With time running out on the nice weather in these parts, I seized yesterday to accomplish something my husband and I have been wanting to do for a little while.
Earlier this summer — the same day I rode my bike to Lexington, actually — Rick walked to Quincy. From Somerville. Why? We have some friends who recently moved to Quincy, and they told us about an ice cream parlor that had an eight-scoop challenge. I told Rick the only way I would let him participate would be if he walked there. I said this somewhat facetiously — an impossible condition, I thought, that more or less amounted to a “no way” — but Rick decided to take up the challenge. And he did it — hoofing it all the way to Quincy, eating an ungodly amount of ice cream with our friend, and succeeding in not horking it up afterward.
On his walk, he went through Fields Corner and noted all of the tasty looking Vietnamese restaurants there. Indeed, I had eaten at one of them when my friend Katy and I went on urban expedition through parts of Dorchester. We quickly decided that we would reprise part of the walk at a later date, with the goal of having a tasty lunch at Fields Corner.
After that point, however, the weekends always found themselves filled up quickly, and here we were entering mid-September. With a sunny forecast and projected highs in the low 70s, we decided we should do the walk yesterday — after all, being New England, we could descend irretrievably into autumn by tomorrow.
It turned out to be a great call. We charted the course — 7.5 miles — and set out on our way. We went through Union Square and cut through some nice looking east Cambridge neighborhoods before exiting onto Mass. Ave at MIT. We crossed the river — one of my favorite things to do in the city, it never gets old — and trundled past the commotion of Comm. Ave, Newbury and Boylston Streets. We took a brief sidetrack to view the reflecting pool at the Christian Science center — another Boston locale that never gets old to me.
Once we got to the Mass. Ave T station, I was in heretofore uncharted territory (on foot, at least). I was reminded of how much I need to do a thorough wandering of the South End, not only by walking past the delightful brownstones but by rediscovering the garden area just behind the eastern entrance of the Mass. Ave. T station. I don’t even know what it’s called, but I’d been through it only once once, and by total accident at that. I hadn’t even known how to find it again, but now that I have, I must return post haste.
As we continued walking down Mass. Ave, we observed the gradual transformation of the city from the hectic retail corners along Boylston and Newbury Streets to the tony South End brownstones to the less stylized areas around Boston Medical Center.
Once you cross Melnea Cass Blvd., though, it’s like an entirely different city. We entered the Newmarket district and the sidewalk crumbled beneath our feet. Stores and apartment buildings were replaced with loading docks and other outlets of urban industry. In the middle of the somewhat drab landscape, however, were two intriguing eateries,Victoria’s Diner and The Hen House, that we’ll have to come back to try.
We soon approached the South Bay Center, which always seems out of place to me with its big box outposts, its Applebee’s and Olive Garden. From there, Columbia Road was just up ahead, and imagine my surprise to see a giant pear right at the intersection. It turns out that the pear sculpture was erected two years earlier to mark the completion of a 12-year turnaround for Edward Everett Square.
As we hooked onto East Cottage Street, we wound our way through a very charming Dorchester neighborhood — I would presume we were technically in Savin Hill? As we exited out onto Dot Ave, we took in the diversity of the stores and the people around us. By this time, hunger and the desire for a good sit were really settling in. We’d been staying hydrated with our water bottles, but we were ready for a good rest.
Luckily, we soon discovered Pho So, where we had delicious fresh spring rolls, seafood pho (him), vermicelli with pasted shrimp and grilled pork (me) and the most amazing watermelon smoothies ever (they pretty much tasted like someone had thrown a watermelon in a blender — and that is in no way a complaint). As we took a load off, filled our bellies and listened to the football games on TV, we felt delightfully content. In one Sunday afternoon, we had taken a long healthy walk, seen a cross section of our amazing city and eaten a delicious meal. For one of the last nice days of the year, I can’t think of a finer way to have spent it.