Baggage drop, passport control, security check, boarding time…. They mean one thing: travelling.
It takes 2.5 hours to fly to Keflavik (Iceland) from Glasgow (Scotland) and another 5.5 hours from Keflavik to Boston (Massachusetts, USA). Then I am in Boston.
I am staying with a friend who lives nearby but I am going to spend few days in the city. Last year when I visited Boston for the first time I did not have much time to explore the city. However, it already feels somewhat familiar. I recognize the holocaust memorial. That is the Faneuil hall. Last time I found tourist information there. That is where I will get a map! That is where they have free toilets!
With a map, it is easy to get around. Boston area is huge but the centre area is not that big. One hot and sunny day I walk from Mid-Cambridge to MIT campus, over the bridge to Copley Square and Boston Common and all the way back to Harvard. It is a lot of walking but totally possible.
Last year I walked the freedom trail (which is marked on the pavement with red and white tiles so it is easy to follow), so I am skipping it this time. But I think it is a good way to start the visit and see the centre, North End and East Boston.
I find some great used bookstores from Harvard as well as right next to the financial centre in the downtown. Those quiet but relaxed bookstores are a good way to escape the noisy streets. Of course, there are shops like H&M and Primark as well if they sound more interesting (I visited them because of the toilets).
Even though I sometimes find it hard to find nice cafes (Dunkin Donuts is not a nice cafe) from big cities in the US, they do exist. Tatte’s bakery (there are few of them located around the city) has amazing pistachio croissants, as well as tons of other delicious looking things, and fine cold brew coffee. Sadly, the coffee, just like in every other American cafe, is served in a plastic cup. It makes me feel that I am not invited to sit down but should take my coffee and get lost. Rude.
Despite my fondness of walking, the next day I take a subway to Harvard from the city centre. I want to roam around that area a little bit more but I want to save my feet as well. Harvard is nice: low buildings, gorgeous wooden houses and little shops. The university is obviously the main place to visit in Harvard. There is no more teaching this spring. Therefore, there are not many students on campus but it is still fairly busy: the tourists have taken over. I merge into a campus tour that is led by a Harvardian. The tour is quite pricy (10$) but at least I learn some historical information alongside the student jokes as I walk between the red brick buildings.
I’m sure that visiting Harvard and MIT campuses and spending hours in Boston Public Library (which has a beautiful great hall and offers a free architectural tour) increases intelligence. That is where the successful people like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, F.D. Roosevelt, Henry Kissinger, Natalia Portman, (etc.) come from and all the knowledge is stored. I am hopeful that some of that wisdom might have leaked out and stuck to my brain. So perhaps this is an educational holiday?