Tuesday, January 5, 2016

USA Visit, Part TWO of photos!!!

Spencer and Mom <3

Sister and Brother <3

After saying goodbye to my brother, Spencer, which crushed my heart a little bit (I had SUCH a good time with him during this visit), I ventured into Boston to meet up with Alex, one of my very best friends over the past 6 years.  We met in front of, where else, Atlantic Charter.  The horrible work place that we met at (the one good thing that came out of working there ;-)), during which time we became friends by bonding over loads of "would you rather" emails sent back and forth between us.  So much fun.  After that, the rest is history ;-p

Upon seeing her, it was like it had always been.  It felt like we had never been apart.  We slipped right back into our in-person friendship with ease, talking and talking, the hours together rushing by as we filled the air between us with stories and laughter.

For our first stop, Alex and I ventured to Fanuiel Hall Market Place/Quincy Market where we ate cake-pops from Starbucks and popped in and out of various shops.  We each bought a couple of items of clothing, including the same red plaid shirt, laughing about how we would think of one another whenever we wore it.

Then we headed over to the North End for some of the most mouthwatering pizza in Boston, from Galleria Umberto.  This place serves up authentic Sicilian pizza for only $1.70 a slice.  Ultra cheesy, saucy and just delicious.  We waited in line for over an hour, but this was well worth the wait.

Then Alex and I headed over to Newbury street (see photos beginning with the one below), one of the most famous streets in the city.  Newbury is the ultra-trendy shopping street, also dotted with loads of delicious eateries.  We parked during which time Alex hesitated, commenting that where we found a parking spot seemed almost too lucky.  But we checked the signage on the street and all seemed ok so we left the car.  We headed for Georgetown Cupcake where we purchased a half dozen box, each of us selecting three.  Among the flavors we selected were gingerbread, red velvet, toffee pudding, milk chocolate birthday cake, etc.

Upon exiting with our cupcakes in hand, we decided to go get drinks and devour our cupcakes as an accompaniment to said drinks.  YUM.  We sat down in an Unos pizza, ready to order.  Much to our dismay, they wouldn't accept my new temporary paper license.  So we left the restaurant and headed back to the car for my passport.  This ended up being a Murphy's Law sort of thing, because upon returning to the spot where her car should have been, we were greeted with another car in its place.

Alex exclaimed with panic, "my car is gone.  Its been stolen."  I tried to keep things calm by telling her maybe someone had just moved it for us (this had happened to me and a friend one weekend while in Prague, that the car was simply moved down the street, not towed.  So stranger things have happened).  However, upon pacing the street back and forth more then once, we realized that yes, the car was in fact gone.

Thankfully, I spotted a meter man coming down the street tagging unlucky cars with tickets.  I rushed up to him and asked him if he knew where our car might be.  Alex gave him her plate number which he looked up on a handheld device and confirmed to us that her car had in fact been towed.  We needed to catch a cab down the street to retrieve it.  My god.

I felt horrible about this, knowing the cost would likely be steep.  Alex was super cool about it though.  She laughed "you wanted to make new memories and create some stories.  Well, here we go hahaha."  We cabbed it to a deserted car lot, looking like something out of a horror movie.  The lot was darkened, deserted, creepy and foggy.  It looked ready to produce zombies from behind the silhouettes of cars at any moment, or serial killers hidden in the shadows.

Upon finally getting into her car, we drove to the restaurant where we planned to have dinner with a small group of my friends that evening at 6:30pm.  Alex and I decided to get there early, have a couple drinks, and devour our box of cupcakes.  We arrived at Highland Kitchen restaurant for 5:30pm and saddled up to the bar.  The bartender laughed when we asked if we might eat our cupcakes along with our drinks, telling us absolutely, why not.

With margaritas in hand, Alex and I chowed down on our sweets, killing more then half the box in less then 10 minutes.  Delicious.  These cupcakes are so moist, the frosting so perfectly sweet and flavored.  We had a blast.  The conversation ventured into many territories, both silly, nostalgic, private, personal and sweet.  I really enjoyed this moment with her, one on one.

