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My personal Boston journey(s)

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Jul 30th, 2010, 08:26 AM
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My personal Boston journey(s)

Here are some reflections about my personal journeying in and around Boston. Actually, we have visited the area many times but now live here to be near family. We are an older couple coming from Missouri. Since moving we have journeyed to various Bostonland sites and will continue to do so. For starters there is of course the history ladden area known as the Freedom Trail. Years ago we did walk this with our youngsters. We enjoyed Boston Harborfest 4th of July weekend which included reenactments of one kind or another (www.harborfest.com) We concentrated on the King's Chapel area (www.kings-chapel.org) where we heard Tory stories and adjacent burying ground including a marker for my ancestors Dr. Comfort & Elizabeth Starr. In a few days we'll be at the Paul Revere House for a fife and drum concert. (www.paulreverehouse.org) Also enjoyable was the Colonial fiddle concert in Faneuil Hall. And a stop in the Old Meeting House where the Colonists debated this whole taxation question leading to the famed tea party and other such rebellious acts.

At the other end of the trail in Charlestown is Old Ironsides which you can board
(www.uss.constitutionmuseum.org). Not far away you will find Bunker Hill where the Colonists had a confrontation with the Redcoats June 1775. (My ancestor George Bunker earlier had purchased that place). (www.nps.gov/bost/historyculture/bhm.htm) And we do recommend the Warren Tavern down the block which feels so authentic and is oldest in Massachusetts. (www.warrentavern.com) But getting back to Boston's North End there is of course much more to see. The whole area swarms with tourists and you can find a tour bus to hop on for a quick overview...not so sure about those ducks though. Anyway I prefer walking around to better absorb the flavor.(www.bostonupperdecktrolleytours.com). This brief overview only mentions a few highlights. On a Fodor forum recently you will find a "Boston North End Market Tour" which sounds interesting. And note this:
www.bostoncitylinks.com/boston_revolution.html

Last January on a raw day we viewed the ice sculptures on Boston Common located a little way west. Earlier this summer we saw the first day for youngsters to wade in Frog Pond. We hear the swan boats are fun. On that occasion our destination was the marvelous Museum of Fine Arts which often has a special exhibit (www.mfa.org). By the way, public transportation is advised...we have our senior citizen Charlie cards. At the MFA we enjoy the guided tours which do help interpret the wonderful art. So a docent began pointing to colors in an ancient panel and finished with a comparison to colors in a Picasso. Several good restaurants in MBA.

To be continued.
Bill Longman [email protected]
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Jul 30th, 2010, 12:41 PM
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Continuing with a journey around Bostonland. An excellent resource is found in the posting by yk "Off the Beaten Path in Boston and Beyond." This is a real Bostonian area expert who is constantly monitoring Fodor's Forum. My "journey" after moving here and previously certainly includes well know museums like the MFA but also the unique Isabell Gardner Museum housed in a stately mansion (www.gardnermuseum.org) and Fogg Museum if you want art (www.artmuseums.harvard.edu) which we saw in a study program on art and architecture.

Also included in that program was the H. H. Richardson designed Trinity Church located on Copley Square (www.trinitychurchboston.org) which has an active program. Across the square is a place I enjoy for worship which is our son's church: Old South Church (http://oldsouth.org). I have never been so moved as during the service last Easter. The startling tall John Hancock Tower looms over both churches. Short walk away is the New England Historic Genealogical Society where I intend to do family history research. You'll find scads of eateries. This whole area you know is on fill land, the so called Back Bay.

Down the way in Back Bay seen off I-90 is Fenway Park. Sure hope the Red Sox get on a winning streak. In these parts most folks had a cap (any color) with a big B on front! I've been there but not yet for a game; it was VIP seating for a special concert...Boston Landmarks Orchestra led by long time director Charles Ansbacher. (www.landmarksorchestra.org) This summer the Orchestra is performing all the Beethoven symphonies in free concerts in the Hatch Shell along the Charles. More on entertainment later.

