Boston – a tale of two cities

Ask any American who’s ever been to Boston (or anybody else for that matter) and they’ll always speak fondly of this city in the state of Massachusetts. It’s extremely pretty, the locals are friendly folk, it’s a nice size for exploring and the pace of life is extremely pleasant in comparison to some of its counterparts.

What’s particularly interesting about Boston is that, when speaking to Bostonians in particular, they talk about the area north of the Charles River, Cambridge, like it’s a different city. So when you’re exploring Boston you can look at it as getting two cities for the price of one.

I’ve been to both on many occasions, and have been lucky enough to have a tour guide who knew their way around. So here are some eating, drinking and other tips for your time there.

Downtown Boston

file Photo courtesy of Ryan Harvey

1. Attractions – Trails, parks and tourists

There’s lots to see in Downtown Boston, the best-known attraction arguably being The Freedom Trail – a red-bricked trail that brings you on a tour of 16 significant historical sites. Others include Boston Common and the Public Gardens, which are perfect for relaxing in in the centre of the city, and Faneuil Hall that, as touristy as it is (picture street performers and slightly over-priced food), is an enjoyable place to spend a few hours.

2. Eating – An affordable sandwich in Beacon Hill

Even though it’s just minutes from the heart of Downtown Boston, the Beacon Hill neighbourhood is extremely relaxed and a dream to walk down with its tree-lined streets. Its main thoroughfare is Charles Street, which is where you’ll find The Paramount (44 Charles Street), a firm neighbourhood favourite since 1937. Open for lunch and dinner, I recommend popping in for an afternoon sandwich (the grilled reuben is particularly delicious).

3. Drinking – A pint of the Black Stuff in the States

As clichéd as it is, since Boston is the home of the Irish in America, I feel the need to tell you of an Irish bar you should visit there. Hennessy’s (25 Union Street, Downtown Boston) is the pick of a very large bunch. They’ve live music regularly, staff are friendly and, most importantly, it feels and looks like an actual Irish pub.

Cambridge

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1. Attractions – ever wonder what it would be like to study at USA’s oldest university?

The United States is full of many famous universities, but Harvard University is probably the best known. Founded in 1636, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in the country. Visit and you’ll be able to walk the grounds, watch students go about their business and visit the ‘Statue of 3 Lies’ – a statue of somebody who isn’t John Harvard, even though it says it is (lie number one), that says he was the founder even though he wasn’t (lie number two) and says the college was founded in 1638, even though we now know it was founded in 1636 (lie number three).

2. Eating – Burrito anybody?

When I noticed a stream of students heading into Bolocco (71 Mt Auburn St, Cambridge) near Harvard Square, I figured it had to be good. I wasn’t wrong. It was fresh, good value and speedy. There was also a lot to choose from, with Asian-style burritos as well as Mexican ones.

3. Drinking – live music in an intimate venue

Due to the number of students in the area, live music is popular in the bars around Cambridge. If this is what you’re after, Lizard Lounge Club (1667 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge) is where to go. Each night one or more artists entertain those at the small venue. It can get packed, but if you’re looking for something a little bit different, you’ll find it here.

Thinking of spending some time in the Boston area?

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