Thursday, November 14, 2013

Arriving in Bawh-stun

It's not everyday you celebrate your best friend's bachelorette party. So when I arrived in Boston to start the festivities, I was overjoyed. I was going to spend a week in Boston, doing exactly that.

I arrived at the Boston Park Plaza hotel after a rather excellent 7.5 hour flight direct from London Heathrow to Boston Logan. A short trip to the duty free section provided me with everything I needed for the party - a bottle of Veuve Cliquot and a gift box of the finest beauty products for the bride-to-be for recovering after all of our late nights. I figured we're not old yet, but we're old enough to need a little help in looking like grapes again rather than raisins.

I had never been to Boston before, so it was a major and pleasant surprise to me when I found out how easy their public transportation was. Rhinda, being the master planner that I try to be, had sent messages around beforehand on how much a one-day versus one-week pass was ($11 versus $18) and what the nearest tram stops were to the hotel. From there I went to the info center in the arrivals hall and mapped my way to the hotel. Took about 40 minutes. I definitely bought the week pass. Why wouldn't I, at that amazing price? A one-day pass in London is about $15. I think you get the picture of how ecstatic I was at this price. This is ridiculously low.

After checking in and talking to the groom-to-be John about some things, I putted around a little bit. What would I do for the several hours before Rhinda showed up? It would only be us two for the first night, then other girls would start arriving the next day, then more the next day, etc etc. Eventually there would be a full six of us sharing the room. We were going to make it work just like in the college days. Luckily a little more luxe though (staying in a nice hotel with six girls instead of a terrible hotel with thirteen girls).

I walked down the streets nearby and took in the gorgeous fall weather. It was sunny and warm in Boston, which was amazing. I'm talking high teens Celsius, which is fantastic. Even the Bostonians were surprised at how unseasonably warm it was still. I love breathing in fresh warm fall air. It's such a luxury nowadays.

As I walked around the blocks, I saw what a gorgeous city Boston is. Unlike London it seemed pretty walkable and reasonable to get around on public transportation (everything took about 15 minutes either walking or transit), and as we were there for longer this was only confirmed even more. Everyone was super nice and talkative; this is something I've missed so much about America. The openness. The ability to approach someone and just start talking about anything; the lack of fear. The friendliness. This is definitely one of the friendliest large cities I've been to in a very long time. And it was amazing.

After consulting the concierge, I picked up a brie and fig jam sandwich, a bottle of red wine, and some snacks for later in the night and booked a massage for an hour later. Clearly I knew what I would be doing in the few hours before Rhinda arrived - relaxing.

I ate a bit of my sandwich and arrived right on time for my appointment, which was awesomely across the street.

The sandwich was incredible, by the way.  I only ate half of it before my massage, not wanting to be too full during my session. The shop I bought it from was a gourmet cheese and wine shop. It was the only grocery store in a half mile radius. I guess one thing Boston does not excel in is grocery stores. I think the entire time we were there we didn't see one. Not only do they not have major grocery chains, they're also incredibly hidden. The closest thing we found were CVS least there were many of those.

Anyway, back to the massage. I'd spotted the place walking to the hotel earlier. It was called Exhale. Located next to the Hermes shop (no big deal or anything). The joke later after I told Rhinda how to get to the hotel and she passed the detailed instructions to everyone else was, "I always orient myself via Hermes."

This place from the outside looks quite small; they offer nail services and yoga classes. You can see high-end yoga clothes being sold and boutique jewelry. So when I arrived five minutes before my appointment time I expected to be ushered straight to a room with a table and that would be it. It did seem kind of expensive at $135 per hour, but I figured I didn't care; it was located near an Hermes and I was on vacation. You give it up a little sometimes.

I was in for a genuinely good surprise. After signing all the appropriate forms about how if I die during my massage it isn't their fault, I was led to an elevator and we went downstairs. When the elevator opened I was led through the entirety of the spa. The entirety. Included with my massage price was use of their facility, which included rainforest head showers (all inclusive with amenities such as shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body wash, razors, hair ties, brushes, hair dryers, etc), towel service which included robes and slippers, a steam room, and a quiet room (every good spa has one of me...this is where you fall asleep after your massage and feel great about yourself with that designer magazine in your hands and that cup of hot tea or refreshing cucumber water while wearing your bamboo fiber robe...I'm not kidding).

Fool of a Took! If I had known my massage had included all of this business I would have come hours before and been pampering myself instead of walking the city. It's fine though; I'd done good activities like settling up the bottle of wine for the night and gathering my food least I knew I had a half a sandwich waiting for me back in the hotel room. I tried to console myself with the knowledge that I could do all my spa relaxing after the massage instead. No one would be missing me for several hours still.

And then I had my massage. Which was genuinely good and necessary. I know I say this like a first world asshole, but it's true. Everytime I've gotten a massage since moving abroad the only words the masseuses have for me afterwards are, "so should really get massaged more often." Dude I know! I'm trying! They're expensive and I'm busy...if I had a masseuse at work (like I used to in San Diego) or one down the block from me, I'd be there every week (no joke). The Thai people clearly have the right idea by including it in their health plans. It really is preventative medicine.

Anyway, then I did my several hour steam room multiple-shower pampering, and I almost did fall asleep in the quiet room but I had a 900+ page Vogue to keep me busy, so I was too interested to fall asleep. Yes, it's true, I do find designer clothes so interesting now that I'll refuse sleep in order to finish a 900 page magazine. Apparently I was in there for so long that the receptionist thought I had left and charged my card so I had to fill out the tip part separately. Whoops, my bad.

I went back to the room after that and ate my sandwich while watching wonderfully guilty American tv (things like "What Not to Wear" and "Alaskan Girls Looking for Love"...that last one sounds like a porn but really it's hilarious...they really are a group of Alaskan girls looking for love in Miami...something to the tune of, "I know how to hunt and live in minus temperatures and be a man...being girly is confusing and the men here are so pretty!").

Eventually Rhinda arrived and we opened the bottle of wine and caught up as only good friends know how to. Like in the up-until-4:30am-talking kind of way. Yeah.

And that is how we started Boston. Fitting, because the other nights we didn't go to bed that much earlier. It was a week to remember...

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