Culture, nature, culinary delights or rather sports? Boston provides plenty for everyone! Flight attendant Katrin shows us the highlights of her second home.
Travel to Boston with Austrian Airlines
On March 29, 2020 we will open our new flight route to Boston. The coastal city in Massachusetts stands somewhat in the shadow of glamorous metropolises like New York or Chicago. Katrin, Junior Flight Attendant at Austrian Airlines, thinks: completely unfair! For her, the city has become a second home after a year as au pair. In this article she shows us the diversity of Boston and all the things you shouldn't miss on a trip.
Starting with summer flight schedules, Austrian Airlines will fly up to 6 times per week from Vienna to Boston.
So what's your connection to Boston?
On July 14, 2014, I stood with my suitcase at Vienna International Airport and was somewhat weepy about saying goodbye to my family – as well as being full of anticipation about spending a year as an au-pair in the U.S. I was heading to Boston. In the coastal city in the state of Massachusetts, I had found a guest family who I met through an au-pair organisation and instantly clicked with.
Boston? The other au-pairs had found their guest families in New York, California and Chicago. At first, I couldn’t really get to grips with this city and the region, so I started to research a little and my anticipation rose constantly.
In July, a month after I graduated from high school with my “Matura”, it was time: after three orientation days in New York, all the prospective au-pairs left for the cities of their guest families, either by train or plane. For me, this involved a taking a train from Penn Station in Manhattan to South Station in Boston. After about three hours on the train, travelling through the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island, I arrived late in the evening and was picked-up by my guest family. While driving through Downtown Boston and I was given a little tour of the city, past the Public Garden, so that I could get a first impression of my new home. The colourful lights of this city we drove past and the old buildings nestled amid the high-rise offices enchanted me immediately and have retained their charm for me ever since.
When is the best time to travel to Boston?
The climate of the city is changeable and characterised by its very cold and snowy winters and very hot and humid summers. Boston has some lovely beaches, which the locals love to visit for bathing in the summer. In July and August, lots of “city dwellers” spend time in their holiday homes in neighbouring states and in the country, for example on the Cape Cod peninsula or in Maine, the most north-eastern state. Cape Cod is particular well known for its long, white sandy beaches. The most attractive season is autumn, known in the north east of the USA as the “Indian Summer”. The temperatures during this season between September and November are pleasantly warm and the magnificent, colourful autumn colours of the forests are definitely worth seeing on a trip to the region and the surrounding states (New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont).
Which cultural highlights are waiting for us in Boston?
Boston was founded by English Puritans in 1630 and is one of the oldest cities in the U.S. Due to the culture and urban development that the New Englanders brought to their new city, Boston and the surrounding regions and places are definitely amongst the most European parts of the United States and, in my opinion, amongst the most beautiful, too. Many might also think of the Boston Tea Party when they think of Boston, which is considered one of the events that led to the American Revolutionary War. At this point, I would like to recommend visiting the USS Constitution (built in 1794), the second-oldest warship of the world. It is free to visit in the Charlestown district of Boston.
On the one hand, Boston is characterised by the banking and business district in the city center. On the other, there are several universities and colleges, which attract students to the city from all over the world. Perhaps the best known of these are Harvard and MIT in Cambridge. I personally had the opportunity to attend classes at Harvard for half a semester and recommend everyone takes the red subway line to Harvard Station. Here, you’ll find a bustling square with lots of cafés and restaurants within walking distance. And, of course, the famous Harvard Yard.
The Freedom Trail, a 4-kilometre “sightseeing route” is also recommended for first-time visitors. It is indicated on the ground with red bricks and other markings. The route begins in Boston Common, the oldest city park in the USA, and passes by 16 localities and buildings which “tell” the American story and those of the wars of independence. You should allow about two hours to complete the route. It also passes the Old State House, Quincy Market and Faneuil Marketplace, a hall full of food stands.
Which culinary highlights can you expect in Boston?
