Where It All Began - Autumn in Boston and Academic Adventures at Harvard!





In October, Julcsi and I headed to Boston, Massachusetts for a conference on progressive education, and while we were in town, we made sure we had time for some sightseeing as well. Boston is of course known as the birthplace of the American Revolution - the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and the Siege of Boston being some of the more well-known events dating back to the 1770s. Hence, it's the perfect destination for a history buff.

Boston is also insanely expensive, and we ended up staying at a place called Boston Backpackers Hostel and Pub in Everett, right outside Boston. We stayed in an 8-bed female dorm, which was still $50/night/person. I'm sorry to say I wouldn't recommend this place to anyone ever! While all the people in our room were very nice, and a low-scale breakfast was included, there's an older man there that drives the free shuttle between the hostel and the metro station, and he is rude, sexist and racist all at the same time. He refused to drop us off at the station where we wanted to go, and when we refused a ride to where he wanted to take us instead, he shouted at us and ordered us out of the van. He also insulted a boy whose parents were from Bangladesh but who himself was born and raised in the USA, performing the usual "no but where are you REALLY from?!?" routine. He was harassing and insulting all the girls getting on the van as well. Just no. If you go on Hostelworld, you'll see a lot of reviews of this place with praise for this driver, mainly from male guests - I have no idea how or why. If you for some reason end up staying there anyway, use the city bus or an Uber instead of the free shuttle to travel between the metro station and the hostel.

We spent our days in the conference and then did some sightseeing in the afternoons and evenings. In addition, we had one extra day before flying back to Indianapolis. Here's a suggestion on how to spend three days in the Boston area!

Day 1: The Public Garden, the Freedom Trail, and the Constitution Cruise

On our first afternoon, we wandered through the beautiful Public Garden where everything was still very much green and squirrels were happily chasing each other all over the place.









We then found the Freedom Trail, which is a 4 km route through downtown Boston, guiding you through several important historical locations. Like I said before, a history buff's dream! (I'm not a history buff myself, but it was still interesting.)

The Massachusetts State House.  
Old Granary Burying Ground.



Old State House.


We eventually ended up in the harbour and decided to go on an ex tempore Constitution Cruise. The USS Constitution is permanently docked in the Charlestown Navy Yard, and the cruise takes you close enough for a good view of it.




The USS Constitution with the Bunker Hill Monument in the background.
We had a lovely dinner before heading back to our hostel for the night.



Day 2: Beacon Hill and downtown Boston

Our second conference day was longer than the first one, so we had less time to wander around Boston. Once we'd got off, we wandered up to Beacon Hill, which is one the wealthiest areas in Boston. It's quite lovely up there with old houses, cobblestone streets, and, when we went, also extravagant Halloween decorations. The area is right behind the Massachusetts State House as well.









We then spent some time in Downtown Crossing, a pedestrian shopping zone downtown, before once again catching the metro back to Everett.




Day 3: Harvard, the Boston Tea Party, and the Chinatown Gate

When you're in Massachusetts, you simply need to go and see Harvard, right? It's actually not in Boston but in Cambridge, and when we went, the metros didn't run all the way there and we needed to catch several buses in the pouring rain. Harvard itself was a lot smaller than I'd imagined, but definitely a lovely place - not as lovely as our Bloomington campus, though! We wandered around on our own instead of taking a student-guided tour of the area. You're not really allowed to go inside anywhere so we were fine with guiding ourselves. Afterwards we had lunch in the area as well, which was lovely!
















We then headed over to the Boston Tea Party museum only to decide that we didn't want to pay for a place like that (actors acting out the events and "getting" to throw tea overboard). Many tourist attractions in the USA don't really interest me because they somehow come across as fake - something that was built just to rip people off. So, we took a couple of pictures from the outside and then wandered on to Chinatown to see the Chinatown Gate.





All in all, while Boston wasn't one of my biggest favourites in the USA, I did like being on the East Coast as it somehow felt like being closer to home. Boston also has quite a British vibe to it, which I really liked, as well as the seaside atmosphere of the place. For me, the three days we had there were more than enough, but with an extra day we could've also gone to Salem, which we unfortunately had to skip this time around.

Next stop - Wonderland?
My next post will be about the two conferences we attended during our Fulbright period, so stay tuned for that!

Comments

  1. Great post. Would love to go to Harvard

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    Replies
    1. I can only recommend it, even if it's quite a small place compared to what you might have imagined :).

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