Posts from the ‘Boston’ Category
Boston is a beautiful city, full of history and easy to walk. It isn’t easy to drive, or park, so don’t even consider driving in the city if you’re just visiting. If you don’t want to walk you can rent a bike for a pittance using the city’s Hubway bike sharing program . They have added lots and lots of new stations so check it out but please bring or buy and wear a helmet, don’t ride on the sidewalks and obey traffic signs. If you want to see which stations currently have bikes available you can download the app Spotcycle. There’s also Boston’s extensive subway system (the T).
You may have heard that some of the major universities of the world, Harvard and MIT, are across the Charles River in “The People’s Republic of Cambridge”. This rumor is indeed true. Not that the Boston side of the Charles is a slacker either with The University of Boston (BU), Boston College (BC). Emerson, Suffolk, Northeastern, Simmons and many others.
You surely also heard and maybe watched the coverage of this year’s bombing at the Boston Marathon. It was a horrid, tragic event carried out by two asshat sociopaths (not to editorialize). Hopefully you also saw Boston’s response which was simply amazing in terms of compassion and help for the wounded and killed, unbelievably swift capture of the despicable brothers and pulling together as a city to get through the whole nightmare. It was a very difficult, yet also very proud, time to be a Bostonian.
This post is updated monthly (at least) so here are some of the seasonal items for April and May :
- For the first time in many years every Red Sox home game isn’t sold out. You can see the home game dates and times and get tickets here.
- There is an ongoing series of free and interesting guided tours conducted by the Boston Park Service Rangers. One of the best deals is the 60 walking minute tour of The Freedom Trail. This are first come first served tours and have a maximum of 30 people. The Freedom Trail is really fascinating and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in American history.
- There are a lot of good plays (including The Book of Mormon) and dance performances in Boston in April this year. Half-price day of performance tickets can be found at Bostix’s locations in Copley Square and Faneuil Hall Marketplace and availability can be checked online before going. They’re also a Ticketmaster outlet and you can buy full priced advance sale tickets including ones to the popular Duck Tours (or just get those in person at the Prudential Mall across from the Barnes and Noble store or the Museum of Science in Cambridge). Tip: Duck Tours that start at 9:00 a.m. cost a bit less in terms of price and waive the annoyingly named “convenience fee”.
- On May 12 (Mother’s Day) there’s the Duckling Day Parade. This is such a Boston thing! The Parade commemorates Robert McCluskey’s children’s book, Make Way for Ducklings, set here in Boston. The parade starts in the Boston Commoan and goes to the Make Way for Ducklings statues in the Public Garden. People from everywhere bring their young children to this thing in all sorts of yellow duck outfits and it’s actually adorable. It also means that if you plan on having brunch in the city on Mother’s Day you need to make reservations early!
- A very popular Sunday activity in Boston is the SOWA open market. It’s on the far edge of the city’s trendy South End and has food trucks, artists, farmers and everything you can think of. It opens on May 5th this year and is held from 10 until 4:00 every Sunday. Here’s more about it and how to get there.
- Boston’s Gay Pride Week begins at the end of May and culminates in a fabulous parade on June 8th. Don’t miss it if you’re in town and assume that you need to book your lodgings early if you’ll be in town that weekend. If you’re homophobic you might want to avoid Boston this week or, best case, in general!
- A quick tour and very interesting place to go is the Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library at the Christian Science Church. You’re probably rolling your eyes now and thinking “Oh yeah, I bet that’s just great“, but it is! It’s a three story painted glass globe you stand in and listen to a shortish recording. What’s cool is that the globe is as it was in 1935 when this thing was made. It’s amazing how many countries now have different names, no longer exist, etc. Also this attraction is very near (maybe 10 minutes if you’re a total slow poke) from the Hynes Convention Center so you can duck out of a boring conference session and be back before anyone will know you were gone (unless you were supposed to be speaking). It only costs $6 and tours of the Mapparium run every 20 minutes, lasting 15-20 minutes. The first tour of the day starts at 10:20 a.m., and the last tour starts at 4:00 p.m.
- The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is the site of the largest art theft in history so you won’t be seeing those paintings but you should check out the new wing that just opened and the impressive art collection. Until May 23 there is an exhibit that sounds excellent : Anders Zorn: A European Artist Seduces America. Indeed! Tip: Buy tickets in advance online as the new wing is bringing in a lot of visitors.
- The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) which is only a few minutes walk from the Isabella Stewart Gardner and also has a less new, but newish, addition housing American art and a yummy restaurant. From February 2 – May 12 they have two French masterpieces hanging side by side; Cézanne’s The Large Bathers. Admittedly there are all two many “large bathers” on beaches these days but these are art! Tip: Keep your tickets as you can go back for free once within 10 days and, if you consume museums in small bites, that could end up being a money-saver as adult tickets are $25.
- Fenway Park which is home to the Red Sox baseball team and is the oldest ballpark in the States – 100 years old in 2012. Tours are fun, even if you aren’t wildly keen on baseball, and they can be booked in advance. Tip: Do not wear a New York Yankees cap or T-shirt or, if you do, expect to be treated with open hostility – at best.
- Go for a walk on the Charles River Esplanade. You can get there via footbridges from Arlington Street, Dartmouth and Massachusetts Avenue. – This is free, something very few things are in Boston. See the sailboats on The Charles throughout more seasons than you would expect and try not to openly guffaw that sailing back and forth across a river seems thrilling to Bostonians. Tip: Watch out for bicyclists as they don’t care about you at all (unless they’re actively targeting you) and don’t be here after dark. There’s a wonderful playground near the Hatch Shell (where concerts are held) at the base of the Arlington Street footbridge.
- Boston Public Garden was created in 1837 and is small, painstakingly maintained, a place for great photo-ops and has the absurdly low tech and wildly popular (at least if you have kids) Swan Boats which operate from April through mid-September. A year-round delight to those with little kids is the small duck statues from the book “Make Way for Ducklings.” You are required to force your child to sit on one for a photo op. Tip: Don’t feed the birds, squirrels or geese in the Public Garden. If you do, Blonde will jump out from behind a tree and strangle you and send your remains home in a huge ziplock bag full of goose poop
- A very enjoyable and inexpensive way to see views of Boston from the harbor is to take the ferry from the Marriott Long Wharf to Charlestown Navy Yard. Here’s their schedule. You can tour the USS Constitution (aka Old Ironsides, the oldest ship in the U.S. Navy) at the Navy Yard or just come back – it’s only a 10 minute ride.
- If you’re brave enough to cross the Charles to Cambridge the Harvard Museum of Natural History is an overlooked absolute gem. Yes, it’s a bit cramped and the facilities need a massive overhaul, but it’s so full of amazing goodies that you will be very glad you went. Tip: If you’re a Massachusetts resident you can get in for free every Sunday morning (year-round) from 9:00 am to noon but need to show proof of residency (they might accept a Red Sox hat.) Another Tip: It would be possible to see this museum in a wheelchair but it wouldn’t be easy.
- While you’re gettin’ your geek on continue to MIT’s Museum which is interesting even to mere mortals. Tip: If you’re in Cambridge on the second Friday of a month go to their free admission “Second Fridays” event which runs from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Beware though: socializing and MIT are mutually exclusive!
- Why not one more museum unlike ones you’ll see elsewhere? This one can be seen if you walk through Beacon Hill on Charles Street, cross Cambridge Street and turn right. It was opened in April of 2012 and ”explores the rich legacy of progress in medicine and health care at Massachusetts General Hospital.” This museum is open to the public and is free. Tip: Prepare to be impressed by all of the things pioneered at MGH.
A few quick and highly biased (but tragically uncompensated) restaurant recommendations are:
- Erbaluce The chef, Charles Draghi, is actually in the kitchen making the meals every night so there aren’t “off nights” and they literally have their own mushroom forager. They also have a different and excellent selection of wines at prices that won’t make you draw on your home equity credit line. This is a cool place with yummy food and it’s truly local, not owned by any out-of-towners. Tip: Make reservations to guarantee a table as it’s a small place but, if you eat at the bar, you can choose between both the bar and dining room menus.
