Like most travel bloggers, I’ve got a rather sizeable list of the places I want need to visit. I take a lot of pride in this list, changing it according to priority, including details as and when they come to me and scoring off a destination whenever I’ve achieved a travelling victory.
At the very top of my list is New England, for although I went there for the first time this year, I’m positively itching to go back. And here’s why…
Nature’s Autumn Melody
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a fascination with those iconic autumnal scenes. There’s something about the burnt oranges and the deep reds and the shimmering golds melting together like a natural melody of sight that’s always resonated with me. I’m a conservationist by trade, so I suppose that’s something to do with it, but I’ve also always felt that New England offers a glimpse of nature at its best. It’s like the trees are singing a heartfelt celebration at the changing of the seasons and everything is in high definition.
Evidently, I’m pretty passionate about it (imagine what I was like when I actually got there. I was hysterical) so with the precision of a couple who’ve spent a long time saving, my boyfriend and I organised a “foliage tour,” with a plan to sort out car hire at Boston airport when we arrived. Having never been to the U.S before, planning a road trip was quite challenging. In the end we decided to drive to Vermont, explore for a couple of weeks and then drive back to Boston through the White Mountain National Forest. We also organised a moose spotting competition.
Blinkered by the Beauty of the Trees
However, all of our careful planning was to crumble into insignificance when we arrived in Boston. For some idiotic reason, we hadn’t researched Boston very well, I guess we were too blinkered by the beauty of the trees, so we weren’t at all prepared for how incredibly fantastic this outstanding city would be. You heard that right: incredible, fantastic and outstanding. Tragically, we hadn’t given ourselves enough time to explore. We only had a couple of hours to eat and recoup and then it was onto Vermont in our car hire of wonder. I know, we were chastising ourselves as much as you probably are.
So what did we do? We drove to Vermont and back in three days, cutting out the long, slow drive through the National Forest and not giving ourselves the time to really soak in the area. Considering I was completely obsessed with the prospect of tree-spotting, this was a major U-turn in our travelling plans. A foolish move, some might argue, but we wanted to have our cake and eat it too. And eat it we did.
Vermont was a delight. We drove through Roxbury, Groton and Mount Mansfield State Forests, stopped off in Manchester (New Hampshire), Montpelier and Morristown and enjoyed a drive-by glimpse of the state house. Unsurprisingly, we saw our fair share of post-colonial architecture and ate in more roadside cafes than I dare to recall. It was a visually spectacular (if not somewhat rushed) road trip that took in all of the necessary sights: red covered bridges, moose (I spotted three!) and a whole spectrum of autumnal greatness. It was like dashing in and out of a kaleidoscope of burnished colour, if you know what I mean. For those three days, my eyes were glued to the landscape.
But back in Boston, we truly fell in love
Boston is the most magical place in the world for a number of reasons. Firstly, as one of the oldest cities in the States, it is literally saturated in American history. It was the birth place of the American Revolution for Independence (recall the Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre?) and was also the centre of the abolitionist movement. Therefore, its history exudes a passion for independence and freedom. Although this reads like American Dream propaganda, Boston doesn’t feel contrived in the slightest. It feels liberated. This atmosphere is exaggerated by its numerous universities and colleges (including Harvard, of course). The city was positively teeming with academics and bright young things when we were there, drunk on knowledge and a love of their city, no doubt.
Secondly, Boston offers some seriously ripe cultural pickings. From the Museum of Fine Art to the Boston Public Library, we danced around an artistic dreamland all week. I have to say, the Boston library is probably one of the best libraries I’ve ever visited. It’s fabulously ostentatious and filmic, featuring those little green table lamps and a vast, decorative dome ceiling. It has good reason to be over the top, too. Boston was home to America’s first public school, so a love of learning truly runs through its veins.
We walked the Freedom Trail (hence my expansive knowledge of Boston history), and spent a long time on Boston Common. Another marvellous thing about this city is its fastidious dedication to leisure. From Pleasure Bay to the huge nature reserve in the heart of the city, Boston is extensively furnished with lakes, boating clubs and public parks. No wonder it was named one of the greatest places to live on earth.
Whilst our trip to New England didn’t go at all to plan, it offered a sublime combination of nature and knowledge, two of my favourite things. We’re still eager to see more of New England, although I fear that a return trip would find us searching for properties in downtown Boston. Watch this space.
A Guest Post by Emily Buchanan