Friday, July 04, 2008

beantown and la belle province 3: morning in cambridge

Level 5 Sign
Day three of the trip began with a leisurely drive to Alewife T station to drop off the car. Everything was smooth until I reached the station, when construction and a closed ramp forced me to circle twice before I was able to enter. Figuring out where to park was an adventure, as most of the deck was marked with signs indicating that any vehicles left after 7 p.m. would be towed. Since I wasn't sure when I would return I looked for areas without these signs, which brought me to the top.

Boston Skyline from Alefwife T Station
The upside was a lovely view of trees gradually giving way to the city skyline.

Spacing recently posted an article on Boston's transit system. The CharlieCard system (reloadable smart cards) is a massive improvement over previous frustrations figuring out which fare was the correct one. Among of the distractions of the Red Line was a flip book-style ad for Nestle Quik on the tunnel walls during a long stretch between stations.

Comrade Presley
I hopped off the subway near MIT and wandered west along Massachusetts Avenue into the heart of Cambridge. Along the way I encountered the eastern bloc version of Elvis.

I soon discovered there are many friendly young people along Massachusetts Avenue eager to ask you for your time. You know the canvassers for Sick Kids that plagu...fill the streets of Toronto? Imagine encountering similar pairings for five blocks in a row. First up was Greenpeace, followed by a charity. The third corner produced diehard supporters of perennial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche, then a Ron Paul canvasser (I've now cursed myself for an avalanche of site hits from either man's followers - yeehah!). By the time I encountered a second batch of binder-wielding Greenpeace reps, I was tempted to test out my imitation of Robert Stack's airport terminal run in Airplane!

Dodging all the canvassers builds one's appetite, so after a pitstop at Harvard Book Store, it was time to find chow.

Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage (1) Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage (2)
Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage (4)
I timed my arrival at Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage perfectly, snagging a chair before the line wound its way down the block. Bric-a-brac lined the walls, from a scoreboard to keep track of the latest Red Sox game inning-by-inning to posters showing an "education victim". Large communal tables filled the middle, to the obvious discomfort of some - a man in business suit across from me appeared perturbed by either the happy college-age group next to us or the book of randomly found love letters I had picked up next door.

I started with a chocolate frappe, a creamy, rich but not sickly shake which was among the most satisfying I've ever had. Eschewing the burgers with cutesy names, I ordered a plain burger with mushrooms. The patty reminded me of those Mom used to make, thick and juicy.

After dodging more Greenpeace canvassers, it was time to head into downtown the meantime, check out the full set of trip pictures.

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