- Picco – Good place if you want to eat tasty food inexpensively and/or have children in your group. But they do not take reservations unless a group has 8 or more so get there by 6:30 max if you don’t want a long wait. Tip: Their pizzas are wicked awesome (Boston term that needed to used somewhere in this post) but they make them “well done” which can mean “with a burnt crust” so speak up if you want a medium rare pizza crust. Second tip at no additional cost – they have sinfully good homemade ice cream.
- Hamersley’s Bistro Another local place where the chef, Gordon Hamersley, is actually in the kitchen cooking (unlike any place with the name Todd English associated with it) and everything they make is delicious. The chicken is the famous signature dish (even if it sounds boring). They have lovely outdoor seating in the summer and, once again, getting there early is a good idea for outdoor seating which cannot be reserved. For indoor seating you will need a reservation. Tip: Don’t bring the kiddies here (or to Erbaluce) but do bring someone you are hoping may have sex with you later. Even if you don’t have the sex you will have had a memorable meal.
- If you are (inexplicably and horrifyingly) into sushi rumor has it that the best is at Douzo near back Bay Station on Dartmouth Street. They’re open for both lunch (another place to skip out to if at a conference) and dinner. Tip: A reservation for dinner is a very good idea but if you blow that they have take-out.
- If you have a yen to go to the North End (notice how I didn’t use the “yen” pun with sushi thereby showing admirable restraint) I recommend Carmen. It’s a very small and very authentic enoteca. Definitely make a reservation and ask not to be seated right in front of the door as that can get old fast – it’s a tiny restaurant. Tip: If your cab driver never heard of it tell him (if you can interrupt his cell phone conversation) that it’s beside Paul Revere’s House (seriously).
- Last year the Oak Room at the Fairmont Copley was redone and reopened to celebrate it’s 101st year of operation. The food is good if a bit over-priced but it’s well worth checking out even if only for a drink. Tip: Great place to eavesdrop – lots of pretentious conversations. It does get mobbed and they don’t take reservations so don’t go there with anyone who will be stressed out by that situation.
- In Cambridge there’s a very casual (you stand in line to get your food but there are tables where you can sit down) restaurant that serves the tastiest vegetarian cuisine anywhere. It’s Life Alive and they can satisfy the vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, raw, gluten-free or other food-challenging person in your group without anyone else feeling like they’ve suffered. And even better you can get wine there too! Tip: If you want dinner without standing in line for half an hour try to get there before 6:00 p.m. Another option is to phone in for take-away 617-354-5433. They don’t have table service but they do have tables (and chairs).
- The MFA museum’s newest wing has a lovely restaurant, Bravo, which features local and sustainable ingredients and a menu that changes often. Tip: If you dine there after 5:00 p.m. you get complimentary parking in the MFA’s garage. Reservations for the restaurant are recommended and may be made through OpenTable or by calling 617-369-3474.
- The Seaport area of Boston is the new happenin’ place and also home to the Museum of Contemporary Art. You need reservations to eat at most places in Boston but they’re mandatory in this area. Some good places to check out are Legal Seafoods (venerable Boston institution) new Legal Harborside which has different menus on different floors so be sure your reservation suits your taste and budget. (Note: I do not recommend Legal’s “Test Kitchen” across the street – I don’t think it’d pass the test for most people.) Rosa Mexicano (yes, the same as in NYC and Washington, D.C.) is reliably good and has obscenely yummy guacamole prepared tableside. And for the carnivores among you there are two steakhouses – Morton’s and DelFriscos (Blonde favors DelFriscos just because Morton’s seems like somewhere you go with old white guys on an expense account and she’s done enough of that!) Tip: Unless you’re staying in the Seaport area the easiest way to get there is probably a cab although the Silver Line T from South Station goes there (and you get to South Station on the Red Line.)
All-purpose Boston tips/travel advisories:
- We will try to laugh if you ask if we “paaahhked our caahh in Haahvaad Yaahd” but we’re only being polite and wishing you had more original material.
- We do not call it Beantown – ever – it’s “The Hub”.
- South Boston is also known as Southie (traditionally very rough and tumble Irish but now gentrifying) and is NOT the same as the South End (yuppy, gay and lots of designer dogs and fertility babies).
