Back to Normal

Boston week photo #16:

City view

This is simply a photo showing part of the Boston skyline I took recently. The city is trying hard to go back to normal after the events that took place over the past 5 days. Boston and the surrounding cities are truly resilient; people are out enjoying a beautiful spring day all the while remembering those who were most deeply affected by the tragic events. We’re all hoping that the nonsense has come to an end after the incredibly brave and heroic effort put forth by our local, state and federal law enforcement officers and service men and women. We do know one thing for sure – this city and the entire country will remain Boston Strong.

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Weather

The weather has been really great over the last two weeks in the Boston area.  There have been a few rainy days, but even on those days temperatures have warm enough to be outside.  This awesome weather has allowed me to do a bit of exploring in Cambridge and Boston.  I have walked and biked quite a bit in Cambridge and I have even biked into the big city a few times for some excitement.  Also, there is a T (subway) stop very near to my apartment building which has allowed me to get into Boston a few more times.  In all, I’ve probably made about 6 trips into Boston to look around and do some shopping.  The city is a beautiful mix of old and new – you can see why it’s considered to be America’s most European city by many. Speaking of European, I may try to take a quick trip to the Beacon Hill neighborhood today.  Beacon Hill has a very high concentration of Italian-American citizens.  Last time I was there I could hear the older generations speaking Italian on the street corners or in front of their favorite cafes.

I’ve been able to snap a few pictures on some of my small adventures.  Here are some of those…

Hopefully I’ll get some more photos to share in the near future.

Biking

In the last couple days I have spent a fair amount of time on my bike.  Whether going grocery shopping, stopping at the bank or just cruising for fun I have enjoyed biking around. The city of Cambridge is very bikeable; there are bike lanes on almost every street.  Riding here is quite a bit different than back in Minnesota.  In Minnesota I had a beautiful trail without much traffic, and this also meant I never had to contend with cars for road space.  It is much different here, but I have begun to adapt.  I have even gotten the courage to ride across the bridge and into Boston a couple of times.  This was an adventure and a great learning experience.  You have to be confident and think quickly to survive the street of Boston on bicycle.  Beyond a couple of quick trips into Boston I have mostly stayed on the trail near my apartment which runs alongside the Charles River.  It is a great place to ride and the Boston skyline always make for nice scenery.

Taken from the bike path near my apartment.

Besides biking I have been keeping myself busy by running errands.  I also got to meet up with a friend for dinner a couple of nights ago which was great.  The meal was wonderful, but the company was even better.  Last night I met up with another friend of mine for a couple drinks at a small place in Harvard Square.  We sat and chatted in the busy pub/bar and enjoyed a couple of pints of hard cider and some chips and salsa.  It gave me my first real taste of the social life here in Cambridge.  I also had a moment of “so this is what city life is like,” when I came home on the T.  The station was quite crowded being that it was nearly 10:00PM and there was a man playing his keyboard and singing.  A couple was dancing (I’m assuming the were under the influence) in front of him and the rest of us waited patiently for the train to show up.  I jumped on for the quick journey back to my neighborhood and walked home from there.  It’s the little things about living in a new city that seem to catch me and make me smile.

Tomorrow I will begin my new job and I am very excited about it.  Not only am I excited to have something to keep me busy, but also to meet some new people.  My boss has assured me that the company is filled with great young people and I can’t wait to get involved.  Wish me luck in my new position.  All for now, cheers!

Made it

I’ve finally arrived in Cambridge.  I flew out of my hometown yesterday, had a brief layover in Minneapolis, and landed in Boston at about 7:00PM local time.  I got a cab from the airport to my new apartment and was met by my new roommate.  I got a quick tour of the apartment and then unpacked my things.  I was a bet concerned about my belongings since the outside of my bags was wet from some rain in Minneapolis.  While unpacking I also called my girlfriend to assure her I had arrived safely and have a brief conversation.  I then called my parents to chat with them as well.  After unpacking I got to know my roommate a bit and then decided to head to bed.

I did have a “what am I doing” moment last night while hanging out with my roommate, her brother and his girlfriend.  They are from upstate New York, but all live in the Boston area.  I felt a bit out of place with them, but haven’t let it bother me.  We have just led very different lives and it shows a bit.  I expected that I would be out of place here, but I have accepted it.  I also think that once my friends who live here (who are out of town at the moment) return I will begin to really enjoy my time here.

