Matthew here, checking in from Boston!
I’m writing this segment of the blog from the back room of Caffe Vittoria whilst sipping a cortado and nibbling phenomenally delicate tiramisu. All the while, I’m being serenaded by Frank Sinatra and listening to the chatter of the city echoing through the cafe. Let me tell you — it’s a rough life.
Today was full of steps. We’re not talking about parts of a process here — I’m referencing footfall. At 19:25, Valeri’s phone was telling her that we had eclipsed 25,000 steps (roughly 11.5 miles) — and we still haven’t made it back to our Airbnb for the night. I’m estimating another 1,000 steps or so to get to the T Station (Haymarket is the closest right now), and then another 1,000 to get from the destination station (Back Bay) to the Airbnb — so maybe another mile or so added to our totals. I think our record is somewhere closer to 15 miles while we were abroad (you haven’t read that one yet?). We still have 13 days to beat that.
The Day’s Events
The first thing is coffee, of course. Does the day even actually start before coffee? No, I don’t think so.
Our need for caffeine this morning was serviced by the very trendy Pepita Coffee, situated on Broadway almost squarely between Columbia and Elm streets.
Valeri ordered a croissant and a latte, and I ordered an egg, bacon and cheese on a bagel, a cortado, and a cold brew for the road (it was starting to warm up already). Upon handing the drinks over to me, the barista approached with her head low and her eyes to the floor apologizing for the lackluster foam art, saying “I’m sorry, I tried to make them cute.”
After snarfing down our respective breakfasts, we took off to explore the MIT campus and Harvard Bridge.
While en route to MIT, we really started to appreciate the beauty of the city around us.
Every brick in every wall was dipped in history and seemed to have a story to tell. Plaques on a few of the buildings along the way helped satisfy some of the questions we had, but there is still so much to learn about the area, and I think it would take years to even begin to scratch the surface — and we only have 4 days.
After marveling at the grandiose buildings and art around the MIT campus, we headed toward Harvard Bridge to learn what the heck a “Smoot” was.
“There Matthew goes again — making up words to sound cool.”
I promise you, it’s real. Evidently, when MIT students get bored they find really weird ways to entertain themselves. This particular spell of boredom drove them to measure the length of a bridge by the height of one of their classmates. From what I gather, Oliver Smoot was told to lay down on the bridge so they could (using his height as the standard), measure the length of the bridge. Poor Oliver had to do this a total of 365 times. At the end of it, he and his classmates determined the bridge’s length to be 364.4 Smoots. As you walk along the bridge, you are reminded of this feat by the Smoot marks — the last of which reads “364.4 SMOOTS ± 1 EAR”.
Leave some of the brightest minds in the world to their own defenses for a little bit and they develop what basically amounts to a new, but totally useless ruler. Who really needs a solution to world hunger or a cure for cancer anyway?
After we crossed Harvard Bridge, counting the Smoots along the way, we had to make a quick pit stop at the Apple Store on Boylston, because my phone needed to be replaced.
There was nothing horribly wrong with it … other than an antiquated camera that was ruining all of the trip photos and a battery that was degrading at an alarming rate.
If you’ve been in an Apple Store, you’ll know how much of a production it all is. Minimalism to an extreme and sometimes the staff outnumber the clientele by a significant amount. At a glance, it all seems wasteful, but when you add it all up, it works. You walk away (in short order) with exactly what you want and generally with a smile on your face — even knowing you basically surrendered your entire life’s savings for a telephone so you can answer those spam calls in style. I came from the realm of the iPhone 7 and now I’m living the iPhone 12 Mini life. So far, so good … but I’m not convinced that I’ll ever get used to not having a home button. If you ever see me making angry faces as my phone or threatening to throw it out of the window, that’s likely to be the culprit.
After applying the latest beta build of iOS to my shiny new phone, we headed toward the next stop: DAKZEN.
Thai cuisine is one that I don’t think I could ever tire of. The splashes of bright color and the exciting presentation combined with the explosions of flavor keeps me coming back bite after tantalizing bite.
Today’s lunch was no different. The chef at DAKZEN is one person who absolutely knows what’s up. The soup was sensational and the dumplings were delectable … and evidently put me in the mood for alliteration. I couldn’t have been more pleased with our selection.
Next, we were back to exploring!
This time it was on to Boston Commons, Boston Public Gardens and Piers Park. While walking through the park, Valeri spotted a Funnel Cake stand and couldn’t resist … and as it turns out, the local park residents couldn’t resist a couple of nibbles of the crispy fried dough either.
Now, before you yell at me for feeding the squirrels “people food,” I want to point out that it was a tiny piece and didn’t have any sugar on it … and come on — who doesn’t love a chubby squirrel?
There isn’t anything too exciting to add about the other park areas, so I’ll just add a few photos:
Next was more food!
I know, it seems like all we do is eat … and I think maybe that is an accurate evaluation, and I’m not even upset about it — we love food. Granted, Valeri and I have different ideas about what makes food good, but we agree that food itself is a good thing to enjoy in the company of others and especially when on an adventure with others.
Today’s choice was where many of us have spent hours in the company of an accountant, a government employee, an over-educated barmaid and the ultimate “lady’s man.” I’m not sure if that was a good hint or not, so I’ll just tell you — we went to Cheers.
Now, if I’m honest, I was expecting something a bit different. From what I had read, there was a replica of the television set where you could sit at the bar in your favorite character’s preferred spot and partake of the bar’s many food offerings, which included things like the Giant Norm Burger, Ma Claven’s Soup, Carla’s Meatball Sub and Frasier’s Chicken Panini.
As it turns out, this was at a location in Faneuil Hall that has been closed since 2020 (insert the saddest of faces here). Either way, the food was good (Valeri had the Cheers Famous Cheeseburger and I had Fraiser’s Chicken Panini) and the bar was actually pretty neat. The walls were littered with sports and Cheers-related memorabilia. On the way out, we swung through the gift shop to look at all of the useless trinkets we didn’t need or have room for and, of course, we took the compulsory photo at the top of the stairs.
After our time at Cheers, we headed to where we are now: Caffe Vittoria. I pretty well covered this at the beginning of the post, so I’ll just toss a few photos here to finish things off.
Thank you again for following along with our vacation. We’re sure there are a million things you could be doing right now, but we’re honored you chose reading our blog as a way to get out of doing those other things! ;)
Tomorrow my lovely wife, Valeri, will be the sole manipulator of the keys, so brace yourself!
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“Boston is the one place in America where wealth and the knowledge of how to use it are apt to coincide.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson