Feel free to engage your auditory sense by accompanying this post with the song from the title!
Boston is a place where I always felt like I would belong. I can’t explain this hunch I’ve had, because up until a week ago I’d never even been in the state of Massachusetts (other than passing through on the highway to visit friends in college). From afar, Boston always seemed like a welcoming, cozy, genuine, proud and heart-warming city. It always seemed like a city content to sit in shadows of the flashy New York skyscrapers, yet confident enough in itself to know its immense worth. Boston know its greatness and it has nothing to prove. It’s as if New York is a city that does, while Boston is a city that just is. And it’s so happy to be the way that it is. You know what I mean?
Like I said in my intro post to my Boston trip, everyone I talked to absolutely raved about the city when I told them I would be visiting, and everyone insisted that it would be a perfect match for me. They were right, and I can already see myself settling down there when I finally wear myself out and am ready to stay put in the USA!
I arrived in Boston on Thursday night around 11pm, so my first real taste of the place was the following morning. Joe had to work for a little bit, so I got to explore alone for a few hours. Personally, I think being alone in a place while discovering it for the first time is the best way to get a real feel for it. You’re more alert when you’re by yourself – no one to distract you with conversation or anything else – you can soak it all in, completely uninterrupted. (The first time I traveled alone in Europe was from London to Paris on a Eurostar train, and just arriving in Paris is still one of my favorite memories of my
entire semester abroad entire life. For hours, I navigated my way from the train station, through the streets to our hostel and around the Montmartre area and Sacre Couer. It was just me and Paris and it was a truly beautiful afternoon.)
The next few photos are from the Public Garden in Boston, which is a small park adjacent to Boston Common. Let me tell you, Boston can GET IT when it comes to their green spaces. At least in the heart of the city, where I spent most of my time. I didn’t take any photos while in Boston Common because I was too busy soaking in all the greenery and pleasant weather. Sunny and 65 degrees – yes please. Perfect for park sitting and people watching. This guy was my pal.
I used to knew a German guy who had traveled extensively across the United States, and who told me upon several occasions that Boston had been his favorite city in America. He told me about a time he had been walking around Boston in a neighborhood called Beacon Hill, admiring the brick houses and cobbly streets, when one house in particular struck his curiosity. So he was staring at it. Suddenly the owner opened the front door and started chatting with him about the house, and after awhile invited him for a tour of his beautiful home. The German boy said that he was so taken aback by this man’s generosity, and ever since that encounter, Boston has been his favorite city.
^^ This photo is from Beacon Hill. It reminds me a lot of some of the neighborhoods in Center City Philadelphia. ^^
I then meandered my way to Harvard University in Cambridge, which meant I had to take the T, Boston’s train. For some reason, figuring out public transportation systems in cities in the United States always seems more difficult to me than it did in European cities. I’m thinking it might be because in the US, I can easily ask someone for help. In Europe, those survival instincts kick in and they’re like “YOU DON’T SPEAK SWEDISH. YOU MUST MASTER THIS SUBWAY SYSTEM OR YOU’LL BE STRANDED FOREVER IN SWEDEN. YOU HAVE NO CHOICE.” And then I figure it out and proudly go on my way. Sometimes I’m just so primal.
Anyway, Harvard was not as grand or “Ivy League” as I had anticipated. Personally, I think Penn State has a prettier campus, but I might be biased. I hadn’t really been dying to see Harvard, but I figured I was already in Boston, might as well, amirite? I did not enter the building pictured, but discovered it was a memorial honoring all of the Harvard students who had died in wars across the world – Americans and non-Americans. That means that the names of several German soldiers, for example, who had died while fighting as Nazis in WWII were honored in that building. (I learned all this while I ate my lunch on those front stairs and eavesdropped on a guided tour for prospective students.)
After Harvard, Joe and I met up and made our way to the Boston Public Library where we picked up our tickets for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, where we were going the next morning on our way to Cape Cod. We were only passing through briefly, but I couldn’t resist snapping some shots of the architecture. All libraries should have courtyards this stunning!
We ended Friday at Harpoon Brewery, where Joe’s roommate and lifelong friend, Alex, works. (I love Alex, she is such a star.) I had a cider and we shared one of Harpoon’s INCREDIBLE soft pretzels. I don’t even know how to sufficiently describe how delicious this soft pretzel was. It was mind-blowing. It was the perfect amount of fluffy, warm, carbs-y goodness. We dipped it in cheese or peanut butter sauce and I swear it was as if God himself came down and graced our taste buds with his presence.
After the initial shock of the soft pretzel’s heavenly perfection, we sat and talked about the future. We ‘planned’ in detail what our future houses would look like, our backyards, our husbands, the trips we would go on, our gardens… it was so domestic and SO much fun. All while sipping on cider and staring out at an dazzling September sunset behind the skyline, no less. Boston, you did not disappoint. Expect to see a lot more of me, my friend.