Boston, MA Trip - August 2012

A few days in Boston and Cambridge prior to a conference
Monday, August 6, 2012

The bus trip from Chinatown to Boston on Fung Wah Bus was delayed [now out-of-business]. There were many miles of stop-and-go traffic. All from rubbernecking, as the crash was entirely in the other direction's side.

I got lost trying to find Anthony's guest house. I was on Beacon Street, but in Kenmore Square I missed a turn and ended up going out Commonwealth Avenue. At one point the numbering seemed strange, as my recollection was the BU Bridge was how I am to get to Harvard, but the street numbers at that point were awfully low. In biking back to the guesthouse I had a nice ride through a Brookline neighborhood of grand Victorian houses.

After I dropped off my bags I head for lunch. It was approaching 3:00, which is when the Indian buffets end. My first stop was Rani Indian Bistro [now closed]. It was 2:50. But everything on the buffet had dairy. At Curry House the chicken dish and the chick peas were dairy-free. I had a big plate of chicken.

I had done some research on the Internet for places to visit with a scenic view. I wanted to collect pictures to stitch into panoramas. My first stop was Corey Hill Park on Summit Ave. I walked the bicycle most of the way up. The view was not special. At least it isn't in the Summer with all the trees leafed out. There was only a patch of a view.

I then decided I would bike along The Riverway Path and then Jamaicaway. Then I got to Jamaica Pond. I then bike to the Arnold Arboretum. I found the Leventritt Garden. I tried to get into the Bonzai Collection, but it was 4:30 and it closed at 4:00.

I then found a posted map. Two hills were shown as having scenic views. I went up the first, listed at 200 feet. There was no view at all in the Summer. A woman said Peter's Hill, shown at 240 feet, was good. I made it up there.

Then looking at my notes I saw that there was a view in Larz Anderson Park. I headed there. I found the Auto Museum. But it was not open on Mondays, plus I was too late. There is a large area at the scenic spot.

I then biked back to the Jamaicaway. On Jamaica Pond there were people sailing. Day Sailors can be rented for $15/hour by anyone that knows how to sail. Last rental is 6:00. It was 6:05. The wind was good, but the sun was low, creating horrible glare on the water.

I continued up the other side of the way (the east side). When it ended I looked at my map and saw the Fenway. A fellow helped my find my location on the map and guided me towards there. I bicycled all around it. Most impressive was the Fenway Victory Community Gardens. Clearly many of the plots have been maintained for years. Some are like mini backyard gardens with ponds and stone bridges.

I thought about bicycling to the place I stayed in Allston in 1972. But I couldn't figure out where on the map it was. It needs some web research first.

I decided to eat at Tamarind Bay at 75 Winthrop St [now closed]. It was the third of the Indian restaurants that was on Beacon Street out past my guesthouse. The restaurant specializes in coastal Indian cuisine. The people running it are Northern Indians. The coastal bit is just their scheme for the restaurant. I ordered a Kerala dish. It was bland. Even the chick pea pappadum was bland. The more common lentils ones are better. In this suburban location, with no Indian clientele at all, the food has been severely tamed. [Later in the week I ate at their location off Harvard Square. The food was much better than here.]

I headed back to my guesthouse as it was getting dark. I brought my bike in and folded it partway.

Up in my room I look around. It is hideous. The furniture is grossly ornate. There is a lot of it: four arm chairs, a low chest, a high chest, two side tables, and another chest and side chair in the closet. But no desk to work at! I make do with the chair from the closet and the laptop on the low chest. I write these notes in longhand in my lap.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The bed was nice and firm, but the window air conditioner could have been better at humidity control.

I start up my laptop. I find Ben, my friend from Australia, arrived the night before. He's staying at The Charles Hotel, the official convention hotel. I e-mailed back. But without a cell phone, and no phones in the guesthouse, I don't know how I'll reach him. I'll try to find a pay phone when I go for breakfast.

I decided I would head right for The Charles Hotel. I called from the lobby. He was awake. After a little while he came down. I learned that the hotel had loaner bikes, but all three were reserved for the morning.

We went for breakfast at Tory Row. The waiter knew about paleo and the conference. He was a chiropractor student. We were able to get a paleo breakfast.

