not the only ones with this idea... We seemed to be two of the very few people who didn't bring a costume though... So I went shopping :D

Well, what do you think? Am I a witch or am I a witch? :D God, I love Salem! I love it! It's full of quirky people, nerd stores and craft shops, a place where everybody believes in magic or history and on top of that, it is a beautiful little town! Of course, the creatures get a little more eerie around Halloween....

But, hey, it's Halloween right? :D At some point, while we were walking through town, we noticed that everybody was looking up into the sky. People were pointing and taking pictures, so we turned our eyes up as well. Guess what we saw? I still can't believe it... I still don't know how that's even possible... not one, not two, no five (that's right, FIVE) different rainbows! Five!!!! And they were crossing each other, some pale, some really bright... I took a couple of pictures, here's one

Isn't that just awesome? And also just a little bit creepy? ;) man... and to see that in Salem? Weird.... 
To complete our trip to the witch captial of the east coast, we decided to take the witch walk with our tourguide Tom, who's also a witch!

He's not even half as scary as he looks on this picture :) The tour was pretty awesome, actually. That guy has an aweful lot of energy :) I also got to take a picture with Captain Jack Sparrow, which you might have seen on facebook :) We left before the real fun started though - we were both just way too tired to hang around for the fireworks... but, hey, now we get to sit at home and wait for a hurricane - that's pretty exciting too ;) 


New England Coastline

Last monday, I took a daytrip along the New England coastline... It was a beautiful day and a beautiful trip with very few people, which was fine with me. I don't really like crowds anyways... Our first stop was

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire! Did I mention it was a beautiful day? ;)

The waves were beautiful... the beach was absolutely deserted though. Apparently, it is a major vacation spot in the summer, but the season is over, so only a few residents remain and all the summer homes were empty. The shops were closed, the restaurants were closed... it was kinda weird. A ghosttown on the one hand, a beautiful beach on the other :) 

This is the picturesque Nubble Lighthouse in York, Maine. It stands all alone on a rock just off the rocky coast. The whole scene was just absolutely breathtaking! 

...did I mention it was a beautiful day? I'm telling you, I feel like I'm travelling through a travel journal! It's just  so absolutely perfect everywhere! It's kinda scary.... Next Stop: Kennebunkport :) 

Since I was in Maine, I decided, I might as well try Lobster... Now, as most of you know, I'm not a big fan of seafood... but, I gotta say, this lobster pie thing... not bad! The wild blueberry pie for dessert was even better though ;) The best part was that I met this mother/daughter couple from Arizona and we got to talking and they invited me to join them for lunch - and they payed... I felt a little weird, but, hey, I'm a perpetually broke student so what can I do? ;) 

We saw a little bit of foliage, too, but most of it was already gone :( But, hey, the weather was fantastic, the Atlantic was as blue as ever and the coast of Maine is always worth a visit! I think I will return... 


International Street Artists entertain tourists and locals on a beautiful October weekend

First Faneuil Hall Street Art Festival successful in spite of low advertising

Saturday, October 20th 2012
More than 30 International street artists performed at the first Faneuil Hall Street Art Festival at Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, Boston all day Saturday and Sunday. In addition, visitors could enjoy live music, food and shopping at the popular Boston sight. 

Internationally renowned street artists performed at two different locations around Quincy Market last Saturday and Sunday, while musicians filled spaces in between West End and South Market Promenade. Some of the street artists came from far away to entertain the crowd in Boston. Dave Cox, who presented his program Dangerous Comedy in front of a cheering crowd at the West End Promenade, insists on using his tips to “get a flight back to Australia” for example. Others, like Jim from the Jim show, are local but have performed internationally before.  Visitors took advantage of a beautiful, sunny late October weekend offering perfect conditions for the outdoor event. Although most tourists hadn’t known about the festival beforehand, they enjoyed the offered variety of comedy, juggling artists and live music. Tourists C.J. and Steven Jane took a Trolley Tour before they came to Faneuil Hall and were surprised that their tour guide did not tell them about the festival. However, they intended to “stick around for a while” and enjoy more of the performances around Quincy Market.
Matthew Johnson confirmed the scarce advertisement for the event. In his position at the information desk he observed “people seem to just be coming through” as the marketplace is a must-see for Boston tourists and there is always something going on at Faneuil Hall. He recognized many of the artists from performances earlier this year, which had been auditions for the actual event.
Visitors were delighted to be entertained during their stroll through Faneuil Hall and readily picked up one of the offered programs at the booth. Stacey Fields, 42, did not know about the festival either, but was enjoying herself during one of the performances, confirming that “it’s very fun” to watch what all these artists had to offer. For students Brian Chaves and Kristina Cirillo, Providence, it was the first visit to Boston and the couple admitted to just have “stumbled upon” Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market during their tour through historic Boston. They were a little surprised by the number of people strolling through the cobblestone streets. They stopped to observe the performances and enjoyed the live music.
Paul Wright, who was performing with his two man band Tall Heights, explained that the festival was the end result of a year-long project initiated by Faneuil Hall management, in which artists could audit by performing at Faneuil Hall throughout the year. Their band got chosen to become part of the festival after having played for the touristy crowd earlier this year. He said “it’s been really great” for his band and a great opportunity to “come out and practice new material.” He enjoyed meeting new fans and found it “interesting to see what people respond to.” The crowd seemed to enjoy their acoustic performance as well. Already on early Saturday afternoon, the old suitcase at their feet was only half-full with CDs – the other half was occupied by a number of 10 and 20 dollar bills. 


