Notes from the Road

I’m just back from a week on the road, one of my quarterly visits to my colleagues at Yankee. Here are some notes from the road, in reverse chronological order:

  1. Flying out of Boston’s Logan Airport on Air Canada Jazz through Terminal B means that you’ll be passing through a security line that serves only 3 gates; as such it is never busy, and so, unlike other flights you might take out of Logan, you can show up for Air Canada flights a lot later. I left my hotel downtown at 9:00 a.m. for an 11:00 a.m. flight and had 60 minutes to kill at the airport once I got through security.
  2. If you’re looking for “facial tissues” in a U.S. drug store, don’t look in the “paper products” section, look in the “medical things” section. Apparently Americans consider Kleenex to be a medical device, not a paper towel offshoot.
  3. If you’re in North Boston shopping for coffee beans at Polcari’s – and, let’s face it, you really should be if you’re in Boston – don’t be off put if you show up at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday and they’re not open, even though the sign in the window says they should be. Just walk up Salem Street a few doors to Boston Common Coffee Company and have a snack and coffee and come back around 9:00 a.m. and Polcari’s will be open.
  4. The AMC Loews Boston Common is a great place to watch movies when you’re staying in central Boston – indeed it’s really the only movie theatre downtown. With 19 screens, there’s always something on, and it runs shows from late morning until after 10:00 p.m. I saw Blue Valentine (stunning tour de force) and Black Swan (over-rated shlock). The theatre is a 15 minute walk from almost anywhere in central Boston, so if you’re staying in a hotel in the Back Bay, Quincy Market or Fort Point Channel area, you can be there on the spur of the moment.
  5. As a rule I do not eat hamburgers, but UBURGER, just up the street from the Loews, makes very good burgers, and it’s open until 11:00 p.m. I became particularly fond of the Boom Burger: chipotle sauce, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and fried jalepenos.
  6. I stayed at the Parker House hotel – $95 on Priceline – and, to my surprise, really really enjoyed it. It’s a grand hotel, but not too grand to feel comfortable in. My queen-size bed was very comfortable, and the room was well-appointed and clean. Close to everything, including transit (Government Center and Park Street T stops are both only a couple of blocks away).
  7. I spent an hour in the Bob Slate store at Porter Square. It’s a stationery store without peer, and I found paper and pens there that I’ve not seen anywhere else, along with very helpful staff. If you’re a stationery junkie like me Bob Slate is a must-visit in Boston; two stores at Harvard Square along with the one I visited at Porter Square.
  8. Down Massachusetts Avenue from Bob Slate at Porter Square is Abodeon, one of my favourite stores anywhere. They sell a combination of new and “vintage” well-designed items, everything from 1950 rosewood bottle openers from Denmark to business card holders from Italy made from reconstituted leather mixed with rubber (yes, I bought one of each). It’s easy to spend an hour browsing there, and very hard to walk away without buying something.
  9. Also at Porter Square and interesting: Ward Maps, which sells antique and contemporary maps, specializing in public transit maps; Greenward, selling “eco” things, from bamboo forks to reusable mesh fruit and vegetable bags; Paper Source, which sells paper, rubber stamps and novelties (it’s not quite as much a wonderland as you think it will be, but it’s still worth a visit); and, especially, an interesting collection of small Asian food stalls inside the old Sears store that’s now home to Lesley University.
  10. If you’re traveling down Route 3 from New Hampshire to get on 128 North up to Rte. 93 south to get into Boston around supper time and find yourself stuck in traffic, or facing the prospect of getting stuck in traffic, there’s lots to see and do in Burlington, MA: the Burlington Mall has an interesting collection of higher-ends shops (Apple Store, Nordstrom, etc.) and, across the highway and one exit closer (Cambridge Street) to Boston there’s an L.L. Bean and a Border’s on Wayside. Wait out the traffic for 60 minutes and you’ll be rewarded with smooth sailing all the way into the city.
  11. The Courtyard by Marriott hotel in downtown Keene, just a year old, is almost perfect in every way: modern, clean, well-appointed, free parking, free wifi, a 5 minute walk to good coffee. I didn’t relish the daily 30 minute drive from Keene to Dublin, and I did miss the personality of the Jack Daniels Motor Inn in Peterborough, but I’m almost certain to stay there again.
  12. I’ve been eating at ChiangMai Restaurant, on 101 just west of Nashua, NH, for a long time, and it just gets better and better; I recommend it for great Thai food if you’re in the area.