The board outside advertises a ver good lunch deal including a bottle of wine - but even though the restaurant was empty we were asked if we would share with another couple and assured that the other couple had agreed to this arrangement, - the hadn't agreed and were rather annoyed. We all left without eating
As you continue along the Freedom Trail from Faneul Hall, you come to Union Street. This street consists of some of the oldest buildings in Boston. It seems that each and everyone of them has been turned into an Irish pub. This brings in hordes of tourists but there is little reason to go out of your way to visit. To be honest once you have seen one, you have seen them all. I ate in one and I found that the food is the usual bland pub fare.
Unique Suggestions: The Union Old Oyster House makes the claim of being the oldest restaurant in America.
Fun Alternatives: The area between Union and Blackstone Street is known as the Blackstone Block. It is full of buildings dating from the 18th century and is worth wandering through as you proceed along the Freedom Trail but just remember that the shops here are tourist traps selling overpriced goods.
Good grief that dreaded scaffolding again. I thought I left it all behind in Europe. Well not exactly for because Boston is such an old city many of the architectural monuments need to be restored here too. The Park Street Church was being restored during my visit. This is not exactly why I was left feeling rather ambivalent about the church. I just did not feel that it was all that interesting architecturally speaking or in historically terms.
The church was founded in 1809 and designed to resemble a church in London built by Christopher Wren. The highlight of you visit is actually on the outside of the structure, that being the lovely 217 foot steeple. The church today is still active and the home of a conservative congregational group.
The church was suppose to be closed on Sundays but I wandered right in without being questioned. I found the interior to be rather ordinary especially when compared to some of the other churches in Boston.
These catch tourists and locals alike. You're waiting for the blue line at Government Center and are willing to pay absolutely anything for a candy bar? They'll make use of that. You're at Park Street Station and suddenly need a chapstick immediately? $2, please. You're a tourist who loves the ridiculous fiery sunglasses so much that he's willing to pay any price--any price--to have them, right now? Perfect!
Unique Suggestions: Don't buy. Just look through the stuff. Be amused. Try it on. Your train will probably come soon enough that no one will have yet asked you to leave.
Fun Alternatives: Make sure you think about what you'll need on the way. Particularly about whether you might get a bit hungry. Or just want something sweet. If so, buy it ahead of time above ground. Just because there's no sign saying "SAVE 50%" doesn't mean you're not doing it.
There seems to be a never-ending construction project within the city of Boston. From the 'Big Dig' to smaller repairs, Boston traffic is a nightmare during rush hours.
Don't be caught in a traffic!
Fun Alternatives: Take the public transportation: The Train (T) is very reliable and convenient.
Avoid all driving if you can. Even though public transport doesn't run very late (trains are done by 2am and buses don't go much later), cabs will cost you an arm and a leg even for a short trip. Cabbies I've had have tried to take me for a ride and overcharge. Also, not all of 'em know Boston very well.
Boston is not that big; you can get most places by walking, bus or "T." If you rent a car, you won't find parking and chances are you'll get it dinged up.
Unique Suggestions: If you must drive, drive out of the city. If you must take your car into the city, try to stick it in a lot, as even the most careful sign-reader will miss the fine print once in a while and end up with one of the famous neon orange City of Boston parking violation tickets.
If you have to take a cab, try to share a ride with someone else, and know where you're going (this is the case with any city you go to I guess).
Fun Alternatives: If it's late and the "T" has stopped running, keep your eyes peeled for a "Night Owl" bus. These buses follow the "T" lines, NOT the regular bus routes. Check the schedules to see where and when they go.
PS - make sure you carry change with you if you're taking the T. The fare is now $1.25. A very annoying rate indeed.
Hotel rooms in Boston are usually discounted in the off season and especially over the weekends. With a hotel room shortage in Boston, prepare in advance.
Unique Suggestions: HINT:
Reserve a room in the heart of Boston near Boston Commons for the weekend when the rates have dropped. A four star hotel over the weekend could cost less than $125 a night.
Since parking can easily cost $30 - $35, try to get a package deal, room & parking.
Fun Alternatives: Visit Maine, New Hampshire or the nearby areas such as Salem, MA and reserve a less expensive weekday room there for less than $100.
Compared this with an expensive weekday Boston hotel room which could cost over $350 a night.
Kind of corny, but a quick tour around the city is worth it I've heard. (I am speaking from local points of views). Boston is so rich in US history, that many famous monuments reside in the downtown area. It's a chance to see live what you have read in your history books. Many exist, just read the yellow pages or hop on a 'Boston tourism web site'
Dont even thibk about going to Boston without a working visa. We were told by STA travel that there was no way we could get one, when we got to Boston we found out that we would have easily got a J11 student one. We looked everywhere for work but they were really strict about visas, i eventually got a job in a liquor shop but served a miner alcohol (they are really strict with it there, he looked 25). He came back into thr shop with two police men, it was a set up. I had to pretend I had left my passport at home and basically leave the country before they issued a court summons.
Museum of Fine Arts isn't as good as it could seem from its name. It has quite poor collection, not very good location, atmosphere there aren't very friendly... But if you are a geat fan of any museums you're welcome: nothing disgusting (but also nothing to remember after as well).
Try to avoid contacting with respectable looking young men starting to talk to you in the streets. Most possibly he'll introduce himself as a poor student and will ask you for money mentioning his current financial problems. They are harmless but annoying. I've been attacked so twice...
Watch out for spending too much money. Do not spend more money than you think you have to. Watch out for street vendors who will raise their prices when dealing with people who don't appear to know what they are doing.
I lost a lot of time when trying to obtain hotel accomodations with specific flat rates advertised in the Boston's papers. If You want to try so, do it as soon the paper have been issued. In Europe that kind of advertisment is qualified as lying advertisement
Chinatown: definitely the ugliest chinatown I have ever seen - not to mention its seediness. Ok, there are some theatres with interesting shows there, but the area remains an ugly, unsafe, interesting one.
A good buy is the Childrens' Museum on Friday Evenings. I believe from 5 to 9 pm that it is $1 per person. Also, look at www.citypass.net for a coupon package to several attractions.
The Visitors Center on Boston Common is a good place to get information or assistance. They also sell unlimited Subway passes for 1 day and longer.
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