Mainly Hiking in Maine

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The alarm goes off. 5am. Too early! Do we really have to get up at the breaking of the dawn? I crawl out of my sleeping back and open the zipper door of the tent. It is still dark outside, but far in the east, there is a red line behind the trees. As I walk to the cliffs the line grows brighter and wider. I stand on the top of the hill looking down to the treetops and the seashore that weaves beneath me. Last night I sat on this cliff admiring the full moon. Cold blue light lit the nature and built a silver bridge on the ocean. Now the sunrise burns the sky colouring it red purple and yellow. The sun climbs higher. The colours start to fade. It’s time to curl back to my sleeping bag.

New England has great hiking and camping areas. My friend and I packed our car and drove up to Maine to enjoy the nature after we got enough of the city- and home-life. The coastal route in Maine is a nice scenic one and there are wonderful towns on the way. Portland was quite a charming, easy going city worth checking out. However, there was an even lovelier town on our way: Camden. Such a cute small town! Small harbour, grassy areas for picnic, beautiful library (I have to say that libraries are great: they offer a shelter if it is raining, usually they have free wifi, as well as toilets and books and newspapers you can read!). The wild camping site where we watched the sunrise is located just outside Camden. A short hike up the hill from the trailhead leads to a beautiful area. Unfortunately, we had to share it with some other campers, including an obnoxious group of teenage girls.

Following few nights we spent in Acadia, which is a national park. There we had to pay for camping, but annoyingly the showers were not included in the price ($30/night). However, the trails were good for short hikes. Most of the trails are just a few miles long, but it is easy to combine different trails as the trails intersect creating networks in the park. That way it is possible to walk longer hikes and try out different type of trails in one day. My favourites were the hikes where we had to climb the cliffs using iron rungs attached to the rock.

Even further to the north from Acadia, just a leap from the Canadian border, lies Cutler Coast Public Lands. That protected area has few miles of hiking trails along the Bold Coast. Steep dark cliffs hover above the waves and the wind blows from the ocean. The forest is left as it is; fallen trees are everywhere. The fact that nature was few weeks behind created the feeling that we had travelled backwards in time. Although the forest is in the middle of nowhere, there were people out there. We ran into a couple with two huge dogs, two families and Tony the party of 12 (as they called themselves in the guestbook). It was much busier than I anticipated. Still, Worth the drive!

Back to Boston

Baggage drop, passport control, security check, boarding time…. They mean one thing: travelling.

It takes 2.5 hours to fly to Keflavik (Iceland) from Glasgow (Scotland) and another 5.5 hours from Keflavik to Boston (Massachusetts, USA). Then I am in Boston.

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I am staying with a friend who lives nearby but I am going to spend few days in the city. Last year when I visited Boston for the first time I did not have much time to explore the city. However, it already feels somewhat familiar. I recognize the holocaust memorial. That is the Faneuil hall. Last time I found tourist information there. That is where I will get a map! That is where they have free toilets!

With a map, it is easy to get around. Boston area is huge but the centre area is not that big. One hot and sunny day I walk from Mid-Cambridge to MIT campus, over the bridge to Copley Square and Boston Common and all the way back to Harvard. It is a lot of walking but totally possible.

Last year I walked the freedom trail (which is marked on the pavement with red and white tiles so it is easy to follow), so I am skipping it this time. But I think it is a good way to start the visit and see the centre, North End and East Boston.

I find some great used bookstores from Harvard as well as right next to the financial centre in the downtown. Those quiet but relaxed bookstores are a good way to escape the noisy streets. Of course, there are shops like H&M and Primark as well if they sound more interesting (I visited them because of the toilets).

Even though I sometimes find it hard to find nice cafes (Dunkin Donuts is not a nice cafe) from big cities in the US they do exist. Tatte’s bakery (there are few of them located around the city) has amazing pistachio croissants, as well as tons of other delicious looking things, and fine cold brew coffee. Sadly, the coffee, just like in every other American cafe, is served in a plastic cup. It makes me feel that I am not invited to sit down but should take my coffee and get lost. Rude.

Despite my fondness of walking, the next day I take a subway to Harvard from the city centre. I want to roam around that area a little bit more but I want to save my feet as well. Harvard is nice: low buildings, gorgeous wooden houses and little shops. The university is obviously the main place to visit in Harvard. There is no more teaching this spring. Therefore, there are not many students on campus but it is still fairly busy: the tourists have taken over. I merge into a campus tour that is led by a Harvardian. The tour is quite pricy (10$) but at least I learn some historical information alongside the student jokes as I walk between the red brick buildings.

I’m sure that visiting Harvard and MIT campuses and spending hours in Boston Public Library (which has a beautiful great hall and offers a free architectural tour) increases intelligence. That is where the successful people like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, F.D. Roosevelt, Henry Kissinger, Natalia Portman, (etc.) come from and all the knowledge is stored. I am hopeful that some of that wisdom might have leaked out and stuck to my brain. So perhaps this is an educational holiday?