Have you ever seen a peanut butter factory? No, didn't think so. It's not really one of those places that you drive to on a Sunday with the family. Come on, get in the car before the factory shuts down and we can't smell the peanut butter anymore - I can hear the arguments already. This doesn't happen though because of a few small issues such as, even when the factory is closed there is still that smell and there are no peanut butter factories near you. I say that with a certain amount of conviction and 90% of the time I well be correct. Use google maps to prove me wrong along with one utility bill to prove your address is really yours. That's right you couldn't be bothered to and thus I win that round.
What I meant to say was that Donal and I found a new route back to the hostel from the subway station on Wednesday by going past a baseball field where the state Little League champs ply their trade and a peanut butter factory. We exit the road, lined on both sides by houses after the field and factory, on Main Street and then get into the hostel on School Street. Much more agreeable scenery than the cars that rushed by on Route 99. It really must seem to you that Wednesday was a low point but in fairness it wasn't because we went to one of the ten trillion Dunkin Donuts outlets in Boston and we went to Harvard as well. Oh and we had dinner 52 stories up in the clouds. Literally in the clouds.
The weather continued to act up, or rather, play Mr Consistency in that yet again it was dull and misty as our day began. I had breakfast while gazing out a window near the hostel kitchen having used antibacterial soap to wash what I thought was a communal spoon in order to eat my Frosted Flakes. They taste the same as back home by the way but the change in scenery, as Donal succinctly put it, was what made the difference. Not that the Grand Canyon was outside or anything but rather Route 99 and it's masses of cars and jeeps. while Time Magazine lay on the table for me to read through (I'll have 5 weeks of them to read when I get home assuming they'll not be thrown out).
Our first stop on the way to Harvard, a "must see" according to most travel guides (who are actually mostly wrong, read on...) was Dunkin Donuts. Now this was something. Donal asked for half a dozen donuts, which, by looking at it's place on the menu board, wasn't an altogether huge number. The plan seemed solid enough, they were boxed and so could be consumed throughout the day to keep hunger at bay. I suggested we sit down in the food court though which probably scuppered that plan because he proceeded to eat them all. I ate my two and a cup of coffee - I recommend the Boston-something-or-other donut that I got...delicious thing altogether cos there was a light custard in the donut which itself was dipped in chocolate. Zero trans fat was a bonus although the bag and box didn't mention any other types of fats of which there were an awful lot I am sure but marketing them probably wasn't a good idea and perhaps neither is knowing about them as you eat them. The thing about the food court though was just the diversity of it all. Upon looking around, there were different shades of people everywhere with different fast food chains forming the background to what seemed an eclectic, maybe even acidic painting, that moved. There must have been 15 of them, Dunkin (apparently America runs on Dunkin, or so their slogan says but believe me you will not be able to run after their donuts, I mean when was the last time you saw a guy prepare for an Olympic sprint with donuts and coffee?!), a Greek place, a Japanese place...the list could go on. You know the way that a lot of people working in McD's in Ireland are foreign, well so are these guys over here only that each national fast food chain had it's own nationals so if you were to go to the Japanese place to try a Sushi Mac or whatever they were cooking up you'd have a Japanese guy serving you. Same with the Greek place, good old Stavros or Aristotle the millionth was behind that counter dishing out Gyros or another national delicacy. I had to look that up by the way, never heard of Gyros before.
From here it was on to Harvard which is in the Cambridge area of Boston and is a place you should see if you're around for a few days although to be honest I'd quicker tell you go and look around MIT, the buildings are nicer and the place seems more open and it's nearer to downtown as well. Plus I used their internet for free last summer in one of their libraries. They have a hall there that was designed by Eero Saarinen too, not to sound pretentious now, but he being a favourite architect of mine. Not that I know many other architects but his buildings are cool. Harvard you see is all red brick buildings, like town houses with small windows and it really left a fairly cold impression on Donal and I. Ok it was huge, ok it was impressive and sure it's got history and character but there was something missing. It was too sprawling, almost a city in its own right, the buildings weren't all that nice to look at and it just seemed, even for it's sprawl, as somewhat cramped too. Strange. There was a redeeming factor though and this was the Museum of Natural History which I must say was amazing. I honestly couldn't write enough about it only to say that I have never seen plants made of glass before and that I had never seen sulphur or flourite up close and personal. Nor had I ever seen dinosaurs, well their massive skeletons, nor the lions or other animals in there. It was all really well done and my feet hated me for it. A good sign it must be said.
After all of this we were beginning to get a little hungry so we decided to treat ourselves by splashing out in the Top of the Hub restaurant aptly named for its location, 52 stories up, on the top of the Prudential Tower. It's a little expensive, about $55 dollars each for three courses each but really it was top quality. The food was fantastic and neither of us would say that lightly, this really was another level and the lamb was the best I ever had in my life. The waiter was correct in saying I'd never finish all of the cookies for dessert though so he wrapped them up for me. He was also the first waiter ever to be able to talk about toilet paper in a posh restaurant without bringing down the classiness...even for a second. Well, his name was William after all. He said it in connection with the view, or rather, non-view because the clouds had covered over the top of the building which shows you how high we were dining. While the view would have been nicer, it was a novelty to literally be dining in the clouds and so it was. Afterwards we went to the bar there to enjoy the live jazz, drum, double bass and piano and that was mighty fine, as a Texan might say. Not that Texans would like jazz or instruments that don't consume fuel of some sort. Now if that double bass ran on petrol, well that'd be different. We saved ourselves the cover charge of $20 dollars too by dining there. Smooth jazz has a hypnotising way about it though and we were both lulled into a light sleep by it only for me to be woken by the manageress who wanted to seat a couple where my legs were. It ended up with them moving to a booth to the side of us instead which was fine seeing as they would have blocked our view of the band. They wouldn't block the fleeting view of the streets below though for at times the cloud lifted a little only to fall again. Glimpses were all we got but we were thankful for them all the same.
Retiring to the hostel at about midnight was a great idea as were going to get some sleep immediately or so the plan went but as you know plans never work as we engaged in conversation with a lovely lad from California who asked us to speak some Irish and who's friend asked us did we know the Maloney family. I need not go on. They were lovely people, very interesting but I was asleep after five minutes. I tried to finish the cookies from the Prudential that William had wrapped up for me but I gave up. Donal is still trying to confuse me about the number of them I ate though!