For a friend's birthday we decided to take a Charles River Boat Cruise. Now for any of you who were in the Northeastern US over this past Memorial Day weekend you know that it was cloudy and cold! But we decided to hope for the best and take our cruise anyway. Luckily, most of the boats are enclosed and the sun came out about halfway through the tour.
The tour starts at the Galleria Mall in Cambridgeside, goes through a canal and hits the Charles right next to the Science Museum. The tour-guide/bartender narrates the cruise which goes as far up the river as Allston.
So, you see Beacon Hill, Back Bay, the Citgo Sign, BU, the Allston area, and part of the Harvard Cambridge campus. Along the way you will hear trivial information about the signs. Sure, as a Bostonian we knew most of them but we also learned a couple of new things.
The tour took about an hour. AND.... you can get a Groupon and the take the tour for $11 as opposed to the $18 regular rate!
You may not think that this is an interesting thing to do. You may also not know quite where it is. But I'm going to tell where to go and why.
Where: Walk down JFK Street over the bridge until it becomes N Harvard Avenue. Basically, it's right there, on the left hand side. Just walk in.
Why: It's beautiful. Harvard spends a lot of money on landscaping and you can tell. It's your basic Ivy League wet dream.
If you're lucky enough to go on a Spring day you'll be rewarded by seeing the trees in bloom. Bonus!
Every May there's a huge fair in the Harvard Square area. You can find craft vendors, food vendors, street performers, musicians, chalk artists, and beer stalls, among other things to keep you entertained.
It's quite a large fair so plan on spending a few hours there if you go.
The Fogg/Busch Reisinger Museum is a lovely spot to spend a morning or afternoon. It's pretty small in comparison to other museums, but beautifully set around a Mediterranean style courtyard and right on the campus of Harvard University to which it belongs.
The Fogg's has a nice sized collection of Dutch masters, some beautiful Bernini studies and some gorgeous Rossettis. There are a few modern masters as wells whose names you'll recognize even if you're not an art buff.
The Busch Reisinger which is attached to the Fogg is set in a modern structure and filled with mainly art to match - modern. And, like the Fogg, you'll recognize some names. Promise.
BUT... this museum is closing on June 30, 2008 for a 5 year restoration project. The collection will be moved to the Sackler museum (up the street) but if you can, go see this beautiful museum in it's current home.
More a neighborhood than just a square, Harvard Square is centered on the intersection of John F. Kennedy Street and Massachusetts Avenue. It's an eclectic neighborhood, featuring restaurants that range from the very cheap to the very expensive, lots of little funky shops, selling clothes, jewelry, music, and books, little parks and meeting places, folks playing speed chess for money, and historical artifacts and monuments. Often, when the weather is warm, you will find live (and free) music dotting the little corners and parks in the Square....we once caught Mary Lou Lords playing out in Harvard Square!
Parking can be a little tight. There is a parkade acress from the Charles Hotel. The metered on-street parking near Memorial Hall fills up pretty quickly. Your other option may be to take the T into the Square.
Cambridge and Boston are becoming very popular with Hollywood. Celebrity sightings are fairly common (although many Bostonians aren't impressed by fame) Still it is kind of cool to see how a movie is filmed on location.
When we were there in October, 2009 We saw Ben Affleck (ugh) filming. Tom Cruise and cameron Diaz were also in town filming as well.
Harvard University is the oldest university in North America, and is reputed to have the best university library on the continent. The institution is world famous for its various programs, as well as the incredible network of alumni and alumnae who are the cream of the global élite. The school is also famous for its inclusion in the Ivy League, which, despite popular belief, is not an academic club but a varsity sports one. The Harvard campus and surrounding area is a rather interesting microcosm of American academic life, not least because of the incredibly high percentage of foreign students. You are guaranteed to hear every major European and Asian language spoken on campus, and there are occasional protests in support of or in oppositon to various régimes around the world. Despite the global nature of the student pool, the campus grounds (and, yes, even the students) still have the look of a typical American college. Varsity sweatshirts, flipflops, shorts in 10 degree weather and baseball caps are all very much favoured by both men and women, and half the people you see are likely to be wearing something with the Harvard emblem emblazened on it. It's fun for a half-day or day, but after a while it can get a bit much; you'd be well advised to duck into one of the many museums for an hour or two.
The Harvard Museum of Natural History is a delight for anyone who might be interested in museums of this type. I was never really big into biology or geology, so there wasn't much specially interest for me, but it was nevertheless impressive for its huge collection of minerals, stuffed animals and plant specimens. The hall with various mammals and fish that have been stuffed and preserved are sure to impress any child - especially the larger mammals like the lions and tigers. There is also a small but interesting exhibit on climate change and global warming, as well as a section that is devoted to insects and also to bacteria. Sometimes natural history museums don't like to concentrate on the species that are less photogenic, but that's certainly not the case when it comes to the museum at Harvard. The crown jewel of the institution, however, is its collection of glass plants. That may seem odd, and indeed it really does require seeing the exhibit to believe it. The Museum has row after row of cases filled with various species of plant crafted entirely from glass. They are so life-like that you will really wonder whether they are real or not. A father and son pain-stakingly created this entire collection, which features some of the most beautiful tropical flowers and ferns ever. Definitely worth the trip - and the rather boring walk through the mineral section!
The Peabody Museum is one of the many museums on the Harvard University campus. It is technically an ethnographic museum - I know I've railed against them in the past - but one that balances the presentation of various everyday artefacts from civilizations around the world with the more interesting task of educating visitors on the cultures and histories of these people. Of particular value is a visit the the Indian exhibit on the first floor, which highlights the aboriginal cultures of North America. There's a lot of material to explain the differences between the dozens of nations that are often lumped together under the term "Indian", as well as a narrative of the history of the Natives, the Native movement and the preservation of modern aboriginal culture. The top floor has exhibits on indigenous cultures of the Pacific region, while the second floor is devoted to the peoples of Meso- and South America, with particular attention to the Kuna people of Panama and the Maya. All of it is really well displayed and explained, which is a bonus for those with less of a less-than-expert background in these areas. Plus, admission to the Peabody also gets you admission to the Natural History Museum.
Hard to believe but tonight was the first time that I've ever been to this very well known theater, after all the time I've been in Boston. Shame on me. Well, I will just have to resolve to be a better all-around cultured person in 2009.
Went to see a wonderful, quirky and oh so entertaining show called "Aurelia's Oratory" here. As you can tell my by my description, I really enjoyed this show.
The theater is centrally located on Brattle Street, right in the midst of the Harvard campus. It's small enough for there not to be a bad seat in the house, and large enough so that you don't feel like you're packed in.