Bright and early on our second day in Boston, we drove down to the Discovery Center, a plaza in the north and the spot where we would park our car and jump on a bus that would take us to the subway.
The first thing that caught my eye here was the giant Lego giraffe out front of Legoland. I’ve loved Lego since as far back as I can remember. In kindergarten the first thing I would do for free time was run to the Lego station and start building. Nowadays, when I visit my little cousin in Edmonton, I sometimes still head down to his massive box of Lego and begin constructing superluminal starships outfitted with the latest in futuristic plastic weaponry. But I digress. Legoland was something like $30 USD to go inside, so we skipped out on it. I’ll buy a huge bin of Lego when I have kids, and I’ll definitely do something Lego related when I go to Denmark in April.
The subway stop near the Discovery Center, Assembly Square, was closed for construction so we had to jump on a bus heading south to the Sullivan Square stop. After making a few connections, we got off at Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The area around Harvard is crazy busy, I assume almost all year round due to its world renowned status, streets lined with famous restaurants, stores, and of course the campus ground itself.
It was late May. Excited students with proud parents were touring the campus, talking about which dorm they would be staying in and what courses they would be taking. I’ve heard of Harvard my entire life and would picture it in my mind from time to time, always inhabited by grownups older than me. Today, however, it struck me that I’d graduated university three years prior, and later than I could have at that. All of the students were just like, well, students, like on any other campus I’d visited. I felt old to be there. Many of these young adults were just beginning their lives here and they were going to an institute of education that nearly everyone on Earth has heard of.
At the same time, the actual look of the place wasn’t what I expected at all before doing some research. I always pictured Harvard to be one massive building, out in the countryside with little to no industry surrounding it. In fact, it’s both surrounded and permeated by a vibrant community, a very multicultural community. People of all kinds walked the streets of Harvard Square. The energy of youth was in the air. It felt like an exciting place to be.
Teresa and I approached the statue of John Harvard, participating in the ritual touching of the foot before continuing to stroll through the grounds.
After leaving the campus to walk around the Square itself, Teresa and I found ourselves on Massachusetts Avenue. We used to watch the Food Network quite a bit, especially Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. We’d always said when we travel to an American city we would check out one of the spots featured by Guy Fieri. Since 1960 on this very street has stood Mr. Bartley’s Gourmet Burgers. The atmosphere inside is wild as the servers are shouting over people and each and every picnic bench-like table is packed to the brim. The burgers are definitely different with the menu offering up options like The Viagra (rise to the occasion!) topped with blue cheese dressing and bacon, the Chris Christie with marinara and mozzarella, and the Taxachu$ett$ smothered in Boston baked beans, sriracha sauce, bacon, and a fried egg. I opted for the LeBron James with bacon and ghost pepper macaroni and cheese. Yes, the spicy mac n cheese was between those buns and it was hands down the best burger I’ve ever had in my life. At the time of this writing I haven’t eaten meat for months, but thinking about that burger right now is making my mouth water.
It was a bit of a cloudy day that afternoon and we needed to burn off these massive meals we just consumed. We ended up jumping back onto the subway and heading into the core of Boston.
Here, we saw one of the coolest pieces of art, something I can perhaps appreciate a little more than a painting. Suspended over an open expanse of parkland called the Rose Kennedy Greenway is a massive netting “sculpture” created by artist Janet Echelman, called As If It Were Already Here. According to her website, “The sculpture is made by hand-splicing rope and knotting twine into an interconnected mesh of more than a half-million nodes. When any one of its elements moves, every other element is affected.” The mesh spans between several skyscrapers. Below, on the Greenway, are several chairs of various types as well as a few hammocks. They’re meant to allow people to sit back and take in the artwork hundreds of feet above. Teresa and I did just that, sitting back and relaxing, watching the colourful mesh sway in the wind. It was not something I was expecting to find and I am a huge fan of anything with massive proportions that I can gaze up at.
It made me think of Nuit Blanche, an art festival in Toronto where some of the “art” is questionable at best and some is simply amazing to take in. The last time I went was 2014 and one of the pieces was simply three beams of laser light shooting across the sky for several hundred metres, at least. The first thing I thought when I saw it was how epic it would be for all of downtown Toronto to be encased in a maze, or dome, of electronic laser light of various and changing colours. I’d love for someone to undertake a task like that in a major North American city, although I almost feel like I’d be more likely to see it in a city like Seoul or Tokyo.
That evening, Teresa and I walked down to the harbour to check out a restaurant called Barking Crab, an outdoor seafood spot under a series of red and yellow tents. We had to wait for about forty five minutes before getting a table, despite the huge seating area; it was just that busy. It was worth it though as we were seating right next to the waters with an incredible view of the city. We ordered some fresh crab and a couple of orders of mussels in a white wine gravy. It was good Boston seafood eating. This was one of the main reasons we’d come to this beautiful city and everything great we’d heard was more than accurate.
Neither of us are too crazy about nightlife; we have to be in a particular zone to really go out of our way to stay out late. We retired early after a long day of constant movement and exploration. Already, there was only one full day left in the city before we had to drive back home to Toronto. We would certainly make the most of it, including immersing ourselves in some very amusing afterhours entertainment. And lucky for us, the weather on our last day turned out to be the most beautiful. With the sun shining down on us, our spirits were higher than As If It Were Here.