I slept in this morning and felt rested when I got up.  I then made some plans for the day and began by walking to the nearest grocery store.  I did my shopping and returned home before going for another walk to take some pictures.  Cambridge is a very nice city and the views of Boston from across the Charles River are gorgeous.

This is the view from just in front of my building.

I then made some plans to go look at a used bike in order to get around a bit easier.  I liked the bike and bought it on the spot.  I now just need to get it tuned up a bit to be ready for commuting and trail riding.

Tomorrow I plan to take my bike to the bike shop that is right down the street and then do some other shopping.  I need a few basics yet and I also need to swing into a bank to start a local checking account.

That’s all for now, just going to hang out and watch NHL Playoffs tonight.  Cheers!

Boston Trip: Days 5 – 10

Tuesday, Day 5: Another day in Boston.  We again jumped the T into downtown Boston and spent the day exploring.  We also did some shopping and found ourselves some goodies.  Nothing too exciting this day, but still a lot of fun.

Wednesday, Day 6: Back into Boston again this day.  For a couple of kids from small town Minnesota everything in a city like this is impressive.  I’ve spent a little time in Minneapolis, but this is so much different.  This reminds me of some of the cities in Europe, particularly British and Italian cities.  You can tell that this was an area first settled by our British forefathers, but the Italian influence is tremendous.  This is especially true in a neighborhood like Beacon Hill.  We walked through the streets and enjoyed seeing old men meeting up outside local cafes and speaking Italian with one another.  What a great place to spend some time.  We will be back.

We went out to dinner on this night with our host and one of his business associates/friends.  We had some great, budget-friendly food at Trina’s Starlite Lounge.  We also enjoyed talking with someone who has never been to Minnesota, and who has done his fair share of traveling.  I always love to hear travel stories from other people.

Thursday, Day 7: Spent the day back and forth between Boston and Cambridge.  Beautiful weather made it another awesome day.  We went for a light snack at The Biscuit and cruised around Cambridge in the morning before heading in to the city.  We then went back through the Beacon Hill area (stopped at Mike’s Pastry for a cannoli; delicious!), down by the Wharfs on the water, and eventually jumped on the T and window shopped on Newbury Street.  Overall, an excellent way to spend a Thursday.

Dinner was with our host, three of his business associates, and another friend at Catalyst (mentioned in early posts).  Great conversation and food followed, ending our awesome day.  We then had about a 20 minutes walk back to the apartment before heading to bed.

Friday, Day 8: The day was spent in Cambridge.  We wandered down to Kendall Square and Central Square for breakfast at Flour.  After an excellent and filling sticky-bun we meandered back up the road, through Central Square, doing some spontaneous thrift shopping on the way.  Cambridge has some excellent thrift shops and they are well worth exploring for those on a budget.

Our day ended back at Broomstone’s Curling Club, where I got to play a great game with some friends.  We then ended up back at the apartment, and did some packing while having a few drinks.

Saturday, Day 9: Woke up and went our to breakfast at a great little place called Buddy’s.  We then finished our packing and were dropped off at the airport.  Hopped a quick flight back to Minneapolis and were picked up by my brother and sister-in-law.  Spent the night hanging out at their house and describing our trip.  Early to bed after a tiring day of travel.

Sunday, Day 10: Hung out in the Twin Cities for the day and drove back up north in the evening.  This marks the end of the trip.  Can’t wait to go back!

Boston Trip, Days 1 and 2

Day 1, Friday: My girlfriend and I had our bags packed and ready to go.  We met up after our 9:00AM classes, jumped in the car, and hit the road.  The first leg of our travel to Boston had begun.  It is about a 4 hour drive from our small northern town to Minneapolis, from which we would be flying the next morning.  I drove through town on a mission to get onto the highway heading South.  My girlfriend dug through a binder full of burnt CDs and selected one with some of our favorite tracks.  Once we hit the highway it was 4 hours of music and conversation about our building excitement for the week ahead.  We arrived in the outskirts of Minneapolis, where my brother lives, at about 3:00PM.  We unloaded our bags from the car and were greeted by my sister-in-law before she went to work for the late shift.  We jumped back in the car and headed into town to do a bit of shopping at IKEA.  After shopping, we ate some dinner with my brother and sister-in-law on her “lunch” break.  Then it was about time for bed as our flight was due to depart from MSP at 7:00AM.

