Sunday morning, sleeping in was absolutely imperative. We woke up around 11 and decided to get our butts in gear and see as much of the city as was possible, since it was my second (and already last) day with Dafna. I had the better part of Monday to fly solo, but wasn’t sure how much I should leave to myself. (That and the two of usually try to take a whirlwind culinary/shopping tour through any given city when we’re together and able.) Before falling asleep the previous night, I’d made something of a mental list of the places I’d like to hit, if possible. Of course, the next morning I couldn’t remember everything, and hadn’t gotten up to scribble it down, so I had to try to recreate it. Anyway, we ended up veering off our plans all day, but managed to cram in an unbelievable laundry list of sightseeing, sampling all the town has to offer, and shopping for so many souvenirs that I was chastised twice coming home yesterday for having too many items. Oops. But it was worth it!
After grabbing a quick coffee from the Starbucks conveniently located in our hotel’s lobby, we headed off to the nearest T stop. On our way there, I was able to snap pictures of two of the things I’d wanted to lay eyes on: Trinity Church, known for its amazing architecture (I plan to try to actually see it up close and/or from the inside next time, but happily settled for a few quick snaps to be able to see much more this time):
and the Boston Public Library, which is the nation’s first public library, and therefore has a particularly soft spot in this writer’s heart:
(And of course, it’s another place I would have loved to have had more time to inspect more closely, but that puts it high on my list for next time.)
I was happy to finally be getting a peek at this subway everyone raves about, particularly the green line. Why? Because instead of trains, they’re underground trolley cars (read: small), and it’s all fairly clean and safe. I didn’t really find anything particularly special about the T, but I’m always a fan of quick, fast, cheap, and efficient ways of getting around cities I’m enjoying. Call me crazy. Whether it’s BART at home, the Metro in Paris, the regular old “subway” in NYC, or now the T in Boston, I’m game. (I really oughta try the one in LA…) Anyway, I had managed to talk Dafna into going all the way out to Cambridge for two main reasons: I really had my heart set on doing a quick lap around Harvard (the Square, yes, but mostly the campus itself) and it’s also the location of Boston’s only Adidas store (or so I thought). What she most wanted to do was have breakfast at a place she’d discovered on her last trip to the city, and luckily they have a Cambridge location near MIT.
So into Flour we went, Dafna hoping against hope that they would somehow not yet be sold out of their famed sticky sticky buns, as had been her previous experience.
Right away, I figured out that we shared similar viewpoints:
And just look at all these gorgeous goodies!
And lo & behold, there was Dafna’s delectable sticky bun, in all its gooey glory:
(And no, it’s not as big as it looks. I just zoomed to show it’s beauty.) You can’t imagine Daf’s pleasure as she savored it bite for bite. She offered me a taste I couldn’t refuse, and I flirted with nirvana for a moment before biting into my own homemade raspberry jelly donut:
For some reason, we thought it would be a good idea to order something savory to share, which we really didn’t need, but…our little egg sandwich was pretty tasty anyway:
At that point, I looked up the address of the Adidas store only to discover it had gone out of business. Oh well – it’s only a regional Boston thing to me, anyway, and it’s hard to explain why I associate it with Boston. Onward and upward! We wandered through Cambridge back toward the T so we could get to Harvard, and along our way ran into a famous-to-us pizzeria:
(It’s not the same location as the one we’re familiar with, but I for one didn’t care!)
Before I knew it, I was laying eyes on the famous Hahvahd University. I don’t know why it’s such an exciting place for me to visit, but perhaps only because it’s steeped in history, full of beautiful old buildings, and values excellent education. Dafna chose to sit it out because we’d already been doing a fair amount of walking and didn’t have any plans to slow down all day. I wandered quickly, snapping shots of the gates and the gorgeous buildings while eavesdropping on two different tours taking place in what I would call the quad, if I was trying to pretend I knew what the hell I was talking about.
