I just got back from Boston yesterday and I had a great time hanging out with old friends and exploring both Boston and NYC. Everyone we met was incredibly helpful and friendly so despite our general lack of planning and lack of maps, we got to all the places we wanted to see.
Luckily, I didn’t get affected by the Snowpocalypse or whatever the hell they called it since they barely reopened all the airports in time for my flight. My flights did get a lot of the previously stranded travelers.
We only spent two days, Saturday and Sunday, in NYC, but the first thing we did was hit up the Lower East Side for Russ and Daughters and Katz’s. We somehow managed to miss Yonah Shimmel, but after eating a bagel with smoked salmon and a pastrami on rye (washed down with Dr. Brown’s cel-ray), we were too stuffed to contemplate more eating. We wandered about the Lower East Side and wandered somehow to the East Village. By then, we were hungry and had a light, overpriced snack at Momofuku Milk Bar.
We made it to the Met that afternoon and stayed for about 3 hours, checking out the very impressive armory collection, the modern art collection, some of the Asian arts, and their current collection on European caskets and boxes. We missed much of the impressionist and American art, which I regret, but we were dead tired after a long day of wandering about town and art fatigue was setting in. We did map out a rough plan as you suggested, Hello Again but between getting lost in the exhibits and getting sidetracked by pretty shiny art, we ended up not following any distinguishable plan anyway. The Met could easily have taken up an entire week for us, but we had other plans for the next day.
That night we were so tired, we ordered in pizza from Lazarra’s and slept like the dead. The next day, we took it easy and hit up some more touristy spots like Times Square and Rockerfeller Center. We ate at Chez Josephine and were fawned over by handsome flamboyant waiters who knew just the way to flirt with us lonely ladies. My friend spotted Magnolia’s and just had to get a cupcake there. I tried a bite and it was vaguely underwhelming. We ended our trip with some shopping and a quick view of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
We left on Monday morning, but the bus broke down on the freeway and we didn’t end up back in Boston till night time. Thankfully the rest of the Boston trip only improved from there. The Gardner Museum was my favorite museum of all the museums we visited, not only for the cantankerous security guard who couldn’t contain his ambivalence for Mrs. Gardner and told us to look for the mustache on her portrait when we passed by it, but just for the omnipresence of Isabella Gardner in every nook and cranny of the place and how wonderfully oddball she was. Her collection as well as the MFA’s collection of John Singer Sargent paintings were also incredibly diverse and comprehensive. I found that I really enjoyed his portraits quite a bit.
Other museums that we visited included the MIT Museum (more fun than I imagined) and the Harvard Natural History Museum. We stopped by Faneuil Hall (eh), spent lots of money at Commonwealth bookstore nearby, went to the Boston Public Library, and visited the site of the Boston Molasses Disaster.
On the food end, we ended up visiting quite a few of your recommendations, Motorgirl! The Publik House was amazing, and our waitress recommended the Troublette, which has now become one of my favorite beers. We also went to Helmand with their delicious, fire-oven flat bread, and The Daily Catch (one of my friend’s favorite places), where we had the squid-ink pasta and calamari. For my fancy meal of the trip, we went to Neptune Oyster where I splurged on raw oysters and a lobster roll and shared the clam chowder with some friends. We compared the cannolis from Modern and Mike’s and Mike’s richer custard won out for us. We also went to Crema Cafe (good), Flour (great), Mr. Bartley’s (eh), and L.A. Burdick’s (love the caramel latte).
Wow, I didn’t know I had so much to say! Overall, I really enjoyed the East Coast and found the public transportation convenient, the people very friendly, and the architecture incredible. I managed to not freeze my ass off and I only slipped on the ice once! Thanks again to all the New York and Boston Dopers for your great advice. I hope I can return the favor if you ever decide to visit Portland (OR) or LA.