- If you hear the news and they talk about “today on Beacon Hill” they mean the statehouse, not the area.
- In Boston people still really really believe the Kennedys matter – you can’t win at this one.
- Jokes about pedophile priests are tolerated better than you would expect.
- Boston sports fans are rabid about their teams even as they savagely insult them.
If you have any questions about visiting Boston please leave them in the comments and we’ll answer them!
Just found this great fast-speed video of “miniature Boston” and had to put it here as a great piece to get you psyched for your visit!
Blonde had actual work that she would be well paid to do sitting on her desk at home, a Spanish class to study for and a house to get ready to put on the real estate market. She considered those options then went out for a walk and ended up spontaneously interviewing a very patient, charming young woman with hair better than a best-in-show Irish Setter’s and a mini-nose ring.
How did this mysterious chain of events occur? Blonde had walked past a hostel last week returning home from lunch with a friend and thought the place looked interesting. Today’s walk route was going within a block of the hostel so Blonde made a sudden decision to do an ambush interview. She had to borrow paper to use for notes and only had her iPhone for pictures but hey, bloggers of this caliber rarely even take notes and usually steal their photos (please see Irish Setter above).
We normally only cover places we’ve gone to and this was mostly a curiosity stop for Twitter material (BlBrTravel) but it seemed interesting enough to merit a brief post. Occasionally we try to provide actual useful information and this falls into that category so now we’re done with that for 2013 .
The hostel opened in June of 2012. It’s on the edge of Boston’s Theater District and about two blocks from a T stop and the Boston Common. It’s a really convenient location, was very clean, neat and well organized. Blonde and Brunette have never stayed in hostels so this was one of the few firsts still available to semi-experience.
The Boston Hostel is part of Hostelling International USA (If it’s “USA” how is it international? Will ask Molly on next visit.) It has a very industrial feel to the design that keeps it feeling uncluttered, clean and groovy (because it’s LEED certified). The room options range from private ($90 to $200 a night) to coed with 4, 6 or 8 people ($40-$65). (Note: Probably should have asked Molly if a room for 4 with George Clooney, Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig and Blonde could be arranged.)
The coed rooms are either gender segregated or possibly couples. In other words don’t head there hoping to get thrown in a room with a bunch of hotties of the opposite sex just dying to have mind blowing sex with you and then write about it in their travel blogs. Come over to Blonde’s house for that.
The place even has someone on staff who is attending culinary school and makes dinner one night a week (mostly) for whoever is staying there. Aside from that, there is a nice big kitchen where you can store your food, cook it and eat it.
There’s free wi-fi, breakfast is included, they have a pool table and library on one floor and computers you can use for $2.00 for twenty minutes. Warming the cockles of Blonde’s heart there is also a laundry room with an iron and ironing board. (Blonde can out-iron anyone. Anyone.)
On Twitter some people like to complain that hostels don’t allow you to stay in them if you’re over 40 but at this one the only age requirement is that you be at least 18 or with a guardian. Because they limit you to a maximum of 14 nights per calendar year this apparently won’t be Blonde’s assisted living destination after all.
They seem to have good security with room cards required to enter the lodging area and some system of getting receipts for everyone every night so they know the people are occupying their rooms (although Blonde didn’t understand that at all). Oh, and breakfast is included and there’s a little cafe for emergency caffeine and pastries during the day.
Blonde basically expected stoners to be hanging around in dirty clothes but it was a very clean, non-munchy obsessed sort of crowd that appeared to range from their early 20s to at least mid-60s.
If you know someone heading to Boston and looking for inexpensive digs send them here – you really can’t do better.
OK, that was an obtuse question for most people but for Blonde, it’s a real question.
Last Sunday Blonde spent 11 hours in the emergency department of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Why? Was she sick at her stomach? Did she have a high temperature? Had she broken her leg? Gone in to see if she actually has Tourette’s? Ruptured her appendix? Was she having yet another love child of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s?
No, she was there because she didn’t know what the hell was going on.