For now a mention that many folks live around Boston in neighboring communities such as Watertown where we live. We are in a plus 55 unit in a renovated grade school.(www.thecoolidgeschool.com) A short bus ride and we are in Harvard Sqauare and Red line and you are in Boston. We shop and go to church and movies in Newton and Belmont and Cambridge.

to be continued
Bill L.
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Jul 30th, 2010, 03:30 PM
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Your report has some very useful information for visitors--churches aren't often mentioned here but there are some lovely ones. You paint a picture of Boston with your words. I'm enjoying reading. Thanks.
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Jul 30th, 2010, 04:19 PM
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Thanks cw (by the way initials of my father). Short detour: so far we've attended nine churches! Most are friendly but summer is an awful time to church shop. Seems senior ministers are on vacation or sabbatical, choirs are disbanded, no programs, and lots of folks in these parts at the beaches or mountains. Oh yes, no airconditioning, just hand fans! It happens nothing appeals in Watertown so we are looking afield. This is indeed part of our Bostonland "journey." Should correct one note: www.oldsouth.org (left out the www)
Bill
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Jul 30th, 2010, 04:35 PM
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Excellent trip report. Fodors should be grateful, as well as readers.
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Jul 30th, 2010, 06:34 PM
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Bill,

Boston seems to suspend some (non-entertainment) activities in the summer--most organizations don't meet from May to September. I guess this vacation mode hits churches as well.

Should have added to my earlier post that if you plan on a few visits to the New England Historic and Genealogical Society, it's well worth it to buy a membership. You'll have access to the many resources on their website as well as their events. I believe they have an orientation lecture for new members. Good luck with your research. The library workers there are very helpful.
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Jul 30th, 2010, 08:47 PM
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Ozarksbill, So glad you are enjoying the Boston area. You offer great insights. Have lived here my entire life, am a senior now like you, and my people have been here since 1629 so it's really in my blood - red, not blue! While DH and I love to travel, I really wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Good for you for actively embracing your new community and seeing/doing more than many of us who have lived here forever. Sure hope you and yours continue to enjoy it.

isy
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Jul 31st, 2010, 04:08 AM
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Forty five years ago, when I visited Boston as a college student, my girlfriend and I attended Old South Church. The ushers still wore morning coats and striped trousers, and the very elderly minister, in long gown and Geneva bands, had to be helped into the pulpit -- where he proceeded to deliver a wonderful sermon.

It is a memory I will always treasure.
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Aug 2nd, 2010, 06:59 AM
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Continuing the journey...but with a confession. Lots of folks here have a passion for Boston pro basketball or hockey or football or baseball (www.celtics.com, http://bruins.nhl.com, www.patriots.org, www.redsox.com) OK, ALL of us got excited when the Celtics were in the play offs and I've been a Red Sox fan since a kid, back in the 1940s days of Williams, Pesky, etc. Boo Yankees! But so far haven't been to any sports event here. Do have a Sox game on the calendar. Our interests are more the arts and history and nature.

Also I gave up golf in moving from Missouri and have yet to go fishing. Used to enjoy canoeing and camping but sold our RV. I love to view the sculling on the Charles River. Lots of bicycles on Boston area streets so we use caution. Being older we are content to take walks along the Charles or a Sunday stroll like yesterday in nearby Mt. Auburn Cemetery. Yes, this is a reknowned woodsy cemetery with trails to graves of many famous people like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Buckminster Fuller (www.mountauburn.org). There is a big "Walk Boston" emphasis promoting health by walking with maps and connections to the T stops. (www.walkboston.org).

Lots of headliners do come to town. Sorry to have missed the Taylor-King concert. Well, instead of big bucks to see Sting we'll be satisfied with the free concerts in Watertown park which featured the Berklee Jazz Band. By the way we find that Berklee College of Music is one of many institutions of learning in this area like Tufts, Boston College, MIT, Wellesley College, Boston University where our son is director of African Studies Center. Oh yes, Harvard...more on that later. Of course we do enjoy movies...latest recommendation is "The Kids Are Alright." And many DVDs at home.

