Sunday, June 14, 2015

Welcoming Boston

Boston knows how to make people feel welcome. A free ride from the airport and free Charlie card for public transport is a way of city saying: Come, let me show you around.

Boston

Boston is a city that is very much alive. But unlike New York, it breathes a relaxed atmosphere. City's parks, benches and squares are full of people taking their time to appreciate life. And the city gives much to appreciate too.

1. History & Architecture

Chillaxing in the city

To start with, the city has a refreshing educational approach to history, so don't be surprised if you find monuments accompanied by historical explanations of events and its context. Many critical stances towards own history make it clear that a city of Boston is aware there is more than one story to it. Having Cambridge just around the corner, this probably isn't just a coincidence.

Those who appreciate it will want to explore at least few stops of Boston's the revolutionary tour and background Boston Tea Party and other events that led to American declaration of independence. And while you're at it, take few minutes to experience the New England holocaust memorial. It's an incredible experience that lives a strong impression and gives even more food for thought.

Boston's buildings are something special too. Some were made to reflect the city and others perhaps to create a cubist painting. When it comes to history, culture, food and people, Boston seems to have it all.

Copley square, Boston
MIT Boston
2. Food

Foodies have much to choose from: be it local seafood specialties like clam chowder, creative new American cuisine or Italian cuisine, the food in Boston is great. If you're not sure where to start, Quincy market a great place to try out different local specialties for reasonable prices.

For bigger appetite, restaurant Hillstone has the best tomato soup I ever ate and really great new American dishes that will linger in your mouth and mind still long after you've left Boston.

Hot fudge sundae @ Hillstone

Salmon steak @ Hillstone
Seafood lovers will not want to miss delicacies of Atlantic Fish Co. Make sure to reserve a seat and try their awarded clam chowder soup in bread. It was so good I still can't get it out of my mind.

3. Culture

Boston wants its people to enjoy the culture and art, so most of museum are free to access one day a week.  If you can only see only one of them, then go for MFA. Their collection is big, great and inspiring. It's free to visit every Wednesday from 16:00 to 22:00, still 6 hours will only be enough to see a small part of what it has to offer.

Harvard and MIT campuses have publically accessible art pieces and exhibitions that are well worth seeing. Plus, from the side of Cambridge you can catch a totally amazing view of the city. And if you're into books (and you took an extra suitcase), visit the Harvard bookstore. The only problem there is you might not want to ever leave.

Boston view from Cambridge
It's easy to fall in love with Boston, it's welcoming atmosphere and it's deep dive into the culture, art and history. But most of all Boston is a city that cares. Maybe that's why it's so hard to leave it behind.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Charming Chicago

Chicago is the city of art with a special charm. Whether is big names like Picasso, MirĂ³, great libraries, nice parks or local specialties like deep dish pizza, Chicago has it all. The misty atmosphere just adds to its charm. Spoiler alert: you won't get tanned.

Chicago by day
Chicago by night
Start of the route 66
The good thing about Chicago is that you can just walk around and discover artworks made by famous artists, like these:

Pablo Picasso: Untitled
Joan MirĂ³: The sun, the moon and one star 
Dubuffet : Monument with the standing beast
alias Snoopy in a blender
My favorite piece though is by Anish Kapoor. It's not that hard to understand why this piece attracts so much attention and is so popular among people.  Cloud Gate is basically a giant bean that mirrors the city, almost as if it was telling its story.

Anish Kapoor: Cloud Gate

Apart from a big amount of publically accessible art, Chicago's Art Institute and Contemporary Art Museum are real treats for art lovers. The Art institute has a good overview of American and European art with interesting exhibition while Contemporary Art Museum was one of the best ones I've seen. Inspiring artworks, creative and fresh approaches are backed by interesting explanations of the context.

Book lovers might want to check Chicago public library. It features many cool events and is set in a beautiful building, definitely worth seeing.

It's impossible to leave the city without trying their famous deep dish pizza. We tried the one at LouMalnati's but heard many good things about Giordano's. In fact several places in the city claim to theirs is the best and have some difficulties agreeing on who invented it. So you might just need to try them all and make up for youself.

Deep dish pizza

There is something special about Chicago. I am not sure if it's the art, the food or the people, but I know I would like to see it again. Till we meet...