Tag Archives: travel

Eating in Boston USA: Part 1

On our recent trip to the US we stayed in Boston for five days. Now we had to eat – breakfast too, so where did we go and what did we eat?

We had breakfast several times in The Thinking Cup by the park. This was a great place – used regularly by locals for both eat-in and take-out. It served Stumptown Roasters’ coffee. This is a small (ish) coffee roasterie with ethical values – producing excellent coffee.P1030341

Whilst in Boston we visited Cambridge (yes there’s one of every town in the US it seems) where Harvard is situated. On a lovely day we wandered the streets and shops. The houses are beautifulP1030367 and so are many of the buildings in this area. And as for the jewellery shops with their hand-made silver – well. I did succumb and bought some earrings. We would especially recommend the Brattle Street and Church Street Cambridge Artists’ Co-operative for handicrafts.

So what about food in Cambridge? well we went to Burwicks Chocolatieres  where we were subjected to an Austrian style cake shop! Oh dear – the different types of hot chocolate that were available not to mention the creamy chocolate cakes! you could choose which type of chocolate you wanted from single origin eg Peruvian, to multi mixed.

P1030363We also ate at the Clover Food Lounge. This is a student run vegetarian cafe where you can have a light lunch. For our evening meal we went to the Russel House Tavern which is a bistro pub and very good.

Cobbles and Fountains

We stayed in La Palma’s old town of Santa Cruz de La Palma. LA Palma street with cobbles This is a mostly car-free, narrow alleyed, cobble streeted, wooden housed and balconied Spanish style town. Cobbles seem to be no object for the stiletto heeled locals! That said, I did find the local fashions rather stilted and overly fussy – over smart or over sparkled and over loud in many cases. I confess I did attempt to go shopping but was surprised by how little in the way of clothing I could find to buy!

Now jewellery was somewhat of a different matter, although again many styles were over large and over ornate. Still the pearls are always tempting as is the green volcanic rock they call olivine, but also known by the trade as peridot in some cases it appears. When polished up to a glitter with facets it is a lovely colour.

Due to Spanish regulations there are no hotels in this particular town but we hear that a boutique hotel is due to open shortly.

So we had to stay in an apartment hosted by a charming German women called La Fuente (means Fountains or Sources). Sure enough there was a tinkling fountain in front of the hotel. La fuente was a traditional old Spanish style house that had been added and re-worked over several years and now rose up 6 stories to a roof top terrace if you could climb the stairs with a grand view of the town and  the rooftops.


It had a number of major advantages:

  • It is only an alleyway distance from the seafront ;
  • It is on a major pedestrianised street;
  • And if you are lucky, the apartment has a window seat and window onto this street. This gave us a wonderful view of the Easter Parades – more of them later.
  • But don’t expect to be able to do much cooking – just 2 rings and very little in the way of crockery and pans etc.. but
  • There are lots of eateries all down the street and you are opposite a good pizza place.

La Palma also had an interesting artifact in the middle of town – a replica Spanish ship. Not quite sure of the reasons for this, but it was very attractive especially at night when lit up.

Overall, this is a very pleasant tourist town with coloured buildings all attractively painted with the trim picked out in contrast colours and squares and churches and…. not forgetting that the mountains (well volcanoes) press right up against the edge of town ad a collapsed mountain is just at the very edge (a caldera) and the sea is there too.P1010415 P1010416 P1010394 P1010376 P1010375 views of Santa Cruz de La Palma

night view

Canaries in the nest and up the mountains….

We have just come back from a trip to the Canary Island some of the time on La Palma island and some of the time in Tenerife staying with some friends. These friends have a large patio attached to their flat on the second floor and have several large bushes of local varieties (including a 10 foot high Strelitza which we gave them last time we visited and which has grown very well indeed…) and the local wild Canaries (yes they really do come from there!) have nested in their bushes. We spent the morning and early evening watching them in the nest as the parents came and went and the little ones spread their wings and balanced on the edge of the nest. Which it turned out was a bad idea as one over-balanced, tried to fly and couldn’t and thus fell onto the patio and broke its neck :(.

Wild canaries are more speckled than their caged brothers and also more green.

On a better note we also have a nest (or more but one we have a camera in so we are sure of) of blue tits in our next box.

This is proving endlessly entertaining as we see the parents feeding the hungry little ones. When we left there were just 3 eggs in the nest – and mother came and laid one a day and then flew off… clearly though she had been busy whilst we were away as 6 or 7 have hatched and we think there are 2 or 3 more eggs still in the nest underneath the mass.  She has endless difficulty getting them safely under her body for brooding as there are so many of them, and what will happen as they grow and the other eggs hatch, I just don’t know.

P1010809 P1010752 P1010790 P1010735

Here are some pictures of the little ugly ones… so embryonic and the little tufts on their heads are so cute! I will keep you all informed of their progress and photos will appear as we get good ones. We actually managed to catch one hatching as it is a live video stream which we then capture on camera as the pictures pass… a bit tricky hence the poor quality but!

Back to the Canary Islands.

We landed on Tenerife which was 20 degrees in the evening and went to the Hotel Reveron in Los Cristianos. This hotel has a 6 storey stained glass atrium!

Atrium P1010353

Our ferry across to La Palma was not until the next morning so we had the following day in Los Cristianos wandering around and walking to Playa de las Americas. All the beaches except for one (maybe imported?) have black volcanic sand with some rocks and rock pools. Behind the beaches are sand dunes which in many places are a Reserve with many unusual plants.

Books disagree but there are between 500 and 1000 endemic plants to the Canary Islands some being just small variations on others but still. I am trying to track down the names of these wild plants as I post them as they were so wonderful to see such variety and lushness in places and desert scrub and mountain terrains in others. Of course the landscape is very varied due to the volcanic eruptions and slides but the islands are all peaks on a large volcanic sub-bed which almost links them in places (see Lanzarote and Fuerteventura on the map below) but also provides for shallow water good for fishing. There is a new island gradually forming too.  See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6GHox-KeF4 for more details.

volcanic map

It might be worth mentioning as in this blog (http://modernsurvivalblog.com/volcano/300-foot-tsunami-and-east-coast-destruction/) that if there was a big blow out in the Canaries there is potential for a major disaster including a Tsunami larger than any previous that would inundate New York! Do remember that this is still a very active volcanic area…. El Hierro was acive in March 2013 (http://www.volcano.si.edu/volcano.cfm?vn=383020&bgvn=1&rnum=region18&snum=canary&wvol=hierro)

Next morning we took the ferry at 7am across to La Palma via La Gomera. We didn’t land  on this island but are told it is worth a day’s trip