Our Bostonland journey has included some shows. Just closed at the American Rep Theatre was an original musical "Johnny Baseball" about the so called Red Sox jinx which wasn't trading off Babe Ruth but avoiding racial integration. We look for a new season (www.americanrepertorytheatre.org). Recent theatre has included "Violet" at the Arsenal (not very good) and "Shear Madness" at the Charles Playhouse but I refuse to tell anyone how this comedy mystery unfolds (www.shearmadness.com/boston.php). Plus some special interests: an ancient instruments performance (www.seventimessalt.com), some folk music at Club Passim off Harvard Square (www.clubpassim.org) with free noontime concerts as well. I can't possibly list all the other free summer concerts all over.

Our journey of exploration will continue with other entertainment in the fall: http://emmanuelmusic.org, Boston Symphony (www.bso.org), www.celebrityseries.org, New Repertory Theatre (www.newrep.org), www.artsemerson.org, Huntington Theatre. And looking forward once again to The Revels holiday concert Dec. 17-29 in Harvard Sanders Theatre (www.revels.org), They are having a harbor cruise sing this month.

Enough for now...the journey of exploration will continue.
Bill in Watertown
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Aug 2nd, 2010, 11:10 AM
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Hi Bill,

What wonderful descriptions! Did you see me at the Landmarks Orch @ Fenway Park last month? I was in the "general seating" area though.

I hope you're enjoying the summer here. It's been quite lovely and I really don't want it to end. However, comes Fall season all my favorite organizations go back to work: BSO, Lyric Opera, OPera Boston, Celebrity series etc.

BTW, have you attended the free Friday noontime organ concerts at the Trinity Church? They are truly wonderful.

I look forward to reading your future journeys around town!
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Aug 2nd, 2010, 12:46 PM
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Quick response to yk (Bostonland expert): VIP seating at Landmarks due to MIT chaplain friend and his connections. Do you go to the concerts at Hatch Shell? So much to see and do like aforementioned noontime concerts! Yes, we will need to pick and choose in the Fall. As for the weather, indeed pleasant, much more so than out in muggy Missouri! I'm curious...would you share where you live and what you do (privately)? [email protected]
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Aug 3rd, 2010, 09:03 AM
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Journey continued. This rambling report covers on going explorations of Bostonland along with past trips prompted by 1) having recently moved to the area 2) being retired with inclination to explore 3) in part entertaining our daughter from Florida formerly from Amesbury who was with us for a month.

Last Saturday my wife and I drove out to Concord for a special celebration, the 300th anniversary of the birth of Col. James Barrett. At his house being restored was a reenactment of the British search for hidden arms which had earlier been taken from Boston. The soldiers had marched into the coungtryside to confiscate armament. As the Colonel was away his wife confronted the regiment. See details in my report "History in Concord, Mass." Especially check out this source for some good information from John L. Bell who gave a talk there: www.boston1775.blogspot.com (a correction).

Beforehand there was a park ranger talk at the bridge where on that same day April 19, 1775, the militias from the surrounding towns had open conflict with the Red Coats with a number of casualties. Also there was on hand a fifes and drums corps (www.mcvfifesanddrums.org/media.html). We marched behind them up to the visiors center. I have listed on my Concord report some of the volunteer fifes and drums and militia corps. Some reenactors portray British soldiers as well.

We had been to Concord with our daughter recently to visit the Old Manse owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson (more in my Concord report) and there are a number of historic houses in this lovely town. Lunch was at the Colonial Inn but if that's full just stroll down to Helen's in the town center. http://www.concordchamberofcommerce....sitor_info.htm

Beyond Boston are many interesting places of course. We first fell in love with New England back in 1952 as college students working in Martha's Vineyard hotels. Recently we returned to Edgartown and other places. A special room at the Harborside Inn priced at $400 plus. Lee explored where she was a waitress. M.V. nice for yachting or just walking around and dining and tasting ice cream (I recall this as the first time I had tasted pistachio). I liked quaint Among the Flowers at Edgartown harbor.(www.mvol.com/guides/visitors) Of course, Cape Cod is great...on one camping trip our kids loved the sand dunnes and beaches.