About an hour into mine and Alex having a grand old time at the bar, devouring sweets and enjoying our drinks, my other friends began to arrive.  Ashley...then Dan...and finally Judith (one of my close friends from Germany who was visiting Boston at the same time as I was!!!  So I invited her to join us out, so she could meet some of my closest USA friends).  As each of them walked in, my heart raced with thrill, my face flushing with excitement.  I hadn't seen Ashley in well over four years, and I hadn't seen Dan in about 3.  I LOVED this moment, seeing each of them again for the first time.  I was trembling a bit with my anticipation.  

The dinner at Highland Kitchen was great fun.  I ordered the macaroni and cheese and was crushed when my stomach began to fill with throbbing pains!!!  So sure I had been that I would eat my way through Boston and New Hampshire, all my wildly fatty and sweet meals planned out well in advance.  But within mere hours of embarking on my eating adventure, I was shocked by the richness and fattiness of the food and the effect it had on me.  I felt truly terrible.  I never noticed this until having the comparison which I have now, of typical European food (lighter, less chemicals, typically less fat) as opposed to American food (richer, fattier, more chemical laden).

I still LOVED this dinner out with everyone, ignoring my stomach pains.  But I wasnt even able to finish the ultra small, appetizer size portion of the delectable macaroni and cheese.  Such a sad thing! :-( 

The rest of my time spent with Alex and Dan was the BEST!  We slept in the next morning (well, more accurately they slept in.  I was awake at 7am sharp due to my jet lag.  Great ha ha), we ventured out for lunch to the Boston Burger Company, where they serve some of the very best burgers I have ever eaten in my life (Judith, my close friend from Germany, joined us for this as well).  

I asked Alex and Dan if i might cook them dinner that night, so we headed to the grocery store that afternoon for ingredients, stopping along the way at my VERY favorite pastry/sweet shop ever, The Danish Pastry House.  They treated the three of us to a box of sweets to bring home with us.  Mmmmm.  This might have been the eating highlight of the trip for me, those sweets.  It was also neat to drive around Medford a bit (where I had lived for a number of years prior to my move to Europe).  It made me very nostalgic.  

Back at Alex and Dans, we watched one episode of a TV sow they are currently loving and wanted to show me, we cooked dinner, played Cards Against Humanity for a good hour or so (this elicited a LOT of laughs) and just hung out, reconnected and had a ball.  This time with them was outstanding for me.  As I said, it was like we had never been apart.

Rocky (aka Rock-A-Doodle) slept on the bed with me the morning of my departure from Alex and Dans.  SO cute.

I spent a couple of hours wandering around Boston on my own the next day.  Got a totally delicious and luxurious one hour massage at my very favorite massage place and then headed to Harvard Square to meet Jenn, another very close friend of mine.  We elected to meet at Crema, the cozy and inviting little cafe that we had met at every week for about a year and a half prior to my move overseas.  This is the cafe where our friendship really took off, all of our dinners and hours of conversation had here over months and months.

Crema Cafe in Harvard Square

With Jenn <3

Jenn and I had a stellar time here this afternoon. We spent almost 4 hours here!!!  Steeped in interested conversation, laughter and catching up.  The hours literally flew by.  We were shocked when we looked at the time.  Then we headed back to her apartment.

Another highlight of my trip.  Being reunited with Bug (aka little Buggy!!!).  Bug was the pet of Adam and I (along with Olivia) for about 5 years.  Jenn and her boyfriend, Steve were kind enough to take them in upon my move overseas.  Olivia now lives with a small family who were neighbors of theirs last year.  They sound like a really nice couple and according to Jenn, they daughter loves Olivia.  So this is really nice to hear.  But Bug is still with Jenn and Steve, much to my delight.

Upon seeing him, my heart filled with joy.  Giving him up before I moved wrenched my heart out.  He is hands down, the pet I have loved the most of any I have ever had in my life.  He was my little guy.  When he saw me, I received the same wide eyed, stunned stare that is the default face of Bug.  Hilarious.  Then that night, he fell asleep on me and remained there through much of the night.  My heart overflowed <3

After my time with Jenn and Buggy, I was able to meet up with George, my friend/previous guitar teacher at The Thinking Cup, a sweet little cafe in Boston right next to the Commons, for tea/coffee to catch up.  This was lots of fun!!!  We talked about all sorts of things.  Travel, books, our current lives and projects each of us are working on, Boston, work, etc.  It was great fun seeing him again, the conversation was easy, flowing, really fantastic time.

