Spots & sweet stuff you may have missed while you were in Boston

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

BOSTON may be a small city but has lots of tales to tell. The good thing about this “small” place is it that the areas of interest are navigable by foot. If you find yourself in the center of town, you are pretty much at the center of history which you can navigate on foot— the famous Freedom Trail is a four kilometer trek across town that will take you to 16 of Boston’s most important historical sites which you can tour (some spots will charge for entrance) and maybe if you’re on your own, sway from the trail’s red path and explore the areas that catches your fancy and head back to the trail.

One of the interesting spots that will let your stray from the red trail is the New England Holocaust Memorial, a memorial dedicated to the Jews who perished in the Holocaust. Designed by Staowitz and erected in 1995, the a six-glass tower memorial symbolizes the six major extermination camps, six million Jews (one million per column) who were killed in the Holocaust in the six years that the mass extermination took place. On the inner walls are inscriptions of the quotes from the survivors of each camp.
The Duck Tour, which pretty much a sight-seeing tour of the major sites, the Freedom Trail buildings included, and cruise the Charles River for a view of the city skyline, can show you more places in a little more than an hour. It’s a more relaxed alternative to walking but confines you in a vehicle. Now where is the fun in that?

If you ask me, I’d rather walk and explore at my own pace and explore the nooks and crannies that hold surprises, or take longer on deciding if I want to purchase I have my eye on, which was happened along Newbury Street, a mile long high-end shopping and dining street built into historic 19th-century brownstones. It is said to be one of the most expensive streets in the world. That wasn’t a problem for me since I was just walking through (and drooling).


But did you know that this street was where my university’s namesake (initials only) used to be located? The scientific, engineering, and technological education and research institution of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (my school was MIT as well- Mapua Institute of Technology), founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the US, used to be in Newbury but was moved to Cambridge. Of course, I had to check out the place where my school’s initials somehow took after. The place is huge!

Of course, one should not miss checking out the Ivy Leaguers in the other school, the Harvard University. The private school is the oldest institution of higher learning in the US famous for its history, influence and wealth. It was quite interesting to tour the grounds.

On the North End of Boston is Little Italy and there you can find the first Italian cafe in Boston, Café Vittoria. The 4-level café—3 liquor bars and a cigar room called Stanza dei Sigari—is frequented by celebrities and politicians for its cappuccino and cannoli, said to be the best in the city (I should have tried it).

What I was able to try is this 50-year old Italian bakery’s famous cannoli which people line up for. Mike’s Pastry is famous for its Italian treats baked fresh daily within its premises. If you ask me, I will give the crown to the profiterol and not the cannoli. As for the whole Boston Cake we bought, I’m sorry but three of us cannot even finish a slice. We should have tried a slice from the store first.

From Italy we hopped to the Middle East. Across town is Sofra, a name synonymous with generosity and hospitality but to me it stands for heavenly delights, the desserts at least. Though the place serves Middle Eastern dishes such as shawarma, meze and falafel, the perfectly-sweetened desserts are to die for (thanks to honey). I was able to try the highly recommended Kunefe with Spiced Syrup and the Fig and Almond Bisteeya. They were divine!

After all the walking and driving through the streets of Boston (and sneaking a peek of the Bush residence in a fancy neighborhood), Cris, my host and good friend, took me to his favorite escape—Dillon’s, a Russian steam bath and massage place. The place is not fancy but it is clean and offers a very relaxing massage therapy. It was indeed the perfect way to end a tiring day of exploring Boston.


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Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 30, 2014.


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