I’m not going to pretend I knew before this trip that the university is named after John Harvard. This is him chilling right in the middle of campus (or what I thought was the middle, anyway):
From Cambridge, we made our way back across the river and toward Faneuil Hall, which used to be called Quincy Market. Just outside the main marketplace, we ran into “beer guy” Samuel Adams:
And the “other” Cheers:
I call this one the “other” Cheers because it’s a replica of the bar from the TV show. The “real” Cheers isn’t called Cheers at all and looks nothing like the bar on TV, but was the inspiration for a sitcom about a bar where “everybody knows your name.” Of the two, this one interested me a little more, but I didn’t go inside either of them.
Old as dirt restaurant Durgin Park was on my list of places to check out, because it’s known for (among other things), sour servers, Boston baked beans (the only food on my list I didn’t manage to get to while I was there), and New England clam chowder. I had to settle for a picture instead:
(BTW, this pic reminds me: Faneuil Hall, for anyone who’s wondering/struggling like I was, is pronounced “FEN-yul,” almost as though it rhymes with Daniel.) After stopping to buy several of the souvenirs on my list, as well as plenty of Red Sox gear for both of us (we’re both fans in our own right, but poor Dafna is also a huge SF Giants fan…she feels conflicted either way. I don’t have this problem), we were ready for a quick snack and on our merry way:
(Actually, I wasn’t yet hungry. Daf just wanted a quick bite, so the pretzel cart was perfect.)
This is a lime rickey. I was thirsty, and I’d never had one, much less knew what exactly it was. Seltzer, lime, and a tiny bit of grenadine, as it turns out. It’s quite tart and not at all sweet, so I thought it was refreshing and Dafna thought it was pretty awful. It did the trick, though.
As we made our way toward the North End (Boston’s Italian neighborhood), I took what I think may be my favorite picture of all those I took of the city:
And then we were upon our next stop:
Our mission? Mike’s Pastry:
I’ve heard that Maria’s and Modern both give this place a run for its money, but all the same it seems to be the most hands-down well-known spot for amazing cannoli, and several people had insisted I had to go. I didn’t know they’d have so many flavors from which to choose, though:
I chose a limoncello flavored and the beautiful florentine; my Oreo-obsessed friend had no contest in her selection, and we were ready to walk around the block to Paul Revere’s home, pastries in hand:
Paul Revere’s home is tiny and simple, exactly as you’d expect it to be:
With just a few simple signs to call it to your attention if you don’t know where you’re going:
On our way toward the Omni Parker House Hotel, we passed the new-ish Christopher Columbus Park:
a Mexican restaurant called Jose McIntyre’s, which for some reason rings a bell in my memory:
The Irish Famine monument, which MC History had pointed out to us the previous day on our Duck Tour:
And finally, the Old City Hall (which is now a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse):
And then…if you can believe it, it was time to stop and snack again. (I promise, we were getting plenty of exercise. I know it sounds like we did nothing but eat all day, but it really isn’t the case!)
The Omni Parker House once had a chef named M. Sanzian, who invented a custard-filled cake that he called Boston Cream Pie. Where better to get it than where it originated? And anyway, the hotel is beautiful:
So, by the way, is the “pie”:
Before long, we were walking again. This time, through the construction-riddled Boston Common:
See the purple windowpane in the top left?
Daf says that according to legend, when the glass was made, no one could figure out what made them purple, and they were never able to do it again. Just a random fun fact from a Boston lover to me and you.
Before long, we found ourselves in the beautiful Boston Public Garden, greeted first by the statues called Make Way for Ducklings: a mama with her eight ducklings. (Currently, each bears a Boston Bruins jersey with its name on the back, except for the last one: they’re Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Oack, Pack and Quack.)
