Text and photo: Mirko Sardelic
Boston is located only 360 kilometers from New York, four hours by train or bus. It is the center of New England, one of the oldest American towns with a special historical importance. If you visit New York today, whose population consists of two thirds of Latin Americans and Asian immigrants, or even Boston, you will not have the full experience of the US. Namely, both cities have a European touch, especially Boston, but you will enjoy this new European note, completed by elements from around the world.
The Charles River estuary separates Boston from its suburb, which is actually a small town by the name of Cambridge. You can reach it after 10 minutes by subway, but if it’s a sunny day, the 45 minute walk with the view of the estuary full of small sailboats is the right thing to do. Today, Cambridge is in the academic sense even stronger than its English counterpart. In the 17th century, a Cambridge student named John Harvard founded the university with the same name. Today it has the biggest academic library in the US, and eight former presidents and 75 Nobel Prize winners studied here. It is definitely one of the best places to study law, medicine, business…
Also, walking back from Harvard back to Boston, you will reach MIT, probably the best technical university in the world. You will immediately remember films in which people from MIT consult the president in terms of astrophysics, or master the theory of probability to earn money in Las Vegas. Make sure to visit the MIT Museum and see interesting exhibits from the world of science and find out what they indebted us with: from GPS to the professor who designed the World Wide Web.
Although the subway is stylishly designed and the stations are much cleaner than those in New York, the city is perfect for walks. From west to east be sure to see Newbury Street, the famous promenade and shopping street that is full of elegant stores, reachable after climbing 3 to 4 steps, then take a break in the big park at its very bottom (or, if you visit Boston in the winter, ice skate with the locals), and then head off somewhere for lunch. Of course, if you haven’t already had lunch in Newbury Street that has many great places. Many recommend Hanover Street that, although it sounds German, is filled with Italian restaurants. It’s not like you don’t know what their food is like, but it is one of the Boston’s trademarks, so you should go there more for the atmosphere. Then go for a coffee and a walk along the Waterfront, to the sea air and the view of the sailboats, that are a bit bigger this time.
The Boston Harbor has special political connotations. It was here in 1773 that the spark went off that led to the War of Independence and creation of the USA. In the struggle about trade taxation, the people of Boston, disguised as Indians, threw three loads of tea into the sea. This “Boston Tea Party” started the separation of the Thirteen Colonies from the Kingdom. The term tea-party became hot again in 2009, after the actual President Obama passed the Recovery Act. It is a program worth 787 billion dollars that, along with the economic, has a pronounced social component. Many people think that the costs are too high, and that the US already has the biggest public debt per capita, so they devalued the US dollar to deal with it. They are not successful, but the tourists profit from it, because the US dollar is shamefully low.
You should not overdo the planning, because the immediate center of Boston center is not bigger than Zagreb, so it is easy to visit everything on foot, and it is also fun. For those interested in sports: the Boston Celtics have most titles in the NBA, the first baseball World Series took place here in 1903 (Boston Red Sox), and there is also the American football. Sailing is also a regular event: those less skillful pay for their place on one of the sailboats and go on half-day trips. The sea gives an extra dimension to a city. If it’s winter, you should stay indoors, away from the wind, because Boston winters are known for the extreme cold. In other periods, you can just walk around the streets, sunbathe, drink something on café terraces, or see a historical monument: Boston and Philadelphia were the main centers in the early days of the United States. Quincy Market is a multi-colored and pleasant space where you can try some international specialties, have a coffee under the dome or see a street performance. On St. Patrick’s Day (17 March) everything will become Irish, so you don’t think that everything is in Victorian and Italian tones. Those who like seafood: Boston is known for cheap and good lobsters, clam chowder and fish dishes.
The entire area of Cambridge and Boston is full of students, so this age group can very easily find night life: in Cambridge, the entire districts are very lively at night (and people don’t feel unpleasant in the early hours of the morning like in some other US cities). One of the clubs on Massachusetts Avenue with good music is Zuzu. There are gigs everywhere, with top notch music. And for those who are truly picky: hop on a bus, take four hours, pay 34 dollars (for a return ticket) and you’re in New York. It will have what you are looking for.