Travel and Vacations Guide
A non traditional point of view to visiting the "Hub of the Universe"
by Eric H.
This is where it all began, with the American Revolution starting in 1770. The American Revolution continues today, with commuters cursing each other, meters maids handing out parking tickets that require a mortgage, and natives not saying "hello" to you when you're just trying to be friendly.
But Boston is still the best city to visit.
The subway system evokes memories of taking an MRI, being self-contained in a dark, rollicking vehicle. The conductors do their best James Brown imitation, unintelligbly yelling out the stops. In my early days, I couldn't translate and ended up in Quincy, six stops and many miles away from my intended location.
The Expressway is an ironic term. If you drive the Expressway, be sure to bring some books, as you'll need them to fill the time during frequent stops. Some recommended reading would be "Paradise Lost" and "War and Peace."
The "Big Dig" highway expansion project will , in a few years, upgrade the Expressway. The project has been going on for several years. By the time it is finished, it might be outdated. Today's commuting nightmare is expected to last until then.
Despite these minor flaws, Boston is still the best city to visit.
Walk on eggshells when asking questions. Stop at a tollbooth where they take your money for a highway that has been paid over hundreds of times. Ask the toll collector -- who probably earns more than you do -- for directions to a certain location. Then you realize that Boston is indeed the academic hub of the universe, as the toll collector speaks bilingually --core language and profanity.
Boston is indeed a college town. Students can smell the academic air--that is, if the nose rings don't block it. By the time a college student is finished with school, he is $100K in debt, but it's worth it because the student experienced the sweet smell of Boston --techno clubs, pool halls and living in student ghettos.
But don't be turned off.
Boston is still the best city to visit.
Cities can indeed frustrate, but don't despair for you will miss some of the greatest culture in the world. Boston is no exception, and perhaps one of the greatest representations of a city in the world with an undeniable European flair, historical integrity, educational resources, great dining scene, fine walks and some very effective urban renewal-- all within an area of 1,057 square miles with a total population of more than three million people.
Every Bostonian has their favorite memories. Some of mine:
*The authentic Italian flavor of the North End, with great restaurants, bakeries, pizza and generations of Italians colorfully speaking the language in the streets.
Newbury Street's European flavor, the perfect place to stroll, eat at an outdoor cafe, or frequent the world-class shops.
Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. The seats are cramped, the bathrooms to be avoided, and the concession stand inferior to its minor league outlet in Pawtucket. Plus, the team will always break your heart. But there is a charm here, from the "Green Monster" wall to the small, intimate feel of a truly old-fashioned park. Enjoy it while you can before a new stadium arrives.
Santarpio's Pizza. The world's best pizza, served up in the Italian neighborhoods in East Boston. Waiters with great personalities --especially Nick and Rocco-- and pizzas that Bostonians have gobbled up in seconds for many, many years.
The Isabella Gardiner Museum. A beautiful indoor Venetian courtyard highlights a diverse range of paintings, sculptures and a flower display in this urban oasis.
A walk along Carson Beach in South Boston, and stopping for a hamburger and soft serve ice cream at Sullivan's.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace with its specialty shops , restaurants, pushcarts and food stalls some of which is centered within a 1742 broze-domed building. The festive, colorful banner-oriented 100-plus combination of retail shops, restaurants, bakeries and ice cream stops offer visitors an endless supply of clothing, calories and city life within a few blocks. Steeped in history as a meeting place for the country's "movers and shakers" to convene prior to the American Revolution, Fanueil Hall Marketplace -- also known as Quincy Market -- was eventually restored and gentrified into a brilliant and valid tourist attraction, much in the tradition of the equally captivating Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Md. It consists of the original 1742 building and two other restored buildings.
The 24-acre Boston Public Garden, established in 1837, as the first botanical garden in the U.S., is a sight to behold itself. Adjacent to Arlington St., its lush flower gardens, cool shaded green grass, park benches to read book or people watch, and developed pathways to enjoy a pleasant stroll make for a great day in the more quiet part of the city. One of the best examples in the nation of solitude in the city, there's nothing like a nice swan boat ride at the Boston Public Garden in the good old summertime.
Children's Museum of Boston An exceptional children's museum, filled with top-notch displays. A model of how a children's museum should be run.
Boston Museum of Science Regarded as one of the best in the United States featuring Imax films, superb revolving exhibitions and a planetarium.
New England Aquarium Consider the New England Aquarium the biggest fish in the pond, in regards to finding the best aquarium in New England. Thoughtfully designed on multi-levels, the overwhelming number of colorful, personality-filled fish, a warm welcome from the intelligent seals, a mean look from the baby sharks,the chance to see what salmon look like before ending up at your local market and several interactive, educational programs will raise your internal omega 3 levels without even sitting down to eat. A pure delight for the whole family, it would be easy to spend several hours at the New England Aquarium.
The Prudential Building Skywalk Observatory The sweeping 360 degree views from the Prudential Building's 50th floor Skywalk Observatory provide an amazing experience as the mammoth City of Boston suddenly looks very small from way up above -- sort of like a toy village with horrible traffic. All of Boston and beyond are available for prime time viewing, including Boston Harbor, the Charles River, Fenway Park, the even taller-than-the-Prudential-Building Hancock Tower and suburban views like the Blue Hills in Canton, Mass. It's a total shock for those who thought they had a great view from their third-floor walk-up attic, or mountain hikers who climb three hours to end up viewing lots of trees.
*The Museum of Fine Arts with its American, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Greek, Roman, European and Egyptian collections.
Harvard Square Although its in neighboring city of Cambridge, this is the home of the world class university, surrounded by a mix of hippie and corporate-based shops and restaurants. Harvard Square is truly a liberal mecca with plenty of benches to people watch. And it is quite a show, indeed, with some of the most interesting and diverse group of people known to mankind, or as they would say in the politically correct environs here, "peoplekind."
We welcome you to the City of Boston! Just don't get in our way while we're driving!
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