Problem: I take a lot of photos. Some might say “too many.” I say photos are like pieces of 86% dark chocolate—there is no such thing as “too many.” (There is also no such thing as “too dark.”) So really, the problem is that I need a space to share those photos without inflicting hundreds of photos of my cat and brunch on innocent passerby who might not like cats and brunch.
(But also let’s be real, the only people who don’t like cats are those who are deathly allergic and the only people who don’t like brunch are nobody. Everybody likes brunch.)
Solution: This blog—you’re here because you want to be. And you like brunch, duh.
Two Fridays ago after work and a series of unfortunate events that resulted in a pit stop at the Verizon store, Matt and I flew to Boston (shout out to Edmund for kitty-sitting Eduardo!). Why? Three-day weekend, cheap last-minute flights, and four friends to whom we made the promise that we’d try to make it to Boston sometime in 2017. Also, SNOW. (If you’ve read my previous posts…you’ll appreciate that I fulfilled that promise only two months into the year. Improvement.)
We took a red-eye because I don’t believe in wasting daylight with sleep or airplanes (Matt might feel a little differently, but hey, #thesearemystories). I’ve also recently discovered that a well-timed glass of red wine will put me to sleep for the exact duration of a cross-country flight, and who doesn’t want another excuse to have some wine plus a great night of sleep (plush neck pillow and noise-cancelling headphones required but not included)?
Upon landing, we were picked up by two of Matt’s recently married college friends, Ben & Becca. After enjoying a wonderful “build-your-own-French-toast” brunch in their cute little third floor apartment, we took a quick bus ride to downtown Boston and walked from the waterfront to Faneuil Hall. Faneuil Hall is like a smaller version of Reading Terminal Market (for my PA people) and like a bigger version of the Ferry Building (for my CA people). For my people in other states., please feel free to come up with your own analogy because I’m not trying to name public markets of various sizes in all 50 states (sorry to disappoint).
While Matt chowed down on on some Boston Chowda, we walked down the street to the Boston Public Market. The Boston Public Market is like a newer version Faneuil Hall (but smaller—are you keeping up?). Now, important question: WHAT IS THIS FRUIT AND/OR VEGETABLE? This is a serious question. There were no signs or stickers, but if it helps, they were next to the potatoes. There is no reward for answering this question except the satisfaction of knowing that you are familiar with obscure vegetables and I am not. Moving along.
From here, we made our way to the Museum of Science via the T. The T stands for trains (possibly true, but I made that up) and is Boston’s public transit system. Now, TO GET INTO THE MUSEUM FOR FREE: Know somebody who works there. Sorry, you thought that was going to be more practical, like a Groupon or something. Oops—it’s not. It's Becca. Becca is a Tech Studio Education Fellow at the Museum, which essentially means that she designs and implements a bunch of fun and interactive activities for kids at the museum (Shameless plug: She also has a freelance graphic design business and is SUPER talented--emphasis on the SUPER. She even designed the LunchBunch graphics. Other shameless plug: Matt helped build the free app, LunchBunch.) Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, the Museum.
We began in the math room because that’s what Jesus would want us to do—and because it’s where Becca’s secret employee-only back entrance door happened to land us. Friends, do you SEE the huge Mobius strip suspended from the ceiling? DO YOU SEE IT? Mathematical heaven. I took that opportunity to inform Matt that our future children will have Mobius strips hanging above their cribs—Mobius mobiles, if you will.
We skipped most of the Museum since we were mostly there to experience Becca’s activities, but I highly recommend going. The only bad part of the whole museum is that they have an exhibit dedicated entirely to the history of chocolate through which they diffuse the scent of chocolate without actually giving you any. What a tease.
After the museum we hopped a ride to Harvard and MIT, and explored the vastly different but equally stunning campuses. We crossed the Massachusetts Avenue (Harvard) Bridge, and made one of the most important stops one can make in a city: a local coffee shop. At Pavement, I sipped on one of the best almond milk lattes I can say I’ve ever had, and Matt enjoyed a Spanish latte. It’s a latte with condensed milk. If you know what makes that Spanish, please enlighten me, because I don’t. Ben sipped on iced coffee because apparently the cool thing to do in Boston wintertime (as verified by multiple sources) is to drink iced coffee in frigid temperatures but put a warm coffee cup around it so as not to freeze your hands off—this is especially true of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee—they often provide the insulated outer cup without being asked. Fun fact.
Dinner was a walk along the well-known Newbury Street, and a stop at Dirty Water Dough, a tiny little gourmet pizza and wine joint. Dessert was a trip to the North End (aka Boston’s Little Italy) and a stop at Modern Pastry followed by tea and cappuccinos at Caffé Vittoria, just across the street. (As for the cannoli competition between Mike’s and Modern, I’ve only had Mike’s and Matt’s only had Modern’s. That makes us pretty useless judges.)
