I ended my visit in Maine by visiting the Portland Museum of Art, downing a pot of lychee black tea at Dobra Tea, then harking down my friend Ally from the streets, who was pointedly walking the opposite direction despite a city map and many verbal instructions (I'm directionally challenged as well).
She, Justin and I had lunch at this whimsical diner called Silly's. The walls are artfully cluttered with family photos and random memorabilia and the wait staff was really upbeat and friendly. There were numerous vegetarian, vegan, glutent- lacto- free and dietarily-modifiable food selections. Then the milkshake menu, how outrageous! The possible combinations were endless, such as a rice milk shake with bacon, avocado and strawberry jam with (I probably wouldn't do that)! However, I ordered a regular vanilla shake with graham crackers and coconut with my spicy falafal wrap. It was fantastic! Justin ordered fried pickles as well, so we were so full. Like all the other establishments I visited in Portland, this one is worth a stop.
And off we went to New Hampshire! Ally's family owns a beautiful farmhouse built in the 18th century on 200 wooded acres, spotted by creeks and crumbling stone walls. It snowed pretty heavily the next day and we found ourselves in a winter wonderland.
We went snowshoeing!
Ally showed me around Concord, the capital of New Hampshire, a mere 15 minutes away.
I was actually astounded by the New Hampshire state house, not expecting the gold-gilded dome and architecture! We wandered around a few floors as the state reps were heading home at the end of their day. Kind of embarrassing that I've never seen the New York capital building or state house...
Another perk of the small-ish scale of New England is the proximity to large cities like Boston. For $25 we bought round-trip bus passes for a day trip. I had never visited Boston, and although we only had until mid-afternoon, it was a glorious day to visit. Courtney lives north of Boston and she took a train in to guide us around!
We strolled along Newbury Street with all the fantastic (if not over-priced) boutiques. I was able to purchase a paisley tunic from a secondhand shop and a shirt from H&M. Out hunger bordering-desperation, we ducked into a downstairs brasserie called Daisy Buchanan that sought to emulate the Great Gatsby with stained glass walls and a luxe bar feel -- that actually fell flat. Our waiter mumbled almost incoherently and the food was cold. Sometimes you receive what you pay for, I guess! Haha, but as consolation, we stopped at Georgetown Cupcakes. I had a caramel praline cupcake and a chai that were almost too sweet, but delicious nonetheless.
So after being spoiled all week by Ally's father's delightfully plated cooking, we parted Saturday for school. I'm glad the residences opened a half-day early so students like Ally could settle in without feeling rush. The semester started yesterday! I'm not necessarily supposed to be here, but with my heavy coat, scarf, boots and backpack, I fit in with the rest of the student body. There's been many double takes of, "Hey-- aren't you supposed to be in China?!" And then the pleasant surprise that I am living the gypsy life on campus until Saturday morning... but then my bemoaned realization that everyone here will be at least 1/3 of the way through the semester by the time I start my first class in Shanghai.
It's an odd feeling, just floating around and not having a permanent residence, but my house where I've lived for the last year has accommodated my sleeping bag (also borrowed) and food in the refrigerator. I didn't want to mooch too many swipes off of everyone's meal plans. And actually I'm just as busy as last semester because I've been volunteering, attending a few classes (just as a preview for next fall), researching for a grant proposal, going to meetings, frisbee practice, cooking and dates with friends. It's been amazing catching up with those who were abroad last semester. I feel washes of anxiety and sadness knowing that I won't see most of the seniors again for a very long time, but hey, that's what time does. Everyone has to move on.
The North Country is FREEZING right now. As in, 1 degree Fahrenheit today and a high of negative 4 degrees tomorrow. I am tempted not to leave the library just so I don't have to bear it...
Listening: "Speed of Sound" by Coldplay