Travel Tip| Get A Week LinkPass Even If You’re There For 2 Days (Boston)

View from my Delta fllight back to Orlando.

View from my Delta fllight back to Orlando.

Travelling around the outskirts of Boston, I made a mistake (or two), learned the resulting lesson, and am here to share.

I’m frugal, eco-friendly, and patient.  This makes me an ideal candidate for using public transportation anywhere in the world.  I don’t mind being jostled, witnessing vomiting drunk college kids, listening to the latest gossip from conspiring middle-aged minds, and smelling a screaming baby in need of a serious diaper change. I’m good, you see, with just about everything.

So, where did I go wrong on this trip?

Being frugal, I immediately went on the MBTA site to look at passes. There a couple of options for short stays (3 weeks or less): Day LinkPass for $12, and Week LinkPass for $19. (Both provide unlimited subway, bus, ferry and commuter rail Zone 1A travel) 

My dilemma occurred when I understood that I had to take a taxi to my hotel Saturday night/Sunday morning and that I would be unable to leave the area where I stayed until Monday…because public transportation is unavailable in Bedford after 7/8pm on Saturdays. That meant I only needed to travel on Monday and Tuesday.

I thought long and hard about it–apparently, not enough, however.

You see, I only needed to visit four places. I thought, Hmm…well, I can get a CharlieTicket and use bus transfers. That surely will be the best choice. After all, the fare for the bus is $2.10.

First, let’s break down a couple of  prices for the MBTA:

  • CharlieCard $1.60
  • CharlieTicket $2.10

There are, of course, more fares, etc.  For my trip, the above two costs were the important ones.

It is apparent from comparison that travel with the reloadable plastic CharlieCard is far less expensive than travel with the paper CharlieTicket.  They both offer transfers, but users of the CharlieTicket are made to pay a surcharge. What for? I’m quite uncertain.  Still, I get the eco-friendly idea of the plastic CharlieCard versus the paper CharlieTicket.

The problem with the CharlieCard is that you can only purchase it at certain stations between the hours of 7am-7pm or from certain retail stores.  I’m sure this is convenient…if you live in the area.

If you are just visiting and arrive after the sales hour and are not in proximity to one these retail stores, then the CharlieCard fails to be an option. You cannot purchase the CharlieCard from the fare vending machines located inside the stations.

Understanding the above, upon my arrival to the Airport subway station, I purchased a CharlieTicket for $10 (sold in values of $5, $10, $20, etc.) to use on Monday when I needed to leave Bedford for my appointments. I believed that this would be good for a total of 8 trips, i.e. 4 regular fares and 4 transfers.

I miscalculated.

The CharlieTicket does not give transfers from bus to subway. So, you must pay the subway fare separately.

Unfortunately, I had gotten into the habit of the Rome subway system that allots 1 one-way subway transfer alongside unlimited bus transfers within 100 minutes (cost 1.50 Euros).

In Boston, you are allowed 1 bus transfer within 120 minutes (cost $2.10).

In the end, I purchased another $10 CharlieTicket because I hadn’t realized that I would need to use the subway as much as I did.

Total cost of public transportation trip $20 with 2 CharlieTickets for 2 days. Less than 2 Day LinkPasses ($24), but more than the Week LinkPass ($19).

My recommendation? From day one, get the Week LinkPass. You can purchase it from the fare vending machines in the Airport subway station.  If you are going to be in Boston for more than 3 weeks, get the Monthly LinkPass ($75).

Otherwise, get the Week LinkPass.  For $19 you get unlimited bus, subway, ferry and Zone 1A commuter rail travel.

Lesson learned.

Until Friday,


P.S. If you are travelling to Rome, and staying for more than two weeks, then buy a monthly pass (35 Euros). You can purchase them inside major stations or by roadside kiosks! I’ll write a separate post about this soon! 🙂

Travel | Let’s Chat For a Moment: Public Transportation Woes… (Boston Area vs Rome)

Image found via GIS.

Image found via GIS.

I happen to be travelling to Boston this weekend and spending a couple of days for a few greatly needed medical appointments.  To be quite frank, living in Rome has meant living without direct access to the doctors who know my illness best. Still, I’m happy that I have the chance to go and see them–many thanks to my mom and April.