After church on Sunday, we said our goodbyes to Ben & Becca, and Matt and I walked through the campus of Massachusetts General Hospital, with the intention of cutting through the Boston Common (the final destination being a coffee shop, of course: Boston Common Coffee Company). Along the way, however, we were met with two surprises:
1. This. (WHY?)
2. And this. Angie and I have been friends for close to eight years, and she’s been living in Boston since last summer. I had no idea she was still in the area, but it sure was sweet to sit with her and then have her show us around the Boston Common area, including the Boston Public Library and Acorn Street (the most photographed and difficult to find street in the city).
Matt and I spent the rest of the afternoon walking along the Charles River Esplanade, and enjoying the sunshine on the docks of the frozen river. Around sunset, we began walking to Cambridge, again towards another coffee shop. Except that Loyal Nine turned out to be less of a coffee shop and more of a restaurant that happened to have coffee and tea at their bar, but we sat there before the dinner rush and enjoyed hot tea and conversation with the kindest bartender. (If you’re reading this and ever go there, please let me know how the food is—it looked incredible.)
A couple of hours later, we were picked up by our next hosts, Kanav & Emily, friends from GE. We headed to a DELICIOUS Thai dinner at The Similans and I’m going to take four seconds to make fun of Emily for accidentally backing her car into me, Matt for ordering Shrimp Scampi at a Thai restaurant, and Kanav for thinking that having a puppy is better than having a kitten. You are all crazy. We spent the rest of the night drinking wine, eating dark chocolate brownies, and destroying me in Settlers (we can make fun of me for my incredibly poor initial settlement placement and subsequent destruction).
Side note: If I get the chance to design my own home someday…it will be based on Kanav & Emily’s apartment building. I will also be stealing the giant Erlenmeyer flasks with succulents currently located in their mailroom. The below photo may or may not be of Matt stealing one of said Erlenmeyer flasks. (Kidding. It’s not. Maybe. Don’t look in my apartment.)
Our third day was primarily scheduled based on where we wanted to eat, and was filled yet again with unexpected coffee shops and friends! Emily and I started the day with a beautiful and surprisingly hot outdoor run while Matt pretended to be asleep. What a sweet little faker.
Then, we all met another GE coworker, Mike, (who happened to be visiting his girlfriend, Madeleine) at the iconic Friendly Toast for brunch. The wait time is unbelievable but also unbelievably worth it, so we put our names in and then walked to another coffee shop (are you surprised?--Flour) to stay warm and keep our hunger at bay. If you are in the area, I recommend you do this exact same thing—it’s like a two-for-one. Also, caramel latte + Flour Power Bar, I WILL figure out how to replicate you in my own kitchen. Just you wait. (I was too excited to eat my omelet so I didn't change my camera settings and Matt's face is blurry. Oops. Sorry Matt.)
After waking up from our food comas and losing (again) in both a card game and pool, we decided to walk to A4cade (which is a 21+ arcade located inside the back of a Roxy’s Grilled Cheese storefront—Roxy’s was featured on Great American Food Truck Race on The Food Network in 2011!). We paid for too many coins and ended up playing a lot of pinball and skee ball, but the major con of this place is that you don’t win tickets. Not even tickets that you can redeem for little pieces of candy. All you get is the satisfaction of knowing that you played pinball. Spoiler alert: after enough times, there is no more satisfaction.
Walking in the wrong direction towards one dinner spot lead us to another dinner spot, Santouka Hokaiddo Ramen. Despite the 45 minute seating time, a combination of the excellent Yelp reviews plus the fact that Matt and I had never tried “real ramen” were enough to convince us to wait. They sent us to wait in the Harvard Bookstore, which I am convinced was a trap, because Matt and I ended up buying two books and a magnet, despite having been in the exact same store the day before buying nothing. Lessons learned:
1. I am terrible at using chopsticks/have zero chopstick etiquette.
2. I can eat endless amounts of edamame.
3. I have a hard time partaking in meals I haven’t mentally prepared for (this is not new information to me).
4. I am not a ramen person. But, I’m glad we tried it, and I might give it another chance.
The highlight of the ramen place was the part where Emily’s favorite ice cream place, J.P. Licks, was right next door, so of course we stopped there for dessert. Oatmeal cookie yogurt and brownie brownie batter ice cream…I will never, ever forget you.
On our last morning on the East Coast, Matt and I both woke up feeling no so hot, so we decided to take it easy with a late brunch at Tatte Bakery (I’m drooling looking at the picture of the brunch I already ate) and a visit to the Harvard Medical Library. This is the home of both a skull larger than my body and also the actual skull of Phineas Gage (you know you want to click that hyperlink so you can geek out with me).
We’re no travel experts, but we certainly know how to make the most of a long weekend and walk our way through an entire city (powered by the caffeine of local coffee shops). If you get the chance to try any of the places that I mentioned, let me know what you think! And if you have other suggestions of your favorite Bostonian coffee shops, restaurants, and/or things to do, please comment them below so that we can add them to our list for our next visit there!
Until next time…these are my Boston stories!