Now back to Boston. After sleeping like a baby, a sensible wake up time, and an invigorating shower, I experienced my first American breakfast in more than four years at Mr. Dooleys, an Irish bar on Broad Street, recommended by the hotel’s concierge. I had completely forgotten what American portions meant! Fortunately, I ordered a half Irish Breakfast, which could have easily fed me, my wife, son, brother, the neighbour’s dog and our combined aunties. I just tremble to think what the ‘whole’ breakfast would look like... welcome to America.
Nutritional needs fulfilled for at least a week, I walked over to Washington Street where I took the opportunity to compare between the main mobile phones operators to see which SIM card I should purchase so I can call some dear friends I have in this country. It also makes getting hold of me from the UK cheaper (for me) rather than running up silly bills with roaming.
I then walked the remaining length of Washington St until I came to State St, continuing all the way down to Long Wharf. There I took it in turns to explore all the different wharves that have been tastefully and cleverly redeveloped.
On Central Wharf, you have the New England Aquarium. Long Wharf was, if not the, at least one of the busiest piers in the busiest port of Colonial America. Nowadays, it serves as principal terminus for cruise boats and Boston Harbour ferries. Long Wharf also holds a hotel, various restaurants, and shops.
From there, wind permitting, I just walked across Columbus Park and made my way through the backstreets that lead from Commercial St towards Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall. Quincy market is flanked by South and North Market at each side. This market was established in the XIX Century as Faneuil Hall began to grow beyond its originally intended capacity.
After perusing the different shops at both markets and visiting Faneuil Hall with all its historic stalls and buying the proverbial T-shirt, I ventured into Quincy Market. A myriad of food stall after food stall, I had to make two rounds before deciding where I was going to whet my appetite for typical Boston fare.
In the end, ‘Boston and Maine Fish Company’ stall won my heart (and wallet), and disappoint it did not. A New England Clam Chowder, a small oyster platter and a Sam Adams was enough to entice and cajole my taste buds. It was no small wonder the place heaved with punters.
After a very much needed walk back to the hotel, by which time I was starting to regret having purchased the MBTA pass, I made use of the ‘Reserve’ once again before cleansing my body and resting my feet at the hotel’s sauna.
The night ended at the Bukowski Tavern, on Dalton Street, just off Boylston Street. This pub is firmly on the list of America’s best beer bars. And all for the wrong reasons.
Its exterior appearance is seedy at best and intimidating at worst. As we arrived, a small queue was waiting to be ID checked before being allowed in. We were not required to show any, which I did not know whether to take it as a compliment or just a sad fact that Father Time is leaving his inexorable mark on me. The bouncer (security bloke) seemed very laidback and friendly anyway.
Once inside, the place is everything one can expect of a notorious watering hole. Deep rather than wide with little space between the stools at the bar and the wall, dark, heavy rock playing in the background, strangely enough not at eardrum-piercing volume, a large flat screen TV in the background showing a baseball match; Boston Red Sox against Toronto Blue Jays, and every single stool taken. Not surprisingly for a Saturday night, it was full but not crowded.
This place, proudly, irreverently and unreservedly – again for the wrong reasons – celebrate the inebriating life and work of Charles Bukowksi. Unlike any other self-respecting bar or pub, all conventional rules of social decor, behaviour and drinking habits are strongly discouraged. The beer list is long as it is interesting, the food menu is rude, unassuming, and although we only drank, I am sure the fare on offer is not the best in town, but again, you do not go to the Bukowski Tavern for its haute cuisine.
The clientele was a varied bunch, ranging from beer guzzling human tanks, to geeky statistical searching youngsters, to high ending young women in for the initial poison of their Saturday night sortie, to couples just enjoying the seedy surroundings. If you like your beer, have ever read Bukowski and are not fazed by basic, rough and loud décor, this is the place. The prices are decent, I must add, very much in line with most reasonably priced drinking holes in Boston.
The only disappointment I must stress is that the bar staff are actually very nice and friendly – not what I expected of this supposedly seedy, low-life joint.