Boston was my home on and off for 3 1/2 years, and within the 3 years that I had been gone it was surprising how familiar it still felt once again. Certain Boston behavior became second nature once again, I started crossing the street on a red light (as a Californian I usually wait if turns yellow).
We stayed only for four days, which hardly felt enough, since it takes all day to travel across the country, and the first few days we were a bit sluggish from the time change. The last two days we had a lot more energy and made use of it by walking everywhere. I had forgotten how easily walkable Boston was, and how effortless it was to go from neighborhood to neighborhood.
Here are the highlights from our four-day trip in my former East Coast home.
Boston Public Library
Mustafa and I both had a bit of work to catch-up on, so we headed to one of our favorite study spots in the city: Bates Hall in Boston Public Library (aka the large study room with the sea of green lamps).
Afterward, we wandered around and soaked in all the architectural beauty both inside and outside in the courtyard. Yep, still stunning after all these years.
Still on a nostalgia trip, we decided to continue on to our old post-grad stomping grounds in Allston. As the Green Line inched along (not much has changed), we grew giddy as we the T pulled into Packard’s Corner and walked down Brighton Avenue to our cherished watering hole: Sunset Bar & Grill. With over 100 beers on tap and plenty of fried food, it felt like we were in our mid-twenties all over again.
The next day we were planning to meet a friend later in the day, so we had a low-key day at our apartment, and caught up on a bit more work before heading over to Harvard University. I went to school nearby Harvard, and it never got old walking through Harvard Yard, especially in autumn when it was ablaze with color. There’s nothing that’s more classic Cambridge than fall foliage and aged brick buildings.
Afterwards, we met up with our friend Syed, and caught up over lattes at another one of our old haunts, Life Alive.
Boston Public Gardens
We started the day out with a breakfast picnic in Boston Public Gardens, which has always been my favorite downtown park, since it’s both calmer and prettier than the adjacent Boston Commons. I love how it’s a serene outdoor space literally in the middle of the city. There was one couple that was taking their wedding photos, and they complemented the scenery perfectly amid the weeping willows, the pond, and the downtown skyline in the distance.
From the Public Gardens, it was a quick walk to Beacon Hill, where some of Boston’s wealthiest residents live. For me, I could spend all day wandered around the brick-lined streets just soaking it all in and watching residents go about their daily lives.
This innovative school has my heart as the best university in Cambridge (sorry Harvard). Maybe it has something to do with the fact that one of the first jobs I had out of college was being an Activity Guide for an ESL school, where I gave students a tour of the campus. Classes were still in session when we got there and it was fun to roam the halls amid the student shuffle.
After we left MIT, we decided to take a detour and walk back to Boston via the Harvard Bridge, during sunset (aka the most scenic way possible). With the MIT sailboats drifting on the Charles River, and downtown Boston in the distance, it’s what Instagram dreams are made of.
After crossing the bridge, we found ourselves in scenic Back Bay, and slowly made our way through the tree-lined streets and beautiful brick homes as twilight settled around us.
Isabella Gardner Museum
I used to walk by this museum when I was an undergrad almost every day, and it’s hard to believe that I never went inside. It feels like you’re inside a painting in the garden courtyard and it’s so captivating. The art exhibits in the various rooms were also very interesting, including a restoration of a sarcophagus that was taking place in the middle of the garden.
Brattle Book Store
I love a good independent bookstore and this one is hard to beat, with its rare books and discount bookshelves in an adjacent alleyway. Such a unique place that has Boston written all over it.
I used to work downtown and it has definitely been cleaned up a lot in the past few years. New coffee shops popping up with outdoor seating and giant department stores make it a lively (and safer) place to hang out at night. It was the perfect ending to our all too brief visit.