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A fresh look at Boston through a tourist's eyes

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She was on her first visit to Boston - to the United States, in fact -- and was commenting favorably to her husband on just about everything the city had to offer, including the syrup-smothered french toast in front of her.

I had taken up a seat alongside the two tourists at Zeke's breakfast counter and we quickly struck up a friendly conversation about Boston and things Bostonian. After all this was the city's Jubilee year -- the 350th since its founding!

But within minutes I was being gently scolded. "I believe you don't know Boston as well as I do," she chided, "and I've only been here for a weekend!"

Her husband was an engineer whose business contacts frequently brought him to New York. But Boston quickly became his "weekend town." So it was automatic, when his wife accompanied him on this occasion, that he should show her Boston at the first available opportunity. She appeared to be nothing short of delighted. New York was just another city to her; Boston was something else.

"Why it's beautiful," she enthused. "It's a wonderful walking city; so much to see in such a small area. The students [she was surprised at the number of colleges in Boston] give it vitality; the quaint streets [they reminded her of European cities] have such a fascinating variety of shops and restaurants. There's history around every corner, too [she had walked the Freedom Trail]."

She would have continued but there's a limit to how far you can stretch a French toast and bacon breakfast. "I must get Lars to bring me again," she added as they rose to go.

Lars (his was the only name dropped in conversation), added one piece of advice at this juncture: "Perhaps your trouble is that you live here. Try looking at Boston through a tourist's eyes. You might get a totally different perspective."

It was a great idea, so my wife and I booked in at a downtown Boston hotel to become weekend tourists in our own backyard. Come to think of it, didn't Will Rogers describe Boston as one of four "unique" US cities?


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