You’re probably thinking, quite reasonably, but she never seems to know what’s going on. But this time we mean literally didn’t know what was going. Had she gone for her workout? Was she having a stroke? Could she wear the clothes she had on to the hospital or should she change? Was the friend who was staying with her for 6 weeks still living there? Is Charlie Sheen just misunderstood? Is Kim Kardashian’s ass augmented? Should Michelle Obama have gotten those bangs? Did Oscar Pistorius know he was killing his girlfriend. (Bad example, of course he did.)
Soon, a friend, alerted by Brunette whom Blonde had been torturing on the phone and via email with the same questions ad nauseam, took a cab over and took Blonde to the ER.
Blonde was diagnosed, for the second time in 4 years, with Transient Global Amnesia. (TGA or, what should be called, WTF.) This is a very rare condition in which a person typically can only remember the past few minutes or less, and cannot retain new information beyond that period of time. Oh, and the person’s a distraught, repetitious mess.
The first time it happened to Blonde she was somewhat pleased at the cause ( although not the effect). Here are some of the causes:
- Sudden immersion in cold or hot water
- Strenuous physical activity
- Vigorous sexual intercourse
- Medical procedures, such as angiography or endoscopy
- Mild head trauma
- Acute emotional distress, as might be provoked by bad news, conflict or overwork
Well, Blonde hadn’t been thrown in cold water, done a strenuous workout, had medical procedures, head trauma or acute emotional distress. That leaves only one reason which actually did apply that time and for which there’s still a very proud man (and woman).
After that occurrence when Blonde returned to work her staff gave her a standing ovation. One declared her “the coolest boss ever” as they had also looked up the causes and guessed which one would apply.
This time none of the usual causes seem to be the culprit although the one that was the culprit last time could be immediately and definitively ruled out. How depressing is that? The good news is that when that isn’t the reason fewer neurology interns come in to snicker at you in the ER. Blonde drew quite a crowd the first time and no interest at all this time.
All it takes to recover is time – 6 to 12 hours in general. There is no treatment, no prevention, no neurological damage, no increased risk of strokes or ongoing battiness. But last time there was a $25,000 ER bill. Honestly. That’s more than enough trauma to induce a relapse.
As the lost time is lost forever and Blonde was alone for at least some portion of that lost time she gets to say what happened during the unaccounted for time period. The stories she’s actively trying out are:
- She had been selflessly rescuing puppies drowning in a frozen lake. (Kittens may be substituted but not children as that wouldn’t be believable.)
- She was having a menage a trois with George Clooney and Daniel Craig and they both got so exhausted ( from her, not from each other) that they had to call in Hugh Jackman for relief. This turn of events was traumatic to Blonde, hence TGA. All three men are now hospitalized due to “exhaustion”.).
- She won the Boston Marathon that day. (Can also be an Olympic, NASCAR or golfing event depending on the audience.)
- A committee of Senate Republicans had required her to have endoscopy of her favorite assortment of lady parts.
- She had banged her head during the wild sex with Clooney, Craig, et al. (Unlikely, she wears a helmet in such situations.)
- She was simply overworked (not possible, maybe over-slackered), distraught (she was going to be seeing her brother-in-law soon) or had bad news (please refer to brother-in-law comment).
Her favorite, although not related to the usual causes, is what she texted to Brunette as she began to emerge from the fog – the Pope’s resignation pushed her over the edge.
Not everything has a medical explanation.
This what it looked like on February 9th outside Blonde’s home in Boston.
Blonde thought the driving ban in Massachusetts had been lifted so maybe she’d go survey the damage.
Well, OK, maybe it’s a good day for a bike ride.
Well, you go can always go shopping in Boston.
OK, maybe a walk in the park would be fun.
Defeated, Blonde trudged home and ate everything unhealthy she could locate. Then she called Brunette to see how things were going on Marco Island in Florida today.
This was Brunette’s view.
Brunette had already had her swim but decided to go back down to the pool to do a little reading.
Now we’ve never been the keenest students of theology and Blonde has always bet heavily on the premise that there really isn’t a hell. But maybe this blizzard was divine intervention to prove that heaven and hell are real.
What is your opinion, based solely on the compelling photographic evidence presented?
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