[Warning: Lots of pictures in this post]
So, its been awhile since SB and I moved to Boston. As I write this post we’ve been about a month and a week. By the time you read this it will be more in slighty-over-two-month range. The point being, we’ve been here long enough to get past the “settling in” phase and have moved into the “life” phase. With this phase comes work and school. However, before those two things started we spent a lot of time doing fun stuff around Boston. The biggest highlight of this period was undoubtedly our Salem trip (forewarning, if you haven’t read that post yet its really long, but you should read it). Salem wasn’t the only thing we did though. We did exploring from right around out apartment, to some of the further reaches of the Boston area. The idea was simple, does as much as possible before school starts since we knew we would have very little time to do such things once it did. The basic premise of this post is to give you a very abbreviated run down of some of the things that we did. I’m limited by a couple of things. First, is time. As I start to write this its 10:45pm on a Saturday and I’ve already had two beers (Bud Light Lime, so nothing worth mentioning again). Second, is memory. Its been long enough since we’ve done some of these things that I don’t have enough details to make individualized postings. Plus, on top of those two things I don’t think I have the stamina for another Salem-esque post right now. So, keeping that in mind, lets go through a very quick run down of some of the stuff we did for our “Boston Pre-Game.” If you would like more specifics about something I mention, or have questions about something I don’t mention but likely did, drop me a comment below. There are a lot of pictures I’ve left out, primarily for the aforementioned reasons. I’ve also linked articles explaining some of the stuff I talk about in order to prevent me from going off on my typical tangents. You can either click or ignore these, dependent on your level of interest.
Our adventure starts near our apartment, at Harvard Square:
Beyond that road and gate lies one of the best (likely the best) universities in the world. Only smart people can go there, or rich people. I’m not bitter about my rejection though, I’m quite happy at Cleetus’ College of Law and Learnin’. This spot is actually about a 10 minute walk from where we live, so not too bad. Its part of the larger area of Harvard Square, which is one of the more popular squares in Cambridge.
That’s a bookstore near Harvard Square. Its not actually a Harvard bookstore, but boy do they sure push the Harvard theme.
Cambridge is actually known as the “City of Squares” which does not mean its a city full of boring people. There are squares everywhere. From where we live, if you go the other direction from Harvard Square, you get to Inman Square. Inman has a lot of cool little places, such as the Druid. One of the coffee shops (1369) had a board outside with Doge on it, so we had to stop, it was very good.
In addition to our immediate area, we headed out to Chesnut Hill to check out SB’s school, Boston College. I have to say, they have a very impressive campus.
Gasson Hall is sort of their “centerpiece” and it is a very awesome building.
In fact, many people credit Gasson Hall with the revival of Collegiate Gothic style and other universities (such as that TTT Yale) have copied it. Pretty cool. When we first entered, it was pretty epic. There was an ensemble playing music in a nearby room, so we walked into a big fancy hall with powerful classical music playing, it was pretty much straight out of a movie.
We also visited the Boston Commons. Which were actually very pretty for a commons (compared to some, which are just a field).
As you will notice above, they actually have a public area to play in the water. I wouldn’t go quite so far to call it a water park, but it has a fountain and it is totally free. I’m sure its half urine, but that is beside the point. One cool thing is that near the common there is a “Capital One Cafe” which is a PEET’S coffee that Capital One has made behbehs with. We got free fancy coffee drinks because we have Capital One accounts. Score.
Next to the commons are the Public Gardens.
They were freaking gorgeous. For the sake of space I only include one environmental shot here, but they have ponds, swan boats, statues, streams, trees, flowers.. you name it. They were the first public gardens in the Unites States and were obviously modeled after the European Style. They are SERIOUSLY worth visiting, plus they are free. They also include the famous “Make Way For Ducklings” statue.
Its normally crawling with children (and me) so they never actually have to polish it, all the people keep it clean. Love it.
After the parks we started the ole’ Freedom Trail.
If you are too lazy to click the link above, the Freedom Trail is basically a brick trail that runs by a lot of historical stuff in Boston. Its actually really cool.
One of the first stops is the Massachusetts State House (seen in the background above). Its a cool building, and yes, that is actually gold on the dome (which covers copper supplied by none other than Paul Revere). Inside we checked out the House and Senate Chambers, the house is seen below.
Shortly after that we passed through the Granary Burying Ground, seeing the grave of none other than Samuel Adam’s himself.
We also saw the grave of the woman who possible inspired Mother Goose.
Though to be historical, its very unlikely that this was the Mother Goose, as references to her go back to at least 1650. However, its possible that this was a local iteration of Mother Goose.
We also saw the grave of Paul Revere, which was covered in pennies (the exact origins of the practice are unknown, but he was a copper/silver smith, which might at least partially explain it).
Of course I left a penny, for both karmic and respectability reasons.
Another stop along the Freedom Trail was the spot of the Boston Massacre.
There was a couple making out pretty much right on the spot, I mean totally eating each others faces. It was kind of a weird choice of location, but I guess stuff such as the Boston Massacre happened so we would have such freedoms.
As we traversed the trail (which is about 2.5 miles, but you will walk a lot more than that) we were afforded a few nice views of the various Boston skylines (Boston doesn’t seem to have a “single” skyline, it has several).
We passed by Paul Revere’s house, but didn’t go in. It was a very hot day and SB wasn’t really feeling exploring an old house. I wasn’t especially sold it on, so we moved on, but we did check out the outside extensively, and of course by we I mean I.
Speaking of Paul Revere, we also walked by the Old North Church.
This is the famous “One if by land, and two if by sea” lantern church, if you have horribly forgotten your American history.
