For those of us with nomadic genes, even a small change in scenery brings salve to the sore soul. New England is different enough from Pennsylvania to do the trick.
We arrived in Boston late at night, and she appeared before us as a maiden draped in the veil of Charles River, bejeweled by the square lights of windows shimmering in the water.
We are staying at the Liberty Hotel, which is a great example of urban renewal. Housed in a former jail, this reincarnated structure retained enough of the original air to hint at its previous life. If in your mind’s eye you strip the lobby of the modern furniture and glass balconies, you can see the old brick as it once was – the solid walls of prison cells. Our room key has a picture of an original key used at the Charles Street jail.
I have always liked Boston. First thing about it is its intellectual energy stemming from Harvard and a multitude of other local universities. Even a tollbooth collector at the approach to the city did not look like any other tall collector. Evidently a student, he had a book in his lap.
The hotel is in Beacon Hill, the historic oldest part of town. This is where Boston’s upper crust once lived. Boston puritanical past is evident in her architecture. Very little embellishments here. Most houses are similar to each other and rather subdued. Nothing whimsical, god forbid! No one wanted to stand out too much or flaunt their wealth. With that said, it is classy and elegant, especially Louisburg Square, the green field behind a cast iron fence flanked by cobblestone and framed with stately red brick townhouses. The uniformity of style creates an architectural ensemble with distinct Bostonian flavor. This is a very pleasant neighborhood to explore.
Another cool neighborhood is North End with its Little Italy. This Little Italy seems to be the most authentic Little Italy among all the others. Its residents did not seem to have assimilated into the New World and would not look out of place among their Sicilian/Neapolitan brethren. A religious procession of several parishioners was carrying a Virgin Mary, stopping only to pin to her shroud the dollar bills donated by passer-bys. Local Mafiosi, all decked out in white suits, white shoes decorated with red appliques, and sporting slicked back greasy hair-dos were presiding over their kingdom.
We ate at a local seafood joint, Neptune Oyster, down to earth, no-nonsense, and charming at that.
Boston is a lovely city, distinct and proud, and always a pleasure to visit.


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