I took a few days off recently to visit my son, Jake, and his girlfriend, Rachel, (as opposed to “fiancé, Rachel,” which she would be if he had asked her to marry him, which would be a good idea since they have already made plans to get married in May in Kalispell, Montana) who live in Boston. Not that you care about my vacation experiences but I thought I’d jot down a few observations I made while I was there. Who knows? Maybe this information will come in handy for your next trip to Beantown!
1. Language barriers: Nothing is pronounced the way it looks. For example:
* Chowder is “chow-duh”
* Harvard is “Hah-vud”
* The town of “Worcester” is pronounced “Woo-ster.”
* Likewise, the town of "Gloucester" is pronounced “Glaw-ster”
* The town of Peabody, isn’t pronounced “PEA-baw-dee” but “Pea-BUH-dee”
* My favorite is “Quincy” which is pronounced, “Kwin-zee”
2. Higher Education: There is a college on EVERY corner! Sure, everyone knows Harvard is there and MIT. And it only makes sense that Boston College would be in Boston, but here’s a couple of others:
* Boston University
* Northeastern University
* Suffolk University
* Simmons University
* Emerson College
* Berklee College of Music
* Bay State College
* Bentley College
* Boston Conservatory
* Boston Theological Institute
* Brandeis University
* Cambridge College
* Curry College
* Eastern Nazarene College
* Emmanuel College
* Endicott College
* Fisher College
* Gordon College
* Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
* Harvard Business School
* Hellenic College
* College of the Holy Cross
* Labouré College
* Lasell College
* Lesley College
* Longy School of Music
* Massachusetts College of Art
* Merrimack College
* Mount Ida College
* New England Conservatory of Music
* New England School of Law
* Pine Manor College
* Radcliffe College
* Regis College
* Salem State College
* Stonehill College
* Tufts University
* Wellesley College
* Wentworth Institute of Technology
* Wheaton College
* Wheelock College
3. Dunkin’ Donuts: On every other corner from where there is a college you’ll find, not Starbucks (like we do out west) but Dunkin’ Donuts! Everyone goes to Dunkin’ Donuts! Lines OUT THE DOOR in the mornings. It’s crazy! And I hate to say this but their regular old ordinary coffee is not that bad. Honest! And if you want cream or sugar in your coffee, you won’t find it on a counter in the lobby; the folks behind the counter take care of it for you. And apparently they also sell donuts.
4. Irish Pubs: So, colleges on one corner, Dunkin’ Donuts on another and on the third you'll usually find an Irish pub. I guess this makes sense given the size of Boston’s Irish community but for a beer guy like me, it was a dream come true. If I could go back and visit just ONE PLACE it would be Brendan Behan’s Irish Pub in Jamaica Plain, a suburb of Boston. Great atmosphere, nice beer selection, friendly staff AND DOGS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME! My kinda place!
5. Beer: Speaking of beer, the quality is MUCH better than what I’ve found in D.C. or New York City. Lots of craft brewers in the area. A beer snob like me managed to find some good things to drink. And the Sam Adams Brewery tour is pretty fun - even if their beer isn't the greatest.
6. Roads: I believe the road system in the Boston area was laid out using the time honored “wherever horses and wagons used to go, that’s where we’ll put a road” system. No real grids like we’re used to out west. Everything just kinda winds around and the streets change name without notice. Good luck finding anything!
7. Not So Magnetic North: This is the only place I’ve ever visited where I could not tell which direction was North! No matter which way I pointed, Jake would almost always point in a completely different direction. Also, I’m pretty sure things like Fenway Park, the USS Constitution, the Old North Church are nowhere near where they’re marked on maps.
8. The Freedom Trail: This marks a path you can follow from one Revolutionary War site to another. The fine folks in Boston have conveniently laid a set of bricks (two bricks wide) along the length of the trail. If you follow it you’d see things like Paul Revere’s statue, Faneuil Hall, the old statehouse and the Bunker Hill Monument. Except you don’t really ever follow it. It just turns up every block or so. Out of nowhere. (It was kinda fun to see the first Dunkin’ Donuts where Paul Revere picked up a cup of coffee for his ride, though.)
9. Mike’s Pastry Shop: This is a cool place (owned by an Italian family) that has all the best types of pastry confections – especially cannoli! On a late Sunday afternoon the place was packed! If you go, be sure to get a Boston Cream Puff. And then don’t plan on eating dessert for another three months or so.
10. Fenway Park: This is on my bucket list of places to go before I die. Unfortunately, even though I pretty much walked around the entire ballpark, I didn’t get to go in. Apparently the Red Sox were on a road trip.
11. The Weather: Before I left Jake told me that while the temperatures might be in the 30s and 40s, the wind chill will kill a guy. He was right! There’s no stopping it. You cannot be too bundled up in that town!
12. Museum of Science: Jake works at the Museum of Science in Boston. This is kinda like OMSI but about ten times the size. His office looks out onto the Charles River at the skyline of downtown Beantown. Actually, his office is ON the Charles River because, for some reason, they built the Museum of Science on the Charles River. In any event, it’s a nerd’s paradise! (And, yes, I guess I am calling my son a nerd.)
Okay, that’s about it. None of this is probably be the least bit helpful if you ever do go to Boston but, chances are, you really didn't read this far are anyway!