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INBOUND 2016 Recap: Connect Labs Boston Diary

By Alex McLean • December 1, 2016


So we went to Boston for INBOUND 2016! We came, we saw, we conquered, we came home. A great time was had by all. Relive the experience in all its glory with this diary of our time in Boston.

Day 1: Arrive in Boston

Jess and I fly in from Hong Kong together (16-hour flight, if you're interested). It's late on Thursday night. We're almost delirious with relief. The apartment is welcoming and warm. After a brief deliberation, we unashamedly bags the best two rooms with the queen beds. We reason that Soumya is shorter and will better fit into the smaller room with a single bed. Soumya arrives and we eventually fall asleep around 1am.

Day 2: Eat and sleep

Big sleep-in followed by a big walk around the neighbourhood! We're in the Allston-Brighton area, it's very student and cool. We circle back to our apartment and end up at Wholeheart Provisions, one of Boston's many bowl-building dining spots. We freak out looking at and trying to understand the menu, especially me (maybe just me) since I dislike many basic foodstuffs such as tomatoes and capers. Eventually, I figure out I can 'build-a-bowl'. I proceed to make the best bowl ever: brown rice, broccoli, corn nuts, edamame. The others get loser bowls; I can't remember what.

We then go out in search of provisions and go to a local shop. Local shop turns out to be kinda weird and full of brown bananas. Too late to back out though so we buy milk and cereal and Soumya buys a lemon for some reason.

On the walk home, we go past a Walgreens pharmacy and decide to go in. We quickly realise we never need to go anywhere else, as it's a supermarket as well. We buy more provisions. We then go home and watch Netflix for hours on end before getting delicious Burmese dinner down the street. I crash early, the others crash too late. The beginning of our jet lag fun!

Wallards.jpgOur local holy grail

Day 3: Let's get intrepid

Time for some sightseeing! It's colder than we thought it would be. We race through the Boston Commons (a big beautiful park), trying to escape the chill. We explore the Boston Public Library (I enjoy the painted facades) and then head to another bowl-building place for lunch.

After that, we explore Newbury Street for some shopping. I'm keen to buy another pair of Timberlands, but I'm not impressed when I try them on. We also head to Nike where I make the fatal mistake of NOT buying a pair of shoes (refer to Day 10).

We're back in time to greet our intern, Claire. We then proceed to get the worst ever pan-Asian meal any of us have ever had. Throughout the trip, we're astounded to see people in that restaurant every night.

Boston-commons.jpgChillin' in the chill

Day 4: My consumerism erupts

This morning we went for a bit of a walk to Pavement, which turns out to be a chain, which doesn't agree with our hipster ethos. Luckily we don't discover this until much later in the trip. We all order bagels with tequila sunrise in the title and have to eat in front of a mirror (have you ever watched yourself eating a bagel? I don't recommend it). Jess and Soumya are in awe of their enormous coffees.

Jess and I decide to head to the New Balance outlet. Suddenly, torrential rain. Jess and I sprint gracefully like antelope into the New Balance store. I buy an excellent pair of bright green tights and two t-shirts. It's the beginning of much buying on my part.

unnamed-1.jpgJug of coffee with penny for reference

Day 5: Soumya and Claire abandon us

Soumya is off to the HubSpot offices and Claire goes downtown to see Doctor Strange. Jess and I head off to Harvard for a tour. Shake Shack is lunch and I make the mistake of ordering a large lemonade. It's very large.

We explore Harvard with the help of the most Harvard-looking white boy ever. He's very nice. We then keep walking, down past MIT, across the bridge and down the Charles River. It's very autumnal and beautiful. There's lots of fit, intellectual beautiful people with fancy dogs in active wear (the people, not the dogs). We explore Beacon Hill and admire the gorgeous architecture and how rich people live. The Halloween decorations are still up and we're charmed.


Left: normal lemonade and very large lemonade. Right: many pumpkins.

Day 6: Target adventure

I wake up and get dressed, knowing that I have to run down to Wallards (Claire thinks Walgreens is called Wallards, we don't correct her and it's rechristened) to get milk for my cereal. Soumya is up and about and joins me. We find a basketball in the shop and an adventure is born. They don't sell pumps, so we decide to go to Target. We catch the bus because adventure. As soon as we stroll into Target, Soumya is obsessed with the puffy coats for sale. I find a $4 Star Wars singlet, which is literally my dream. It's on. We buy a lot. We find a basketball pump.

Star-wars-tank-281434-edited.jpegA great day

After lunch, Jess and I decide to go on a duckboat tour. We arrive at the harbour to be told that they don't run on weekdays in November. Devo.

duckboat.jpgNot this

We take a trolley tour instead (i.e. a bus painted like a tram). There's only four of us on the tour and the guide gets put out when we don't respond with the perceived level of adequate animation. But he turns out pretty alright. He has some good anecdotes.

We walk the North End (Italian area) and I'm disgusted when my pear tart turns out to be a marzipan tart with a pear on top. Ugh.

As night falls, we walk along the water to the BCEC, where Gary Vaynerchuk is opening the conference. Claire is home crook. The Convention Centre is like a nightclub, complete with DJ. Soumya and Jess attend an exclusive party that has giant bowls of guacamole. I'm not invited so I head on home.

Day 7: Trumpocalypse (and conference)

At 2.45am I look at my phone to check election results. Trump wins. What. What. What. Is. Happening. I'm almost in tears. I message Mum back home. I toss and turn all night. I get up at 7am and Soumya is standing at her door. We shout 'Oh My God!' at each other for a while. Everybody else is up now. We watch the local news. And head off to the conference.

