“I can’t believe they have shelving in Boston! Especially this weekend!” – Woman in Salvation Army upon finding a shelf.
Anyone that reads this blog on a regular basis, both of you, would know that Anna and myself love traveling, but until this past weekend we had been in New York for two months and hadn’t really ventured any further than Coney Island. However, yesterday was Labour Day, so we took advantage of the long weekend and headed to Boston.
Frequent readers would also be aware that I loved basketball when I was younger and, still to this day, absolutely despise the Los Angeles Lakers. When I wasn’t playing actual basketball, I spent countless hours playing “Lakers vs. Celtics and the NBA Playoffs” (right) on our old IBM 386 computer. I was always a Chicago Bulls fan, but I also supported whoever was playing the Lakers, so how could I not have a soft spot for their biggest rival, the Boston Celtics?
When we were thinking of places to go for the long weekend, a few came to mind, but Boston seemed a great choice for several reasons:
- We both love seafood
- As I mentioned earlier, it is the hallowed ground that is home to the Boston Celtics and their 17 NBA championships.
Here is how our weekend away went down…
Our plan was to catch the train to Boston at 12:30pm from Penn Station, next to Madison Square Garden, about a 20 minute walk from our place. The ride was to take about four hours, there was also an express train, but it left later in the day and was only 20 minutes faster due to track repairs.
We arrived at the station about half an hour early and everything was going fine, but there is a major flaw in their scheduling system:
There is a sign that states “Tracks are posted 10-15 minutes prior to train departure”, which is leaving it a little late, especially when you’ve got to find your way around a new train station, but we could handle it. Yesterday, however, everyone on our train spent the whole time waiting around the train station until our platform was announced three minutes before our train was due to leave. There was a crazy rush to the platform like we were all contestants on The Amazing Race, but things ended up going smoothly.
We departed New York on time for our four-hour Journey that would take us up through Connecticut and into Massachusetts. Naturally, Anna fell asleep almost immediately and continued to sleep nearly the entire way, leaving me only able to stare at her in frustration, wishing I could only do the same. Still, the coastal view was beautiful and the silence was nice.
Upon arriving we were amazed at how similar Boston was to a lot of the smaller cities we visited in Europe during our stay in Germany. I guess this could be a reason:
One of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston was founded on the Shawmut Peninsula in 1630 by Puritan settlers from England. It was the scene of several key events of the American Revolution, such as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Siege of Boston. Upon American independence from Great Britain, the city continued to be an important port and manufacturing hub, as well as a center for education and culture. Through land reclamation and municipal annexation, Boston has expanded beyond the original peninsula. Its rich history helps attract many tourists, with Faneuil Hall alone attracting over 20 million visitors per year. Boston’s many firsts include the United States’ first public school, Boston Latin School (1635), and first subway system (1897).
Another thing that we instantly noticed was the abundance of Dunkin’ Donuts. Sure, it’s a college town and students don’t eat particularly well, but there was no need to have a Dunkin’ Donuts Express directly opposite the other Dunkin’ Donuts in the station. In fact, there were about 10 stores in the entire station and two of them were Dunkin’ Donuts!
We dumped our bags at our hotel and decided to explore this city (read: “Go shopping”), with my first purchase being bacon and potato flavoured chocolate. Trust me, it tasted better than it sounds. The area we were staying in was near a pretty cool shopping strip with all the type of stuff we both like so we managed to kill a lot of time before dinner, but the food is a huge reason why we came here. Boston is famous for its seafood, especially clam chowder, and as you can tell by the picture of our first meal at the heading of this page, we did alright for ourselves.
One thing I’m glad I checked before coming to Boston was the weather. Yes, it is still warm during the day there, but they are north of New York and on the water. It proved to be a good idea, as both Friday and Saturday’s overnight temperature was 14°C (57°F), so I would probably need a sweater. Fortunately, I brought some with me, including one with a Siberian tiger printed on it that I bought from a thrift store, I just wasn’t expecting some random kid to pass me while wearing almost the exact same thing (left) and neither did his friends. Needless to say, we had to humiliate ourselves for photos while Anna bonded with his friends over how ridiculous we looked together.
After dinner and forming an alliance with an Indian over panthera tigris-themed attire, Anna and myself went for some drinks and then to see an improv comedy group who base their entire routine around the game “Cards Against Humanity“. If you’ve played the game before you would know that it is hilarious, but the comedy troupe weren’t so great.
Saturday was a great day spent walking around the city and parks. In fact, according to my pedometer we walked a total of 20kms (12.5 miles). Instead of writing a whole bunch about it, I’ll just let some photos do the talking:
We walked up toward Harvard, had a look around and got a cannoli before walking back and were absolutely amazed at all the stalls and shops selling Harvard gear. I thought the point of wearing a t-shirt with the name of a university on it was that you went to that school. I can’t see anyone buying shirts of my alma mater, Victoria University of Technology, if they didn’t attend. Oh well.
We grabbed dinner afterward, a great four-course affair, but most of the fun was listening to the middle-aged couple on what looked like their first date on the next table. Well, actually, we only got to listen to the man on the next table, because he didn’t give his date a chance to speak.
Anna wasn’t feeling too well after dinner, so she went home, but insisted that I go out afterward. First I tried McGreevy’s, a pub that claims to be “America’s first sports bar”. When the security guard asked for ID I showed him my Singapore ID and despite it being a completely legal, globally recognised form of identification, he deemed it insufficient. He then asked if I had my passport with me, to which I explained that I was only planning on going to the pub, not the airport, so I was then denied entrance. I have to admit, being twice the legal drinking age in your own country and getting knocked back at a pub because of your ID is a bit of an ego boost. Next, I tried a pub down the road, had no problem getting in, met a bunch of people and had a great night out.
Sunday was our last full day in Boston, so we decided to get decadent. Brunch was at The Salty Pig, a place that did great pizzas and meat platters. In an effort to try to walk all of that off, we hit the streets looking for flea markets, of which we found quite a few
Soon it was time for dinner so we went to Island Creek Oyster Bar and ate like kings. Anna felt up for a few drinks afterwards and I wanted to check out Bukowski Tavern, so that’s where we headed. It was definitely my type of place, but not so much Anna’s, so we went back to Dillon’s, the place where I spent the previous night. Definitely more up Anna’s Alley.
Our last day in Beantown and it was a public holiday. And hot! We had to check out of our apartment by 12:00pm, but our train wasn’t until 4:15pm, so we had a few hours to kill after we packed.
We walked around for a bit and realised there wasn’t really a whole lot open so we went to grab some lunch at the Four Seasons hotel. The burgers were great, but we got ourselves into a situation that we weren’t expecting; We saw a lot of foreigners taking pictures of a yellow Ferrari when we entered and thought nothing of it. However, when we left, there were security guards and crowds of men sobbing. Naturally, being the smart-ass that I am, I gave a wave as I exited the building and entered the crowd, but it turned out the real reason wasn’t far behind me; We had lunch at the same hotel where the Brazilian football team was staying. I have no idea who these guys are, but I took a couple of photos for proof:
We eventually headed to the station for our trip back to New York, but our train was delayed, for which we were given two separate reasons:
- The Heat
- A crime
We don’t know what it actually was in the end, but we left Boston half an hour late, but still had a smooth ride home and arrived in New York at about 8:15pm.
Overall, we loved it in Boston, but I don’t think I’d like to stay there long term. It’s a bit small (if you’re Australian, think Adelaide) and might get a bit dull after a week or so. Anna was a little disappointed that we couldn’t find Boston Cream Pie, but, hey, you can’t get Singapore Noodles in Singapore, either. Still, we found the next best thing: