Sunday, August 26, 2012

Going Around the Walking City

I was riding a Greyhound bus from New York back to Atlantic City when I received a call from my dad. He was anxious because he told me to go back earlier as we were heading straight to Boston that night. I had calculated my travel time perfectly and I knew I just had enough time to quickly rest at home (I’ve already packed my bags before leaving for NYC) but my dad being his panicky-self again (but I still love him) was worried that I will not make it on time. It was Memorial Weekend after all and the First Lady would be in Atlantic City to watch Beyonce’s concert that very same night. He thought all the odds were against me. Having traveled enough in Asian cities before, I knew the importance of time when you're on the road and I was confident I would make it right on time-- which I did.

Boston, or The Walking City as some would call it, was not originally part of my itinerary. It was a last addition in my aunt's effort to show me more of the East Coast and maximize my 3-week vacation. Because it was so last-minute, I didn't have time to research about it so I really had no expectations. However, to my surprise, Boston turned out to be my second favorite US city, next to NYC. 

From my uncle's place in Egg Harbor City, we had to ride the NJ transit to Philadelphia's 30th Station. From there, we rode the Amtrak to Boston's South Station. Travel time was around 7 hours in total and because I was dead tired from my NYC trip, I immediately fell asleep. The Amtrak was a comfortable and quick way to travel around East Coast's big cities. The train was what I thought the modern Orient Express would look like if it was still operational. It was huge and clean (vs. the NJ transit), had its own cafe in the middle car and has wifi-- my ideal mode of transportation. 

What I like about Boston is that it's mainly a college city, so it's not as busy and fast-paced as New York. Everything seems walkable-- they have Freedom Trail, a path you can follow so you can walk to 16 historic sites. It also has parks in almost every other corner. It's always nice to just sit on a bench, watch people go about their everyday lives and not worry about anything-- something I always look forward to when traveling because I never get to have that special moment when I'm home.

Here are a few places that are forever instilled in memory of Boston:

1. We got to visit Harvard Square, which made me miss my Ateneo days. I was trying to look for the next Mark Zuckerbeg and was trying to search for the dorms mentioned in the movie.

2. Y'all know I love food and Boston's China Town has good and cheap restaurants! Because we didn't research where to eat before going, we decided to look for restaurants in China Town and it was a very good decision on our part. We ate in Empire Garden and Dumpling Cafe in Washington Street for two straight nights. It's always great to have a sumptuous dinner after a tiring day.

3. For more food options, Quincy Market is also a nice place to grab some delicious grub. It's an indoor market with hundreds of food stalls, so many that I had a hard time choosing!

4. One of the first things we did was to go on a Harbor Cruise along Boston's Waterfront. It was a nice way of getting to know the city and looking at it from spectacular views.

5. We also got to see and go inside the USS Constitution, the world's oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat. We met a Filipino girl who joined the navy to get a college scholarship. She grew up in the US but can speak Filipino very fluently because it's the only way she can communicate with her grandmother.

6. Boston is said to have 24 fountains. I didn't get to see all of them but I immediately took a liking to the Christian Science Plaza's fountain. It was huge and amazing! I wish we had something like that in Manila. 

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