Fall Into Harvard Square

Oh how lovely to be out of the smoke choking the Sacramento Valley. Oh to be enjoying some rain.

I am visiting my son in Boston and it has been over 15 years since I’ve visited Cambridge, so while he worked at his office, Mid morning I rode the Red Line to Harvard Square. It was such a pleasure to walk 5 minutes from his South Boston apartment to the T-station. Then it was a 7 stops and about 30 minutes and a fraction of the cost of a Lyft ride.

I did a quick walk to stretch my legs to the old cemetery and Cambridge Commons. The brisk autumn air and orange and red leaves clinging to the tree branches were enjoyable in the light rain. As I walked back towards the Harvard yard a family of 5 asked where they might find something to eat. From the Commons they couldn’t see all of the restaurants or the Square a short walk away. I pointed them in the right direction and then we laughed when we realized we are all visiting from California.

I walked through the Harvard Yard and looked at the heart of the campus. It was chock full of tour groups. I was busy remembering my visit with my daughter Sarah when she was in middle school, and then the Gilmore Girls episode where they are visiting Harvard University (although I’m pretty sure it was filmed at Pomona College). I didn’t have much information so I mostly just gawked. I would have benefited from a more organized tour. I don’t want to take the spot of a potential student with one of the free campus tours offered by the University; however, there is also a self-guided tour you can utilize to learn more about the campus.

I made a beeline to Harvard Book Store, a robust independent bookstore. I also checked out the student center on Harvard Square while looking for a fountain soda. Students at Harvard only have healthy options. I ended up getting a slice of pizza at OTTO and then finding a fountain soda and a place to sit and rest for a minute.

One of my highlights, as a devoted gramma, was the Curious George children’s toy store. Upstairs they still have the sign for “Dewey, Cheatem and Howe” law firm made famous by NPR’s Car Talk guys.

It is only a few days before Thanksgiving so I wasn’t sure how many students to expect. Cambridge was buzzing with all sorts of people–groups of tourists, prospective students, grad students, groups of academics, and more. I weaved my way back across the yard to get a closer look at the Memorial Hall. The lobby was open but the theater and the freshman dining hall were closed. This is an awe-inspiring cathedral to higher learning with high timber ceilings and stained glass windows. The dining hall looked like the Hogwarts dining hall and I later learned that the filmmakers did use it as a model.

I started to make my way back to the train station. The train was much more crowded on the way to the Back Bay. I had to switch to the Green Line and was confused as to what stop I needed. When you are underground and there are no bars, you cannot ask Google. So I did it the old fashioned way: I asked for help from a kind young woman. She showed me how I could choose any of three lines to get to Hynes Center stop. I followed her ACROSS THE TRACKS. It felt so awkward but it was safe.

Boston is a charming city and a manageable size. I look forward to more adventures tomorrow.