Thursday, August 8, 2013

Four Cities in Four Weeks

I'm ending a month in which I will have visited four significant cities in just four weeks. Some thoughts on them:

Boston was the focus of a long weekend with some friends from high school. We made a pilgrimage to Fenway, which was worthwhile (though I don't think I need to see a game there again . . . in fact, I'm more interested in seeing another game at the new Mets park, Citi Field). My impression of Boston on this trip was more favorable than my first brief forays years ago. The downtown is remarkably walkable, and I remember often seeing destinations on maps that proved to be closer than they appeared. The transit in the city is very easy to use, though it seems antiquated and can get crowded. The heritage areas meant a lot to me having taught AP U.S. History now for so long. The Freedom Trail proved to be a wonderful way to see the town, and I had the chance to jog along it two of the mornings I was up there.

We called Montreal our home for a week on our family vacation. Of all the cities we have visited like this (Montreal is our sixth, following Washington, Chicago, Toronto, New York, and San Francisco) it is the one that most beguiled me. I had a more challenging time finding range on it than other cities: it seemed like most of our stops had a small hitch associated with them. Also, I saw nothing there that wowed me like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco did, or which the skyscrapers of Chicago and New York did. But I was taken back by the diverse neighborhoods, the great options of where to eat, and the ease with which one could explore on foot or bike. It was also a remarkably easy city to drive, though a frustrating one in which to park.

Ottawa was a stop on our way home. Okay, it wasn't on the way home, it was more of a detour. This city surprised me, and I'm very eager to get back to it. It seemed as if every destination we went there, and we only went to two, had much more to offer than expected. It was somewhat quiet, and it felt to be a much smaller scale than Montreal. The area surrounding Parliament was quaint and meaningful, but it wasn't oppressively large like the areas around our Capitol and White House can be. It offers a sense of humble majesty, if there can be such a thing.

And this weekend I return to Philadelphia, the city that has been around my corner nearly my entire life. On a brief anniversary trip, my wife and I overnighted in Philadelphia and swore we needed to do it again. We almost forgot to do so on this, our fourteenth anniversary. I'm sure on Saturday morning, I'll be realizing why we needed to be back there again.

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