Boston – Day 3

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Day three in Boston was far less crazy than day two, but we still managed to see quite a few amazing things, and eat one extra-delicious pizza. By this time we pretty much had the layout of the city nailed down and were familiar with the subway lines such. Also, we were tired from our busy second day, so we left the house later than the day before. I was okay with that though, since we didn’t have a ton left to ‘do’ on our list.

Trinity and Copley, taken from the steps of the library.

The Library and Copley, taken from Trinity steps

Fridays in summer include some really great events in the Copley neighborhood. A farmer’s market fills the square all day and during lunch time there’s a free concert in the library’s courtyard. We just happened to catch both of these things. Farmer’s markets are pretty much one of my most favorite things ever. The market in Boston was good, but very different than the one I’m used to in Minneapolis. At home, our market is huge and has several hundred to thousands of visitors on Saturday and Sunday and it’s open 7 days a week. While there are vendors selling cut flowers, pottery, bakery and clothing most of the vendors are farmers with a wide range of produce. The market in Boston had a lot more specialty items and was, in comparison, tiny. It was very lively though and there were vendors with giant sunflowers and really delicious looking cookies and sandwiches and such. The square was pretty busy and there were a lot of people eating their lunches out by the fountain and enjoying the sunshine.

Trinity Church is on one side of the square while the Boston Library is on the other side. We went to Trinity first for no particular reason but I’m glad we did because the timing meant that we stumbled upon the free concert at the library around 1. Trinity is one of those crazy Protestant churches that charges you an entry fee which I find just ridiculous because it’s a church and churches should really not be charging admission in my opinion. In any case, we paid our admission and toured the chapel. We’d already learned that the John Hancock tower had to be built at an angle to keep from blocking light from the windows at Trinity, and we’d also learned that all of the stained glass windows in the church were made by Tiffany. This pearl of wisdom was enough prompting for me to take a picture of every piece of stained glass in the place. It took a while. I think Senor got bored after a while. There were some really cool windows though, and the entire place was extremely ornate, even the (random) manhole covers that circled behind the altar. If you order a stained glass window from Tiffany, does it come in a turquoise box, tied with a white ribbon? I certainly hope so.

After we finished at Trinity we crossed the square and went to the library. No offense to the church, but the library was so, so, so amazing. Number 1 – I am a complete whore for libraries. If they had a bumper sticker proclaiming that, I would proudly wear it on my VW. Number 2 – Old fancy libraries full of marble and frescos and an outdoor courtyard? It was like heaven. Remember how I bawled at that wedding at the James J. Hill Library? Much of that emotion was due to the fact that I was in a library. And not the crappy modernist kind that are full of concrete and fluorescent lighting either. The good kind with natural light and marble and leather bound books and wooden shelves. Sigh. It wasn’t the first time I cried at a library either. The British Museum had a display of ancient-to-Victorian works on display a few years ago and part of the display was Jane Austen’s writing desk, complete with her glasses, pen, and the piece of paper she’d last written on. There were tears. A lot of them.

The entrance of the library looks normal enough but as you keep walking you encounter a large marble staircase, the kind you can imagine Scarlet O’Hara preening upon whilst admiring the beaus around her. The staircase splits and there are two giant marble lions stretched out at the landing. Senor loves giant, dangerous animals, especially when they look tired or cuddly so he was pretty pleased with those lions. I did hear a discreet ‘tee hee hee’ from behind me when he saw them. The main hall in the library is of course the most ornate but we wanted to explore the whole thing so we followed signs to get to the fine arts and literature wings. (I ❤ literature!) The hallway that connected the main building to the arts/literature building was devoid of people but it did have really cool old printing machinery. Imagine big iron tables with a crank. On the other side there were windows with no screens (awesome!) that looked out onto the courtyard. There I was, several floors above the courtyard with my head out the window watching a string quartet perform from the marble floored hallway of a historic library. It was amazing, although I did manage to avoid crying. Go me! I did most definitely feel like I should have been wearing a white flowy dress instead of gauchos and should have been strolling with Jane and Elizabeth Bennett instead of my Senor. It was a very Pride and Prejudice moment. It was delightful. We moseyed down to the courtyard, which was also marble, (along with a fountain and a pool and a lot of pretty flowers) and there was an adorable child, quietly playing with her mom right next to the string quartet. I pretty much could’ve stayed there all afternoon. Senor appreciated the beauty but after a few songs he was ready to move along.

Our view of the courtyard

There was a really entertaining exhibit at the library so we headed in to see it. It was a collection of travel posters from around the world from the 1930s. They were HILARIOUS. There was one for ‘motoring in Germany,’ ‘hunting in the USSR,’ and to ‘visit Palestine.’ There were others and many of them were just ridiculous to even contemplate (Kashmir? Really?) but they all looked like they were done by the same artist. We had a pretty good chuckle at some of them and admitted that we were fulfilling one of them by ‘Summering in New England.’ Hahaha.

