Friday, July 31, 2009

First Day in Boston

Tuesday (June 30) was our first full day in Boston, which meant it was our first and only chance to begin finding our way around the city (in car and on foot), before the Reformation 500 began.

Bob showing us John Winthrop's grave

The grave of John Hancock

A typical Boston intersection. That pink thing is called a "Duck Boat." Passengers enjoy a tour of the city, and of the Charles river in the same vehicle (it's amphibious).

A statue of Ben Franklin in front of the Old State House

The previous evening (June 29) we flew into Logan Airport and immediately after loading up our luggage into the rental van, Josh said, "alright Ben, you're driving!" This made me very nervous. First of all you have to realize that I hate driving downtown (anywhere!), and secondly I hadn't driven a 15-passenger van for quite a few months.

And, after all, this is Boston. People don't drive normal here. Regardless of the size of his vehicle, the Bostonian will do absolutely whatever it takes to get where he's trying to go, even if that means picking a fight with a vehicle three times his size. It's kind of like a wolverine facing off with a Kodiac Grizzly.

What's worse, Boston is one of those old "cow trail" cities. The streets just don't make any sense! Once you leave the safety zone around the Boston Commons, you have entered dangerous waters. One way streets don't alternate like you'd expect - many times they all go THE SAME DIRECTION! By now you're probably asking, "why don't you use a map?" or "where's your GPS?" Well, GPS is not a great solution in Boston, because it doesn't get very good reception due to the tall buildings, and it's easily confused by the one way streets and the spontaneous food and craft markets which will often block off an entire street. The driver has to remain very confident and cool in order to rationally compensate for the GPS' deficiencies, and still find the way to his destination. As for maps - you can't consult a map while you're driving because you will probably hit a pedestrian or cream the car in front of you, and you can't pull over because, well, you just can't pull over.

I could recount a number of personal stories about driving in Boston, but most of those will never be published. Just be warned, if you want to visit Boston, plan to GO ON FOOT (or take a cab), unless you like getting lost for an hour 1.5 miles from your hotel, pay a king's ransom on toll roads when you do get lost, and risk missing out on some of the best historical sites on the east coast because your van is stuck in a lonely, dark kuldesack with barely any room to turn around (don't ask...).

Other than that, Boston is great!


Noah said...

Process for navigating Boston:
1. Ignore the GPS.
2. Get a good map like the had at the registration desk.
3. Plan your route before you leave Point A & B.
4. Only choose routes you know well - shortcuts are a really bad idea.
5. Get a local who happens to be a conference speaker in your van.

When driving you must be...
A. Decisive (Politically correct word for gutsy, aggressive, and/or foreign exchange student from a commercial driving school)
B. Patient (Willing to go with the flow.)

In Christ Alone said...

* laughs *

I heard about some of your driving experiences there. . . poor you. =P

Btw, your readers would probably like a post about now. Of course, it's "only" been 4 weeks. . . ;)