At the conclusion of the first day of our 48 hours towards Beantown, we settled into our hotel over in Andover, Massachusetts. Being a teacher and chaperone in a situation like this isn’t the easiest of things. Plus, one does not simply sleep in times like these. With that being said and having a complimentary breakfast in our bellies, we were off to Cambridge for our first of many stops during the last 8 hours in the Greater Boston Area.
The first stop of the day was for a short tour of the campus of Harvard. As I noted many times during the visit, most of the students will probably never get a chance to study here. I may have sounded crude making that comment, but we must also be clear that I will never, ever qualify to take any Harvard course either. But, I must wonder if the Canadian equivalent applies.
The tour was actually quite nice. The only downfall was that it started raining quite a bit. What was funny was that the rain stopped the moment we left the inner campus of Harvard. You’ll also notice that they were setting up for their convocation ceremony. While most of us got to touch the golden shoe and hoped for good luck, the rest of us started thinking of what was next on the itinerary.
The next stop took us across the street to make some purchases at the Harvard memorabilia store and the nearby bookstore. I managed to purchase a Harvard hockey shirt. That was the moment where I realized that there were no taxes on clothing in the state of Massachusetts, something that was a popular fact with our group. But, deep in my heart, there was something that was pulling at me.
Here, you can see the sign of a very popular Cambridge burger restaurant, Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage. Since the planning for the Boston trip was underway, Mr. Bartley’s was that one place that I just had to go visit. However, the schedule was too tight and what made things slightly worse was that it was closed due to the proximity to Memorial Day. The next time I’m in Cambridge, there is no way I’m leaving without setting foot inside this well known establishment.
Our next stop was towards the Museum of Science in Boston. We were divided into three groups. Since our guide graciously volunteered to cover my group, I was able to scope out the cafeteria. Our schedule was getting really hard to keep up with, so we had to cut our lunch stop out. So, the cafeteria would have to suffice. Here’s the point where thing get a tad bit surreal.
1 1 Science Park
Visit: May 24, 2013
The Boston Museum of Science is quite the building. I really didn’t get to see much. As a matter of fact, my only view of the exhibits was when I was seeking out students to make sure they took the time to go eat.
Let me describe the situation at the museum on this faithful Friday afternoon. It was jam packed and absolutely chaotic. It was like every school in North America decided to bring their students here. What made things worse was the situation in the cafeteria. When we got our table situation settled, I left to get something to eat with a few others from our first group.
When I returned and ate, I went to see the other part of our group. Before I left for food, I noticed they had two tables. When I returned, they only had one. Normally, my students aren’t the type who would outwardly be aggressive towards people. The story they told me is that a family with small children came to the table and demanded they leave citing the fact that they need to eat. It just shows you what lengths people would go to just to get they want. I have to make it clear that this was an isolated incident and the people of Boston were always quite friendly to us during our trip.
When I speak of a cafeteria, it is what it is. While the options may be touted as beyond that, you feel like you’re back in school when you’re in this setting, which isn’t far off because you’re accompanying a field trip. The line wasn’t that long and the pace was quite brisk. I actually had the chance to see the staff prep and it looked like a well-oiled machine going to work here.
The menu consists of your various fast food options and things to tide you over. Much like the various fast food establishments that populate the world, you can get a trio for a value price.
Since everything is prepared beforehand, you pick up what you want from a large container and you plop it down on your tray.
When you’re done, you head towards a centrally located cashier zone, where you can’t help but notice all the junk for the taking. I have to admit that despite this less than appealing junk in front of you, there are some better options for lunch.
So, for under ten dollars, I was able to get a cheeseburger, onion rings, and an empty cup. I have to mention the empty cup because I became quite frustrated with the machines in this cafeteria. First of all, the soda options were not suitable for someone who swore off of them. So, I figure to myself that I would get juice. I start pouring orange juice in my cup and all of a sudden, it stops. The machine ran out. At the second machine, the same thing happens. I end up with barely a quarter of my cup filled up. I had to actually go the sugarless iced tea route to get liquids. I wasn’t proud of that.
I brought back the contents of my tray to the table to see what awaited me behind the mysterious wrapping.
Before I end the suspense about what this burger looked like, I have to mention the highlight of the meal. The onion rings were quite generous in portion and size. In a way, I was glad that I didn’t get the fries.
Well, here’s the burger. It contains cheese and that’s it. I don’t think I need to say any more about this.
The next part of the trip was probably the highlight of the entire time in Boston. At first, our group was not looking forward to the Boston Duck Tours. The students were trying to talk their way off of it and the guide would have none of it. I’m thankful she stood her ground because this was quite the experience. As you can see, I sat right behind the driver, Dirty Waters, as he guided us around the city of Boston. It’s not simply a tour where you just sit and listen, it’s highly interactive.
As Dirty Waters would drive us around the streets of Boston, he would have us quack at complete strangers just to see if anyone would quack back. It actually didn’t take us long for us to be successful. While our group was split in two, I think we won out with the best tour of them all. The best and most entertaining part of it was when he would pick on students in particular. There’s nothing like picking on the nauseous student when she’s trying to rest.
The tour took us to some of the more illustrious sites in Boston. We learned a great deal about architecture, landmarks, and Boston history in general. But, like more teenagers, this was probably what astounded them the most. This is The Fairmont Copley Plaza, or as they know it as, The Tipton Hotel. Prisons and big dig sites got no response from our students, but the main setting of the Suite Life of Zack & Cody was the most notable site we saw. By the way, someone has to tell me what that is because I got no clue whatsoever.
When the street time is over, the DUKW vehicle enters the Charles River. We spent a fair bit of time on the open sea and got to see another vantage point of the city of Boston. This was also the point where the tour guide allows the passengers to guide the boat. Since our boat was filled with students, this was the moment where I decided to jump out into the river. The fact that I don’t swim caused me to drown and I’m writing this post from the afterlife.
Seriously, the Boston Duck Tours was an incredible part of our trip to Beantown. At first, you may not want to think it’s the best thing to do, but if you find the right driver, you’ll get a kick out of it. Plus, they managed to pull me out of the river right next to the TD Garden, even after I promised to not go near it.
Before heading back to Montreal, we made a stop by the Cambridge Galleria Center to get some much needed shopping and eating out of the way. That mall was the site of my last burger in the Boston area, for now. Thanks to a whirlwind 24 hours in the area, I just can’t wait until I have another chance to visit Beantown and a chance to try some more burgers.