The hotel mentioned the bike sharing program. We found the kiosk in Harvard Square. Bikes had to be returned every 30 minutes. The penalties for keeping them longer ranged up to $100 for the whole day.

My Boston bike map had the locations of bike stores. We headed off to visit the closest to see about renting a bike for my friend. The first was some sort of bicycle repair business on the Radcliffe quad. Radcliffe had a bike share program, but only for the members of the Radcliffe community. We walked to the next closest bike shop, but it was closed. And the third closest didn't rent. As we had now walked a good distance from Harvard Square, it was suggested that we take the subway back.

My year old bike map had the subway fare as $2.00. I put $4 on a Charlie card for both of us. But the fare had gone up to $2.50. Ben went and bought another card before I thought to have him add to my card. I now have a card with $1.50 on it.

Back at the hotel we find the bikes had now been returned. Well, it was now noon.

We headed along the river to the Longfellow Bridge. It had been noted as a place for a view. We found the MIT Sailing. It was open to any alum or member of the MIT community.

After going over Longfellow we were in Beacon Hill. We were looking for Indian food. We asked a woman. She suggested Newbury Street in Back Bay. To get there we walked through the Public Garden. On Newbury we found mostly high-end retail stores. We did find Snappy Sushi at 108 Newbury Street [closed in 2018]. I had a nice sushi salad bowl, but it wasn't overly filling.

We headed to my scenic viewpoint in the reclaimed Seaport District along the South Boston waterfront. All buildings were new. We found Fan Pier. The second floor of Louis's did have a nice view of the harbor.

It was now 4:00. My friend, a doctor, realized he had a conference call at 5:30 with a US medical specialist and a patient in Australia. We were far from his hotel, with no direct way to get back. He wanted to take a taxi. The first to pass, and it was only a few minutes, was an SUV. The driver folded down the third row of seats and got the large and heavy bike in standing up!

I continued along the HarborWalk that is along the edge of the Boston Harbor in many places. I took panorama pictures along the way. On Rowes Wharf a woman asked if I was taking a panorama. We chatted. She gave me her e-mail address for me to send the link after I get them on the web. It should motivate me to get them on the web sooner.

Then I admired a very small laptop. It turned out to be an iPad with a keyboard attachment. He was an engineering professor at Bucknell University. His wife went to Cornell (my college), and his daughter was there now. We exchanged cards.

I continued along the water's edge, taking pictures along the way. At the north end the walk was under construction and ended. I headed to the streets. I was planning to just head to Ben's hotel, where we were to meet for dinner. I was stopped. A fellow on a folding bike asked if I was a tourist. He said there are new bridges across the locks that would take me over to Charlestown, where there are places to bike.

I went over. It was just past where the missing part of the walk was. I bicycled east in Charlestown. I found the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) and finding it was free I went on. But is was now 5:55. I only had five minutes. And I couldn't visit the museum.

I continued along and found a sailing center. Boats are $125 or $95 for all day. They only rent for all day. I went until the end of the HarborWalk. and then biked back on the streets to get back to where I entered Charlestown. Then I biked through the parks and water's edge. After crossing into Cambridge, while stopped in traffic, I asked a cyclist how to get to Harvard Square. He said to follow him. He was a bicycle commuter and was heading home.

It was a fast ride. I had trouble keeping up with him. But I got there quickly.

At the hotel I called up to Ben. His conference call didn't happen. While waiting for him to come down I saw a pretty woman check in. I asked is she was there for the conference. She was. She was sharing a room with a doctor she works for. I was unable to get her to join us for dinner.

Ben and I wandered around and picked The Maharaja for dinner. Then back in his room I showed him some of my non-paleo websites. We agreed to meet the next day at 10:30 at the ferry to Spectacle Island. I didn't get back to my room until around midnight.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I want to go up to the Skywalk Observatory at the top of the Prudential Building before meeting Ben. I head out early looking for breakfast. Finding a gluten-free and dairy-free breakfast is the hardest thing when traveling. Most places don't even serve breakfast. At the first place I stopped, Eastern Standard, I would have had to piece together a breakfast. It would have been $17. All would have to have been specially cooked, as everything was normally cooked on a contaminated griddle. She went to seat others. I noticed that the inside tables had table clothes. Not my type of breakfast place. I left.