Decorating Christmas cookies with my family at home in NH.

Mom <3

Spencer, my brother <3

Mini photo shoot time at home....it just sort of happened ;-) lots of giggles.

New Years Eve!!!  Mom and I spent the first hour and a half of the evening dancing in her living room to Just Dance, the best game ever, on the Wii.  Then we dressed up and headed to Portsmouth, NH.  We wandered the crowded, lively, snow covered streets in search of nachos and drinks.  We finally happened upon a little Mexican restaurant where we enjoyed possibly the biggest vat of Guacamole I have ever been served at a restaurant before, with chips and a drink.  This was lots of fun.  We took pictures and laughed a lot.

After our guacamole and chips, Mom insisted on wanting to dance.  So we headed out into the night, stopping as we heard a muted thumping beat coming from right next door.  In front of us appeared to be a nondescript apartment door, bright red, dingy, dirty looking, not inviting in the least.  A man stood outside with his arms crossed over his chest.  My Mom inquired as to what was happening inside.  The man told us it was a private party, a well known DJ from Boston was spinning upstairs, cover was $10.  Mom asked if we might just go upstairs for two dances, thats it.  And not pay any cover.  After a moments hesitation, he waved us upstairs.

At the top of the dank, dark staircase, the smells of sweat and stale cigarettes surrounding us, we walked into what may have been one of the sketchiest parties I have ever been to in my life.  Men danced erratically throughout the room, young women were passed out on couches in the back, the room was crammed, throbbing with people.  A girl who could not be any older than 24 wore a top which had her breast literally exploding out of it, half her nipple exposed.  I looked around, jaw agape.

My Mom already put our coats in the back and was grooving to the music, beckoning me to join her.  This was one of our funnier moments, myself reverting to my tendency to sometimes be uptight and uneasy in situations like this.  My mom not letting it bother her and instead just having fun and moving to the beat.

I watched her for a few moments, a big smile on her face.  She was right.  The music was awesome.  Thumping, totally dance worthy, a bit sexy.  What did our surroundings even matter.  We were just staying for two songs, that was it.  And actually, the situation was a pretty hilarious one.  So, I tossed my coat aside and danced with her, losing myself in the music and actually having a blast.

We ended up dancing for about three songs, keeping mostly to ourselves, laughing and having an awesome time.  A couple of admirers made their attempts to join us in our dancing but we didn't let them.

This night ended up being a BLAST :-D  I loved it.

And now for my last full day in the USA, Friday, January 1.  My mom offered to host a party at her home, so that I could invite my friends and spend more time with them.  It ended up being small and intimate, but lots of fun just the same.

Jenn and Steve came (sans Buggy ;-)), my godmother, Susan joined us.  Sarah and Kyle, her now-husband as of just a few days ago ;-) they joined us.  And finally, one of my longest friendships, Derek whom I have known since we were 17 came over and joined the party.

We played Catch Phrase, Scattergories, a game called Werewolf which Derek showed us how to play, and then ate a lot of delicious food (homemade macaroni and cheese, shrimp, homemade applesauce, cookies, etc) and had a great time talking and telling stories.  This was a wonderful day for me.

With Jenn and Steve!!

With Derek!

I departed back to Germany the next day, on Saturday, January 2 from Logan airport.  On the way down to Boston, Mom offered to take me to lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant, La Carreta.  YES!!!!  We shared my most loved bean and cheese nachos and I enjoyed a chicken taco.  So delicious.

On the way to the airport, my Mom asked if there was anywhere in Boston I hadn't been able to see while I had been there.  I mentioned Beacon Hill to her, which is possibly my favorite area of Boston (along with Back Bay), so she drove us there.  We wandered the area a bit, and I took a ton of photos, as you can see below :-D I loved this.

Then we were off to the airport where we said an emotional goodbye and I headed back to Germany.

The ultra famous Acorn Street in Beacon Hill, Boston.

Boston from the plane!!!

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