Who would miss seeing Plymouth with its famous but not so impressive rock? I do however like to stroll down the streets of Plimoth Plantation with costumed reeanctors. It just seems so authenitc. (www.plimoth.org) Also a recreated Wampanoag Indian Village.

More journeying to follow north of Boston. BTW, in the news are shark sightings. In fact, you can check this out: www.capecodsharkhunters.com
...BillinBoston
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Aug 4th, 2010, 11:02 AM
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Now for journeying north of Boston. Lots to see and do according to everyone's tastes. Check this out: www.northofboston.org. A week ago we were up in Portsmouth, NH, for a harbor cruise. Reasonably priced and recommended with lunch (we had haddock) nearby at the Oar House (www.portsmouthharbor.com). This port dates back to earliest times, in fact you must also visit Strawberry Banke which is a recreated settlement! (www.strawberrybanke.org) Dates back to 1623. Out in the harbor you can see the naval yard and there are ruins of several old forts.

OK, this weekend is the Newport Festival but we were recently at the free Lowell Folk Festival (www.lowellfolkfestival.org) where we'd been a few years back. Lowell has a wonderful National Park telling the story of the textile mills.
(www.nps.gov/lowe/index.htm) Our daughter lived in Amesbury and worked in a Mill Museum in Manchester, NH. And we were recently in Manchester with her for an art exhibit at the Currier (www.currier.org). You'll find a great collection of art in this museum. Enough about New Hampshire which has lovely lakes and forests. (www.nhtourguide.com)

Another hidden gem is the Ogunquit Museum of Modern Art
(www.ogunquitmuseum.org) a favorite of our daughter and husband and an interesting town (www.visitogunquit.org).
On up into Maine is a favorite spot: Nubble Lighthouse.(www.lighthouse.cc/capeneddick). What you will find nearby is a wonderful ice cream stand. We were up further in Maine not long ago and if you inquire I might reveal our favorite inexpensive motel at Boothbay Harbor next to a lobster restaurant. That time our destination was the American Folk Festival in Bangor. Of course there is Acadia Nat'l Park and Bar Harbor, too. If you want unique jams and sauces and such goodies just over the state line off I-95 at York, Maine, is Stonewall Kitchen (www.stonewallkitchen.com) Right now I'm looking at a jar of wild Maine bluberry jam. Should I open it?

By now we are worn out so back to Boston for future journeys.

Bill in Watertown
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Aug 4th, 2010, 11:10 AM
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Hi Bill,

I was tempted to go to the Lowell Folk Festival (for the food), but I was worried about crowds & parking. How was it for you?

We were in Manchester, NH a few weeks ago. Did you visit the Frank Lloyd Wright House (Zimmerman House) that belongs to the Currier?

We bought a jar of wild Maine blueberry jam when we were in Portland Maine back in June. If you don't want to open yours, please send it to me. I'll happily open it and finish it for you. [Their products are ADDICTIVE!]
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Aug 4th, 2010, 01:03 PM
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Ozarkbill - I can only pray that my DH and I are as active in retirement as you and your wife have been. Its inspiring to read your posts.

I hope you've had a chance to explore Newburyport and Plum Island. Perhaps you might consider fishing for stripers at the mouth of the Merrimac River - stop in at Surfland for bait and say hi to Kay. (surflandbt.com) Newburyport just completed its week long Yankee Homecoming festival - maybe next year you will check it out. Free concers, sidewalk sales, road races, fireworks, parades, beer tastings etc. (yankeehomecoming.com) - maybe you'll come up and visit next summer.

Enjoy your travels!

