FRIDAY – Day 3 (Part 2 of 2)

I had just found myself in the arms of a stranger when we last left off. Pamplemousse was one of the hundreds of bloggers who I have met on-line that I never, ever thought I would have a chance to meet I-R-L (In Real Life). She’s the reason I was determined to make this trip. While there are others from over the sea I (and of course, state-side) would love to someday meet in person, I knew I had to do what I could to meet Pamplemousse now as the likelihood of me ever getting out of the country later is less than nil.

But here she was! Standing with a glass of wine and a big grin on her face in front of a couple seated in the lobby. My first thought when I looked at the couple was, “Oh my god! Millie dyed her hair blonde!” but when Pamplemousse walked me to a table in the lounge where another couple was seated, I realized (with relief) that Millie hadn’t dyed her hair. I had just assumed the first couple was Millie and her husband, but it’s just because P is so outgoing and friendly that she had struck up a conversation with the anonymous couple.

Millie was sitting at one of the small tables and across from her was Pamplemousse’s husband, who we will call Head Banger, a nickname I was guessing he had been dubbed in the past by Millie. If it hadn’t been for the fact I was severely hydrated, I might have peed my pants right there and then in excited. But as it were, I was so parched that when P passed me a cold glass tinkling with ice I threw it back and took a gulp before realizing it was wine from the hotel’s happy hour they had saved for me. Heat exhaustion and wine? Not the best combo, but hell, you only live once right?

We decided to refresh ourselves and then go out for supper. Pamplemousse followed me into my room (we were all staying on the same floor) and before I could warn her I had stripped off my sweaty shirt and replaced it with a fresh one. Yes, I flashed someone I had only met less than an hour before. It goes without saying that I’m both cheap and easy.

Once we had all reconvened in the lobby, we asked where we could find a good Italian restaurant (as Head Banger was craving pizza and where else would one assume you could get excellent pizza…or at least where could *I* assume to get excellent pizza), which the concierge recommended Bricco’s in the North End. They even called and scheduled reservations for us with enough lag time for us to walk leisurely from the hotel. It was then that I also got to meet Millie’s husband, E., and their adorable 10mos old daughter, L.E., who up till then had taken the time we were in the lounge to relax in their room. 

The walk to the North End was brief and we found Bricco’s easily enough. Since we were very early, we continued down the street and took in some of the sites and then doubled back around as we were soon closing the gap on our 8:30 reservation. The host told us they weren’t quite ready yet, but it wouldn’t be long. Unfortunately, he told us that in three different editions with the third time at around 8:50. Either Millie or Pamplemousse spotted another Italian restaurant, Lucca’s, across the street (let’s face it, though: they are ALL Italian) and I volunteered to run over to see if they had an opening, which thankfully they did.

While the food was good, there wasn’t a single pizza option on the menu. I think what we all enjoyed the most was L.E.’s sweet disposition even with as late as it was getting and being around strange faces and strange surroundings. We all got to witness a first: her first taste of garlic bread, which she gummed happily as if eating with a rapt audience was an everyday occurence.

By the end of the night when we all settled into our rooms, even if I was to leave the next day, my trip would have been well worth the angst. Would you believe that Millie and Pamplemousse wanted to spend even more time with me? That or they were playing a really cruel joke on me.

FRIDAY – Day 3 of Boston (Part 1 of 2)

You know, this would have been a whole lot easier if you all had just met me in Boston. Make a note of this particular point the next time I travel to see some bloggers, mmkay?

CousinP who I thought was going to be invisible once I made it to Boston actually called me every day to either make sure I was doing OK or to make some tentative plans for some activity or another. Friday morning I met CousinP down at Faneuil Hall and had a little walk amongst the shops and then over to Long Wharf. It was just a relaxed morning that passed pretty quickly so we took a break by having lunch at Tia’s and people-watched in the comfort of a warm breeze while sitting in the cool shade.

We followed up lunch with a stroll through the Haymarket. It was like walking through a living, breathing cornucopia but not just in the colors and smells of the produce, but in the blends of cultures and languages. I found it strangely beautiful in its organized chaos and didn’t get as wrenched up as I normally do in a tight crowd.

I mentioned to CousinP that I had hoped to take in one of the infamous Boston Duck Boat Tours, which in other trips to Boston Sparring Partner had scoffed. He hates playing tourist. Phooey on him. Once my ticket was secured, CousinP drove me to one of the start points of the tour and shortly after I climbed aboard one of the massive amphibious vehicles. I admit I was disappointed that of all the colors and patterns I had seen driving back and forth on the streets, the all-over brown was less than inspiring. Why, yes, I am petty. At least I scored a window seat, but since I was traveling solo, I had to share the second seat next to me with a stranger. STRANGE-r in every sense.

The tour ended at the same place it began, which in this instance was the Prudential Center. CousinP had only a couple of minutes during the time he dropped me off to try to explain what line on The T I needed to catch to get back to station closest to the hotel. Unfortunately, when I entered the station I was immediately overwhelmed because nothing seemed to jive with what CousinP had told me so I exited the station and figured that there was probably another close by (please, I can hear all of you who have traveled The T in the past laughing hysterically at my ignorance, so try to reign in the guffaws).

I decided to walk in what I had hoped was the general direction that led to the center of the Financial District where Faneuil Hall, and my hotel, could be found. If nothing else, I could flag down a taxi and be done with it. However, I soon found that flagging a taxi is only a possibility if you SEE a taxi. So I kept walking. The sights were familiar as we had passed them during the tour. I was getting hot and thirsty, but I kept walking.

And walking.

And walking.

And it kept getting hotter.

And hotter.

I was never so thankful than to see Boston Common and then to find myself walking in the Public Gardens. The same path I had taken with Serenity and Heather. I had avoided all the sidewalk vendors until then when I finally approached one to purchase a gator ade, which she was out of. I walked away with a large bottle of water, and while all I wanted to do was just sit on one of the benches and take a rest, I knew that if I did, my feet would hurt even more. So I just kept walking.

When I found myself within 15 minutes of the hotel, I received a phone call. It was Pamplemousse. She and Millie were at the hotel, enjoying the complimentary Wine Happy Hour and wondering where I was. I told her I would be there shortly, and with a new sense of purpose I plodded on in the heat.

I finally passed through the revolving doors of the hotel and literally into the arms of Pamplemousse who pulled me in for a hug even before my eyes had a chance to adjust to the dimmer lighting of the hotel.  There I was, being hugged quite soundly by a perfect stranger. Perfect, and no longer a stranger. The inspiration for the entire trip was standing in front of me with a huge smile on her face, just for me!