NEW ENGLAND

One night in Boston

July 14, 2009

I hate traveling for work. Hours on a plane to a destination I’ve never been, only to have a precious few hours to explore. Traveling while knowing you have to be up the next morning to drag yourself into the office is not my idea of fun.

After an extended weekend/week in NYC, I hopped on an evening plane to Boston, arriving at Logan airport around 8pm — just in time to catch the pink and purple sunset, which I was told, I was lucky to see. The weather in early June had thus far been cold, windy, and drizzly.

Sunset in Boston

Sunset in Boston

Something that surprised me about Logan airport is that it stretches out over what I would imagine to be prime real estate right along the water. When landing, the entire city and harbor stretches out before you as if you had paid $20 for the view. I don’t understand the logic of having an airport here, except that, when time is of the essence, it’s an extremely convenient and short taxicab ride into what I guess is downtown Boston.

As tempting as it was to call it a night, order in, and spend the remainder of the evening watching hotel cable (something that ranks in my top 10 list of favorite things to do), I forced myself to venture out. First to dinner at Legal Seafoods (255 State Street), as recommended by Sherwin:

Boston Clam Chowder

Boston Clam Chowder

I could have stopped at the 5,000 calorie bowl of chowder. Of course I didn’t.

spicy fish n chips

spicy fish n chips

After gorging on so much food, I decided that I HAD to take a walk. Returning to the room in my overly-bloated-gluttonous state was not an option.

And so began my tour of downtown Boston, crumpled map swiped from hotel room in hand. I never really followed it, I just walked around from landmark to landmark, reading plaques and billboards, and slowly navigating my way through and around a city I essentially knew nothing about.

I begin my journey here:

important looking building

important looking building

Then made my way through some winding streets, pushed back several drunk frat boys laughing in street, and tossed aside a heavily-accented, “smile, sweetheard” comment from random meathead passerby.

Old State House

Old State House

On my way to Boston Common (what I decided was my end destination for the night), I walked past several cemeteries — strange to see in the center of a town, but cool nonetheless.

old cemetery

old cemetery

Strange to think of Boston as a little more provincial–skyscrapers replaced with horse-drawn carriages, throngs of people stumbling around filthy streets. Strange to think of all the things that took place in this particular spot in the U.S. — physically and historically. I guess I always knew as much from reading history books, but never really thought about it until seeing it face-to-face.

A lot of really famous people are buried here too.

Granary Burial Ground

Granary Burial Ground

While peering through the slatted fence, I was ambushed by a group of tourists taking a night tour of the cemeteries (maybe other stuff too) — I hesitated, wondering if I should sneak into their group. Then the tour guide, dressed in late 1700s ragamuffin attire, opened her mouth, and out came the most annoying, fake cockney I ever did hear. Mission aborted.

The tour seemed cool though, or at least roaming a cemetery at night did. I think they had some weird seance thing at one of the more prominent tombstones–I didn’t stick around to watch.

Instead, I walked to Boston Common

Church near Boston Common

Church near Boston Common

Not sure what I was expecting — maybe something that resembled a college quad? The park or common or whatever it is, is not as big as like a golden gate or central park, however, surprisingly enough, so much has happened in this plot of grass — skirmishes, cow grazing, Revolutionary War campsite, riots, concerts, speeches, hangings.

At night, it’s rather quiet, save for the rattling coughs of several of the park’s more colorful inhabitants.

Boston Common at Night

Boston Common at Night

Btw, I’m assuming that my little night tour of the city, and the park was a rather safe outing to do solo. Even the smaller, more mysterious darker alleys seemed somewhat well-lit. Regardless, on a Tuesday evening, there were plenty of people enjoying a brewskie or five in one of the many pubs in the city. The only time I felt a little weird was when I took a picture of a monument and heard some rustling in the foliage. Closer examination (tried not to stare) revealed some guy, standing in the shadows, leaning against a tree either drinking a can of beer or playing a recorder-type instrument. It was too dark to tell. Something about the setup seemed awkward, and I left promptly after spotting him.

I retraced my steps back to the hotel, stopping at Emack and Bolio’s (255 State Street)— supposedly one of the best ice cream places in the US. I had a coffee bean/vanilla concoction served in a rice krispie studded cone:

ice cream for the connoisseur (thats trademarked, btw)

ice cream for the connoisseur (that’s trademarked, btw)

I spent the remainder of the evening lingering about the wharf/pier next to my hotel (long wharf?) and trying to save my ice cream cone from melting while I snapped my final photos.

the city lights

the city lights

Because ofย  all the trash-talking I’ve heard towards/about Boston (namely, the Red Sox) from my NY-born and bred friend, I was expecting more of a slummy, industrial/port, dbag vibe. Not so. At least from what I saw (at night), Boston was actually quite a nice town.

SLEEP:
Boston Marriott Long Wharf (296 State Street, on Boston Harbor), $210/night for double.ย  Great location. Rooms are modern, but the interior of the hotel has a strange, 1970s layout/look and feel. I’d stay here again.

EAT:
Legal Seafoods (255 State Streetvarious locations throughout Boston), $10-$30.ย  Bowl of soup with bread is $6.50 and extremely filling, even for dinner.
Emack and Bolio’s (255 State Street – various locations throughout Boston),$5-$10. A single scoop of ice-cream in fancy cone cost about $6-7 bucks. Almost as much as a bowl of soup at nearby Legal Seafood. Worth a try, unconvinced if worth the premium price.

SEE:
Boston Ghost Tour, if you can get past the phony accents of the overly enthusiastic tour guides, the tour seemed like a fun one to take.

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