Highs and Lows of International Travel

I’m in a rather lovely hotel just off Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA. Yesterday I hopped off the subway just north of the river and walked up Main Street through the MIT campus and onwards into Harvard. What a contrast between the two University campuses. Both like Manchester are very much integrated into the urban area, but there are vastly more big name chains and shops integrated into them. MIT has many ultra modern buildings, whilst Harvard seems to have many more that share the classical architecture that the older Oxbridge colleges offer.

After a bit of wandering I managed to find the hotel and after checking, I headed back out into the sweaty night iand wound up in a top bar called Grendel’s Den. This little gaff served the local beer, Sam Adams, and some too sweet for my palate stuff called Magic Hat #9 from Vermont. Factor in some top food outside on the terrace and live music from a band just sitting on park benches playing to folk on a humid, warm summer evening and it was a great way to spend the evening.

Of course actually getting here was rather more complicated. I recognise in the wake of 9/11 that they Americans are rather more security conscious but… The UK side of things was fairly normally. Getting frisked before boarding doesn’t seem that unnatural anymore. Having to give index finger fingerprints and have a digital photo taken at the passport control in Philly did feel like a bit of an invasion. From landing to getting to my connecting flight (which involved getting through passport control and then customs) took an hour and a half of standing in big old queues. I know it took exactly this long because I only just made it onto the plane. They literally shut the door behind me and started taxiing off.

Perhaps predictably my luggage (which I intrusted to an Ice Cube lookalike at baggage re-check-in in Philadelphia) still hasn’t arrived. The fact that the luggage carousel wasn’t working and everything was being stacked into a fairly big heap pehaps wasn’t a good sign. That it’s current whereabouts isn’t exactly clear is a fact that didn’t go down to well with me when I enquired at reception a few minutes ago. It might turn up today. If I’m lucky… I literally have what I am wearing – an issue that can be sorted with a trip to Gap or some other store shortly. My concern is what else is in my suitcase – namely all my stuff for the conference and the power adaptor for this laptop. Arse.

Author: Cris Bloomfield

Usually mountain biking in the North.

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