Posted by: sforshner | July 30, 2008

boston weekend getaway, my time as a tour guide

So I had college friends from South Jersey (Beth & Bobby) in this weekend, yes I specify because having gone to college in Philadelphia I came to learn that the north and south of New Jersey are like different states- different countries even.

Let me start from the beginning. They drove in from Jersey after work on Friday so knowing they would be getting in late, Lisa and I grabbed a bottle of wine for a quiet night of waiting. It wasn’t long before we were persuaded to head to Brighton Beer Garden (formerly Soho), where we had enough beers to remind Beth (by the time she arrived), of old times as college roommates.

The next day we walked Boston- strolled through Back Bay, the Theatre District, China Town, Government Center and then headed to the North End. When a mere minutes passed between pointing out the Theatre District and then China Town, it became apparent just how small Boston is- I kind of like that about it.

While on this “tour” we passed by the Visit the Pin Initiative, which is a campaign that involves putting 12-foot-high red pins – like the ones you might stick on a map – in spots around the city, and encouraging locals to visit them. The aim is to show Bostonians all of the fun stuff they can do here this summer and to make them proud of their city. Yvonne Abraham of the Boston Globe argues that, though this is a great idea, the locations of the pins are a bit boring:

Boston Common. Faneuil Hall (shown below). The Aquarium. Copley Square. Franklin Park Zoo. Christopher Columbus Park. City Hall Plaza.

Keeping in mind that the pins are meant for Bostonians, I agree. But then again, aren’t there times when you realize you haven’t seen any of the touristy parts of the city you live in, because you think, I live here- I will see it one day, and then you never do. Either way, she suggests some other great locations in her article that I plan to tackle in my vacationless summer.

There was a feast in the North End, St. Joseph’s, and Beth’s boyfriend Bobby, who’s mother hails from Sicily was quite impressed.

We then went down to Fenway – we took a cab, Boston isn’t that small – to meet more friends at the Bleacher Bar on 82A Landsdowne. It was my second time there. This bar is literally under the bleachers and they have a wide window that looks out onto Fenway’s outfield, the seats that are in front of this window are always packed. They also have a window in the men’s room, which also overlooks the outfield, where men can continue to watch the game while, well you know…is it sexist that women’s room has no window? I’m not going to go there.

Anyway, we had apps and drinks here and then went our separate ways to change for dinner.

We scrambled to decide on a place, and thanks to google, I found La Famiglia Giorgio on 112 Salem Street in the North End. I forgot how much of a challenge it was to get a group of eight, all coming from different directions to not only agree upon, but to arrive at the same place at the same time.

So I used my spindoctor skills to make a reservation leave my name on their preferred seating list, told everyone the “reservation” was for 7:30, after agreeing to 7:45, got my crew in a cab, hoped the others would make my fake time and ended up enjoying a delicious meal.

On a side note, I highly recommend La Famiglia Giorgio, the food was so good, it wasn’t expensive and their portions are family size, so you could make it even more of a deal if you get an appetizer and then split the meal- next time.

After dinner we packed up our family style leftovers and headed over to The Grand Canal, on Canal St., which has a HUGE deck off the back. It was my first time here. This place has wide windows that open to the street in the summer time, televisions that constantly play surfing and other extreme sports and even these weird fans, which I did think were pretty cool.

On another side note, has anyone else noticed that certain bars in Boston are starting to resemble those in San Diego? All chilled out, all the surfing videos? Maybe it’s just because I just went to San Diego for the first time recently and made an observation that every bar and restaurant displays surfing, and now even when I see it infrequently on the East Coast, it seems like a lot.

Here, we listened to the live music of Fast Times, a Malden-based ’80s cover band. They played old school music, but not the kind you expect, the kind you hear and think, oh my god I forgot that song existed!

I recommend them as well.

The next morning, everyone graciously trekked to the metrowest, where we enjoyed brunch at Mel’s Commonwealth Cafe in Wayland.



  1. You make me wish I’d spent more time in Boston while I was an East Coaster!

  2. I went to the bleacher bar for my first time last night. So cool! And I went to the grand canal deck for the first time a couple weels ago…def males it a better bar. I’ve heard fab things about la famiglia-love the north end!

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