5 Simple Joys: Boston

So … after three and a half years … I’m back? Hear me out. The faster the Internet proceeds, the more I pull back. (Age, and a general sense of contrarianism could have something to do with it.) But I still feel the pull to share, and the passion for sharing favorite spots discovered over my travels is strong as ever. In the last month, I was asked — again — when I was going to get around to my travel book. My response was something along the lines of “Does the world need another city guide book?” and I think that answer to that is a resounding NO.*

Instead, what I’d like to propose is a recurring series featuring simple joys.** The sublime snippets you remember from travels. The quiet experiences that stay with you long after the bags are unpacked and the laundry is put away and you’re back into that … routine. Embracing simple joys allows the infusion of pleasure into the ordinary. And so, I’d like to launch this series with five simple Boston joys.

1.  Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Many facets of the Gardner Museum appeal (the art, the building itself, the story of the 1990 theft of thirteen works, for starters) but as far as I’m concerned, the courtyard garden is the draw. Visit during the autumn when you can gape at the glorious chrysanthemums-on-steroids. They’re magnificent.

2.  Craigie on Main Burger

Over a recent day-trip to Provincetown, the return ferry ride was spent chatting with a group of Boston area cyclists. They were understandably food-focused, having just spent the day riding from Boston to P-town “for fun”. I decided to work them for info, and asked if they would recommend a favorite restaurant, and also, their choice for Boston’s best burger. Craigie on Main was the answer for both options. Information in hand, we arrived at Craigie on Main just before opening time (5:30 pm) and noticed a healthy queue outside (a very good sign). When the doors opened, everyone rushed to the bar. As soon as we were seated the bartender asked “Are you having the burger?”  and we immediately replied yes. Little did we know that speed was of the essence, as only 18 burgers are served each night, so it was important to stake your claim. Now you know.

3.  Bodega

In an attempt to expand my Boston circumference of confidence, I decided to wander Mass Ave after the usual Newbury Street stroll. As I walked, I noticed a shop on one of the side streets with the most unusual frontage. The windows were lined with household goods like laundry detergent and canned goods. At first glance, it appeared abandoned, but lovingly, meticulously so. Upon entering, the tiny entry space gives the sense of being in a movie-set Bodega, but then the automatic doors open which give way to the airy, of-the-moment clothing store, and you think to yourself, “brilliant”, even though you are decades past the target audience.

4.   Bar at the Beacon Hill Hotel

Never has a hotel bar felt less like a hotel bar and more like the local watering hole. The regular cast of characters tend to highlight your presence-as-sore-thumb, but after your first drink (have a Harpoon IPA), you won’t mind …

5.   Trophies under the Longfellow Bridge

So weird! So unexpected! So utterly charming! Why/who/what/all-the-questions as to the presence of an assortment of sports trophies “installed” under the bridge that connects Beacon Hill to Kendall Square. Even more so as the “exhibit” returned after a reconstruction project completed in 2018.

photos taken and edited by jane potrykus, with the exception of photo 5, found via the boston globe at twitter

*That said, I would buy one if it was appealingly packaged. Because yes, I am a sucker for good design.

**Pretty joys may follow.


  1. Jackie Rice
    November 19, 2019 / Permalink

    I love this! You always have good travel tips.

  2. Suzie
    November 22, 2019 / Permalink

    I was just wishing recently that you would change your mind and start writing again. Seems like the wishing helped! :) Thank you for this!