A May 2001 trip
to Boston by friskycelery
Quote: When I was a kid growing up south of Boston, I learned the following ditty:
Boston, my Boston,
Home of the bean and the cod,
Where the Cabots speak only to Lodges,
And the Lodges speak only to God.
Thankfully, Boston today is not nearly so stuffy.
Do all the touristy things in Boston: Go to the Public Gardens and ride the Swan Boats. Visit the Old North Church where Paul Revere hung the lanterns. See the cemetary where Mother Goose is buried. Do it all, it really is pretty cool.
Restaurant | "Durgin Park"
Durgin Park is famous for its no-nonsense (did somebody say surly?) waitstaff, but I found them to be prompt and attentive. My party was greeted and seated promptly, and menus appeared
immediately. Beer was ordered and brought quickly, along with complimentary slabs of cornbread.
The waiter came to take our order as soon as we closed our menus, and the food was served
quickly. Several times our waiter came to check to see if everything was OK. We had asked for separate checks (there were two of us, both on expense account) and our waiter agreed to this without the sighs and rolling of eyes that usually accompanies this request. Our checks were brought promptly at the end of the meal, but not so quickly that I felt that we were being hustled out.
My colleague ordered little neck clams on the half shell and declared them to be good. (Personally, I think anything on the half shell is too gross looking to eat.) The waitstaff was sporting buttons bragging about the prime rib, which we both ordered. A sixteen ounce prime rib runs $15.95, and comes with your choice of potatoes and a side dish. The night I was there the side dish was corn. The prime rib was good; not outstanding, but good, and more meat than I could eat. The baked potato was hot and fluffy, the corn was mediocre.
Durgin Park probably gets more press because of its atmosphere than its food. The restaurant is located upstairs in an old brick building. There is a bar downstairs. The restaurant is filled with long, narrow, wooden tables, and, unless you come with a big group of people, you will most likely being sharing your table with people you don't know. This is not the place to come looking for a nice cozy booth.
My party had a seat at one end of a long table by the big windows overlooking Quincy Market. There was a group of women having a retirement dinner for one of their co-workers at a couple of tables next to us. I rather liked the heat and the bustle and the noise, but I realize some people won't.
All in all, I recommend Durgin Park as much for the experience of the place as for the food. The food is good - not outstanding - but good, and you won't leave there hungry. This is not, however, the place to ask your sweetie to marry you, or any other romantic type notion you may have. Unless, of course, you don't mind having strangers listen in.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 27, 2002
340 Faneuil Hall
Boston, Massachusetts 02109
+1 617 227 2038
Attraction | "Kennedy Library and Museum"
The museum is small, human sized, and can be fully enjoyed in an afternoon or morning. Don't cut yourself too short on time - there is a lot to see here.
At the entrance to the museum, pick up a booklet titled "A Great Big Treasure Chest?". This pamphlet is decorated with drawings made by Jackie Kennedy, then Jackie Bouvier, with her sister Lee. The drawings were made in 1951, as a thank you present to their parents after a trip to Europe.
This booklet points out 12 items for you to find as you go through the museum. This treasure hunt gives shape to your exploration, and helps to point out some items you might miss otherwise. One of these treasures is a letter that a 10 year old JFK wrote to his father asking for a raise in his allowance.
There is a short film prior to entrance to the museum, and it is worth watching. Once inside the museum proper, there is a real attempt to recreate the atmosphere of the '50's and '60's - the time when Kennedy was most politically active.
Video plays an important part in this experience. One exhibit has the TV studio set from the famous Nixon-Kennedy debate. A video tape of the debate runs as well, so you can see what all the fuss was about. There is a special theatre dedicated to showing a film about the Cuban missile crisis.
Jackie Kennedy rates several exhibits of her own, and there is a recreation of Robert Kennedy's office, down to replicas of his kids' drawings on the wall.
Some of the items in the Kennedy Museum are truly phenomenal, partly for their historical
significance, but also for their sheer uniqueness: a tea set from Nikita Krushchev, an elephant tusk from Nigeria, the Bible used in JFK's inauguration.
If you remember where you were when you heard that Kennedy was shot, you owe it to yourself to visit here. If you are too young to remember the assassination, come here to give yourself some perspective on why boomers are the way they are.
Warning: Boston is undergoing a major construction project called the Big Dig, and it is expected to last until 2004. (To find out more, go to bigdig.) Traffic tie ups are legendary, and streets are rerouted regularly. DO NOT DRIVE in Boston if you can avoid it. You can get to the Kennedy Library and Museum by taking public transit, called the T. The T is cheap, safe, and convenient. The Kennedy Library is on the Red Line - get off at the JFK Library - UMass stop.
To find out more about the Museum go to jfklibrary.org.)
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 31, 2002
John F. Kennedy Library and Museum
Boston, Massachusetts 02125
Be forewarned: Boston is undergoing a major construction project called "The Big Dig". (You can get details of this project at their website: bigdig.) It entails taking the Central Artery and moving it underground. Traffic tie ups are legendary, and rerouting of streets is common. This project is not expected to be finished until 2004. Unless you are a true glutton for punishment, DO NOT DRIVE in Boston if you can avoid it.
That said, you can get just about anywhere you want to go by public transit, known as the T. The T is cheap, safe, and convenient. Harvard Square has its own T stop on the Red Line.
Guess what? When you come out of the Harvard Square T stop, you are right by Harvard. (Pretty clever, eh?) You can take a walk through Harvard Yard, which is pleasant, and see the engraved stone detailing how 400 English pounds were given to start this new college. (200 pounds down, 200 pounds upon completion.) It is beautiful and surprisingly small.
As you might expect, this locale is ripe with bookstores. The Harvard Coop, which is actually a cooperative association, carries general reading as well as textbooks. They also have a large section of Harvard memorabilia.
Another bookstore which I am going to add to my list of favorites is Wordsworth. This bookstore boasts that every book is discounted every day. The selection here is spread over several floors, and runs the gamut from the most run of the mill paperbacks to some pretty esoteric stuff. And, yup, everything I looked at was discounted about 20%.
Like any other college town, Harvard Square has its share of little restaurants and pubs. One I particularly like is called Finagle-A-Bagel. This is a local chain, and is a great deal for lunch or a
The Finagle-A-Bagel in Harvard Square is located at 14 JFK Street, and the cafe is downstairs. I had a "Blue Chicken" which is a flatbread made from bagel dough, topped with four cheeses, spicy chicken, and blue cheese dressing, and run under a broiler until melted. It cost $4.59, and it was outstanding. Pair this with a beer, they have several on tap, or a soft drink, and you have a reasonably priced meal. This location also has internet connections. I did not use them, so I can't tell you how fast they are, or the cost.
Right across from Finagle-A-Bagel are the law offices of Dewey, Cheetham, and Howe. (If this doesn't ring a bell, see my note below.) The sign is on the second floor, at the pointed end of the building, so look up.
The pharmacy of Billings and Stover is just down the street. This has been a pharmacy since 1854, and is still in operation. It reminds me of drugstores back when I was a kid, before chain drugstores started selling laundry detergent and milk.
All in all, this is a nice place to spend a few hours, more if you are a die hard Harvard fan.
Note about Dewey, Cheetham, and Howe
If you are a fan of National Public Radio, you have probably stumbled across a show called "Car Talk". "Car Talk" is hosted by Tom and Ray Magliozzi, two brothers who actually run a service garage in Cambridge. They also both graduated from MIT, so we ain't talking your average grease monkey here. This is hands down the single funniest show on the air today, whether on TV or radio. And, by the way, they dispense pretty good advice about cars in the process. If you want to get a taste of their show, you can go to CarTalk and listen to their weekly radio show,
among other things. Anyhow, in their sign off each week, Tom and Ray always refer to their lawyers Dewey, Cheetham, and Howe. (Go ahead, say it out loud.)