After an exhausting search for parking the night before, I had to return the car by noon before boarding the bus to New York City. Also, part of the deal that I struck for the parking spot the night before was that I have the car out of the lot by 8:00 am.
So with a car under my right foot and a few hours to spare before I had to return the car and catch the bus to New York, I decided to go explore Cambridge across the Charles River and home of Harvard. Thinking it would be a simple enough trip to make it there and back in time, I threw my backpack in the trunk and headed across. Unfortunately this day’s driving ended up being much more complicated.
Cambridge was actually very pleasant and easy to drive through. Aside from the river banks and the area directly surrounding Harvard, everything was in an easily navigable grid. And though they existed, there were only occasional one-ways. It seemed to go on forever, though, and I only had a limited time. So, after driving in a certain direction for a set amount of time, I’d turn and head into another.
Eventually, I got to Harvard Square and parked the car to get out and explore. I had been here at 13, but didn’t remember too much. Wandering into to the Harvard Yard through one of several gates. These old campuses can certainly be sites to behold, small walled citadels in themselves sometimes. Unfortunately, there was not much going on in the Yard as I was hoping there would be. After deciding that I wouldn’t have enough time to look around inside any of the buildings, I returned out another gate into Harvard Square.
Harvard Square certainly has the best factors of Cambridge to it. The city is a subtly cultural place, unlike the palpable sort of cosmopolitanism in Boston proper. Overall, it just seems like a nice, relaxed place.
Winding up the last of my time, I stopped into a Square gift shop to pick up a couple post cards and a Monster energy drink (very early morning), then returned to the VW to take the car back to the Prudential Center.
Problem is, that isn’t how it went. I crossed the River in order to loop through the Boston University Campus. Unfortunately, I hadn’t known about some sort of massive walk that was going on from the city center all along the Charles River, effectively creating a solid wall of impassable pedestrians for several kilometers right in the path of where I had to go to.
This all meant that I certainly got my loops through the BU campus, zigzagging down any path I thought could lead me past the walk onto the road I needed. After 45 minutes of trying this, I was beginning to think that I’d miss my deadline and my bus. Eventually, I found a cop blocking traffic and made my case to him hoping he could let me through, or at the very least point me in the right direction.
Finally with his help, I made it back to the Prudential Center, returned the car and headed to the Central Terminal via the subway. Boarded the bus to New York with a familiar face, an New Zealander named Nate from HI Boston.
So the lesson I learned from 2 days of driving in Boston: it’s a trade-off and completely up to how much you’re willing to deal with. Unknown loops because of one-ways and construction, inability to find parking because of previously unknown laws, and completely unforeseen and ridiculous obstacles like a 10 kilometer wall of pedestrians. On the other hand, it can take you to places you might not otherwise get to go.