I love questions that start with “What are you doing next week?” Apparently, the maintainer for Red Hat’s installer, Anaconda, is moving to Hawaii soon. So Red Hat put on a presentation for the system 390 guys. And I was selected to go as well since my new job will be on the install team. The travel booking was a frustrating process. There were two flights available. The first one was through American Airlines and it had a layover in Dallas. The second was with Jet Blue and it was a direct flight. Of course, I wanted to use the shorter direct flight. But it would sometimes show an exception and sometimes not. And during this whole process, the 2nd closest hotel’s rooms booked up (the closest hotel at a 1/4 of a mile away was already sold out). I was forced to move even further away from Red Hat’s office. I ended up in Tewksbury — 13 miles away.

I arrived Sunday night. Surprisingly enough there is a Cracker Barrel right next to the hotel. I was not in the mood to eat at a place that is right next to my house. The whole point of traveling is to experience different things. There were not many restaurant choices around. So I settled on a Longhorn’s Steakhouse (ugh, they even had authentic Texas Chili on the menu). The rest of the days turned out to be much better.

Some of the things that I noticed about the Boston area include:

  • Dunkin’ Donuts is like every where and Starbucks is almost non-existent.
  • Instead of concrete curbs, they use granite (usually shaped at an angle like a triangle rather than square). But isn’t New Hampshire the Granite State?
  • There are vans that have a sign (with lights) up top that say “school bus”. I don’t remember seeing a real school bus though.

On Monday, I ate at Westford Grille. The seafood was not bad at all. They had a number of beers on tap (unsurprisingly Sam Adams, surprisingly Guinness. But it seems that there are enough Irish folk around here to warrant every pub and restaurant that I went to to have it on tap.). On Tuesday, we went to The Brewery Exchange. We had to eat downstairs because some congresswoman or senator was holding an election rally upstairs. Supposedly there are a number of big screen televisions up there and we could have watched the Red Sox in the playoffs. I had another seafood dish and it was not bad at all. But I should have ordered the lobster bake. On Wednesday, we drove to downtown Boston. We warmed up at the Cheer’s Bar on Beacon Hill. And, afterwards, we walked down to Legal Seafoods. This was by far the best restaurant! The clam chowder was excellent. I tried out a new (to me) fish called Arctic Char. It is related to Salmon with a milder flavor. And I finished it off with a Boston Cream pie. Well, not a slice of a pie per se, but it was definitely worth it. In fact, Legal Seafoods was so good that I ate there again on Saturday by myself. (And wouldn’t you know but they have locations in Town Center, Boca Raton and CityPlace, West Palm Beach). On Thursday, we drove out to Firefly’s B-B-Q. There is not that many BBQ joints in this neck of the woods. So Firefly’s tried to make up for it by offering six different styles of sauces. Their Texas Sauce was made with chipotle and black molasses and it was not that great. On Friday, I went out on a limb and tried the Europa Cafe since it claimed that it was a Portuguese restaurant. I was a little worried when I drove to the place using a small advertisement map. But I found it after walking around a neighborhood. The place looked like a small neighborhood bar. There were some tables off in a corner but the lights were turned off. So I sat at the bar instead. I ordered the Chourico a “Bombeiro” for an appetizer and the Bacalhau a Casa for the main dish. The chourico came on top of a cute porcelain pig. The back of the pig was slatted to simulate a grill. The woman poured some Jose Cuervo inside of it and lit it with a match. Another amusing incident occurred when a guy in a purple pimp costume (complete with a large, fake, gold chain that said “pimp”) walked downstairs. The people in the bar gave him grief.

The ride into Boston on Wednesday night was easy enough that I did it again on Saturday. From my hotel in Tewksbury, I took 495 (exit 35a) -> 3 (exit 25b) -> 95 (25b) -> 2 -> Alewife station. And then took the subway down to Park Street. One important thing to remember is to not get off on the road that says 2A. But wait for the next exit for 2. Stoopid trap! Another oddity is on the exit out of Alewife. There are two roads that merge into one and both have lights that turn green at the same time! I wonder who was responsible for that screw up?

I was a little worried at the start of the week since the weather forecast was predicting rain on Saturday. But it cleared up nicely and turned out to be a sunny day in the 70s. I walked the Freedom Trail out to the U.S.S. Constitution and back. The trail is helpful in that it has a line of red bricks (or paint) running along the trail. Or at least most of it. There is a problem when you get to the Faneuil Hall Marketplace and the line runs into a large, open market. And the line runs through two areas where it is fenced off. I took some pictures here. I also climbed the Bunker hill monument. Which was interesting. The width of the stairwell is enough for one person. Yet you always have to pass people going up or going down. The condensation was amazing. Every stair was wet. And after I made it up to the top, I realized that the iron banister (only on the right, not the left side) that I held on was rusted because of the dampness and my hands were stained orange.

Well, my battery finally gave out and I put the second battery in the camera. I love the new high capacity batteries that the Mark III uses. I was able to take 4640 pictures (as well as a lot of chimping) on a single charge!

Overall the trip was really fun. The Red Hat guys sure know how to party. I would get back to my hotel at 1 in the morning each day. Which destroyed my sleeping schedule. I also ate and drank a lot. Oh, and by the way, I did learn Anaconda in depth. The only negative was my upstairs neighbor in the hotel. For some reason, that person would walk back and forth constantly at all hours of the day and night. Which just baffled me. The room is rather small with a bed, a bathroom, a couch, and a small kitchen. I don’t know what required walking back and forth twenty times at a pop.