In addition to all the historical stuff we passed by some modern things, such as TD Garden, home of the Boston Bruins. (Valentino loved this).
One of the highlights of the Freedom Trail is the USS Constitution, or Old Iron Sides, if you prefer that name.
We actually timed our trip so that it was during one of the free days, which meant we got to see both the Constitution and its museum for free. Plus, we later found out that it was going to go in for three years worth of renovations just a week or two after we visited. So yeah, talk about good timing.
This area of the harbor offered up some good views of the city.
Docked adjacent to the constitution was the USS Cassin Young.
The end of the Freedom Trail is at my beloved Bunker Hill.
Why I like Bunker Hill so much is a really silly story involving video games, so I’ll spare you. The monument marks the end of the Freedom Trail.
I should note there that I cut out a lot of the stuff on the Freedom Trail, but that just gives you a reason to go walk it yourself 🙂 .
Another thing we’ve done is visit Pleasure Bay, which despite having a rather risqué name is pretty tame. Its actually just a crescent shaped bay which a couple of really nice beaches.
An interesting thing about Pleasure Bay is that planes fly right over head at they head to the airport. I mean, right overhead.
It’s probably annoying if you live next to the beach, but it was really cool for us visitors.
Out at the mouth of the bay is Fort Independence.
It was free and had a lot of historical value, so I had to check it out. It actually had some pretty nice views from the top.
You couldn’t actually explore the fort on your own, you had to take one of the free tours which was kind of odd. However, since it was free there wasn’t really much to lose so we did.
Back on the Cambridge side of things we explored some of the older areas of town, including Tory Row on Brattle Street, which was where a bunch of supporters of the English Crown lived. The Longfellow House is on this street, for reference.
Near Tory Row is Radcliffe College (now owned by Harvard), which was one of the original Seven Sisters colleges, we went and checked that out too.
A little further away is the “Radcliffe Quad” which was once housing for Radcliffe and is now undergraduate housing for Harvard (part of their House System). We didn’t actually visit the Quad on the same day, but I’m putting it here for topical purposes.
While coming back from Tory Row we ran across a street entertainer, they are slightly classier in this neck of the woods.
And yes, I tipped him, if you were wondering. I figured I probably should since I took his picture.
In this same general region is the Harvard farmer’s market.
That really isn’t the best picture of it, but it was the best I could find without digging. We’ve went there several times, getting everything from vegetables to a maple-bacon donut (yes it was awesome).
Another thing we did was take a morning run along the Charles River Esplanade.
I’m not sure what an esplanade is, but a dictionary tells me it is the same thing as a promenade, or a long open area. Either way, it was beautiful and I am really displeased that it isn’t easily accessible to us (requires taking public transit) and that my legs are in a state of dying.
Speaking of the Charles River, we went kayaking on it, which was bunches of fun. I resisted the urge to tip us over, I think SB would file for divorce.
We also saw the other famous school in Cambridge, MIT.
But more importantly, we saw the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile.
I really do think that is the first time in my life that I have seen one.
Speaking of firsts, we also took a ZipCar for the first time ever. Her name was Sharla. She took us to Target to get a mirror.
[Administrative Note: So right after I posted that last image our power went out. It was weird because it was about 12:15am and the storms had passed about 3 hours prior. We have no idea why the power went out. Anyways, the power came on about 1 hour later, so they fixed whatever it was relatively quickly (It was isolated to our building, the buildings around us still had power). By that time I was too tired to continue though. So, between the last sentence and the next one, about 22 hours has passed. Anyways, without further ado:]
Another milestone was visiting the original Samuel Adam’s brewery.
The tour is actually free, they just request you give a donation, which they give to local charities. How cool is that. Almost as cool as seeing the entire mass market Samuel Adam’s lineup.
But not nearly as cool as seeing Samuel Adams being born in the aging barrels.
And undoubtedly not as a cool as getting free Samuel Adams beers, straight from the freakin’ barrel.
Overall the tour was outstanding. I’m not sure it would be worthwhile if 1. You hate beer (or don’t drink) AND 2. You have no interest in learning about beer. Outside of both of those things, there is really no excuse not to go, because its free (excluding the donation, but that is for karma, not entry). A cool thing about the Boston brewery is that it is where they test out experimental batches of beer. So whenever a new flavor goes out to mass market, it was tested and improved at this brewery. That also means you can buy fresh growlers of the experimental batches. I did, but you’ll have to wait for the beer blurb to hear about that one. 🙂
A little closer to home is the Harvard Museum of Natural history. SB and I waited to go until I had my student ID, which allows me and one guest to get in for free. One of the highlights of the museum is is gigantic class flower collection. I’m not botany enthusiast, but it was mind-boggling how intricate and lifelike the flowers were.
The pictures really do not do them justice, it was crazy cool. The museum also houses a wide variety of creatures, including creature bones, such as this humongous Kronosaurus skeleton (Tristen Approved).
The museum was set up in sections that corresponded to different areas of the world, the Asian section had a Siberian Tiger, one of my favorite kinds of naminals. It was dead of course.
They also had a pretty impressive mineral collection, including giant geodes that made me think of Meem.
Then, right before school started my Aunt came to see us and spoiled us rotten. She took us out to eat at places we can’t afford and whisked us around in Taxis. We even got to go on a sunset boat ride down the Charles.
So, all in all, we were definitely busy. Like I said at the start of the post, I left out a lot of the smaller details and heavily truncated those that I kept in. The general idea was a speed run through the month prior to classes started and with that goal in mind I believe this post succeeded. Its interesting that by the time this is posted over another month will have passed, but this is nice summary of our Boston Pre-Game. I hope you enjoyed my fast-paced reminiscing.
Until next time,