Car Shows and Furniture Hunting

As I’m getting increasingly settled in Boston, I’m trying to find balance between fun playtime activities and all the logistical stuff that needs to get taken care of after a move. Lucky for me, a lot of the logistics stuff has turned out to be pretty fun too.

To start…a trip to a car show! No, this was in no way part of moving logistics since I am not in the market for an extremely expensive classic car. But it was fun! Throughout the summer, the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline has been hosting car shows. Each week, there is a different theme and cars are displayed on the museum’s lawn. Noah likes cars and I like it when he tells me things about cars, so we went to an Italian car show there!

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There sure were a lot of cars! There was a whole section of Ferraris that seemed to be getting a lot of attention…

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I recognized the name of this car right away from doing crosswords…

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I was interested in the crazy door action on this car, but Noah said he prefers a more classic look:

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There were a lot of Fiats at the show as well, but this one caught our eye in particular:

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This car was built for Gianni Agnelli, the chairman of Fiat. The car was designed because Agnelli wanted a car that he could carry aboard his yacht, so he needed something small, light, and that could be easier lowered off the boat and used for transportation on land. This car – a Fiat Jolly – was the result, and less than 400 were made between 1958 and 1969! They were sold only briefly in the U.S., so they are very rare here. Check out the inside!:

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We also went furniture shopping! This was, obviously, a matter of necessity (#no furniture #movingin5days), but it ended up being a lot of fun. 🙂 We went to two stores (so far), but we’re planning on going to at least a couple more places before making a decision. For this shopping excursion, we ventured out to Natick because there were two big furniture places we wanted to check out there: Bob’s and Jordan’s.

We went to Bob’s first and spent about an hour sitting on various couches and asking sales people information about delivery, fees, etc.

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Bob’s had some stuff I really liked (especially this extra wide chair that was soooo comfortable)…

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…but there was also some stuff that was pretty gaudy. Leather couches with cupholders? No, thank you.

Jordan’s, however, was quite the experience. First of all, the store is on top of a big hill that seems to overlook the rest of the town, so even when we were at Bob’s, Jordan’s was literally looming over us. When we made our way up the hill to go to the store, even the outside was way beyond expectation. It kept going…

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and going….

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and going….

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Noah said it best, “This is the Taj Mahal of furniture stores.”

Inside, there were more surprises:

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What is that?!?! 

It seems as though the inside of this Jordan’s has a New Orleans theme. And an IMAX Theater. And an escalator where paintings of paparazzi “take” your picture (complete with camera flashes and shouting). No big deal.

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After the initial shock of our surroundings, we looked around at furniture. That endeavor, however, proved to be no less overstimulating.

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Wow – what a store. The search for furniture continues, but I think it’s pretty likely we’re going to return to Jordan’s furniture warehouse (cheaper priced furniture) for a couch. Stay tuned!

Boston Highs and Lows

I’ve been in Boston nearly three weeks now, and – my – what a whirlwind it’s been. Here are some of the highs and lows…

High – finding an apartment!

After a relatively painless few days of apartment searching, Noah and I have our own place! We’re moving September 1. Yay!!! (side note: photo below is to trick you and is actually not of the apartment we’re moving to…)

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Low – stolen bike 😦

My beloved bicycle was stolen while it was locked to a bike rack and I was at dinner. Major bummer…but in optimistic spirits, this can become a high…

High – a new bike!

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I got a new, beautiful, Trek FX Disc 7.2. I love it. 🙂

High – exploring the city with Noah!

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One of the highlights of our explorations so far has been an architecture cruise on the Charles River with the Charles Riverboat Company. The cruise lasted about 90 minutes, and we got a Groupon deal for it so it was pretty cheap! We went up and down the Charles, getting some great views of the city skyline, learning about the prominent buildings and history of the city.

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High – a visit to Martha’s Vineyard 

We spent a lovely 5 days on Martha’s Vineyard with Noah’s family, and it was the perfect relaxing vacation – lots of reading, game playing, bike riding, and delicious fresh fish!

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Low – sleeping in too late!

I’ve been enjoying my lazy schedule a little too much and have been sleeping in! This has, unfortunately, meant that I haven’t been getting up in time to go to the November Project with the full group. I have, however, still been going to the Harvard Stadium once a week to run the steps on my own – my time has gradually been improving!

