That's a good question in fairness and there's plenty to say about it too. There's also plenty of observations after being made and you'll have to forgive me now for this diversion but there are directions on the soap bottles over here. Directions. I assume they are for those of us who don't know how to use soap and really I hadn't realised that there were very many of these people. The chain shop Family Dollar, and stick with me because there is a story coming up here, have directions on their own brand soap and even a tagline that compares the soap to a leading brandname but then follows this by saying that the soap in the bottle is in no way related to the mentioned brandname. Do you follow? No, well its on the bottle for the lawyers to follow in case there is a court case.
The story behind this bottle was that, being hungry, Donal and I decided that we needed to get some breakfast. I had been up before Donal and looked online before thinking that maybe we would be better off simply walking into the centre of Everett and seeing what was around. The short walk took us past the typical American suburban houses on the street side. You know the ones, flag on the lawn, white wood walls, big car in the driveway. Walking through a residential area gives you a taste of what the place is really like and the only person I met myself when I returned along the same route later to get that soap was a postman - everybody was at work or asleep and seeing as it was midday, I guessed they were at work. Unless unemployment really is that bad and they've chosen to sleep through a recession. Not a bad idea either I suppose. The centre of Everett was lovely though and seemed to be a real look at what small town America could be despite it being a suburb in Greater Boston. We looked at some menu's before deciding that we were walking aimlessly in a hungry state and fell into Dempsey's Muffins and Bagles. This was not built for tourists and I did notice one or two old folk look with curiosity in the direction of myself and Donal, not in a threatening way like a stereotypical Texan but rather in a way more similar to a dog who has discovered that new food has been put in it's bowl. Not that I am comparing elderly folk in Everett to dogs although they both seem as friendly.
I order the Dempsey Special, two eggs, two sausages, two bacon strips (rashers in proper English), two pancakes and then a choice of toast or English muffins and a coffee as well. I began eating it at about 11am. Even at 4pm I wasn't just 'not hungry', I was full, still full. And they did free coffee refills as well. My Dad would love it because he wouldn't even have had to ask, they watch and they come with a new cup before they can see the bottom of the first cup. I believe at some point in time philosophers will debate whether this indeed means that a bottomless cup has been found. The breakfast was utterly American but so was the place itself, local people who got on well with the three staff who seemed to know everyone who came in and it was laid out in a diner style. You know the type, benches and tables for 4 or for 2. That breakfast cost me $8 by the way - very good for what I got I think. Upon paying I couldn't help but ask, after some banter with an old guy I left go ahead of me in the short queue, was the place ever frequented by tourists. The waitress, who must have been in her fifties, explained that it wasn't really, that it was very local as I could tell myself from the interactions between herself and the other two staff and the handful of people in the place. On top of that, you don't call an elderly customer a ''cheap ass'' with a smile if you don't know him.
We got a taste of shopping after that, but not in the way tourists normally shop. Donal forgot to bring a towel so we went into a place called Family Dollar and got one there. It was while he showered later, thanks to that same towel ,that I made the short walk back to that shop in order to get cereal for the next mornings breakfast. Not only could I not monetarily sustain $7 breakfasts every morning but neither could my stomach. My taste buds might have but when have they ever cared about body weight or cholesterol - in fact they never have for anyone! If they did they'd not like the taste of sweets and sausages and all of that stuff.
Our plan was to hit Massachusetts's State Building with the massive golden dome and look around that for part of the day but it took up a huge amount of time. Really though the subway system is a blessing as we can get around very easily and cheaply, unlimited rides for a week for $15 is brilliant value. We got off near Boston Common and walked a short distance to the building and seeing as I had promised myself to bring my camera, I took a few snaps. Once inside we mistakenly found ourselves entering the Governors Office. We quickly backed up and closed the door quietly hoping no one had noticed. It's funny in that we had to go through an x-ray detector upon entering the building, much like an airport, but we could easily have kept that door open and beat up the governor had he been around. Sometimes you have to wonder!
It was a very impressive building though, the flag hall, the history attached to the building - it all just came down like a giant aura. We went and saw the Senate room and the House of Representatives which was decidedly a lot more wooden. Literally wooden.
On the way out, after walking in there for what seemed like miles and miles, we took a look into the bookshop. In here was an elderly gentleman who didn't have a great liking for Texas. He served in the Army, asked where we were from, sold us post cards and generally we had good fun with him. He asked us to say hello to everyone in Ireland for him so here it goes, "Hello". He doesn't want any Texans getting the same treatment; we asked him.
Although the mist was getting progressively heavier before then lightening up and starting it's cycle again, we headed out and followed the Freedom Trail to the old State House were James Otis gave a fiery speech which kickstarted the whole movement for the Americansto get the Brits out. It was interesting but closed soon after we got there. They were kind enough to give us free passes to come back another time. Free passes would indicate that we should have paid to get in but we hadn't paid. We aren't bad at finding a bargain it must be said.
The thing about this area of town, the downtown, financial centre was the sheer scale of the buildings. While not as tall as the John Hancock Tower or the Prudential Tower, there was a higher concentration of them and that just makes the whole thing a lot more awe inspiring. It calmed as we walked along the sea front to Fanueil Hall marketplace where we grabbed tow brownies and sat to eat them. Here the buildings were older dating from the days when Boston was an important trade port and we could see this as we ambled along the quayside to Little Italy where we had dinner in Pizzeria Reginas.
Now the thing about Pizzeria Reginas is that it is famous. Not that you would think that for the place isn't done up, has no airs or graces about it and the manager, the grey haired guy (slicked back...well he is of Italian extractions!) with stylish glasses would have trouble shouting at people if it meant he'd save time. We had to queue to get seats but weren't long waiting and surely this was a good thing, the place obviously has a reputation. Sitting at the small bar in there was interesting in itself. We talked to the bar man and saw the pizzas being made. As Donal said, while the pizza was great, it wasn't this but rather the buzz, the energy in there, that made you want to stay. People talking with their mouths full, the juke box playing some great songs, people singing, the ring of the telephone by the bar, the slamming of oven doors and the shouting of the staff who really were going like the clappers. Fantastic little place.
And yes the pizza was nice although I struggled to finish mine, more so than the 20oz T-bone of Monday night!!! It must have been the brownie. This was a good thing though as Donal then had time to attempt to explain the rules of baseball. While I half know them now, I can't help but wonder how that game is so popular. Americans like fast action and tackles and tough things like that and yet soccer is seen as second rate here. A land of contradictions.
We rounded off the night in the hostel, pretty tired from all of the walking we had done that day and besides the weather wasn't great either. Not that you'd need a reason to stay in, the place has free tea, internet and lots of couches for reading on. It's got a kitchen and pool table as well. All in all it's good as a place to take care of oneself, sleep and just relax. In fact it feels more of a house then a hotel would as there seems to be no formalities which is nice. It'll keep me happy as long as the box of Frosted Flakes (that's what Kelloggs call them here, not Frosties, perhaps because then some people wouldn't know what they are) is still in the kitchen and untouched tomorrow.