We have just returned home after a four-day weekend in Boston and what a fabulous weekend it was! Boston is a great city not because it’s particularly big and impressive nor because it’s filled with famous monuments or museums – in fact, of the 16 sites that we saw along the Freedom Trail, I hadn’t heard of a single one before. But it is the most wonderfully charming, pretty and clean city – the cleanliness of the city is in fact the first thing that struck me but perhaps that says more about how filthy San Francisco is than anything else.
Despite the cold and its relatively small size (it has a population of less than 700,000) or perhaps because of its small size (which makes it pretty walkable), it is also a hive of activity – even the public library on Copley Square was packed with people paging through books or working feverishly on their laptops.
It could have been because of the weekend festivities or the fact that it was sunny, albeit cold, but the people of Boston were some of the friendliest and most fun-loving that I have met in the USA thus far – at least two people stopped to ask us if we needed directions while we were wandering around, clearly looking lost, and we had a cheers from, and a drink with quite a number of random party goers wanting to wish us happy St Paddy’s Day!
Wandering along Newbury Street lined with 19th-century brownstones that contain hundreds of shops and restaurants and the equally charming Charles Street with cupcake shops, antique and vintage stores and lovely restaurants with large windows looking onto the street, is where the city really won me over and my favorite morning in Boston was spent walking along the esplanade and through Beacon Hill. On a side note, my favorite evening in Boston was spent sipping great Italian wine and eating cheese and cold meats at the bar of Coppa in Boston’s South End – Coppa really is a must if you’re ever in town.
The Public Garden and Boston Common were covered in snow from a storm that had passed through a few days earlier and looked gorgeous with squirrels, dogs and runners all out enjoying the sunshine. I managed to gingerly scurry across the frozen lagoon (luckily all of the cupcakes that I had eaten didn’t cause the ice to break) and I also befriended a very tame squirrel (or perhaps he was after my remaining cupcakes…).
We made the short journey on the T to Harvard where we wandered past the library and the statue of John Harvard where a few people were gathered and were having their photograph taken while touching his left shoe (I’m still not really sure what that was about).
We also saw the city, Harvard, MIT and the famous Fenway Park from a different perspective – from the Skywalk Observatory on the 50th floor of the Prudential Center. However, I actually wish that I had saved the $20 entrance fee for the Skywalk Observatory and bought a second drink at Top of the Hub on the 52nd floor.
And then of course there were the St Paddy’s Day celebrations with performers entertaining the queues of people dressed in green waiting to get into the various bars around Faneuil Hall and along Union Street. Besides drinking green beer, a traditional St Paddy’s Day celebration in Boston apparently includes seeing a Dropkick Murphys concert, but if you’re like me and don’t actually know much about them, you may recognise this song which is featured in the soundtrack of The Departed. The concert was complete with mosh pits and crowd surfers and was actually great fun! We also managed to brave the cold for a few hours on Sunday and joined the hordes of drunken people lining the streets of South Boston to watch the marching bands and colorful floats in the St Paddy’s Day parade pass by.
I certainly hope that this will not be my last visit to Boston but for now I am quite happy to be putting my snow boots, gloves and winter jackets away – happy spring and I hope that you had a festive St Paddy’s Day!