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High – learning the little things

One of the most fun things about moving to a new city is learning the little personality traits of the place. I’ve really enjoyed learning little things about Boston and its eccentricities. For example, we’ve seen some of these solar-powered Soofa benches that have been installed throughout Cambridge recently. The benches have hook-ups for you to charge your phone while you’re out around town!

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Here’s to many more “highs” during my Boston years. 🙂

One Week in Boston

My blogging has been in a bit of dry spell, but it’s because I’m in the sweltering Simi Valley. Simi Valley, in fact, is in a dry spell of its own as the area is experiencing a severe drought. We’ve been asked to cut water usage to 85% of regular levels.

I’m in California for 5 weeks working at a Jewish summer camp program (for young adults!), and I have 2 weeks left. Before I came here, I had about one week in Boston. One week to “settle” into my new home…but I think I’ll really do the settling once I return to Boston in mid-July. Nonetheless, in an attempt to stay connected to the blog during these crazy California work weeks, here are some highlights from my first week in Boston:

1. American coffee in all its forms
Featuring Starbucks, 1369 Coffeehouse, and Bloc 11 – all in the Cambridge/Somerville area

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Although I’m a huge fan of coffee in Israel (and especially the fact that coffee there is served in reasonable sizes!), the coffeeshop menus in America go way beyond the scope of Israeli coffee menus. In Israel, basically the options were Americano or Cappuccino. I missed the milky-madness and sugar-bomb variety of American coffeeshops. 🙂

2. Fitness!!

Running was a big part of my time in Jerusalem, but I didn’t do any group or organized fitness there – no gyms or yoga classes! So, I was extremely excited to get my yoga groove on when I got to Boston. Within my first 24 hours, I bought a yoga mat and signed up for a trial week at Be.Yoga in Union Square:

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I also had my much-anticipated return to the November Project. For those who aren’t familiar, the November Project is a grassroots fitness community that started in Boston and has spread throughout the country (and beyond!). The group has no cost, and it is centered around fun and relationships that are formed by sweating together. The group meets three times a week – Wednesdays are the classic November Project workout: running all 37 sections of the Harvard Stadium steps.

You start at the last section:

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And 48 sweaty minutes later (if you’re me), you get to the beginning!:

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Holy cow. This workout is amazingly hard, but it’s really no wonder that it’s so popular. By the time you’re running up only the second set of stairs, you think there’s no possible way you can get to the end..but then you do. And it is so empowering! I am already looking forward to being back in Boston in a of couple weeks and returning to the steps to try to break my 48-minute time!

3. New restaurants!

Obviously, I love going out to eat. A big highlight of moving to a new city is re-starting the game to find the place’s fun/unique/delicious foods. In the week I was in Boston, I somehow ended up finding myself at Clover three times:

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Clover started as a vegetarian food truck, but it gained such popularity that it now has several storefront locations around the Boston area. There are a few right in the Cambridge neighborhoods, so it is a convenient and delicious spot for any meal of  the day. AND….EXCITING NEWS!!! Clover recently announced that they will be going certified kosher. Woohoo! This is definitely a big win for Boston kosher restaurants. 🙂

I also went for lunch with a friend at a bakery/cafe near Central Square called Flour. Flour has the typical cafe/bakery assortment of salads, sandwiches, pastries, coffee, and soup. But it also has some interesting extras like stuffed bread and homemade pizza! Everything on the menu looks delicious, and I would definitely be happy to go back there again in the future:

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4. Seeing the sights!

Noah and I love exploring. For the Sunday we had together in Boston before I went to California, we went to the Boston Science Museum:

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I had so much fun! There were a lot of really interesting exhibits – photography of food, the human body, electricity…the list goes on. The highlight of the visit for me though was watching an IMAX movie on humpback whales – it was so cool! It turns out that humpback whales were almost killed off by human hunters, but when a recording of their whale songs was accidentally discovered and released as a recording, they captured the hearts of the public and were ultimately saved by a series of conservation and protection laws. Also, baby humpback whales are 14-feet long when they are born – CRAZY!

All in all, I had a great week in Boston, and I’m excited for the adventures to continue when I’m back there in another couple weeks! See you soon, Boston. 🙂

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Yappy Hour

Our first week in Boston, Noah and I learned about an amazing event called Yappy Hour. During the summer months, Yappy Hour takes place each Wednesday evening at The Liberty Hotel in Boston proper. The building that holds the hotel was a prison until the 1990’s. Now, as a hotel, it maintains some stylistic influences from its prison days. Such as these barred windows:

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The hotel also has several restaurants, bars, and lounges with such inspired names as Alibi, The Clink, and The Yard. 

Back to Yappy Hour…

Yappy Hour is like Happy Hour. Except better because it’s with dogs! From 5:30-8:30pm on Wednesday evenings, people combine their love of dogs with that daily desire to get happy through reduced-price appetizers and booze, head to The Liberty’s outdoor patio called The Yard, and enjoy the wonder that is Yappy Hour.

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Noah and I don’t have a dog, but clearly this is an event that would be well suited for spectators.

After waiting in a long line to get drinks (which also involved being slobbered on by a huge St. Bernard), we found a table and did some doggie-watching.

There were cuties:

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Dogs who were sleepy:

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Dogs who wanted to hide by their humans:

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Dogs getting rowdy:

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And dogs doing what dogs do best:

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I also saw a beautiful Great Dane derivative (Great Dane and Dalmatian mix, maybe?):

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Bottom line: Yappy Hour was super fun(ny). I would definitely recommend to all dog lovers – whether or not they have a furry friend to bring.

Biking to the Vineyard (a 6-step program)

Remember all the biking Noah and I liked to do in Minnesota?

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A top priority in exploring our new state is to test out the biking scene. Despite our total lack of training or experience with bike touring, we decided to bike to Martha’s Vineyard this past weekend. Previously, the longest ride we had done was 40 miles on the Minneapolis Grand Rounds. Martha’s Vineyard is about 90 miles from Boston, and we’re not totally crazy, so we decided on a route that included one train, one ferry, and about 60 miles of biking.

Step 1: Prepping the bikes

Since we would be taking everything for the weekend with us on the bikes, we needed to do some prep work. Noah cleaned and oiled the chains,got new tires for his bike, we filled the tires to capacity, and we borrowed some sweet saddlebags from Noah’s parents.

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Step 2: Train

To begin the trip, we took the train from South Station in downtown Boston to Plymouth. Maybe you’ve heard of it….there’s a rock there. 😉

Biking to South Station was a bit of a harrowing experience on the crowded Boston Streets…

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…but we made it to the train and to Plymouth in one piece:

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Step 3: Bikes

After Plymouth, we biked along the Claire Saltonstall Bikeway to Sagamore and then biked along the Cape Cod Canal to Bourne. After crossing the Bourne Bridge we made our way to the Shining Sea Bikeway that took us from North Falmouth all the way to the ferry terminal in Woods Hole (thanks, Noah, for planning an awesome route!!)

In all, this leg of the journey was about 40 miles. The biking itself was fun: we set a good pace, saw some great views of the ocean, and enjoyed the adventure of it all. Although overall enjoyable, there was definitely a significant portion of the ride that took place on roads with little to no shoulder. Some cars were good about slowing down and scooting into the other lane when traffic was clear to give us room but others were not, and there was more than one occasion that I felt pretty nervous about the proximity of our bikes to cars zipping by.

I had one ill-fated fall, but luckily there were no cars racing by at that moment, and I made it out with nothing more serious than a few scrapes and bruises.

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Nothing that an iced coffee can’t fix!

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Step 4: Ferry

Woods Hole is on the far southwest corner of Cape Cod, and it’s the departure point for ferries heading to Martha’s Vineyard. Noah and I were planning to take a ferry to Oak Bluffs on the Vineyard, and we had about an hour to kill between our arrival in Woods Hole and the ferry’s departure. We took the opportunity to get some food (a burrito bowl at Quicks Hole Taqueria) and the aforementioned iced coffee.

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The ferry sure was HUGE!

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Not only does the ferry hold hundreds of passengers, but there’s also space for cars aboard! As bikers, we waited for all the cars to file in and then we were able to park our bikes along the side:

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Step 5: Bike Again

The ferry trip took about 45 minutes, and we still had a solid 15 miles of biking left to do from Oak Bluffs, so we were ready to get going!

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The house we were heading to was on the western side of the island near Menemsha, and when we finally arrived we were exhausted – but pretty darn proud of the day’s work!

Step 6: EAT!!!

After a long and draining day on the road, we were ready for some serious eats. We headed into the nearby town of Menemsha (yes, more biking, but it was a short ride!) for some food at The Home Port. We went to The Home Port’s ‘back door’ – a walk-up order counter.

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The day’s events put us in the mood for some greasy goodness:

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We agreed this was just about the best meal we’d ever had…although we did wonder if it would have tasted so amazing had we not just biked 60 miles.

Before heading home to crash hard go to sleep, there was one more stop to make.

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We went to Menemsha Blues, an apparel shop whose shirts I have long admired. The visit officially commemorated my first visit to the Vineyard.

Check back soon for more pictures and recaps from the weekend!

A New City

For most of the summer I’ve been in the hot California desert working at camp, hence my long blogging hiatus. I’m back to real life now…but real life looks totally different than before.

Goodbye Minnesota.

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Hello Boston!

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The jump from the Midwest to the East Coast has resulted in – if nothing else – a much classier stairwell.

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Boston

Boston

Although I’m not in Boston for very long (only a couple weeks before a much bigger move to Israel!), there were a few things that I was looking forward to doing during my time in Boston.

First and foremost, exploring the new area! I love finding and trying new cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants, and while there was certainly more exploration to be done in Minneapolis, moving to Boston provides a whole new crop of activities. During one of our first days in Boston, Noah and I got coffee at Crema Cafe in Harvard Square.

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I got an iced Americano and thought it was amazing! I’ve been back a handful of times since. In addition to coffee, they also have a nice selection of baked goods and a small menu of sandwiches, soups, salads, and breakfast items. The drinks definitely shine more than the food, but the food is still good. Be warned, however, that Crema does NOT have wifi. A clever trick indeed for a coffee shop!

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I was also really excited to try the November Project during my time in Boston. I first read about The November Project in a Runner’s World Magazine article from November 2013. The November Project is a free fitness/social group that meets in the wee hours of the morning (ie, 6:30am). It was started in 2011 by two friends who committed to working out together every morning during the month of November. To increase motivation, they started posting about their workouts on Facebook and other social media, inviting others to join. Incredibly, people started coming, and today, as many as 600 Bostonians meet on any given Monday, Wednesday, or Friday to work out with the November Project. The group has also spread to 16 other cities! The iconic November Project workout is running the Harvard Stadium stairs (yes, all of them!), and the group continues to do the stadium workout every Wednesday. Monday workouts are held at traveling locations and Friday workouts are running Corey Hill in Brookline.

On Monday, I went to the traveling workout – this week at Old Morse Park in Cambridgeport. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but when I arrived at the park I immediately found a large group already gathered.

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Even though I knew a lot of people go to November Project, it was still surprising to actually see so many people! The November Project cofounders, Brogan and Bojan, still lead the group each meeting. Monday workouts are usually shorter because the assumption is that people run to and from the workout, so after a brief warm up, the workout was seven minutes of nonstop burpies. It was definitely tough and my chest was sore for the rest of the day!

After going once, I could tell that the social aspects of the group are really emphasized. The ‘warm-up’ was more about hugging the people around you (no one shakes hands at November Project – only big bear hugs), learning the names of a few others, and high fiving with awesomeness-affirming “f*** yeahs.”

After the workout, Brogan and Bojan take a photo of the group, give out the ‘positivity award’ to one lucky participant, and ‘Happy Birthday’ is sung to anyone who has a birthday that day. After the Monday workout, a group of regulars had breakfast together at a nearby apartment. Since I knew one of the regulars from Minneapolis, I tagged along!

After Monday, I was a little hooked and wanted to see what all the fuss was about for the Harvard Stadium steps. So, Wednesday morning, I woke up bright and early again and took a short jog over to Harvard Stadium.

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There were a lot more people there for the stadium workout than the Monday meeting, and the crowd was a lot more diverse (ie, not only young people).

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There was one older man (probably in his mid-late 60s) who was there with a trombone that he played during the workout for added motivation!

Harvard Stadium has 37 sections, and the workout is to run up the big steps and walk down the small ones.

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For me, running quickly turned into walking about halfway up each section. To complete all 37 sections is called ‘a tour,’ and Brogan told the newbies (people who had never done the steps before) to aim to complete a half tour. I completed the half tour plus three additional sections. Holy cow, it was SO difficult! I thought it would be tough, but it far exceeded my expectations. My legs were shaking by the end, and I have been incredibly sore since! The stadium steps definitely had a little bit of an addictive quality to them, and I’m already looking forward to going next Wednesday and trying to complete a full tour!

This weekend, Noah and I are taking a bike trip to Martha’s Vineyard, so I hope to be able to post soon about that adventure!