Further into the Garden, we came across all kinds of beauty (especially as the city is still visible in the background):
the swan boats you can ride on:
some amazing flowers:
(These we thought were even reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland):
And then another familiar face, also wearing a Bruins jersey bearing his name:
By that point it was getting dark and we were ready for dinner. We walked up the ritzy shopping neighborhood that is Newbury Street until we came to our destination – Upper Crust:
It was Dafna’s choice, as she’d been there in the past, and while I enjoyed the quirky artwork above our heads:
And the slice of the day (red peppers, artichoke, and goat cheese):
It has to be said that no, it didn’t come anywhere near Regina Pizzeria from my first day wandering around the food court at the Pru. Further proof? Two of my girlfriends were eating at that very pizzeria on my recommendation and would later sing its praises back to me. It wasn’t just a fluke.
After the four of us were done with our respective pizza joints, Dafna and I met my friends Liz and Jenn at JP Licks. This time, I went for a kiddie-sized oatmeal cookie-flavored “hard yogurt,” which is exactly what it sounds like. Frozen yogurt that’s hard like ice cream. It was good. After a half hour or so, Dafna headed back to the hotel on her own to turn in early, having an early morning start to her business week. The girls and I, wanting to savor every last minute of our final night in “Beantown,” went off in search of a drink.
Originally I’d really wanted to have a beer or something at an Irish pub, which I likened to the “when in Rome…” of Irish Catholic Boston, but after walking for miles on end all day, I suggested we check out the Top of the Hub inside the Prudential Tower near my hotel. Mercifully, both girls were game and up we went. Immediately, it was easy to see we’d made the right choice. The view was spectacular. My pictures are not:
The girls were both happy to find a place that could serve them their “usual” drinks, while I was thrilled to have finally found a great bar that had original, interesting cocktail choices. I started with a Boston’s tea because unlike a Long Island iced tea (or any variation of it, for that matter), it didn’t contain four or more spirits. It was Absolut Boston (black tea and elderflower – the tea I get but I don’t know why the elderflower), St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur, black tea, lemon, and agave. More importantly, it was utterly delicious:
Every experimenting with my cocktails, I tried the Cucumber Lemonade next (for which Liz thought I was crazy). It’s Crop Cucumber Vodka, lemon muddled with sugar and cucumbers, and sprite:
It was pretty damn good too, and it has to be said here that with the exception of their flavor in water or drinks such as this one, I only like cucumbers when they’re pickled. And please don’t ask me what a pickled cucumber tastes like.
We spent a few hours watching the Mavericks win the NBA Finals (how’s that karma taste, LeBron?) and chatting with the cute bartenders. (This is Chris:
We’re certain he not only looks absolutely, recognizably Bostonian, but could be a long-lost little brother for the Knight boys. Sadly, he’s only 23. Arley isn’t pictured because there’s a picture of Liz and I with him, but I don’t have it.) Eventually, we decided we probably ought to ingest a little food with our drinks and I ordered the spicy black bean burger with chipotle aioli and jalapeno pepper jack cheese:
(Just like my drink, one of the best things I tasted the whole weekend. It was so yummy!)
And the girls ordered the margherita flatbread:
(I didn’t taste it, but it certainly looked appetizing, and I didn’t hear any complaints!)
We finally left the bar a little after 1 am. I was sad to leave the girls, because the following morning would take them to the airport where they’d fly back to Philly together. Jenn lives there, and from there Liz flew on to Houston. I don’t know when I’ll see them next. Back in my hotel room, though, the cannoli was about to go to waste. It has a shelf life, and I wasn’t hungry but wasn’t about to pass out without at least a bite of each of mine. Forgive the terrible photo quality, I was trying to disturb Dafna as little as possible. The limoncello disappointed me in that, while it was lemony and tasty, it wasn’t tart as I’d been hoping:
The florentine, on the other hand, was to die for. It was a perfect bite to end my marathon day in the city I’d fallen in love with:
With that, I set the box aside in case they’d somehow survive the night, brushed my teeth, and crashed. Up next: one last day in Boston!