My Favourite Things About Boston

Sometimes you don’t appreciate a place until you revisit it.

In my case, I first went to Boston on a school trip when I was 15. I remember liking it, but I think that’s because we were crazy teenagers with an obsession for Abercrombie & Fitch and other American shopping chains that were absent in Canada. I honestly remember little else about Boston, except for the Harvard students who photo-bombed our picture on the library steps.

Revisiting Boston last week was one of the smartest things I could have done, because it made me realise what a great city Boston really is (and I say this having visited in the winter, which some people say is a waste of time…). These are a few of my favourite things about Boston:

MAPPARIUM

So, I’m likely to write a whole separate post on this amazing place where there were nerd-gasms aplenty, but for now, I’ll just say that even if you don’t love maps, take 15 minutes of your time and spend $6 of your money for a fascinating look at our world in the 1930s…literally. Mapparium is a massive, glass globe that preserves the world map as it was, with the African colonies, with Yugoslavia, with Tibet, with a united (and differently named) Korea, Palestine (not Israel), and Newfoundland as a British Territory (did you know it didn’t join Confederation until 1949?). Fascinating.

The Beer

Bostonians clearly have a love for microbreweries, since microbrew beer flows through almost every tap of most bars. We didn’t have to search too hard to find microbrews, which are one of my favourite things to sample when I travel. Boston Beer Works seems to be a city staple, and we went to the newer location near the TD Arena (the original is by Fenway). I loved the Blueberry Ale (spiked with fresh, whole Maine blueberries) and the Victory Red, produced when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004.

Boston Beer

At Grendel’s Den in Harvard Square I had the Harpoon IPA, which was fantastically hoppy, and the Cambridge Amber Ale. Our bartender gave us a slew of recommendations of what else to try while in town, and if we had time, a trip to the Sam Adams and Harpoon breweries for a tour (we didn’t have time…sadface).

My friends at Boston Urban Adventures highly recommended Bukowski’s, famous for its 100+ beers on draft, but we also ran out of time. When we hit up the Green Dragon, one of the tours on their Revolutionary Tavern Tour, we found that after 9pm the tavern becomes a bar, and you can’t get in if you have a non-US driver’s licence. (FYI – this includes Canadians…take your passport if you want a night out in downtown Boston).

The Food Trucks

Boston’s food truck industry is growing…fast. Their offerings are diverse, and excellent. Roxy’s Grilled Cheese was on the Great Food Truck Race, and some trucks have been so popular as to prompt the businesses to open storefronts. I had a massive list of trucks to hit, and we planned to truck it up for lunch each day, but my plan failed when I learned that almost all the trucks were on holidays.

Boston Food Trucks

Fortunately, Go Fish was still operating, and we braved the uber-chilly wind for one of the best grilled sandwiches I’ve ever had – lump crab salad and monterey jack. Hells yes. It was a tough menu to pick from (because it all sounded so ridiculously tasty), but I made an excellent choice.

The Architecture

I absolutely adored the architecture in Boston. From the old school English feel of downtown – Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, etc – to the crazy modern John Hancock Tower, Boston’s buildings are cool and complex. Designed by legendary architect I.M. Pei, the John Hancock Tower is a crazy optical illusion, seemingly disappearing into a 2-D figure when you look at it from one angle. Then there’s the Christian Science Church, which, while churches aren’t really my thing, this place is impressive in how massive it is. City Hall is a mass of intricate concrete (yes, concrete can be intricate) and has a similar look to the University of Toronto’s Robarts Library.

Boston Architecture

Then, the brownstones. Commonwealth Avenue is gorgeous. The centre boulevard of greenery is lovely. Neighbouring Newbury Avenue makes window shopping so pleasing. Beacon Hill was my absolute favourite, though. It took ages to navigate the neighbourhood on our way to Charles Street because I kept stopping in front of houses saying I wanted to live there.

Transit

“Hey, Boston, it’s me, Logan International Airport. I’m so close to you and easy to get to, too! Love me.”

I’m serious. It took us about 20 minutes to get from the airport to our hotel, and we were staying in the North End (ie. pretty much downtown). Oh, and that 20 minutes included 10 minutes of walking.

I’ll admit, sometimes the T (the name for the train system) took a while to come, but the four lines are easy to navigate, seem to cover a pretty good amount of ground, oh, and a weekly pass was only $15.

A weekly pass for Toronto’s TTC is $40.

Boo-yah.

Boston, I wuv you. I’m not going to let another twelve years lapse before we’re reunited.

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