Ta-Nehisi Coates gives an amazing recount on the history of black oppression in the US following Trump's win. People walk out. I'm captivated. And a bit depressed.

My first breakout session is with Natalie S. Burke who gives an amazing talk on diversity, prejudice and inclusion in the corporate world. Check her out, she's truly fabulous. I feel a bit better and little more optimistic. I also get a peppermint mocha frappuccino so maybe life isn't so bad.

Day 8: Conference (day of greatness)

Today was great because we saw Serena Williams talk and she is the most gorgeous amazing talented lady ever and we're best friends now although maybe she doesn't know it. She's interviewed by Michael Strahan who is a former footballer (gridiron football). Serena is actually pretty funny too.

Anna Kendrick also makes an appearance. She's interviewed by Mark Zuckerberg's sister for some reason. Anna is also a pretty neat lady. She's funny and relatable. She talks social media and authenticity online.

Serena.jpgPretty much best mates with Serena now

Day 9: Conference (day of Reshma)

Today was great because we saw Reshma Saujani from Girls Who Code. I think we were all a little emotional! This concept of teaching girls bravery, not perfection, strikes a chord with us. The idea that girls are socialised to be cautious while boys are taught to embrace risk is spot on. Reshma talks about how male-dominated computer science has become (even though that wasn't always the case), and how society and even pop culture has starved young girls of any role models in that area.

We also see Alec Baldwin, who surprised me with his eloquence and smarts. A+ for Alec. But a million A+s for Reshma.

Also, we found an amazing massage station at the conference. A cheerful lady called Diane works magic with tiger balm. Jess is in Nirvana – ever since Hong Kong she's been gunning for a massage.

Claire's partner Matt arrives. We have dinner in a hipster place we literally have to wait 45 minutes for a table in. It's pretty yum though. Claire leaves us for more American adventures.

Final-day-conference.jpgFinal conference day selfie

Day 10: Sleeeeeeeep

I think Soumya is up early, but Jess and I sleeeeeep and it's great. Then it's off again for more shopping. We visit Nike and they don't have the shoes I want in my size. For some reason, there's ONE Nike in the entire of Boston; it's like being in Ballarat. I sulk for the rest of the afternoon. Although I do perk up when we find a fun travel shop. I buy a little lantern for my Dad. We then go to Macy's and I angrily purchase a winter coat, because damned if I don't spend $150 on something today.

Screen Shot 2016-11-30 at 2.32.24 pm.pngI got the shoes I wanted eventually… in Australia

Day 11: Basketball

We finally have a chance to play basketball at the court near our house. Our skill level is embarrassing but we have a pretty good time. Soumya says I'm really good, which is totally true. People have compared me to LeBron. I remember how much I love basketball and I'm keen to get back into it when we get home.

Soumya leaves us! Jess is crook so stays home, but I go shopping again. I have a number of excellent Lyft drivers. Sephora doesn't have the eyeshadow palette I was asked to buy for a friend. I end up in Old Navy though and somehow walk out& with some plaid shirts and coloured jeans. I wear my plaid shirt for Jess and put on my best Idaho accent. I'm a farm girl now.

15016188_544131762439792_7624049831697897484_o.jpgTotally went in

Day 12: Home time...OR IS IT??

Back to the shops again! I need a scarf for Mum. We also find a previously unattended Madewell. Chaos ensues. I buy two pairs of jeans. I now have five pairs of jeans from this trip. But my god, they fit so goooood. And they're dark navy! Jess also has success. Highlight of the trip: a lady asks me a question as if I work there. Why yes, I am *flicks hair seductively* very fashionable.

Our Airbnb host needs us out of the house, so she kindly picks us up, takes us for dinner and then to the airport. We check in and my bag is overweight – I've gained 10 kilos in shopping. While waiting to board our 1.30am flight to Hong Kong, the announcement is made that it's been delayed… by 20 hours.

Here's what followed:

We're asked to go back to the check-in desks and line up.

We stand in the business class line, praying no one calls us out.

Turns out this line is real slow.

Why are we in this line?

We're in this line – for 2 hours – to write our contact details on a little slip of paper. They already have my contact details. I bought the flights. I also got a text message and an email informing me that my flight was cancelled.

New line!

2 hours later: still in new line for hotel

Airport.jpgThe depression setting in

Front of the line! Lady looks very harassed and writes something down on the back of a piece of paper in biro

We go downstairs to wait for our hotel shuttle

MANY people with MUCH luggage waiting for hotel shuttle that seats about 12 people

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

4.30am: Arrive at hotel. Collapse.

So that was a great night! With our flight not departing until 10pm, we decide to see Arrival at the movies. I get a Coke slushie. It's pretty good. Back to the airport! Off to Hong Kong! Homeward bound!

Day ???: All concept of time is lost

Arrive in Honkers. Cathay is very organised on this leg of the trip. Straight to the hotel. The hotel looks like an exclusive nightclub, all marble and blue lights. Still very late though, we're in bed around 5am. Back to the airport for a 10am flight to Melbourne. We definitely enjoy the breakfast buffet though. May or may not have had Cocoa Pops…

Amazingly, I manage to steal a row on the plane to myself. I kick the back of Jess' seat the whole flight for funsies. Also managed to complete Cycle 22 of America's Next Top Model. Nyle is such a babe.

Nyle.jpgYou don't lose AMNT after a photo like this

Touch down in a Trump-less country. Bless. It's good to be home.


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