After the library we were pretty hungry and we’d had it on express order from both of my sisters that we absolutely HAD to get pizza at Regina’s in the North End. So, off we went. I can easily say that the North End was my least favorite neighborhood in Boston. You know that stereotypical image of an abrasive, annoying Italian neighborhood where people have thick accents and will cut you if you wear an opposing team’s jersey? Yeah, that’s what it felt like. We didn’t exactly wander the streets, we pretty much walked directly to Regina’s and then back to the subway after but we still encountered both a crabby middle-aged lady who yelled at people while she swept the street, a group of dirty old men who were cussing up a storm, and two guys who were talking about a woman (apparently she’s a bitch) who was right in front of them. Honestly, it was abrasive and not fun. The pizza at Regina’s was AMAZING. We had a white pizza with two kinds of sausage, garlic, fresh basil and a whole lot of cheese. It was so freaking good. That being said, I think we’ll get take-out if we’re ever back there. Our waitress could tell we were tourists so after she brought our sodas and wrote down our order, she never came back. We ordered a 16 inch pizza and she never once came back to refill our 12 oz soda cups. I’m not that high-maintenance and having both worked in food service, Senor and I always tip 20% or higher. It took a lot for me to tell him, don’t leave more than 15% please. She was so bad. She thought we were crazy for needing a menu and we were in plain sight with our empty cups the entire time. She just stood there and chattered with the other waitresses. I was pretty annoyed. I think a big part of my annoyance also came from the fact that as a partially-Italian person, I want to expect more from my people. There is a small, family-run Italian restaurant where everyone knows me and has known my entire family for my entire life. Yep, we’re like family. Yep, we don’t use a menu. Yep, it’s a lot like Regina’s in that ‘outsiders’ are pretty easily recognized. That being said, I could never in a million years imagine a tourist being treated the way we were. The owner and the wait staff there are nothing but kind and warm and cheerful. You tell them you’re just visiting and they’d say, “Oh my, where are you from?! Oh that’s exciting. So you’re just in town for a visit?” I don’t want to say it’s an East Coast thing versus a Midwest thing but the whole experience made me really sad because I really liked Boston and the rest of the city was so amazing. Actually, as we were walking towards the North End a nice lady approached us and asked if she could help us find our way. (We were just consulting our map to make sure we were walking the right direction!) Seriously, everyone else was so nice and then Italian people in the North End just sucked.

Luckily, that part of the city is very small and it’s easily avoided. I had been tempted by Mike’s bakery but didn’t feel like staying in the neighborhood any longer (plus we were full from the pizza) so we just headed to the subway and trundled off to Cambridge. Mostly I wanted to visit Harvard Square and had high hopes that I would run into Click and Clack from Car Talk. It didn’t happen but we did roam through the Harvard book store. Then we got ice cream and watched some of the students wandering around the square. I fully admit I have a complex when it comes to Harvard thanks to the school that I did go to. Mac kids have a lot of complexes. We like to think we’re the best and the most socially awkward. Whenever a new article comes out that lists the best alternative liberal arts schools and we’re at the top, we get all excited. Pretty much, if you ask any Mac kid if they would have gone to Harvard they’ll tell you, “I could have gone but I chose Mac because ….xyz.” I have no idea if this is true or not. I do know that I have one friend whose brother is going to Harvard and he was rejected by Mac. I’m not sure if that really means much though since it’s entirely possible that he just didn’t submit an essay on time or some other arbitrary reason kept him out of Mac. Harvard was pretty but honestly, looked a lot like my own school so it wasn’t exactly thrilling. It had more buildings and was missing a hurricane-ready dorm and a concrete bunker science building but the dark brick buildings made me feel right at home. And there were a lot of boys and girls wearing skinny jeans and leggings so that also made me feel right at home. I might role my eyes, but I can handle hipsters because they don’t scare me.

We headed back to our B & B at this point, as it was already after 6. We hadn’t done as much as the day before but we were both pretty exhausted and we still had to get ready for the next day. For me, this involved packing everything that I would not need on Saturday back into my bag, but keeping out clothes to wear in the car, clothes for the wedding, clothes for the harbor cruise that night, and any/all bathroom and primping products I might need. Obviously, first things first, I had to decide on a dress! I actually just packed two dresses and let my friend decide which one I should wear. I think it was a good choice because it looked pretty cute in pictures. By the time we had everything ready to go, it was around 9 and we were both hungry but also tired. We thought about perusing for take out but decided we would both be pretty happy with another burger from b.good so we trucked off in search of our burgers and were not disappointed. It was a pretty uneventful evening in all and we went to bed pretty early. The next morning we would be leaving our B&B at 5:30. Urgh.

Although Day three wasn’t as busy I still really enjoyed it. The library was really so amazing, I could go back there every day and if I lived in Boston, I probably would. It’s probably a good thing we went there on our last day, otherwise I would have dragged Senor back each day and he would have been bored looking at books and windows and marble for hours each day.

A happy dachshund, mid-stride through the Copley market.
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