June 17, 2012 – It was a perfect weekend, warm but not raining, and we decided to do a bit of exploration downtown. As a side note, Tony is now calling Boston a “town”… we’ll know we have problems when he starts saying the same about NYC.
We parked at a garage by the Boston Common and got some street food for lunch. First up was an arepa, two cornmeal cakes sandwiching melted mozzarella cheese. Tony really liked it, though Louisa wasn’t sold on the sweet corn – mild cheese combination. She preferred the Italian sausage with grilled peppers and onions that we got from another vendor. Both of us enjoyed an iced mocha from Dunkin Donuts (word of warning – this one on the Commons doesn’t have any restrooms for customers). Also who knew that a mocha was different from a mocha latte? In Dunkin Donuts land, a mocha is a coffee with chocolate syrup, while a mocha latte is an espresso with syrup and sweetened milk. So if you go with the mocha (not the latte), I’d recommend getting both milk and sugar in it. Or order one of each and combine the two.
We curved around the Commons and headed through the public garden. The rose bushes were in full bloom, and there were swan boats out on the pond. Despite the number of people enjoying the area it seemed much more peaceful than the Commons, maybe because the shade trees and little hills let people have their own private space, or maybe just because it is so much smaller than the Commons so there were fewer people. Regardless, it’s a pretty area, full of flowers and juvenile ducks happily begging for people food (which, incidentally, is bad for them… but they’re so dang cute it’s hard to resist). We continued past the gardens and curved around towards the water. We found the ampitheater where the Boston pops July 4th spectacular takes place, and decided that 100,000+ people in that area was a little too crowded for our taste. But, we did enjoy walking through the pretty park, pausing to look at the sailboats in the small wharf.
By this time we had made our way to the bridge, and ventured over towards Cambridge. Once across the bridge we realized we were a block from MIT, so we headed over to campus to explore. We found a few statues in the courtyard, and then wandered into an open building. There were a few electromagnetic labs, and an art gallery dedicated to typography and graphic design, with a focus on posters and logos.
We continued through the building and outside to a little courtyard. It was mid-afternoon, and we thought dessert sounded like a fabulous idea. So we headed over to Flour Bakery Cafe, a little bakery/cafe/coffee shop. It was packed inside, so we got a mini blueberry pie and fiery hot chocolate to go and walked back to the MIT courtyard. The pie was good with a great blueberry filling, though the crust was thicker than Louisa prefers. The hot chocolate was definitely fiery, with too much cayenne pepper to drink it all. If it was a cold winter day, this would be a perfect warming beverage. During the summer, probably not our best idea.
Louisa was less-than-impressed with the atmosphere/customer service, and thought the person behind the register could have been a bit better (a smile goes a long way), though the other workers were good. We probably wouldn’t return, as the food/drink/service were overall average at best (probably because of the large crowd). The highlight of the courtyard was a little house sparrow who insisted on hopping vertically 2-4″ as he moved throughout the grass. We made our way back to the car via Back Bay, a long stretch of tall brownstones and shaded streets. Along the way we also found the original “Cheers” bar.