Saturday, October 13, 2007

from Boston: ocean air

The title of this post may be a little perplexing as I went nowhere near the ocean yesterday. But I’m referring here to this Ocean.

I am asked: do I like Boston? And I answer: I have always liked Boston.

Oh, I hear the arguments: Stiff. Snooty. Expensive. Crazy traffic issues.

But since the first time I set foot here as a kid and even before that, when reading about it, seeing pictures of it, I felt that to the visitor (of European birth), Boston is kind. And indeed, if you ask others who, like me, feel the tug of their native continent, they, too, will tell you they like Boston. (And California, but that’s a separate post.)

There is the North End – that’s an obvious. Italian communities in the States make Italians feel at home. Big deal.

But Boston has, on full display, its history and it’s a history that’s long enough and architectually satisfying, to satisfy even a finicky European who likes to brag that her own country’s past extends over a period of more than 1000 years.

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And Boston has good parks. So does New York, of course, but then Europeans do not dislike New York (nor D.C. – for its wide boulevards. Like home!).

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And it has people out and about, and good coffee is easy to come by.

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And the food? They’ve been cranking out good seafood and creamy desserts since the first boat of immigrants hit the shore and decided it’s time to put a cup of real pastry in an American’s hands. Boston cream pie was born here, was it not? And how about this lemon soufflĂ© tart!

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We spent the late afternoon and evening strolling. And that’s the beauty here: you can stroll in this city without being trampled over by the rush of pedestrians trying to get through on narrow sidewalks (eg New York, Lexington Avenue, at rush hour).

The sun is setting, and the sky's a crazy mix of gray, blue, orange and pink. Beautiful place. Manageable too. I’m a fan.

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The Tibetan cabbie who later drove us to our eating place had moved here just seven years ago. He felt the same way – easily at home. Though I’m not sure what in Boston reminds him of Tibet. It seems a stretch to me.