Monday, June 02, 2014

Enough about Boston; Let's talk New York

Alright, so Boston isn't my cup of tea (ha.), but thankfully this trip also included New York, which is a nation unto itself. As I've mentioned before, I like New York. There is so much happening all at once that it is impossible not to sit back and admire the sheer beauty of the city.

On that note, let me discuss a little more about why I love cities. Right now, there are at least eight million people living in New York City and nearly twenty million people living in the metro area. All of the people there are there for different reasons. Perhaps they were born there or moved their due to the sparkle of promise of Big City (a draw that has been around as long as New York has been a city).

In an average day, each of these millions of people will come into contact with dozens if not hundreds, if not thousands, of people. These interactions range from standing beside someone on the subway to conversations that will lead to life long relationships, or even discussions that will create an empire of commerce or creativity. Together, these interactions form the basic social fabric of the city and there are billions of interactions per day in a city. That, to me, is amazing, but what I love about cities is not so much that, but rather the nature of these interactions.

The vast majority of the interactions we have reflect our fundamental human nature: The vast, vast, vast majority of these interactions are either friendly or at least non-hostile. There are people who look at the city and fear it, but I look at the positive. There is crime and violence in the city, but it is a mistake to assume that that is the city. The city is comprised of the millions of people and billions of interactions that peacefully co-exist in a single place. This diversity and generally cooperative nature gives rise to the individualization and market niches that can only exist in a city.

To me, that is wonderful and why I love cities.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Classic Modern Pastries in Boston

Seattle doesn't have much of an Italian community. At least not in the same way that you find on the east coast.* While here in Boston, I had to try Modern Pastry Shop to get a taste of what I was missing. The shop itself is located in the old Italian community in the North End. This area is the older part of town and while there is a lot of history here, it is pretty obvious that the narrow streets and twisting roads that are today popular again for their charm were once written off as "obsolete" and in need of urban renewal.

The interior doesn't seem like it has changed much in a long time. The shop itself has been there for over 70 years, but the pastry chefs have, according to their website, been making pastries for over 150 years. I'm happy to say that the cannoli live up to the expectation: The sweet ricotta was perfectly balanced and who doesn't like pistachio?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Boston's Neptune Oyster

So, I didn't care to much for this trip to Boston, but that doesn't mean everything was horrible.

Just look at that lobster roll. Hot buttered lobster. Delicious!

This is the type of lobster that is hard to come by in Seattle and that you wouldn't really see on the menu in the same format. This particular roll comes from Neptune Oyster, which has a near perfect rating on yelp. The restaurant itself retains a bit of classic 1920s charm while serving up some fantastic seafood. The raw bar served up some of the largest prawns I've ever seen (below) and the sandwich above would be welcome for just about any meal. It is a rich, decadent sandwich that I would actually recommend you split between two people (Half a sandwich is just about a perfect amount. More risks lobster overload).

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Much ado about Boston

I almost always have something good to say about a place, but I have to admit that I'm a little ambivalent about Boston. Perhaps it was the biting cold weather and time of year or perhaps it was the relatively short period of time that I had there, but I don't have much to recommend for Boston besides some really good lobster rolls. Even the skybar was ho-hum compared to many that I've been to (and there are some very meh skybars out there).

First the facts: Boston is one of the birthplaces of the nation and there is a lot of history embedded within the main downtown city itself. The back bay neighborhood, as much as it is a commercial strip today, is also an excellent example of late 19th century brick work and urban design. There are prestigious universities (Cambridge) and classic institutions, such as Fenway Park, throughout. There is also the Boston Commons, which for some reason I thought would be larger. The Boston subway system includes the oldest subway segment in North America, which is always nice for a transit nerd like myself. There ARE nice things there, but...

...I don't know. I obviously didn't go to the right parts of Boston and the well-below-freezing weather probably didn't help either. Next time I'll try the summer. At least the food is good.

Monday, April 21, 2014

At the Top: Gigapan from the Top of the Hub

In Boston, the main skybar for the city is called the Top of the Hub, which is located at the top of the Prudential Tower near the back bay. The view above is from the bar, which overlooks the city. My visit was during the winter, which leaves something to be desired, but during the summer this would be a wonderful view of the lush Boston Commons and historic core.

Prices for lunch are not that bad. $13 will get you a BLT, which is well above a deli counter but only slightly above a regular range for upscale restaurants. Drinks are also expensive, but not extreme. I actually didn't try any of the food this time around. The skybar isn't too bad of a deal if you are already planning on visiting the SkyWalk. $16 for admission or $16 for a glass of wine and about the same view. You decide.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

ExPatSeattleFlyerGuy - I am headed to California!

Well, it looks like I will soon be a Seattle expat. I am moving to California for a job and I leave, well, tomorrow. I am really, really, really going to miss Seattle, but this is a step in the right direction professionally. I have a lot to catch up on here on the blog that has been delayed thanks to the move and new job, so let me give a little taste of what is to come...

Monday, April 07, 2014

Flight Report: Seattle to Boston with a Flightlapse

The best part of the new rules that allow electronics is that in most cases, it means I can have my cameras out at all times on the flight. This is fantastic and I have been able to get some great shots as a result, as well as more fully realizing the whole "flightlapse" idea. This trip was on a United 757-200 from SEA to ORD and then onward to BOS. My last few flights have not been all that great for the views due to them being mainly at night or winter weather, but this time around the weather was about perfect and the camera was rolling throughout the trip.

While taxiing to the runway, I got sight of two interesting planes. The first below is a Hainan Airlines 787. I still have not been on one of those yet, but I am looking forward to it sometime soon. It is just a beautiful plane and I want to see the wings in action first hand (there's a good video of the flex here and another that shows how the wings are articulated here and here).

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival: Holland or the Pacific Northwest?

Spring is always one of my top seasons for Seattle. The city feels fresh, the UW cherry trees stand in bloom, and the weather is hinting at the warmth of summer to come. On top of all of the flowers and trees in the city, we also have the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Mount Vernon. It is about an hour and a half to the north and offers a taste of what Holland is like around this time.

If you are planning on heading up, the time is almost right. The fields are in the process of blooming and should be at full bloom within the next couple of weens (4/12 to 4/20). Right now, there are more than enough to be surrounded by flowers and for them to be a sight to see, but in a week or two it will be overwhelming. It really is quite pretty and for $5 (including parking), this is a pretty inexpensive excursion.

For more information, click here to check out their website and here to see a map of the fields that are currently in bloom!

After the break, nine more pictures of the fields and flowers! Click just below to see the rest!