Welcome to Season 6 of The Radio Vagabond
This season I’m back in North America and will be releasing travel podcasts from my visits to New England, Canada, Upstate New York, Texas, Mexico, and Florida. But before we start, let’s pick up where I left off last season in Czechia.
CHECKING OUT OF CZECHIA
After staying a few days in an old wooden house reconstructed into a charming little hotel in the middle of the forest close to a lovely lake, it was time to check-out and head to the airport to leave the Czech Republic. I chatted quickly to hotel owner Malena about a camel I saw walking past my window (yes, a camel). She tells me that I am not going crazy, the camel is indeed real, and it belongs to local farmers. Phew, I thought I was going around the ben.
Not long after camel-spotting, I was on a plane over the Atlantic on my way to Boston, Massachusetts, for a bit of vagabonding. In the Boston International Airport immigration line, I was about to use my new ESTA visa as my previous one expired a month ago, which got me sweating like a gipsy with a mortgage. Thankfully, all my paperwork was in order, and the friendly immigration officer allowed me to enter the country. After collecting my backpack from the desolate carousel, I was on my way to meet up with my local friend, who offered to host me for a few days.
I met Brianne Miers at a travel bloggers’ conference in the Philippines 2 years ago. We kept in touch, and she offered to put me up when I got to Boston, so here I am. She has a really great apartment which she shares with her adorable elderly dog, Lucy.
The next morning we took Lucy for a walk at Castle Island, a 400-year-old British fort on a little peninsula near South Boston, or Southy as the locals call it. It was the perfect opportunity to reconnect with Brianne. Brianne was born in New Jersey, lived in Denver for a bit, attended Graduate School in Washington DC before moving to Boston about a decade ago. Although Boston is far smaller than New York City, Brianne enjoys its history, nightlife and cultural scene. We chat more about Boston being perhaps the most ‘European’ city which is maybe why I like it so much.
Brianne is a freelance writer, photographer, and travel blogger, who has been to 45+ countries since her first trip overseas to China at the age of 11. Her blog, A Traveling Life, focuses on balancing a professional career with a life of travel, and it’s her goal to take at least one trip each month.
“I started my blog a few years ago with the intention of showing that it is possible to maintain a professional career while travelling significantly. Although it is for everyone, it is particularly aimed at Americans, who don’t commonly receive many vacation days each year, and choose to travel close, like Mexico or the Caribbean. I just wanted to show that with a little planning and creativity, it’s possible to see a lot more of the world.”
Brianne could be a full-time nomad like me if she wanted to, but she tells me that she likes to have a home-base to return to after a long 3-4 month haul on the road. And she has to take care of Lucy, of course, who is no spring chicken.
“I have a car and a house just for my dog”, she jokes. But living in Boston has its perks with regards to work. “I have built up a really strong network here which has really helped my career. So for now, living in one place makes sense.”
FACTS ABOUT BOSTON
Boston is named after a town in England. Many of the city’s first settlers came from Boston, England, and simply kept the name. And it’s a city that was first with many things in the USA:
- When you think of old Subways in the US, you might think of New York. But in fact, America’s first subway was built here in Boston in 1897.
- They also have the oldest public park in the USA. It’s called Boston Common and was established in 1634.
- The first Dunkin’ Donuts was located in Quincy, Massachusetts, about 11 miles from Boston.
- The very first chocolate factory in the USA was in Boston. The year was 1765 when Walter Baker opened his chocolate factory here.
- The first American lighthouse was built in Boston – the Little Brewster Lighthouse in 1716.
- The first Thanksgiving in the country was celebrated in Boston.
- And Boston is home to the first college in North America. I’m talking about Harvard that was founded in 1636.
Driving in ‘southy’
After a relaxing stroll with Lucy in her favourite place, Brianne continued telling me more about Southy. “Typically in this neighbourhood, including towns along the East coast of Massachusetts, the housing architecture is rather unique. There are many ‘triple deckers’: narrow wooden homes with three storeys with a front porch built to house factory workers. Over the years, they have been renovated and remodelled, but many of the outer structures are kept intact.”
We continued our drive and passed a Starbucks, which had a few protesters outside. Brianne tells me that chain stores are generally not well-received by many of the city’s historically proud Irish families. They prefer to keep their city supporting local businesses.
We then drive to the Sea Port on the bay of Boston Harbour, an area booming with new infrastructure and high-rise buildings. We talk about the contrasting reception that this commercial zone is receiving from locals: some see it as work opportunities. Others see it as changing the city’s facade: a typical dialogue occurring worldwide, it seems!
A few famous people come from Boston: actor Ben Affleck, Late Night talk show host Conan O’Brien, and standup comedian Bill Burr. But perhaps the most famous Bostonian ever was the 35th president of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy.
JFK LIBRARY AND MUSEUM
The amazing John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum was opened in 1979. It is dedicated to the memory of the 35th president of the USA. It’s a large and impressive 164,000 square feet building (more than 15,000 m2) beautifully located on a ten-acre park overlooking the sea. The library stands as a tribute to the life and times of John F. Kennedy.
After buying a $14 ticket, I took a tour and learned a lot about President Kennedy’s life, leadership, and legacy. It was fascinating, and I highly recommend anyone doing it when you find yourself in Boston.
BACK WITH BRIANNE
After an entertaining and informative tour through the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Brianne picked me up, and we drove through the city to show me a few landmarks. We passed Blue Hills Pavilion, which hosts great outdoor music concerts in the Summer, Yankee Lobster, which serves the best and freshest seafood right off the boat. And of course, Harpoon Brewery, a famous regional brewery.
NEXT TIME ON THE RADIO VAGABOND
One of the things that brought Boston international acclaim in recent times was, of course, the tragic Boston Marathon Bombings. In the next episode, we’re back in the car with Brianne to hear about her experiences that day and the following week. And then, I’ll take you to a place where everybody knows your name…
My name is Palle Bo, and I gotta keep moving. See ya!
Either way, I would love to hear from you. It’s so nice to know who’s on the other end of this.
A special thank you to my sponsor, Hotels25.com, who always provide me with the best, most affordable accommodation wherever I am in the world.