Visiting places is never like actually living there, by definition you’re on holiday. You don’t have to deal with real life, which for most people involves dragging yourself from bed to breakfast to commute to traffic jams and everything else that’ll contribute to making your day uphill.
So when you’re a tourist, all new cities are fun and lovely to visit – specially in another country. Looking back you wonder why you’re not living there.
Boston was lovely. We actually stayed in a suburb town – Somerville – which is the exact type of distance to the center and business districts as where I live in Rome. But somehow the longish bus & subway ride into town didn’t seem as tiring as it does when you’re home and going to work. It was pure fun
In fact, Boston was fun. I followed the advice of a co-blogger. On the first day, we hopped on-and-off the superbly well-organized Trolley tours (not Duck which looked sort of silly with music wafting from the open air decks) to get a hang of what the city was all about. Next day we chose the Cambridge/Harvard area and the baseball stadium, and last two days walks along the wharfs and the park and the Chinese district, with a museum thrown in.
Boston is small, courteous and seems like a quality-of-life place. Even the bus stops have nice signs!
I delighted in the approachable/digestible quantity of relatively modern history on offer– not the (to a blasé inhabitant of Rome) boring sameness of troves of collapsed 2,000 year-old columns, ramparts, catacombs and old bridges that are things of beauty but are not conducive to easing modern life (real life, not tourist life) .
In Boston there seemed to be just the right number of historical buildings and locations and museums to visit. We liked the architecture and setup of the slightly out of the way Institute of Contemporary Art, and enjoyed boarding a few historical copies of ships reminiscent of the seeds of Independence. I normally don’t do souvenirs, but brought back a tin of “Boston Harbour Tea”. I’m drinking it, not keeping it: good standard British tea.
We also caught a huge queue of smiling multi-origin about-to-be naturalized citizens snaking their way into a municipal building in their Sunday best. However, except for university areas, in most of the places we ate, including simple dives, not an African American customer in sight. Not even in the huge Fenway Park tavern and beer place just across from the stadium where there were hundreds of people elbow-to-elbow before the game.
How is that? Boston is famously WASP but the reality was bizarre.
Anyway, it was a good break. Good to get away from Europe. I was introduced to delicious lobster rolls and finally understood how you get your beers ice-cold in the States: just keep the glasses in the freezer till needed. Which Italians would never do out of fear of breaking the last odd-number non-matching family heirloom glasses.