Every city set on the water already starts at an advantage and Boston is no exception. After three days spent in town for business, I was left with some random impressions.
- Boston is much smaller than I imagined. Just think of an uppity San Francisco.The entire downtown, from Beacon Hill to the waterfront, is walkable, unless you really want to try the T, Boston’s version of the Tube. It comes across as a very livable city.
- Boston has the old world charm I expected, with many corners reminding me of London: severe looking buildings, red brick walk-ups, stone churches. At times, it looks more Puritan than it probably is, so orderly and clean.
- A walk around the loop of the Charles River allowed me to enjoy what I don’t have in Los Angeles: the Autumnal changing in foliage colors, unspoiled by the recent freaky snowstorm.
- Beacon Hill, if too overly renovated in a way Americans love, trying to recreate the ambiance of two centuries ago but doing it too cleanly, is nonetheless charming and chock-a-block with quirky stores and restaurants.
- The whole city is anchored by the Boston Common (wasn’t there a tv show by that name?) – imagine a much smaller version of Central Park.
- I pretty much survived on seafood – especially oysters which I ate as if they were going out of style. When in Rome..Still, my dining experiences were unfortunately sub-par. In a city which has contributed Todd English, Jody Adams, Barbara Lynch, to name a few, to the culinary world, I was dragged to Grill 23, a cavernous, up-market steakhouse and seafood restaurant, where hundreds of people who looked exactly like you imagine Bostonians to look like, were waiting for tables. The rude host didn’t help matters one bit. Oh well.
- Cambridge was a let down. Somehow I imagined a quaint little enclave with charming bistros and cute coffee houses, not a congested roundabout where everybody is half my age. The Harvard campus, on the other hand, is beautiful, populated by beautiful young people who make you wish you were 20 years younger, smart enough to get a scholarship to such a place or rich enough to afford it.
- I finally put a face to MIT, which is a jumble of buildings, mostly not as nice or genteel as the Harvard ones. But many do have a magnificent view of the river and of the Boston skyline on the other side.
- The Harvard Book Store was a great find – old, woody, rambling, I just couldn’t help buying three books I had to lug back.
- Finally, a huge thank you to Boston cabbies – unlike New York ones, who would rather commit hara-kiri than talk to their passengers, or LA ones, who have no clue where they are going, their Boston colleagues were chatty and eager to point out notable sights and to offer useful information.
Belly full of oysters and mussels, when I landed back in LA, which I found colder than the East Coast, I was surprisingly happy to be back. It doesn’t happen often to me, always prey to wanderlust. I guess this crazy place that I now call home has finally managed to steal my heart.