Harvard Darling

Trip Start Jul 27, 2009
Trip End Dec 09, 2009

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Where I stayed
Hostelling International Boston
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Saturday, December 5, 2009

After avoiding the cereal and slimy yogurt at breakfast I was ready to roll for the Harvard tour at 10. Unfortunately the tour guide was nowhere to be seen so the hostel ended up printing off some directions and walking all twenty of us to the bus stop. This brilliant organisation got us to the bus in time for us to see six or seven rangers with their blue lights going ten to the dozen following a FedEx van. The van wasn't going that fast though, and the rangers weren't really speeding, just manoeuvring around like fools; the biggest fool was a larger old man who I reckon was the chief going past the turn-off for the highway and then having to reverse through the lights as his workmates waited for his 3-point-turn. He won't be the coolest cat at the station tonight.

We got the bus straight through to Harvard Square, an uneventful ride unfortunately, though I did sit next to the most awkward looking man just to annoy him: he was clutching his bag far too tightly so it was amusing to watch him squirm as I smiled cheesily at him.

Harvard Square provided no cover from the rain as we stood waiting for the tour to start, then suddenly a long-haired short boy jumped up to the front of our crowd and bellowed for us to 'gather round' as we said where we from and he introduced himself and his fellow tour guide. I'm sure this would have been fun had it not been for the rain. Maybe. After he and the other chap had told us they were from Florida and Washington D.C. respectively, we followed their little straw hats into the grounds of Harvard, having the gates pointed out to us that students should only walk through when first entering as freshmen and leaving as graduates or face a dreaded curse. The second guide told us how he failed his first year because of this. Likely story.

We learnt of the $57,000 guard box that was built because of the Harvard/Cambridge rivalry, and the many influential people who had studied there, including Matt Damon and Bill Gates, who both dropped out. Apparently Al Gore and Tommy Lee Jones were freshmen roommates at the university too, wonder if they're still chums. The guides then surprised me with the information that women weren't able to graduate with Harvard diplomas until 1999!

More wandering through the grounds and toward the church-like structure that apparently burnt down even though it's across the road from a fire station, attributed to the rivalry again as the station is in Cambridge. The rain continued as we listened to the story about the library that is second only to the Library of Congress for its collection, and its ghostly reading room for the son of the benefactor who died on the Titanic after he left his lifeboat to collect his recently acquired Gutenberg bible from his room. Apparently it was in her contract that the library has to put fresh Daffodils in his reading room every day so his ghost can read in a fragrant room. Blimey.

The chat finished there, which I was quite glad about as all I could focus on was the guide from Florida's excessive production of saliva that threatened to leave his mouth and head our way at any given moment. It's like eating habits, I just can't look away once I've noticed. Fatal.

His spit polish production did nothing to hinder the tips going their way, as they'd told us frequently that the tour was free but they expected tips: a suggested tip of $10. Pah. I had a $20 note or $1.86 in change. I do not wish to declare which I chose to donate, but if you know me at all I bet you can guess.

Back toward the Harvard shop that we all avoided once we saw the prices and onto the subway for a ride back to Back Bay. As a group of five of stood waiting for a second train, a Cockney lad in the group said about waiting and an American said something to him along the lines of 'you British' and 'we beat you in the war'. We ended up standing next to the man on the train, after two seconds of which he promptly got up and moved to the other end of the carriage. He's clearly not one of the Americans who jokes 'we forgive you' when you mention being British. His loss.

A wet welcome back to downtown and we headed to Dunkin Donuts for the first time on my trip for a hot chocolate. What a yummy way to end the trip.
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