Whale Watching!

Wow! I mean, seriously, WOW! I know that whales are big animals, I happen to like biology, but I didn't quite imagine just how big exactly... Until today :) WOW! And not just because of the whales...

I finally decided to go on one of the many whale watching cruises. It was a beautiful day (very warm for mid-october) and I thought why not. (and yes I had a paper to finish, but that's what nights are for! ... ) Man am I glad that I did this! What a beautiful day....

This is the view from the ship as we left Boston harbor. I really chose the best city :)

As we left for Stellwagen Bank in search for big mamals, the fishers came in from their morning tour. 

There are many cute little islands and beautiful rock formations in Boston Bay. The ride alone would have been worth the trouble. And then we found the whales....

 Not one, not two, no THREE big full-grown humpback whales!
 Everybody was excited of course :) 

 One of the whales - Valerie - flapped her side fins at the boat (it really looked like she was waving to us...) while the other two went for a dive (see back fin in the background)
 Look at that! And that's not even the whole whale!
It was really awesome seeing them appear and disappear right next to the boat. They seemed pretty happy, too :) AND I got to spend 4 hours on the Atlantic ocean! Awesome!
The way back was a little rough...
but SO worth it! Look at the beatitful lighthouse and the sun glistening on the water! 
And the Bostonian Skyline slowly appearing in the mist....
We also passed Logan International on our way back (no this is not an emergency landing...) 

In the end, I was very cold (very windy out there) and my face feels weird because of all the salt in the air and the mist but OMG it was SO worth it! Beautiful, beautiful trip! I always knew I liked the Atlantic :) And now I know that I can handle rough waves.... Did I mention that I love my life? :D


Bostonian Word Nerds

Technically, I wanted to travel some more this weekend. But after about 10 days on the road, I decided to stay home instead and write my papers (yes, I do have school every now and then). The upside was that I could attend the Open Mic night at Savin Bar&Kitchen. It's part of a series of readings organized by students from the UMass MFA program (here's their blog, if any of you are interested:

It was really great! I am so happy to have found a couple of Bostonian word nerds :) Immediately after I walked in, I was welcomed in their group and started talking to some of the other writers. The atmosphere was very relaxed and some of the work that was read was really great (one guy wrote about his banana plant and another one read a short story called "the pigeon interlude" which was absolutely hilarious!). So I decided I'd give it a shot and got up there, too! *yay* it was really cool to be reading to a crowd of complete strangers :) And apparently they liked what I read! So, now I'm keeping in touch with Aaron, who is sort of the mastermind behind the project, and we will brainstorm together and discuss a couple of ideas, because I told him about our projects in Germany and he wants to know more! *connections-yay*
I also met a nice guy called Colin, who wants to show me Boston's north end *looking forward to it* and I met this unbelievably cute guy who's also in the MFA program and just absolutely knocked me off my feet - so now my mission is to find him again ;) wish me luck!

The evening also made me consider the MFA program at UMass and I might actually ask Alexandra (my creative writing instructor) about it. Sounds like it would be perfect for me... so, who knows, maybe I'll do my masters in Boston after all....


Upstate New York

So, yeah, I really like travelling :) After a fun weekend on the Floridian Gulf Coast, I spent the following weekend in Upstate New York. I got a rental (a sleek, silver Chevi Malibu) and drove west on I-90. My first stop was Albany, but that was just a stop-over. My actual destination was Syracuse, where I stayed with yet another couchsurfer and enjoyed a switchfoot concert :) I love my life! Since Switchfoot is one of the bands that will probably never come to Germany, I decided to catch one of their shows while I'm over here. Opening up for them was Paper Route, a band whose name I've never heard before, but turns out, they are pretty cool!
The lead singer was a little weird - but good weird. Artsy weird :) And I really loved their sound! So I got the new album and had them sign it - might never get the chance to talk to them so might as well take it, right? Switchfoot were pretty good, too, though I have to say, I might have actually enjoyed Paper Route more... hmm... Anyways, on the next day, my host showed me around Syracuse University a little bit - beautiful campus!

That's one of the buildings :) They call it Hogwarts :D It was a beautiful, though crisp morning and we had waffles in this great weird little place in the basement, where they play funk music and serve the best waffles EVER! funk 'n waffles people - check it out! I kinda cut the trip short a little bit, because I wanted to get back on the road and enjoy the awesome fall colors in the sunshine. Yes, the leaves are already changing!

I drove east on Route 20 - it was absolutely gorgeous! I know why they consider it a Scenic route now :) Since I was driving, I couldn't take too many pictures, but I think you get the idea :)

So, I was sitting in my Malibu, driving through upstate New York in an early version of indian summer listening to Coountry music and looking forward to spending the rest of the weekend with Jeff. Yeah, life is pretty good over here :) The 20 brought me right back to Albany, where I stayed till sunday afternoon until I hit the I-90 again and drove back home :) And yes, Boston already feels like home :) 

Summary: Upstate New York is worth a visit - especially in the fall!