Our New England adventure continued North into Boston. Originally we planned to stay only one night and head to Portland, Maine the next day, but decided to end our inching North in Boston.
I went to Boston in August of 2015 for a conference at MIT, but I didn’t blog about it. During that visit I fell in love with the city and knew I would be back soon; turns out I was right!
We stayed at an Airbnb in the Sommerville neighborhood for $50 a night! Since we splurged for the housing in Providence, it was time to re-coup. We had a private room on the first floor shared with two other bedrooms, a shared kitchenette, living room, and a bathroom for all. Our room was a converted dining room, but very spacious.
When we first got there we had some trouble with the lock, the floors were squeaky, and I didn’t know we’d be sharing a bathroom with three other guests (1 and 2 in each room on our floor), so I threw a bit of a fit. I was ready to pack and check into a hotel nearby that I stayed at during my previous visit. But I think I was just acting spoiled and perhaps hunger had something to do it. After we came back from spending the evening in the city, I was happy and very comfortable.
Since I’ve already been to Boston and it was Dmitry’s first time, I felt like a pro guide. I wanted him to experience all the places I loved when I first visited, granted this time around it was much colder.
We still had our rental car. I was a bit worried about taking the car into the city and having to pay an arm and a leg for parking, but I guess since it was Monday night, we were able to park just a block from Quincy Market (Faneuil Hall Marketplace). I’ve been there twice before and both times ate a lobster roll at Boston Chowda shop, so Dmitry now got to be a part of it for my third time. I usually get the cold roll, but since it was so cold outside we went for the hot buttered lobster roll. It was good, but way too buttery and greasy, so my recommendation would be to stick to the cold roll.
I even got to meet Mr. Wonderful (my favorite shark, btw), who was selling wicked good cupcakes. He was a bit too busy thinking about his next deal to engage into a conversation, but at least he posed for a photo.
We then walked down the South Market Street to the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park and down Atlantic Avenue to Boston Harbor Hotel. It was too early to go home and we still had some lobster energy in us, so we went back to the car and re-parked it at Summer Street and Atlantic Avenue, which is right in front of the Chinatown entrance; this is where we headed next. The Chinatown was colorful and awake, while the streets around it were starting to quiet down. Exiting the Chinatown we ended up at the Boston Common Park, went on to Boston Public Garden, and walked a few blocks down Commonwealth Avenue. This is part of why I love Boston! It is definitely a walking city, even on a dark and cold Monday night! By this time we were pretty exhausted and headed back to the car to get some r&r.
The next morning (Tuesday) we woke up bright and early for a day packed with lots of fun activities. The previous year I had a symposium at the Boston Symphony Hall after which I explored the surroundings. I couldn’t remember the names of all the places I had visited, but I remembered visually where to go, this is how much impression Boston left on me the first time! Just writing about it, I feel like I have lived there. Maybe in another life?
From our Airbnb in Sommerville it was a 15-minute walk to the orange T train, which we took to the Boston Symphony Hall (another reason I love Boston – public transportation). Our first stop was the Mapparium. It is part of the Mary Baker Library, which is part of the Christian Science Church. Unfortunately they do not allow photos inside, but perhaps that’s what makes the experience even more unique! You basically end up inside a big glass globe. The echo effects are pretty cool, but my favorite part is the light presentation and the fact that the map still reflects the old country borders of early 1900s. It’s like stepping back in time! This was my second time, and I would totally come back for a third.
I then remembered a perfect neighborhood trail, I wasn’t quite sure where it was on the map, so we headed there by memory. And omg, I amazed myself, we ended up at the right place! It’s the SW Corridor Park. With all the beautiful parks in Boston, this is one of the simpler, but is my favorite. It is basically a green alley in the middle of an older style neighborhood. I love this alley and highly recommend you take the time to disconnect from the city and your cell phone to enjoy this peaceful walk!
The park ends two blocks away from the Copley Square, Trinity Church, and Boston Public Library, which were our next destinations. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Boston Library, yes even more than the New York one. I love the little garden they have outside where you can sip your coffee and read a book, I love the old wing with its marble stairs and the new wing with its open colorful spaces! We stopped to get some food in the cafe of the new wing where we chatted with a nice lady. She confirmed that she loved living in Boston, had a condo just a few blocks away from the library and enjoyed being able to walk there whenever she pleased.
There was also a free, (yes, completely free!) Shakespeare exhibit with books older than most of the American cities.
The walking tour continued and we headed over the Harvard Bridge into Cambridge to continue our tour of top schools in the nation. First stop – MIT. MIT might not be in the Ivy League club, but it is at least as, if not more, competitive when it comes to undergrad admissions. I mentioned in my Providence post that Brown “spoke” to me, well MIT “spoke” to Dmitry. He loved seeing groups of students collaborating on projects two days before Thanksgiving. We went into the Barker Engineering Library to stare at the huge dome from the inside, then to MIT Media Lab, where Scratch (coding software for kids) and the original FabLab were born, and finished our MIT tour by riding elevators from floor to floor (because each looks different) at the more recognized for its funky architecture – Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. We totally peeked into one of the classrooms, too bad the class was not in session.
And of course, I saved the best for last – a trip to Harvard, our third Ivy League school on this trip. But first, a quick stop by the Google office (a little tip, it looks cooler at night when the sign is lit up).
We gave our feet a break and took the T train to Harvard Yard. The sun was starting to set and the wind was picking up. The campus is huge, we were already very tired, but we had two things on our must-do list: visit the Harvard Business School and meet sunset on John W. Weeks Bridge. I also loved the Harvard stadium during my previous visit, and it would have been neat for Dmitry to see his rival school’s “battle ground,” but we simply ran out of human power.
Before ending our night, we went to Daedalus, a bar/restaurant with fondest memories. The first time there, friend/colleague and I bonded over a couple of cocktails at the bar on the first floor; second time, mom and I had dinner on the roof-top patio overlooking the campus; and this time around it was Dmitry and I recharging our energy and warming up. Since Dmitry doesn’t drink, I did most of the “warming.” This place has come to the rescue of my tired feet three times now.
The following morning we drove around Little Italy neighborhood, but couldn’t find parking and our feet were too exhausted to take any extra steps so we gave up and headed to our final North East destination – New York. It was sad to leave Boston, but I have a feeling we will meet again!