Day 2, Saturday: My alarm went off at 4:00AM, time to get up and start a long day.  My girlfriend also rolled out of bed at this point and we stumbled down to the kitchen for a bite to eat.  I woke my brother as he was to drop us off at the airport.  We ate, did some last minute luggage checks, and fired up the car for our quick jaunt to the airport.  We arrived at the airport around 5:15AM and got through security rather quickly.  After we located our gate, we found some seats and waited to board.  Boarding began in a short time and before we knew it our plane was taxiing out to the runway.  Our flight went very smoothly and we landed at BOS around 10:00AM Eastern time.  We walked outside to the pickup area, rain was coming down pretty heavily.  My friend who we’d be spending the next week with was there to greet us and assisted us with our luggage.  We climbed into his truck and began the short drive from the airport to Cambridge.  He pointed out landmarks and described the city to us as we peeked out of the rain soaked windshield between swipes of the wiper blades.  We arrived at his apartment just as the rain began to let up.  Great timing.  We hauled our luggage to his third floor apartment and got a bit settled in to our space for the week.  The three of us then decided to grab some lunch and went into town for a bite at All Star Sandwich Bar.  The service was great, and food was delicious!  Our waiter gave us a warm welcome to the Boston area, and hoped we would enjoy our stay; great first impression.  After lunch my friend, who has become somewhat of a local after about 5 years in the area, took us on a walking tour of Cambridge, Harvard, Harvard Square, and the surrounding neighborhoods.  The weather was cool and damp, so we stopped for a cappucino at Crema Cafe.  I would suggest this cafe to anyone; very busy, great coffee.  We then returned to the apartment, and spent the evening catching up and discussing our plans for the week.  Our air matress felt great at the end of the day.  Sleep came quickly…Days 3 and 4 to come soon!

Harvard Yard

Spring break…again

As some of you may know from a post a while back, my girlfriend and I will be heading to the Boston area for spring break.  It’s not your typical spring break destination, but I’ve found that there is a lot to do and see.  For this reason, and the fact that I fly out on Saturday, I have decided to talk about my trip again.

I thought I’d share some things I found to do in the suburbs of Boston where we’ll be staying.  There are so many lists of things to do in Boston, but not a whole lot featuring the area we’ll be in.  Some of these things we may actually do, others we may not, it really depends on the weather for some.

Things to do in Somerville

Things to do in Cambridge

There are many more things to do, but these were two sites that I thought had some good things to do.  I also like how they feature things/places that locals do/go.

One place I am really looking forward to visiting in Boston is Beacon Hill.  It is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Boston, and in the United States for that matter.

Planning things to do  can really rely on the you’re expecting.  Weather can play a huge role in any vacation to New England, so knowing how to pack is also important.  I found a a short bit on how to dress and what kind of temperatures to expect: Boston in the Spring.  Basically, be prepared for the worst.  Wear layers because you can always remove them if it is warmer than expected.

I have to keep this post short, but I hope to write a bit more about the Boston area before I take off.

My Non-Traditional Spring Break

No, I will not be traveling to Cancun and staying at an all-inclusive resort; nor will I be lying on a Florida beach in a state of inebrieation.  I do not look down upon those who do, however, because after all “we are here for a good time, not a long time,” right?

The Boston skyline at dusk.

I have chosen to take a slightly different approach to spring break than what is standard among my peers.  My girlfriend and I will be heading East, to discover a city in which American history has deep roots.  Boston, MA is our destination, but more specifically Cambridge.  What I have unconvered so far through my research, as well as personal connections, is that Cambridge is a bustling city filled with history.  Great universities such as Harvard and MIT call this place home, so Cambridge tends to have a young, hip feel, especially near the universities.

Harvard Square in Cambridge.

We will do our fair share of exploring on foot in Cambridge, but also plan to hop on the “T” or the bus and go into Boston.  I have found a helpful blog for budget minded travelers such as myself, and have linked an entry about inexpensive things to do in Boston here: http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/free-things-to-do-in-boston/.

Boston was also chosen as a destination because of the option of free lodging.  I have a close friend living in the area who has very generously offered us a place to stay for a week’s time.  I am incredibly grateful for this because it really makes the whole trip possible.  Another reason for heading east was a job prospect for me.  I have been in close contact with a company based in Cambridge, and have a chance to meet with them while exploring the city before moving forward with conversations about employment.  I think this will be an incredible and unforgettable trip.  Can’t wait to board my flight in March.

To my college/young adult peers: have you ever gone on a vacation to an alternative destination?  Or have any knowledge of the Boston area?