It baffles me sometimes how huge the United States is and how many cities there are within it, yet how little we’ve both gone out to explore them. I think this is true for most natives of New York. We want to explore outside of our city, but we forget that we don’t always have to go to another country to do so. Michelle and I are always met with the question, “so when are you going to start exploring the great, old USA?” So we’ve been planning to do just that.
A few months back, Michelle, my friend, Vanessa, and I decided to venture up to New England to get a better taste of Boston’s city limits. Although Vanessa had been there before, Michelle and I were never able to properly experience and explore Boston in a way we felt dignified our journey. Vanessa was up for the trip as it was her birthday weekend, and so we went.
See, Michelle and I had been to Boston once before, too. For one night only and for a gig — a small music festival within the confines of the government center in Downtown Boston, which meant that we didn’t have any time to see what the city was about, only venturing to and from the festival grounds and back to our accommodation. Strangely, our first impressions of Boston were making the similarity Downtown Boston had to Wall Street back home. Had we known that where we were was in fact the Wall Street of Boston, we wouldn’t have left with speculation that the entire city looked the same.
“A way smaller scale New York” was how we described Boston the first time around. It was kind of silly of us to have assumed that though.
This time, we explored as much as we could in the few days we had there. Thanks to our wicked (Bostonian lingo, isn’t it?) planning skills, we packed as much onto our itinerary as we could allow. Amazingly, despite the rainy, chilly weather, everything worked out.
We were able to explore so many areas of Boston — the expansive museums and libraries, stunning gardens, the rest of downtown Boston, the waterfront, the trek up and down Beacon Hill (neighborhood goals, seriously), the Common, Fenway Park, and all around the twenty colleges that make up Somerville and Cambridge, which was the area where we were staying. To say Boston was gorgeous, even in the rain, is an understatement.
Being in Boston made us wish New York was a lot of things. As a city, Boston holds 1/12 of the population of NYC proper, which means that as a whole, places are a lot more spread out. Breathing fresh air felt strange for a second, since we’re so used to the smelly air, pollution and mugginess that surrounds us daily. Boston was clean and blended city and suburb in a way that just worked.
Not seeing rats muck about the subway tracks was also a pleasant surprise. Even though a large percent of Bostonians drive, public transportation, called the T, is accessible — and, once you get the hang of taking streetcars and trolleys — very easy to navigate, seeing as there are only five different lines, named after their respective colors. Try navigating the NYC subway by naming only colors…good luck with that. The people smile more, aren’t in a rush, offer assistance in the simplest of gestures (we were asked if we wanted photos taken of us more than once), and are proud of their city, its rich history and yes, their many sports teams (Go Sox?)!
With all that said, being away for the weekend also made us realize the amenities our home city holds that we often forget to be grateful for. The 24-hour day that everyone and everything runs on is one of them. It was so frustrating for us to want to grab a beer at a supermarket only to be told that alcohol is no longer served after 10pm. The gas attendants at the Shell mini-market gave us some puzzled looks when we asked what refrigerator held the six-packs of beer. “None of them do,” was their answer. Or that on a Friday night, bars close and the music stops at 1 am, around the time things start getting more lively somewhere like in the Lower East Side. Very few pubs and restaurants were open past midnight on our Saturday night out in Boston, limiting our options for a late night dinner or drinks after a full day of exploring. While a few moments like these were annoying in the moment, it solidified to us that, despite its flaws, there really is no place like New York. Our trip further helped us understand that the differences between cities are exactly what make them all unique and incomparable.Regardless, we had an incredible time in Boston, full of adventures, history lessons and plenty of beautiful photo opportunities. It was a very much needed, small and refreshing getaway for us all.