The Landmarks Orchestra is something special - we've been to a number of concerts - Hatch Shell, Kennedy Library etc. My daughter's former violin teacher oftens plays with the orchestra.
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Aug 4th, 2010, 01:46 PM
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We're going to Boston in September. We haven't been in many years and am looking forward to our trip. I am taking notes from your report. Thanks for taking the time to post a report.
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Aug 5th, 2010, 09:02 AM
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Thanks Ozarkbill for this delightful "ride". I was born in Boston but family left before I had a chance to see it as an adult. Am trying to rectify that situation and will refer to this thread often as I plan a trip.
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Aug 6th, 2010, 07:08 AM
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for the weekend and many head up I-95 with New Hampshire not so far (if no traffic i.e.). But winding up route 1A you go through Ipswich and Rowley and then Newbury which is familiar territory. We've got lots of ancestors who settled these areas in the 1630-40 era. If you like old houses and how the Colonials lived check out this: www.historicnewengland.org. Also a listing:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wik/List_of_..._buildings_in_
Massachusetts. We have toured some such as the Tristram Coffin House in Newbury.

This happens to be the 375th anniversary for that village and thus special events: www.newbury375.org. In fact, we are going to a special celebration of the Sons and Daughters of Newbury. Of course there are other towns still retaining a quaint rural feeling. But up in lively Newburyport you have an entirely different flavor with yachts and shops. (http://greaternewburyport.com) This is truly a summer hangout...our daughter lived here and in nearby Amesbury. In fact, still owns a charming bugalow there. Before leaving I must take you to her favorite spot: Plum Island which is a famed bird sanctuary and state park (www.plum-island.com).
For seafood check this out: www.plumislandgrille.com.

Let me confess that we have yet to see Cape Ann and Gloucester and other destintations on the north shore. (www.ci.gloucester.ma.us) Being retired explorers I'm sure we will ge there! But we have been to Salem recently and awhile back. A definite destination though having its share of witchery nonesense (that might well appeal to kids). (www.salem.org) (www.salemweb.com) Our family has toured the House of the Seven Gables (www.7gables.org)
In case you've forgotten the Hawthorne novel this will help: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/sevengables/summary.html. The little park commemorating those marytred as witches is nice.

A highlight is the Peabody Essex Museum with a new exhibit of
pieces from the hidden palace in Beijing, China, never before seen. (www.pem.org) Salem was once a trading and whaling
port which is the focus of the museum. And you'll enjoy just strolling along the harbor viewing the Maritime Museum. (www.highlandstreet.org) Also a nice pioneer vilage if you have interest. (www.salemweb.com/forestriver/vllage.shtml).

ENOUGH FOR NOW>>>BILL
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Aug 6th, 2010, 09:33 AM
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Looks like the first part of my comments didn't make it...simply saying that many Boston folks get out of the city for the weekend. That said it is surprizing how many summer programs there are in the city.

Thanks for comments. Tomorrow we head for Old Sturbridge Village with family and in a week to the Berkshires so I'll make a report later. Also want to get back to Boston including some eateries plus my own Watertown.

Bill in Boston (not the Ozarks anymore)
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Aug 10th, 2010, 07:31 PM
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Now to finish. So much to see and do in Boston and the surrounding area! It's an on going journey. We've mentioned a few things north and east already. And now west. Before getting back to the city a brief report on Old Sturbridge Village last weekend (only 55 miles away). About 800 re-enactors were on hand for the Red Coats and Rebels encampment. See for example Col. Bailey's 2nd Massachusetts Regiment (www.2ndmass.org). So tents and campfires were everywhere with demonstrations of cannon firing and drilling. A mock battle was held with all troops mustered on the field with manuevering and shooting. A family member did comment, "Isn't someone supposed to die?" Finally several did fall down. I recommend this place for families anytime (www.osv.org) And near the entrance you can't beat this place to eat: www.publikhouse.com and also the Days Inn nestled in a woodsy area.

West of Boston also is the Berkshires and though on the other side of the state it is a real performance and art center, and the Boston Globe features coverage. We ourselves will be there next week in an Exploritas program including special lectures and staying at the Crown Plaza in Pittsfield plus some extras. Productions: "A Delicate Balance" at Berkshire Theatre Festival (www.berkshiretheatre.org), a Swedish ballet in Blake's Barn (www.jacobspillow.org), "The Taster" at Founders Theatre in Lenox (www.shakespeare.org), Boston Symphony (www.tanglewoodmusicfestival.org), "Fifth of July" at Williamstown Festival(www.wtfestival.org)

