After a solid week of meetings and conferences in both Texas and Connecticut, I finally had a few hours downtime when I arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, to catch my flight home to the UK. I had bought an open-jaw ticket resulting in me entering and leaving the United States at two different locations. This was partly because my meetings started in the south west of the States and finished on the east coast, but it was also because it was much cheaper to go Premium Economy this way.
The added bonus was that I would have a night and a few hours the next morning before by homeward flight, allowing me to explore Boston, a city that I have often seen in the movies or TV shows but had never visited myself. Perhaps a few hours is not really enough, but I’ll take what I am given, and at the end of the day this is like a free bonus anyway. I am saving the company money by spending a little time in this city, rather than trying to fly back the night before.
Unlike many American cities, Boston has a history that can at least attempt to contend with European settlements. Founded in 1630, Boston was pivotal both in the early colonisation of continental America, and the subsequent battle for independence. The city remains a hotbed of free thinking, being just across the river from both Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
I arrived in Boston after taking the train from Connecticut and proceeded to walk to my hotel on the edge of the China Town district. It was late on Friday night and my flight did not leave until the next day, so I hoped to drop my bags in the hotel room and then find somewhere to eat. I would save the main exploring for Saturday morning before heading to the airport. There was no possibility of my getting a flight out the same night as travelling from my working location, so this was an exciting opportunity to explore a new city.
My initial impression of the Marriott Courtyard hotel was good. It was located in an old building that had been refurbished and the reception staff were very welcoming. It turned out to be next to a few theatres and later I did regret the choice of hotel as the weekend party guests came in late. Unfortunately I could hear the next room’s conversation through the wall.
Waking up early the next day (after only a few hours sleep), I decided to skip the hotel breakfast and started exploring the city. I checked out of the hotel and dropped my bags with the doorman who gave me a ticket and put the bag in a secure room. This saved me from having to carry anything with me as I traipsed around the city.
It was a cold February so I was glad to have gloves and a hat. I walked north to Boston Common. This is a local park that appears to attract dog walkers, runners, and political protests. It had a relaxed feel and as I said earlier, the whole of Boston appears to be open to free thinking. My plan was to walk to either Harvard or MIT and have a quick look around. Looking at the map it was a little easier to trek over to MIT so I chose that over Harvard. Also, my background is in technology so I thought it may be a bit more interesting.
The walk to MIT took be along some really beautiful tree-lined residential streets in the Back Bay district. Then it was a right turn to go over a very long bridge across to the county of Cambridge where MIT is located. Oddly this bridge is called Harvard bridge, even though it leads directly to the main site of MIT. Harvard University is further up the river and has other bridges closer to it.
Walking around the outside of MIT was exciting, and I allowed my mind to wander, imagining that I was a student at this famous institution. I preceded to the MIT museum were I found exhibitions on robotics, ships and sailing, and camera technology. I was fascinated, but you would probably have to be a bit of a technology geek like me to get the most out of it. One of the things I like about going to exhibitions like this is that it can sometimes give me ideas to use in business – perhaps a robotic feedback feature may appear in one of our machines in the future :-).
A couple of hours at MIT were all that I could spare if I was to see any more of the city of Boston. So a fast walk back along the river found be approaching the CBD, crossing at Longfellow Bridge and then heading to the Waterfront district.
Boston city have spent millions redeveloping the Waterfront district, and it really shows. Roads have been buried in tunnels and large areas have been pedestrianised. This area is also dripping with a shared British and American history. The location of the Boston Massacre is still preserved and the memorial sign was a good reminder that this was a crime against fellow citizens that just wanted to protest – they were British subjects (America as a country was not yet formed), yet British soldiers opened fire on them.
The Quincy Market was a recommendation from work colleagues and it did not disappoint. I would equate it to something similar to Covent Garden in London with lots of performers on the streets outside. Inside the Quincy Market building there was a plethora of food stalls serving dishes from around the world. Being a coastal city there was lots of fresh seafood ready to eat.
At this point I was certainly running a little out of time, but I was determined to see the harbour itself. Only a short walk from Quincy Market was the waterfront itself. The city has created a lovely walking path along the banks of the inlet from the sea. This route took me along past a couple of federal and office buildings and then to some historic storehouses. I also walked past the Boston Tea Party museum where they had a replica of a historic ship and had actors pretending to through tea crates overboard. For anyone who doesn’t know their Boston history, the Boston Tea Party was a protest against an increase in taxes from the British Crown over tea landing in Boston. It was also instrumental in the move towards American independence.
In the distance I could see planes taking off from the airport, so this was a good reminder that I should head back to the hotel to collect my bags. 30 minutes later, after tipping the doorman for looking after my bags, I was in an Uber on the way to Boston Logan International Airport.
My time in Boston was certainly short, but I really enjoyed having a look around. Not only have I visited some interesting places, I have also managed to learn more about American history. When I next spoke to my colleagues in the Connecticut office they were keen to hear about what I thought of Boston and it really helped us to bond some more. All of this and it did not cost me anything and I am saving company money by my opting for a cheaper flight combination.