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Visiting Beantown

By on Apr 28, 2008 in Life

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As possibly the biggest nerds ever, Adam and I went to Boston this weekend to see Greg Graffin of Bad Religion receive the Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism from the Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy (Watch it here; Listen here.). I kid you not.

Up until now I pretty much had a love-hate-but-mostly-hate relationship with Boston mostly informed by my early college years in Western Mass. People were rude, the punk scene was violent, and we could never find any place we were trying to go. Perhaps it’s maturity or the fact that I currently live in the densest city in the US or an outgrowing of views I co-opted from friends but Boston was pretty darn good this weekend.

Planning this trip was unnecessarily stressful considering it’s 2 day/1 night duration due to the outrageous (and currently beyond budget) price of hotels, the need for a dog-sitter, fear of dying on the chinatown bus but being too cheap to pay double for greyhound, and a general procrastination. Despite all that, it turned out well.

We showed up in Chinatown at the Fung Wah bus stop only to miss the 1pm bus. Fortunately, they run buses every half hour on weekends and as the first in line for the next bus, we got decent seats. Since we (shocker) left far later than planned (Adam and I, not the bus), we arrived in Cambridge with not much time before the event. I had purchased some pick ‘n mix chapters from Lonely Planet’s Boston guide book and was looking forward to trying one of the local restaurants – too bad everyone else had that idea too. We ended up eating at Lee’s Sandwich Shop on Church St., a block or so down from Harvard. It was a fine, greasy diner kind of meal.

After finding the – get this – church(!) where the presentation was to take place (“oh right, it’s that big huge steeple over there”), we waited outside with the rest of the motley crew. The crowd seemed to be mostly punk rock kids, the occasional parent, and a few middle age adults. Eventually, they let everyone in and we took our seats in the pews. The whole event was the highlight of the weekend but more on that in another post.

Exhausted, we skipped the waiting for an autograph and headed to the T. We found a relatively cheap Motel 6 ($100/night although it originally was advertised for $75) in Braintree which was conveniently located at the last stop on the Red Line (same line as Harvard/Cambridge). The hotel got some bad reviews on tripadvisor but we found it to be quite adequate. It’s no Hilton but it was convenient and possessed the bare minimum (bed, bathroom). Also, it was clearly recently remodeled and there was a Chilli’s, Burger King, and Dunkin Donuts (and apparently Dominos delivered) within walking distance in case you didn’t eat before heading there. If we were to go again, I may try some of the hostels listed on hostelworld as cheaper, more centrally located alternatives but we might also stay here again.

The next morning we woke up, sleepy and ate a disappointing breakfast from Burger King (McDonald’s has , by-far, the best egg food product out there). We then headed to the JFK Presidential Library which was even more disappointing than my Burger King breakfast. While externally grand, the set up inside was awkward and the exhibits kissed butt at best and glossed over reality at worst (Cuban Missle Crisis anyone?). Ah well, at least we saw it.

Next we headed over to Boston Common to walk the Freedom Trail. We followed the red brick strip around Boston common, up to the North End to see Paul Revere’s house , and on the Charlestown to see the Bunker Hill Monument (question: How many phallic monuments can one city have?). You can actually walk up all 249 steps to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument but we, having gotten there at the very end up our day, got to step 50 when our legs and knees threw a temper tantrum so we turned back. I bet it’s really cool though. The park around it is peaceful and surrounded by lovely brownstones.

Utterly beat, we walked back over the Charlestown bridge to eat in the North End, aka Boston’s ‘Little Italy.’ Again, Lonely Planet steered us to what was likely the best restaurants but also the most crowded. At 4:30pm there was already a line around the corner for Pizzeria Regina so we headed down to Salem St and had some decent (and still better than New York’s) pizza at PushCart.

Our stomachs duly satisfied, we set off to catch the bus home. Thinking we would surely miss the 6pm bus, I headed to the bathroom where there was the inevitable line. Fortunately, the bus was not full and after running across the terminal, we ended up getting on the 6pm bus. For whatever reason, bus #2 was less spacious and not as comfortable as bus #1 – plus Adam and I were sitting across the aisle from each other which always leads to the awkward ‘trying to get comfortable while not touching the stranger next to you’ dance. I watched Juno on my iPod (ps – I always thought this would kind of suck on the First Gen iPod Video but I was sadly mistaken. The video was sharp and I was duly amused for a couple hours. Go Apple.) and then rocked out to The Klopecs.

We got home exhausted and mildly crippled (my left knee still cries in pain when I sit down and stand up) but pleased with our weekend.

ps – I *swear* I saw Anne Hathaway walking her dog by Park St. Church across from Boston common on Sunday. She was wearing sun glasses and walking a dog along with a friend also walking a dog. I really didn’t think much of the duo until I heard her voice – she called to one of the dogs named Esmeralda. Being the loser-lover-of-tween-movies that I am (namely the Princess Diaries), I turned instantly and the woman did look just like Anne Hathaway. To prove my hunch, I did a bit of googling and low and behold, Anne Hathaway does have a dog named Esmeralda. Am I a stalker or what?

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