I biked around. The next place I found was Thornton's Restaurant. The waitress was very accommodating. I had an omelet with almost everything. Just not the cheese. Supposedly the more you add the bigger it gets. Plus a fruit plate. It came to $13.90 plus.

I was across the street from one of the entrances to the Pru Building. I went across and found the elevator to the Skywalk. It was 9:00. They don't open until 10:00.

I biked towards South Station, I learned a little more about how it is laid out and where the buses are.

I was at the beginning of the Greenway. This is the linear park that it where the elevated highway used to be. It was created after the Big Dig. I meandered up through the park. I came to a fountain that squirts water up from the ground in a synchronized fashion. We have a smaller and older one at the Brooklyn Museum. But they are managed very differently. After the museum saw that children had great fun playing with the water squirting up they put barricades around the fountain and for the next season a stainless steel fence was erected. Here playing in the fountain is allowed. There are just three rules: no standing on a jet trying to block it, no looking directly into a jet, and adults should be supervising their kids. It was early and no kids yet.

I found the carousel. It was a small one with plastic horses. And it was $3/ride. In Brooklyn we have vintage ones, and the better one, in Prospect Park, is only $2/ride (and free to park members at the second membership level).

I make it to Long Wharf. This is where I am to meet Ben for our ferry ride to Spectacle Island. Ben had already paid for both tickets. They told him it sometimes sells out. The people running things suggest the best place for me to lock up my bike. The ferry over only had a handful of people on it. 10:30 is still early for tourists.

There is no bicycling there. There are miles of walking paths. We walked up to the top of the North Drumlin for a panoramic picture. Then we walked around the southern part. We found blackberries alongside the path. We ate plenty.

After getting back to Boston I wanted to find an Indian restaurant that had an all you can eat buffet. Ben had an iPhone. I knew that Yelp could help us find a restaurant. But he needed WiFi. We wandered around trying to find an open network. We end on the Greenway. I know it is offered in some parks. We learned that the Greenway does have it, but only in some locations. Eventually I found the antenna. It was near the squirting fountain. This time the fountain was packed with children in bathing suits.

The WiFi signal was not strong. One has to be right under the antenna. Yelp found us the nearest restaurants. Then I realized that it was a little after 3:00 and the buffets would be over. Ben tried calling the place. He got no answer. It may have been closed. Yelp has no way of removing closed businesses. The next two closest of the listed restaurants were in Faneuil Hall. There is a huge food court there.

We went to Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Apparently only one of the two there was still in business. I ended up ordering a barbecued half chicken from another stall. Ben got salmon from another place.

Ben wanted to get back to his room to work on his poster presentation for the conference. On the ferry we had seen the Fort Revere at Castle Island. I saw the it could easily be reached by bicycle. It is just past the Seaport District in South Boston.

I found the fort. It was closed. It being 5:10 probably had something to do with it. I bike along the causeway. Then I plotted a route back to the hotel. Part way home I realized I had not plotted the mort direct route. But it gave me a small tour of the historic section of the South End. Then I found a short cut through the back streets to get to my guesthouse.

I got back to my room about at the time I was to leave to meet Ben for dinner. I did wash up a little and checked e-mail.

Ben was meeting up with a couple of other doctors that were giving presentations to the conference. I knew there was a second Indian restaurant in Harvard Square. I had seen it. We wondered around in a circle until we found it. It was only a block from were we started. It was Tamarind Bay. The same owner as the one I had dinner on Monday night. But the menu here was all different. And here decor was minimal. And this one was better.

We decided we would not get together for breakfast, but just meet at the conference registration.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

It was supposed to be chance of thundershowers. But the weather forecast changed Thursday and was now to be mostly sunny, with the isolated thunderstorms not until night.

I got to Thornton's. The waitress remembered what I wanted. I finished with enough time that I was able to get back to my room, and still make it back to the Pru ten minutes before Skywalk opened at 10:00.

The Pru is a large diameter building. It will be hard to stitch the pictures.

I then returned to my room again. I was able to get to the conference before registration opened.

© 2012 Don Wiss. All rights reserved.