Boston also has a number of offerings when it comes to culinary delights. In the above-mentioned Faneuil Market Hall at Quincy Market, there are lots of tasty meals and sweet treats for on the go. If you like seafood, you should try New England’s very famous clam chowder, a creamy vegetable soup with clams, at least once. Otherwise, I would describe the cuisine as very international. In the pretty alleys of North End, food lovers can discover Italian cuisine and good coffee, as there are lots of Mediterranean restaurants and cafés with great espresso here.
The Paramount and The Friendly Toast are two of my favourite Downtown restaurants for breakfast and brunch. In the evening, head to the many bars and pubs on Boylston Street – I can particularly recommend the Parish Café. If you have a craving for chocolate, desserts and sweet treats, you should definitely stop by Max Brenner and try your luck getting a seat. For a nightcap after eating, try the Mexican Lolita Bar or Earls Kitchen & Bar in the Prudential Center.
What can nature lovers in Boston look forward to?
The Public Garden and adjoining Boston Common compete with Central Park in Manhattan. In the heart of the beautiful Public Garden, there is a small lake, where you can hire pedal boats that look like swans. The park is particularly lovely in the spring and in the region’s best season: autumn. If you’re not in a hurry or you want to take a break, you can rest on one of the numerous park benches and watch the comings and goings in the park. The extremely cheeky and plentiful squirrels are particularly famous. They run up to you trustingly and are happy to polish off a snack or two. You should exercise caution though, as the sweet little critters can bite – so it’s best not to feed them or stroke them!
From the park, it’s not far to one of the most attractive districts of the city centre – Beacon Hill. As the name suggests, this neighbourhood is located on a small hill. In an inconspicuous side street, you will find the most famous and perhaps the most photographed street in the city: Acorn Street. This narrow, little alley is characterised by its original cobblestones – one of the few lanes in Boston still to have them. Just around the core, you will find the Massachusetts State House, the seat of government for Massachusetts, which impresses with its golden dome and is well worth seeing when illuminated at night.
My final recommendation for a great place to visit is the harbour, which you can reach after a leisurely walk. This is where also the famous whale watching boat trips start. I really recommend these when the sea is calm! After a short trip on the open sea, you might get to see some humpback whales in their natural habitat, if you’re lucky. I recommend booking the tickets in advance. From the harbour, it’s about 15-20 minutes on foot to the little Fan Pier Park. In my opinion, this also offers the most appealing view of the skyline.
What can sports enthusiasts in Boston look forward to?
Sports are very important in Boston. Especially during the last few years Boston has enjoyed increasing sporting success. Whether baseball or football - the Bostonians are proud of their sports groups! This is especially evident during street parades before and after a match. Anyone who has ever experienced such a parade can immediately feel the sporting passion of the residents. Particularly popular are the Red Sox (baseball), Bruins (ice hockey), Patriots (football) or Celtics (basketball). A visit to a baseball game at Fenway Park is therefore an absolute must during a trip to Boston.
Running enthusiasts will also be delighted in Boston. The Charles River is the ideal starting point for a running route that is both exhilarating and exciting. Starting at the Boston University Bridge and continuing over the Longfellow Bridge, one can discover a lot during the route: the MIT, the Boston University or the Esplanade Playground, where one can have a short break in the green. On the third Monday in April, the Boston Marathon takes place every year. Every year, numerous running enthusiasts from all over the world come to the harbour city to participate in one of the most popular marathons in the world. The starting point is Hopkinton and the finish line is downtown Boston. The running event is accompanied by numerous spectators who give their best to motivate all runners. A party afterwards will complete the day perfectly.
Where is the best view across Boston?
The Prudential Center combines a number of things under one roof: it houses a small mall with food outlets and an office building with a skywalk on the 50thfloor, offering a 360° view of the city. Two floors up, you’ll find the Top of the Hub, a (rather expansive) restaurant with a great view of the city.
Boston has something for every taste! With lots of history, a mix of old and modern, where cobblestones meet skyscrapers, the different neighbourhoods and countless ways to spend my free time, Boston is one of the most underrated and exciting cities in the US. Thank you, Katrin, for your great insider tips for Boston! If you feel like visiting the city on the east coast, book your flight with Austrian Airlines right here: