Another standby trip, and therefore another last-minute one, booked the day before.

I'd been to Boston once before, aged 19, which was ... one or two years ago now. I don't think I took a single photo: I had been visiting MIT to interview a researcher working on an early AI project, and my focus had been very much on what was inside the lab rather than outside it. I thought it was about time a made a repeat visit, paying a little more attention to the outside world.

I was combining the trip with a visit to NY, largely because there are more flights home from there, but I was also overdue a visit.

I can normally find a good hotel deal in 10 mins or so, but Manhattan is a different case altogether! Hotels in Manhattan are never cheap, and you have to be very careful to avoid the seemingly-upmarket ones that don't have en-suite bathrooms. I did look at Airbnb, but there was nothing remotely central that was cheaper than the best hotel deal I found. Boston hotels are also not cheap, but at least cheaper than Manhattan.

Since I'm self-employed and don't get any holiday pay, my plan for this trip was to leave my body-clock set to UK time, work in the mornings from 6am to noon and then have the afternoons and evenings free. That way, I'd only be taking two days off, for the flights out and back.

Having fairly recently bought a large-sensor compact camera, the Sony a6000, and been impressed with its performance, I decided to conduct a brave experiment and leave my trusty Nikon D3 at home and rely solely on the Sony for photography! I did this with some trepidation, but if it did indeed prove up to the task, it would allow more lightweight travel.

Virgin has two Boston flights a day, but as the morning one would mean leaving home at around 4am, I figured I'd go for the lunchtime edition. My Brompton said it wanted to come with me, and I've never been any good at refusing it.

I dropped the bike at check-in (always scary to see it disappear into the depths of Heathrow's baggage system!) and was pleased to see the upgrade fairy was my friend.

(Not my lover today, but my friend.)

Then time to test another Apple Watch feature: scanning the QR code in the boarding pass at Security. The guy there said it was the first time he'd seen someone do it. Success, and off to the No.1 Traveller lounge for a long-overdue breakfast.

London weather was making a good case for my getaway plan.

Virgin's Premium Economy really is excellent, and I had a very comfortable flight.

Boston is very civilised, with a free Silverline bus transfer from the airport into the city. My hotel was very central, close to Copley Square (first on the list for the following day's afternoon ride), public gardens and common. The description in Google Maps sounded reassuring.

Sure enough, it was a nice, old-worlde hotel, a bit of the faded grandeur thing going on, but not too much of the former and enough of the latter. Fast wifi, which would be needed to work on Monday. My iPad is also on Three, enabling me to use data exactly as I would in the UK at no extra cost.

My room was small but comfortable, with a Brompton slot to the left of the bed.

The front brake was stuck on, suggesting it had had a bit of a bump somewhere along the line, but was otherwise fine. A bit of random fiddling freed-up the bike so it was just rubbing very slightly.

With aircraft pressurised to 8000 feet, keeping my tyres at 100psi is a bit risky, so I deflate them to 70psi, so popping into a bicycle shop was already on the agenda for the morning, so I'd get them to take a look at it then.

Unpacked, I took a brief wander around the area, but was tired and aiming to stick to close to UK time, so didn't want a late night. Gene and others on Facebook recommended a lobster roll, with Gene saying that Legal Seafood did the best. Handily, there was a branch within my hotel.

It was indeed delicious, and also about the size of a truck. I didn't manage to finish it. A half bottle of Kenwood Russian River Valley Pinot Noir washed it down nicely (yep, I drink red with seafood because I drink red with everything – sue me!).

I slept well, and woke at 5.30am, so my plan to keep my bodyclock on somewhere toward the UK side of the Atlantic appeared to be off to a good start.

My sister Claire was in hospital for an op the previous day, so called her and heard it had gone very well.

Item two on the agenda was finding a nearby bicycle shop to get the front brake adjusted and borrow a track pump to reinflate the tyres to 100psi. Google Maps suggested this one.

However, neither that nor any others opened until 10am, and cycling on 70psi tyres risks a puncture, so I decided to start the day on foot, with a walk to Copley Square, and several hours and one breakfast later I was still on foot.

Boston Legal fans will recognise this building, on the same street as my hotel and a couple of blocks down.

Here's the more familiar view.

I didn't spot Denny or Alan – bit early for their balcony time.

Boston is lovely. Like London, there's a fantastic mix of old and new architecture, though Boston also has a bit of art deco in the mix here and there.

You can never go wrong with a bit of art deco.

American fire appliances always look like something straight out of a movie set.

Then back to the hotel to collect the Brompton for the short ride down to the bicycle shop. When travelling with my Brompton, I use my T Bag as hand-baggage as it's big enough for everything else and gives me a bag while cycling locally. It's a little big as a day bag, but rolls down so isn't too unwieldy.

My visit to the cycle shop became a return one. The chain came off and the gear cable got caught in it, which they kindly sorted for me while I drank tea at a nearby coffee shop. Very friendly people, too, who were keen Brompton enthusiasts. Community Bicycle Supply – highly recommended.

That sorted, I rode back past my hotel, through the gardens and onto the common. It was a beautiful day.

I then did some fairly random cycling (mostly deliberately) before heading out to the fish pier to cycle the waterfront. This was slow (very fiddly, billion pedestrians) but enjoyable.

I'd spotted a ferry dock with water taxis on my way past, at Rowe's Wharf, so headed back round to find out about trips across to East Boston for a sunset shot of the city across the water. Logan had looked like a good possibility, and there were frequent crossings until 9.30pm-ish, which would be enough time with sunset at 8.10pm.

I was Officially Hot by this time, so found a place to get a cold drink and wait for the sun to do its thing.

The water taxi offered a single crossing for $12 or a return for $20. I got the return; this would turn out to be a mistake.

The water taxi takes you to a terminal with a free bus transfer to the airport, so I noted this as a potential way of getting to the airport on Monday.

I cycled along the waterfront, which didn't take long. I scouted out a suitable spot for a sunset photo, close to this sculpture.

That done, I settled into a comfy chair in the gardens of a Hyatt with a glass of Pinot Noir and some delicious complimentary and complementary bread and butter.

The sky was cloudy low in the sky, so the sunset wasn't looking too promising, but I'm more of a blue hour person anyway. Sure enough, the sunset, when it arrived, was extremely minimal, but it was still a lovely view (which you've already seen at the top of the page).

The water taxi guy said to call when I wanted a pickup, and he'd be there in about ten minutes. I was less than ten minutes from the terminal, so called and was told he'd be there in ten minutes. I then cycled round.

There are two water taxi companies, and the other one was there. Off it went while I waited. The other one came back. I waited some more. The other one went off again. I waited some more, then called them. Ten minutes, I was told. The other one came back. I waited. The other one went off again.

Finally, 40 minutes after I'd called my company, it arrived.

I had my GPS on the bike and had downloading Open Street Maps for Boston and New York. I'd expected these to load as separate maps, as that's what happened last time I downloaded European ones, but they in fact appeared in my main mapping, which was convenient as I didn't have to switch maps in the device.

Unfortunately, OSM didn't appear very au-fait with Boston's many one-way streets. Very many one-way streets. I think when they designed the city, they started with the world's largest collection of one-way streets and then added some buildings for a bit of visual interest.

So my navigation back to my hotel in the dark was somewhat indirect. But I got there in the end.


Sunday began with a long and enjoyable Skype chat with Sophia before heading out to cycle along the riverside paths to Cambridge. It was raining but warm, so still very pleasant.

So much so that I completely lost track of time and distance and found myself in Watertown, about twice the distance. I turned around and cycled back to Cambridge where there is some kind of law school.

Somewhat to my surprise, no jobsworths came rushing out to tell me I couldn't take my Brompton inside, though it did have to sit in the lobby while I had a look inside the library itself (where photos aren't allowed).

Harvard did feel a little like it was trying a bit too hard to be Oxbridge, but it is definitely worth a wander around.

Ah, there's the man himself.

But isn't this place supposed to be Ivy League? Where's the ivy? Ah, found it.

I'd cycled 19 miles by this point, and spent around an hour at Harvard, so figured it was time for lunch. Found a steak house that did an amazing NY strip steak with a whisky-based BBQ sauce. It was delicious!

So too was the rainstorm that started while I was there. So much so that I got an emergency flood warning while I was looking out of the window watching it.

I drank tea. And more tea. And Facebooked. And still the rain hammered down.

I always say that there's no such thing as the wrong weather for cycling, only the wrong clothing. On this occasion, I had my waterproof jacket but not trousers or gloves, and only one pair of shoes. Since the street outside was already looking rather river-like, I decided a cab back to the hotel might be a smart idea – it was only five miles direct.

My plan for the evening had been a trip to the top of the Skywalk in the Pru Tower, but the weather was really not cooperating. We'd had three inches of rain in as many hours, and there clearly wasn't going to be a sunset.

I checked out the webcam view, which confirmed that there wasn't going to be any point visiting.

The only plus side was that would allow me an early night, as I had to start work the next morning at 6am local time.


My alarm went off at 5.45am. I thanked it. Well, spoke to it, anyway.

I managed to do a sufficiently convincing impersonation of an awake person to work. The good part was that as I only had 4.5 hours of work to do, my work day was complete by 10.30am.

I had a promo for 11/9 running that day, and saw the email had gone out. You have to discount the book to a maximum of $2.99, which I was doing for one week.

The promo worked reasonably well, though of course you have to balance out the additional sales against the much lower return and the cost of the promotion itself. On balance, it was worthwhile. There's another company that offers a similar thing, but they insist on a $0.99 price, which would only make sense if it generated a lot of sales.

It was still raining hard. I had breakfast and drank tea. Figuring my Brompton wasn't going to see any more use that day, I packed and went for a walk, but it was Grey with a capital G (perhaps that should be Gray on this side of the pond), so I didn't even take my camera out.

And then it was time to head out to the airport for my flight to NY. A short but very enjoyable visit.