Here’s the thing: being frugally-minded, I made a wonderful deal with to travel roundtrip from Orlando to Boston, plus spend the night in a decent hotel, Bedford Motel.  From the reviews on, the Bedford Motel seemed reasonable and its location was in between or close to all the places I needed to be: Lexington, Burlington, Arlington, and Cambridge.

Of course, there is catch, although there shouldn’t be, but it’s not the fault of either Priceline, the hotel, or even my poor self.  It’s the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority).

Travelling from Orlando, where public transportation is basically nonexistent, I thought “Yes! I’m going to Boston. Subways, real buses, even a freaking ferry!!!” I was truly excited…until I called the hotel and was informed that…

The MBTA does not provide bus service to Bedford after 7pm on Saturdays or 9:30pm during the weekdays.  

What?? Seriously? You have to be kidding me. There I was thinking that I was returning to a little bit of a traveler’s haven, i.e. a city, only to be informed that I had no way of getting to my hotel except via taxi at a rate of ~$130 from the airport or ~$60 from the subway station.

With my savvy traveller skills, I imagined that I had found a work-around: Okay, I’ll sleep at the airport, grab the first subway in and catch the #62 bus to Bedford and sleep for the remainder of the day.

I checked online, found out that it was relatively easy to sleep/hangout in Terminal B 28 until the morning, where there are rocking chairs. I thanked the universe and sighed with relieved.

Yes, I thought I had found the answer, i.e. until I actually checked the bus schedule to Bedford.

No service on Sunday.

What?? Really??

This is beyond ridiculous now.  Why ridiculous? Because I expected more from the MBTA.  Not only was the service limited, but the fare had increased as well!

You see, coming from Rome where the buses show up whenever the driver feels like arriving, I had an expectation of refined service, catered to the needs of city dwellers.  I was not expecting this.

Yes, you may say that Bedford is a small town/neighbourhood/whatever.  I say that there must be working people in Bedford, people who need to get to work or simply get about the place.

In Rome, although the service leaves much to be desired, it is available on the weekends–there is always a way to move about the city, no matter the time.  Night bus services takes you into neighbourhoods that are outside the historic center. That service runs until regular service picks up again.  In Boston, I read that they are diminished night transportation services at the end of June.

So, it looks like I’ll be hopping on the subway and catching a taxi from Alewife to Bedford.  It’s sad news, but for this reason I know that I can never recommend staying at any hotel that is not within proximity of the subway system.  At least the subway runs on the weekends.

Until Next Time,


Travelling while female…and Black (Part 2)

In Florence, photography by D.M. Blake (2011)

Where to begin…where to begin.  I am still listening to Vivaldi.

How is Vivaldi relevant to the topic?  Well, actually, I have found that listening to instrumental music is quite helpful when managing emotions.  And throughout my travels, I have most definitely had to learn how to manage my emotions (although I am not always the most successful).  😉

I have been travelling alone since 1987.  My first trip was a 3-4 hour long flight from Kingston, Jamaica to Boston, Massachusetts.  Strangely enough, I remember feeling neither terrified nor excited–I was busy thinking about the most appropriate way to act, in order to make the best impression on those who would encounter me.  Even at the young age, I had tapped into something that has served me throughout my travels of the years.  That is, neither fear nor excitement will get you anywhere, if you do not behave appropriately.

So, let’s fast-forward some years to 1996 when my mother and I decided to backpack from London to Edinburgh.  Although it was a great deal of fun, it was also my first instance of having someone look at me askance.  What I mean to say was that my long braided hair, bell-bottom (before they were called boot-cut) jeans, guitar slung over shoulder look along with my big blue Jamaican passport causes one of the (thankfully female) guards to do an extra check on me.  It was the first time that I had someone basically put their hands on my person in such a thorough manner.  And I remember recording that in the catalogue of my mind.

Apparently, I did not learn from episode 1996, because in 1999 when I travelled to Berlin to attend an overseas program, again I was stopped and thoroughly searched:  shoes removed and all.  Of course, I was still rocking out in my hippie-mode the long braids, guitar (I think), big blue passport, but then I had traded my jeans for cargo pants…you know, with the many pockets.  The guards at Tegel weren’t having it.  I wasn’t annoyed then…that came later.  I figured I would allow for stereotypes to simply be.  After all, even in the US, people pair Jamaica with the word marijuana, so…

Looking perplexed crossing the Charles River into Boston, photography by D. M. Blake (2011)

Berlin…to Prague?  No, I don’t think so…

Everything changed when I decided to take a trip to Prague to visit a friend in November 1999.  I remember clearly that it was an early morning trip, and already Berlin had become cold.  Even as I journeyed to Prague, I could see the pilings of snow covering buildings and streets–At that time, snow still fascinated me.  (Live in Boston for a couple of years, and you get over the fascination really fast).

So, what could have happened on that trip?  Well, long story short was that I, along with other people of visibly minority status, were escorted (I use that for the sake of politeness) off the train and told to return to Germany…i.e. even with my big old visa that gave me the right to enter into the Czech Republic and thus visit Prague.

Yes, that’s right.  My passport was taken from me and I was kept in a holding area (feel free to read into that a little) until train heading back to Berlin had arrived.  Mind you, in German I directly asked the German border patrol what the meaning of this was.  He equally directly and quite civilly told me that the Czech didn’t want people like us there, and that was the reason for our removal. Wait…People like us??  

Well, that was my first and last time to have an experience like that…and why?  The following is not a definitive reason.  However, I will say that the episode caused me to do something I never thought I would do… I decided to become an American citizen.  I understood that with my Jamaican passport, I would continue to run into problems. Now, please, understand that this is merely my experience and my then-logic.  I understand now that problems with travelling can occur regardless of your passport. The little blue passport, however, did help me in my travels.  No longer did I get the strange delays and the weird looks (okay, so I still got the looks). 😉

(Expat in Korea celestrial81186 at YouTube.  See part two here.)

Okay, so what does this all mean?  No, I am not saying every person of colour  who is not American should run out there, toss their citizenship, and try to become an American citizen.  I am proud to be an American citizen and equally proud to be Jamaican.  What I am saying is that it is possible that the origination of your passport potentially can help or hinder your ease of travel as a person of colour.  Again…these are just my thoughts.  Also, there is a difference when travelling to a place for vacation, and staying in a place for a longer period time, but I will come to that next…  😉

Also, if you have specific questions about travelling, please free to ask and I will address them in my next post.
Until Next Time.

P.S. I was attempting to find a cute cartoon featuring Black women travelling…and so, I did as we are expected to do these days and went on Google Images…What did I find?  Well, nothing could be posted.  Many of the cartoons were quite derogatory towards Black women.  Now, why is that?

Surrending to surprise…

Sitting on my bed with one boot on–wet–and the other carelessly tossed on the floor–dripping–I have come to the realization that I am not as spontaneous a person as I could be.  In other words, I do not particularly enjoy surprises and like things to be in order.  In other words, I am a bit of a control freak. 😉

So today as I made my way to the university, rain falling and drivers honking, I was quite decided that The Weather Channel along with everyone else with whom I had spoken during the previous day about the weather and the chances of snow falling in Rome… were quite wrong.  The morning’s rainfall did nothing to change my perspective.

Setting out for the day, I dressed in my it’s-absolutely-positively-only-going-to-rain gear. I went to my first class, a meeting, then the pharmacy, and then my eyes  met with the fall of snowflakes.  These snowflakes were not the tiny snowflakes the disappeared as they landed… Oh, no, these were the huge, mushy, hahaha-we-are-here-to-stay-so-just-deal-with-it kind.  I was wrong. It is snowing in Rome (and hell did not freeze over in response to this event as I had suggested to myself, nor did pigs fly–I have a talent for engaging in denial… at times).

Snow storms, ice storms, and blizzards experienced in Boston last winter as well as my corresponding fibromylagia flare-ups, I realize now, were made into distant memories.  A past that no longer touched the present, or so I thought.

The snowfall was a “surprise.”  My emotional response was even more so–I was happy.  You see, cold and snow has meant to me the experience of increased pain and fatigue over the years.  More importantly, snowfall produced within me a feeling of anxiety because I feared for my physical wellness.

To be happy to see snow, to think of Boston, to feel the cold of my past meeting my present, is something for which I am truly grateful.  I am happy that somehow the world in which I once lived is making a space for itself in the one in which I am now living… So,

Happy Snow Day, Rome…

and to everyone else in places covered today in white!

Today I have learned that joy can be found in surprises whatever the form they take… just like in one of my favourite films Il Tigre e La Neve (The Tiger and the Snow).  This film reminds me that the accidents/surprises of life, of living, creates the poetry of our existence.

Until next time!



Things you believe, things you say, things you do…

Breaking the Circle: Failure, photography by Dolores Juhas (

There have been points in the last few days that I have experienced doubt.  I have written about experiencing doubt, and it is unlikely that during any period of transition that one never experiences doubt.  Thus, I will not harp on this subject.  Rather, I wanted to write today about an experience that actually caused me to confront my doubt… And it wasn’t that scary.


Things you believe

Per Joshua, photography by Dolores Juhas (

Everyone engages in self-talk, which can be positive, neutral, or negative.  More often than not, however, I find that people engage in a great deal more negative self-talk than positive.  This process of negative self-talk can, undoubtedly, have a lasting impact on one’s self-esteem and one’s view of the world.  Often our negative self-talk stems from our earliest experiences, e.g. during childhood, and are based upon both direct and indirect external messages heard expressed about ourselves by others.  These messages are then internalized and become part of our self-talk, specifically automatic thoughts.  Again, automatic thoughts, like self-talk, can be positive or negative.  There are three important factors when it comes to automatic thoughts.

  • They are repetitive.
  • They are typically self-statements. (For example, “I’m such an idiot!”)
  • They are reactive, tending to occur in response specific stimuli, but are not based upon any reflection, thus they are called automatic.

Now, why am I going on about this?  Well, remember my earlier statement regarding my experience of doubt?  My doubt surfaced due to some automatic thoughts that I had been having, which were reactions to number of different experiences.  Just as my automatic thoughts brought my doubt, so did my self-talk take away my doubt.  The key is how you choose to understand the people and the situations around you.  More importantly, it is how you choose to support a healthy self-esteem, or not. 




Centrifuga, photography by Dolores Juhas (

Things you say


I have been spending a great deal of time sitting in front of my computer screen lately.  This process can have its benefits and drawbacks.  The benefits?  Well, I am always connected to family and friends in distant places, and I have a wealth of information available for consumption at my fingertips.  The drawbacks?  Well, I am always connected to people, some in distant places and some quite near.  The wealth of information available for consumptions sometimes can be poisonous.

My Italian language book and dictionary sit on the nightstand next to my bed.  Often, I open the dictionary; rarely, I open the language book.  I have been learning Italian sort of piecemeal, a little immersion and a little grammar translation.  Where I am is a fairly comfortable place: slowly acquiring vocabulary words and being able to express my thoughts in present and past tenses.  What, however, I would like to begin focusing on is superlatives and second conditional, amongst other things.  I decided at some point on Friday that perhaps what I needed was a tutor in Italian!  So, I began searching online for one in the Boston area.  Guess what?  I found several, but decided to send one person an email of inquiry.  I received a response that same night.

Snimak stanja, photography by Dolores Juhas (

Saturday, I arose to find, however, to find a secondary email, stating that the tutor needed to “finalize” the teaching schedule, and whether or not I was ready to begin lessons – Now, I try not to make too many sudden decisions in my life, and prefer having time to reflect.  Given that there was a sense of urgency on the part of the tutor, I sent back a response, stating my thoughts on making quick decisions and wishing the best of luck.  What happened next was quite shocking to me, unnecessarily hurtful, and resulted in negative automatic thoughts.  I received an email that stated, and I paraphrase, but not very much:

Based upon your attitude, I can tell that you would not have been a good student.  Also, your “decision-making” process in regards to moving to such a difficult country as Italy is equally foolish.

Wow!  This was a message from a stranger… a person I had never laid my eyes on, but had sent a message of inquiry regarding language services offered.  Hardly did I realize that in choosing to allow this person to “finalize” an important schedule, while being able to maintain my ability to take my time making decisions that it would result in the above statement.  I will state that I had not mentioned moving to Italy in my email.  Rather this person took the time (and I offered thanks) to read my blog, and then to craft a message that I perceived to be quite malicious.

I always try to find the good in every situation, however.  And I took my time to reflect on my emotional and intellectual responses to this unsolicited message.  I realized two very important facts that I needed to address immediately:

  • I had been engaging in negative self-talk… and very much of the automatic nature.
  • This tutor had expressed one of my thoughts very clearly to me, “I was foolish to think to move to Italy, because it is so difficult to do.”

