Charles River at sunset
I used to hate Boston. I didn’t have a valid reason for my animosity towards the city since I had only been once with my parents and another time in college to visit some friends, but still, I had no love for it. When I moved to NYC, I had more reason to hate Boston. Boston is the home of the Red Sox and the New England Patriots; NYC is the home of their archrivals, the Yankees and the Giants. I’m not a sports fan, but I felt it was my duty as a New Yorker to hate those Boston teams too. I also prefer Manhattan clam chowder over New England clam chowder. A final reason why I disliked Boston is because they seem to have their own alphabet that doesn’t include the letter “R” (for example, “Mahk, pahk the cah.”). The point is, I had no logical reason to dislike Boston but that didn’t stop me from hatin’.
After many years of irrational and unfounded loathing for the “Capital of New England”, I finally went back to visit with ex-Bostonians who showed me all the charms and attractions of this quaint city to the North.
My first re-visit was in May of 2010 for KS’s sister’s law school graduation. We were only there for a couple of days but the weather was beautiful and we had the opportunity to explore some of the more touristy areas. We went to the Museum of Fine Arts and the Boston Public Garden and I would highly recommend both for anyone visiting Boston. Unlike The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park in NYC, these two Boston spots are manageable and will not leave you exhausted and wanting to go back to your hotel to pass out. You can probably squeeze both in on the same day. I also felt like the Public Garden was very clean and well-maintained compared to Central Park. Of course, Central Park is a much larger park, but bigger isn’t always better.
We ate at the Barking Crab restaurant for dinner one night and had lunch at Union Oyster House another day. Both restaurants are rather touristy and I have no plans of returning to either one. I can get better food at a better price elsewhere in Boston. Another tourist spot that we checked out was Fanueil Hall Marketplace, a.k.a. Fanny Hall or Quincy Market. Quincy Market is worth a short visit just because it’s fun to see the street performers and maybe a one-stop shop for picking up your souvenirs.
Street performer at Quincy Market
My second attempt at getting to know this fine little city was over the Thanksgiving Holiday of 2011. This time I went with a couple of former Bostonians and we met up with two other locals. This trip was all about food. We avoided the touristy places and they showed me how Boston shames NYC with regards to certain Asian cuisines. I always knew that Vietnamese food in NYC sucked, but I didn’t realize that our Thai food is rather lacking and inauthentic too. On Thanksgiving night, we went to Pho 2000 to try their famous bò 7 món and whole catfish dinner because that’s how we Asians do Thanksgiving (well, sometimes)! It was a wonderful way to give thanks.
The next day, we went to Dok Bua Thai Kitchen in Brookline, MA. I had no idea what real Thai food was until then. It was so tasty and delicious and there were items on the menu that I had never seen at a Thai place in NYC. My friends like spicy food so a couple of the dishes were spicier than I would’ve liked but it wasn’t the kind of spiciness that over-powered the dish. You could still taste all of the Thai flavors that you wouldn’t find in a NYC Thai dish. I can’t wait to go back. On another night we went to Yankee Lobster where we each had our own perfectly steamed lobster with sides and a drink for less than $20 per person.
The highlight of my trip, however, was Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream in Cambridge. WOW! This unassuming ice cream shop is connected to a spice shop next door where they get the ingredients to make some of their more adventurous flavors. They boast 50+ flavors on any given day and are quite generous about letting you taste anything you want before you settle on your very own cone/cup of creamy deliciousness. I don’t remember how many flavors I tried but a few that really stood out were the burnt sugar, kulfi (like no kulfi I’ve ever tried before, bursting with flavors), and the jalapeño lime sorbet (spectacular!) If none of these flavors sound tempting to you, there are about 47 others to choose from so don’t miss Christina’s if you’re in Boston. Sorry I don’t have any pictures of Christina’s. I was too busy stuffing my face.
On a non-food related note, my local friends also took me to Walden Pond where they “forced” me to walk the full 1.7 miles around the pond. Being a lazy brat, I didn’t see the point of gazing upon the small pond from different angles, but it turned out to be a very pleasant walk which I ended up enjoying very much. They also “tricked” me into walking across the Harvard-MIT Bridge, along the Charles River and back across another bridge. It was a beautiful walk and the view of the sunset from the bridge and the riverside was totally worthwhile. I usually don’t care for walking around NYC since I spend a lot of time making sure I don’t step in dog shit or a rat carcass, but walking was such a pleasant experience in Boston that I’m tempted to do it more in other cities (and without the whining).
Walden Pond (click the image to see more pictures on Flickr)
I was also lucky enough to spot a bald eagle near where we were staying in Framingham, MA. I’ve seen bald eagles in Alaska but I wasn’t expecting to see one in Boston, so that was pretty exciting.
There are still many other places in Boston that I’d like to explore and I’m lucky to be friends with adventurous locals who can show me around. I think I’m a little bit in love with Boston now. I even cheered for the Patriots during the Super Bowl, but… only because their uniforms are cooler.