Boston break


Boston bus stop

Visiting places is never like actually living there, by definition you’re on holiday. You don’t have to deal with real life, which for most people involves dragging yourself from bed to breakfast to commute to traffic jams and everything else that’ll contribute to making your day uphill.

So when you’re a tourist, all new cities are fun and lovely to visit – specially in another country. Looking back you wonder why you’re not living there.

Boston was lovely. We actually stayed in a suburb town – Somerville – which is the exact type of distance to the center and business districts as where I live in Rome. But somehow the longish bus & subway ride into town didn’t seem as tiring as it does when you’re home and going to work. It was pure fun

In fact, Boston was fun. I followed the advice of a co-blogger. On the first day, we hopped on-and-off the superbly well-organized Trolley tours (not Duck which looked  sort of silly with music wafting from the open air decks) to get a hang of what the city was all about. Next day we chose the Cambridge/Harvard area and the baseball stadium, and last two days walks along the wharfs and the park and the Chinese district, with a museum thrown in.

Boston is small, courteous and seems like a quality-of-life place. Even the bus stops have nice signs!

I delighted in the approachable/digestible quantity of relatively modern history  on offer–  not the (to a blasé inhabitant of Rome) boring sameness of troves of collapsed 2,000 year-old columns, ramparts, catacombs and old bridges that are things of beauty but are not conducive to easing modern life (real life, not tourist life) .

In Boston there seemed to be just the right number of historical buildings and locations and museums to visit. We liked the architecture and setup of the slightly out of the way Institute of Contemporary Art, and enjoyed boarding a few historical copies of ships reminiscent of the seeds of Independence. I normally don’t do souvenirs, but brought back a tin of “Boston Harbour Tea”. I’m drinking it, not keeping it: good standard British tea.

Boston ships

We also caught a huge queue of smiling multi-origin about-to-be naturalized citizens snaking their way into a municipal building in their Sunday best.  However, except for university areas, in most of the places we ate, including simple dives, not an African American customer in sight. Not even in the huge Fenway Park tavern and beer place just across from the stadium where there were hundreds of people elbow-to-elbow before the game.

Boston baseballs

How is that? Boston is famously WASP but the reality was bizarre.

Anyway, it was a good break. Good to get away from Europe. I was introduced to delicious lobster rolls and finally understood how you get your beers ice-cold in the States: just keep the glasses in the freezer till needed. Which Italians would never do out of fear of breaking the last odd-number non-matching family heirloom glasses.

Nope, this is a crab roll, not lobster!

Nope, this is a crab roll, not lobster!


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13 Responses to Boston break

  1. Boston is one of my favourite US cities, I lived just upstate in Haverhill for a while and used to catch the train in to volunteer at the Museum of Science. I would live there in a heart beat still. So glad you enjoyed it, and the chowder is “wicked cool” to use the vernacular.

    • Bea dM says:

      yes, thanks for adding the luscious chowder I forgot to mention .. and I’ll be teaching my students “wicked cool” too!

  2. You are right. Boston is segregated. Part of it is its location with it being the most populated city tucked up in the most northeastern corner of the United States. It is not easy to get one place to another from there, so you have a strong native population. Secondly, you have a high cost of living. People go to school there, but they do not stick around unless they can get the employment, and Boston only supports a few isolated industries like finance, tech, and medicine. Thirdly, while the people are friendly there, it does take a long time to find your niche because people have a tendency to stick with their own.

    I know because I lived in the Boston metro area for 8 years. The first 2 1/2 years were in Somerville. I really enjoyed this post because it brought back some good memories. Thank you, Bea.

    • Bea dM says:

      Glad you liked, and many thanks for taking the time to explain, I found the situation really surprising. I’m enjoying these conversations with you, we seem to have lots of interests in common :). Btw, Chicago’s my favourite US city 🙂

  3. Mél@nie says:

    been twice to Boston, Mass… with Frisco, it’s one of my favourite US-cities and its “clam chowder” is delicious… 🙂

  4. Hi Bea,

    I am so glad you enjoyed your stay in Boston. It is fun reading about my city through the eyes of a tourist.

    It is an interesting point you make about history. History, to us Americans spans about 250 years.
    While history to you guys is centuries! Makes for a different perspective.

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us.


    • Bea dM says:

      glad you found interesting – we’re meant to be in awe of historical millenia, but just a few recent and relevant centuries are a relief when on holiday ! I kept your post in mind when deciding on the tour 🙂

  5. Barb Knowles says:

    I love this post and it’s so true. I’ve visited many countries and always leave thinking “I could live there!” But I’m sure the vacation bonhomie would quickly wear off when, as you said, real life set in. And it’s odd what you said about Boston seeming to be very “white.” I have read that twice today. I think it is perhaps more accurate to say it’s very segregated.

    • Bea dM says:

      I wrote that purposely to see if anyone would comment. The segregation was really unusual. Customers were all all white in all eateries we went to. low, mid and higher-end – though at low end waiters were mixed. Chicago is always mentioned as segregated, I found it pretty integrated in comparison!

  6. kevinbcohen says:

    Sounds like a nice visit. If you want something different, go to the public library and check out the ceiling up on the second floor (if memory serves). Trinity is magnificent, along with a lot of other Richardsonian Romanesque architecture, much of it residential in Boston (which is unusual–it was mostly used for public buildings).

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