I had been so busy engaging in a bit of “faking it till you make it” that I had not realized (or was engaging in a bit of psychological denial).  I had been suppressing an intolerable thought, i.e. I was “foolish” for choosing a seemingly difficult path.  This is why the message was so hurtful – I got stuck on an automatic thought.  A very simple statement, “I am/was foolish.” 


The Sunflower View, photography by Dolores Juhas (

Things you do

This thought played on repeat in the background of my mind as I made my way through the day on Saturday, and then into Sunday.  At times, I felt a sense of despair, and I decidd that I needed to change this, but in way that would be most helpful for me, and allowed for me to both self-forgive and to forgive the writer of the message.  I turned to some simple activities to improve my self-esteem and mood.  These are the same activities that I have used in therapeutic practice.

Three Steps to Better Self-esteem

Rebutting the inner critic –

  • Be reassuring
  • Be specific
  • Be logical
  • Be objective

Practice self-nurturing –

  • Take care of basic needs – sleep, hygiene, etc.
  • Take care of fun needs – relax, go to the movies, meditate, etc.
  • Take care to reward yourself – celebrate achievements: large and small; spend time with friends; compliment yourself
  • Remind yourself of your strengths and achievements
  • Forgive yourself when you do not do all that you had hoped
  • Self-nurture even when you feel that you do not deserve it

Get help from others –

  • Ask for support from your family and/or friends – ask them what they like about you, have them listen to you vent, ask for a hug, etc.
  • Ask for support from teachers, professors, advisors, counselors/therapists, etc.

 Thus, I went through each step: confronting my thought through rebuttal; taking care of my emotional and physical well-being through self-care; and asking for support and advice from those close to me, and those who have experienced similar challenges.  Thereafter, I practiced a healthy dose of being a “good parent” to myself.

 What is being a “good parent” to yourself?  Well, it is a process by which you respond to yourself in a way that a nurturing parent would (the definition of “good” is really left up to the individual, but “good” can be continually re-defined).  The process is known popularly as re-parenting.  Thus, I practiced this skill, and reminded myself to let go secondary emotions, such as guilt and shame. I have come to a conclusion that an important daily goal is…

always to move forward with better understanding and regard for one’s self. 

Untitled, photography by Dolores Juhas (

Vrijeme po mom satu, (Photo of the year:, photography by Dolores Juhas (

Dolores Juhas is an award-winning Croatian photographer.

During her childhood she lived in Hungary, but returned to Croatia after the completion of her primary school education. She has been fascinated with art and artists since childhood.
It was after discontinuing her studies tourism and economics, however, that she discovered her passion for photography.  Since 2007, she has been establishing herself in the professional world of photography.

Dolores’ work focuses on the subject of the human form, which she conceptualizes through the elements of romanticism and fantasy.  Her goal is not only to capture authentic human expression and emotion through her subjects, but to personify those emotions by pushing visual illusions and pursuing innovative directions in which to do so.   As a result, she seamlessly combines photography with various visual components to create a fusion of reality and imagination.  (From Dolores Juhas Photography, Facebook:

The familiar, a foundation, and finding my path back…

I could make many excuses, and all would be equally reasonable, as to why I have not written in so very long.  What I have come to realize is that no matter what, none of these excuses change the fact that I haven’t been writing, and that’s that.

Snow covered ground now

bones stiff with age like dried tree

limbs for wildfire


Alice stepping through the looking-glass, John Tenniel (1820-1914)

So, what, pray tell, have I been doing with my time over the last week and a half?  Well, I have been learning what it means to be back in the Boston area, to be back with my family of choice, and to be around all that is familiar to me.  Somehow, however, the familiar has not been as comforting as perhaps it should be.  Rather, I find myself rather disconnected and jarred by the experience of being back…  I feel displaced as though I have landed in a version of Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, where I have stepped back into a life that is quite upside-down, backwards, and surreal.

"Passage of Freedom", photograph by Dolores Juhas (

Each morning the snow on the ground shocks me, and stiffens my bones.  I spend my days perusing employment advertisements in English, Italian, and German.  I research immigration information, and download more and  more forms, and consider the challenges involved in moving to Rome.  It is in these moments that I think about the days I have spent there, and the people, whom I have met;  and most importantly,  the person who I have become because of my journey to Rome.  Thus, these challenges have become opportunities for self-growth in my mind, and I understand that it is only through perseverance that one can truly accomplish one’s goals.  For myself, the goal now is to be happy, and at this moment in my life, where I am happiest is in Rome.



It has been amazing to me to hear the various responses when I say that I am planning to move to Rome.  😉  The conversations usually go something like this:

Me: “Yeah, I would like to move to Rome by the end of September.”

Person: “Wow! Do you speak Italian???!!”

Me: “Umm…. No, not really…  Surely, I can learn though.  Right?”

Person: “Yeah, I suppose…. Um… Do you know how hard it is to get a work permit to work in Italy??”

Me: “So, I’ve heard.  I am a pretty positive thinker though.”

Person: “Oh.”

"Fragments of Freedom," photography by Dolores Juhas (

I am often amazed by how easily others can be deterred by a seeming obstacle.  For myself, I recognize the challenge in getting a work visa, but it is not impossible – It is merely difficult.  If, however, I simply threw my hands up in the air and said, “Oh, forget it!  The Italian government won’t give me a visa!” then my cause is already lost, because I have already made the decision for them, i.e. that I do not want the work visa.  This is not my way, however.  I am laying the best foundation that I can, so that my application will be accepted, and if plan A (self-employed work visa) does not work… Well, there is always plan B (being hired by an awesome company who will do the paperwork for me)… And plan C is in development! 😉

Finding my path…

Thus, I begin by reaching out to all who I have known, asking for guidance and open to all ideas, and welcoming new persons and concepts.   All in the hope that this will lead me to further wisdom regarding the path I am creating to achieve my goals… And my goals are far more complex than the desire to go to Rome…

There, and back again

warmth of Rome’s winter sun now

cold snow of Boston



There… and back again…

Villa Doria Pamphili, 2. 21.11

Toward the within

unguided steps and dimmed light –

Discovery waits


Life sometimes can feel to me like a Choose Your Own Adventure story.  Perhaps you might remember these books?  They are the ones that were written in the second person and had the reader make choices as a part of the narrative.  Based upon the choices of the reader, the story could end suddenly (usually, badly or with a neutral conclusion) within a few pages, or could continue until the last page, if memory serves me well, with a positive ending.  So, why am I reflecting on this today?

Well, as I get ready to leave Rome, I realize that I am at a crossroads in my life.  So very much has happened in the last five months, it sometimes seems unfathomable.   From going through these experiences, however, I have learned that beginnings and endings are much the same: filled with anxiety and adventure, which are all due to the uncertainty that both beginnings and endings bring.  Thus, I find and have found myself a bit like Bilbo, the hobbit, finding comfort in what has always been familiar, but recognizing too that the “greatest adventure is what lies ahead.”

D in studio, Rome, Feb. 2011

Too often in my life, I have fixed my gaze upon my past, and then when I would look at my present, I could not see the possibilities of my future – Instead I relied upon the desires of others to effectively move me from point A to point B in my life.  I realize now that I have learned and can move on from my past experiences, focus on my present, and look and move towards my future based on my own desires.  Moreover, although my future may be unknown to me, I can look to it with a positivity that is based in the certainty of my own self-efficacy and assurance in my support system – Coming to Rome has taught me in a most profound way that I am loved as I am and also as I evolve.

Strange day finds me lost

Yet still much the same – Found and

Changed because I choose


Back again…

Thus, the journey begins… with one decision made, one path chosen, one step forward… towards a future truly unknown.  So, I return there… to America, to Boston, to the comfort of what I have known…  However, I am coming back again… to Rome.

Trevi Fountain, Rome (2.19.11)

I do not need to toss a coin over my shoulder in the waters of the Trevi Fountain.

After all, is it not as they say, “All roads lead to Rome…” even if for a moment in one’s life… and how one defines the duration of a moment, well… who knows?

In the interim, I return to Boston to see those whom I love and to visit familiar places.  I am not one for missing people or places, but I am missing Boston as I am already missing Rome.  In both of these cities, I have found a sense of home and have made connections with people I hope always to have in my life.

Wondering how to

start. Rome is in its winter-

No frost on windows.