Now back to Boston. So much to see and do indeed! Thursday night a production of "Othello" on Boston Commons, for instance, which our family will attend. (www.commshakes.org) Many places we haven't been to and many are likely destinations such as the homeplace of John Quincy Adams- www.hps.gov/adam/index.htm, www.childrensmuseum.org, www.ica.boston.org... Museum of Contemporary Art with many programs. Also the aquarium (www.neaq.org) Museum of Science (www.mos.org). A little girl on the bus told said at the MIT museum are robots and holograms! (http://web.mit.edu/museum) We do endorse this: www.jfklibrary.org. Announcement has been made of a future new addition, a Ted Kennedy Senate museum.

Yes, we will bypass some of the big ticket shows like Sting, Rihana, John Mayer at Comcast Center. In the Fall things start up (besides Patriot games) and we have in hand seasonal schedules. www.bostonsymphony.org is one including afternoon matinees at Symphony Hall...like the Museum of Fine Arts easily reached by MBTA green line. Also the Shakespeare Project featuring "Henry IV" and Lyric Stage Company including two part "Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby" (with a friend performing). And www.newrep.org. I will certainly hear renowned singer Jean Redpath perform Dec. 4 (www.fssgb.org)

Why bother going on and on...just check these web sites:
www.boston.com/thingstodo, http://calendar.boston.com,
and again the Globe www.boston.com/bostonglobe. I would recommend mass transit instead of driving when posssible:
www.mbta.com. And they can map out a route to your destination. Also a $7.50 day T pass is useful. Personally I don't think much of those commercial tours such as www.upperdecktrolleytours.com and www.superducktours.com which are too loud and too fast. Oh yes, there is a Go Boston card, one day for $49.99 including lots of free admissions. (www.smartdestinations.com) And a Boston citypass covering selected sites.

As to beyond Boston: www.visit-massachusetts.com/events.htm
and www.mass-vacation.com. Hey maybe you want to bicycle which is popular: www.bikenewengland.com. Or a trip on the Charles River: http://padddleboston.com/kendall.php. Or a quiet boat ride in public gardens: www.swanboats.com.
This I'll pass along from the Boston Globe:
(http://mwclibrary.blogspot.com/2010/...achusetts.html

Now a word about Harvard...from a Yale grad! Really I do enjoy strolling around Harvard Square and maybe someday a walking tour. But I'm not impressed by the student run "humorous" ones which are too fast and can't be heard unless real close. (www.hmnh.hahvahd.edu) Been several times to venerable Club Passim which has long been a folk music center...including way back Joan Baez! Show every night. We happen to enjoy hearing authors at Harvard Bookstore...one was "Being Wrong" by Schulz and a very humorous talk by Carl Hiassen author of "Star Island."
(www.harvard.com). A hidden Harvard natural history museum with the stuffed animals does features two fascinating exhibit rooms: glass flowers and gems & minerals(www.hmnh.harvard.edu). Also consider productions at A.R.T. connecgted to Harvard (www.americanrepertory.org) starting with "Cabaret.".

Finally just a little about dining...and being no expert but these I liked. OK, I live in Watertown and close by down Mt. Auburn St. are several popular places: Red Lentil (vegetarian), Sofras with pearl sugar brioches and a great hummus bar (www.sofrabakery.com), Town Diner with blue plate specials and everything else (www.deluxetowndiner.com), Fordees (for falafels), Jasmine's (Persian), and a little further Stellinas (with jazz Monday & Tues. nights), Aegean (Greek) at Arsenal Mall, Stockyard in Allston, Pompadora (Italian). Wider afield: Warren Tavern in Charlestown already mentioned, Algiers, Bertuccis in Newton, and in Cambridge Frank's Steak house on Mass. Ave., Legal Sea Foods, Russell House, UNO Chicago Grill side by side (my pick is UNO), and so many others: Black Rose, Typhoon (Asian) in Brookline. In these parts you'll find many Dunkin Donuts and I love the soups and pastries at Au Bon Pain in Cambridge or Copley Sq.

My personal Boston journey continues on and hope you can come someday!

Bill now in Boston
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