I was so sure that the stereotypical Boston area accent, as portayed in movies like "Good Will Hunting", was myth. I haven't made up my mind yet, but I will say this:
Everytime a local asks me where I live, I say Medford. Usually this is followed by a confused look and a request that I repeat the response. To which I say again, Medford. At this point, there is normally more pondering and then an expression of the lights going on. "Oh, you mean Me-fuh!" It turns out I've been saying it wrong all this time. Silly me, pronouncing the r and ds!
So, if you want to blend in while visiting Mefuh, drop the r completely and skim over the ds like they are barely there.
Wandering in the Fells
Middlesex Fells is a 2,000 acre area in north Medford, on both sides of I-93, with rugged terrain perfect for half-day hikes and runs. There are several different trails of varying levels of difficulty. The most difficult are genuinely challenging, despite the relatively urban setting, with constant ascents and descents. The trails encompass flat sections running alongside reservoirs as well as rugged clambering over rocks and narrow paths in the woods.
There is also a mountain biking trail which stretches along a loop for several miles. The mountain bikers don't always respect the pedestrians-only trails, but most of the bikers we have met were very courteous about letting us pass!
In the winter, after a good snow storm, you can even strap on snow shoes or cross country skiis and explore the area, which will suddenly seem unfamiliar with the snow. You will want hiking boots or at the very least sturdy walking shoes unless you intend to stay on the easiest trails.
Famous & Infamous Medford
"Not On The Tourist Trail"
Medford is a small working class city just north of Boston. It certainly isn't on the beaten tourist path, but since I live here, I thought I'd write a few notes about it. I've lived here twice. The first time, in the mid-90's, I lived near Tufts University and rented an absolutely lovely but neglected Victorian-ish house with a huge piece of land for a back yard, dotted with ancient rose bushes and peonies. Today the house still stands and has been renovated but unfortunately condos now stand where the next door neighbor's house once was and our back yard has been turned into a parking lot for the adjacent apartments. So sad!!! But I digress.... I currently live near Medford Square which is the center of town. Medford is an easy commute into Boston with Express bus service to Haymarket from Medford Square. Or you can take a bus to the Orange Line or the Red Line. And there is Commuter Rail service from West Medford into North Station. At some point in the next decade there will be Green Line service to Boston Ave, which seems kind of redundant due to the extensive bus service and the Commuter Rail, but I guess Tufts wants it, so Tufts is going to get it.
"Italian Heritage & Food"
Medford is a very Italian-American city. They offer Italian language classes in the high school; There is a Modern Pastry Shop annex (the original is in the North End) right in Medford Square! If you know where to go, you can get some excellent Italian meals here. My favorite place at the moment is a hole-in-the-wall trattoria called Pastalina's, which is on Salem Street. It's so small it is advisable to call ahead so they'll have enough food for you. Essentially they cook until the food is gone. They have no liquor license but you can bring a bottle and they'll uncork and pour it for you. Occasionally if they're in the mood they may send somebody to run across the street to the liquor store for you at no extra charge (but leave a nice tip!). They have home-made pasta dishes and the veal melts in your mouth!
For simpler fare Medford recently became home to a Regina Pizza, which in my opinion is the best pizza in the Boston area. There are several Regina locations in the area (the original is in the North End) but I wouldn't call them a chain just yet. The new location is at Station Landing, near Wellington on Revere Beach Parkway.
"Famous & Infamous"
Medford has quite an interesting history with some famous and infamous moments. Most recently, the infamous includes the only known audio recording of a mafia induction ceremony was taped right here in Medford in the 1990's; and a famous mafia hit occurred at the old Pewter Pot coffee house (no longer exists) in Medford Square in the 1970's. Though I have no doubt that mafia still live here, the bullets don't fly here anymore and I'd say Medford is one of the safest cities near Boston.
Another notorious Medford factoid is that Medford Square is Ground Zero for the gypsy moth infestation of North America. In 1868 the French naturalist and Medford resident Leopold Trouvelot thought he could breed a better silk worm using gypsy moths. Unfortunately some of the moths accidentally escaped from his home and within 10 years, the catepillars devastated the trees in town and they have continued their path of destruction ever since throughout the continent.
Some more pleasant facts about Medford are musical: Both "Over The River And Through The Woods" and "Jingle Bells" were written right here. Some famous former Medford residents include the current mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, Amelia Earhart and Fannie Farmer!
Surprisingly Lively Suburb
If you want the honest truth, our move to Medford in 2002 was more by chance than by design.
We were looking for a place with access to public transporation into Boston, roughly between our places of employment, and close to the highway for an easy escape. We picked Medford for no other reason than it met these critiera and we readily found an apartment there that we like. Little did we know what a wonderful place we had accidentally happened upon. Or, that less than two years after arriving, we would end up buying a home (on the same street where had been renting) and really settling in.
Everything we could possibly want is within a very reasonable distance, including the T into Boston. In addition, Medford doesn't have a typical (read: boring) suburb feel. With a surprising mix of cultures (our block has church with services in Portuguese, an Italian bakery, and store selling sushi grade fish), it is really quite unique location!