Canadian Christmas

My first Canadian Winter
It is cold.... very cold! But it's also soooo beautiful :) So I think I can deal with the cold in exchange for these amazing memories. It's all a matter of the right clothing... or, better yet, layers! :D So I'm all bundled up and ready to face the -22° we have outside (Celcius that is). Lots of snow around :D

Cuddle time!
My Canadian family picked me up at the Airport in Edmonton on the 20th and we went straight to Swiss Chalet, which fit me just fine, because let's face it, their meat combo is to die for! *yuuum* I'm so happy to be back here, it's crazy :) We have a couple of new dogs on the ranch and naturally I can't stay far away from them for very long. Luckily they seemingly like me too, or maybe they just like lying around in my bed.... :D The black one is Radical and the gorgeous Border Collie in the front is Luca.

Dirt Road Dog Race
She might very well be the most adorable dog I've ever laid eyes on *I'm in love* The only "problem" with those two is that they are only 8 months old... and they have a lot of energy :) So I try to take them for a little walk and fun in the snow every now and then... Give them a good dirt road workout :D They seem to enjoy it...

In Canada, christmas is mostly celebrated on the 25th, but naturally, my family back home celebrated on the 24th. Luckily, Carolyn has 1000 free minutes for international phone calls, so I was able to call my parents in the morning while they were having their traditional family dinner. Thanks to technology, my brother then sent me a picture from back home. This might very well be the cutest picture my family ever sent me :)

Aren't they just absolutely adorable?
Can't deny that I've shed some tears upon seeing this... but luckily, I've got a family over here too who were quick to offer me comforting hugs :) Still don't know what I did to deserve not one but two loving families... *so grateful* And no they don't usually write in English... that kinda makes it even cuter :)

Carolyn and Carolin :)
For christmas, Barbara and Tim got everybody christmas PJs :) Mine have reindeer on them *yay* what can I say, they know me too well :) So we all wore our christmas PJs for our christmas breakfast on the 25th which Brian cooked for us *yum* lots of cranberries and lots of ham :)

Lavern as Santa :)
And then we dove right into our presents. The entire living room was full of them :) It took us quite a while till all the boxes were opened and presents were exchanged. My family showered me with gifts *thank you* the best one was probably the BAZINGA shirt Barbara and Tim got for me :) perfect timing! *hihihi* And then we had christmas dinner... oh my... it was SOOOO GOOOOOD The turkey alone would have me convinced, but the rest was just sooo delicious too! Brian made a sweet potatoe casserole with marshmellows *yummy* and I helped with the mashed potatoes, putting in mum's secret ingredient after Brian's idea of adding mint failed. Oh it was just absolutely delicious! Of course, everybody was pretty stuffed afterwards... but there's always room for pie! (Which is a good thing since Tim made like four different pies for christmas...) We ended up lying on the couches in the living room in varying stages of fatigue and watching DVDs :) It's good to be back!

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening...
Today (Boxing day) we went for a sleigh ride! *yay* Complete with Jingle Bells and everything! It's still freakin' cold, but who cares if you can have so much fun! The horses really dug into the snow and pulled the little sleigh through the pasture - it was beautiful :) very christmassy indeed! Afterwards, we were invited in the beautiful log home for a hot chocolate with baileys and some snacks - what a nice way of spending the afternoon! Back home I was just in time to take my first snow sunset picture! I love this place....


In Flight Entertainment :)

I'm starting to become somewhat of a flying expert :D 12 flights on this trip so far, visited 10 different airports and have now used five different airlines - I can tell you a thing or two about in flight entertainment by now :D My favorite is still Air Canada though - they are simply the best. Didn't get to fly with them this time but I have a feeling I will return to Canada, so there's always the future :D Delta was actually pretty nice too, but service-wise, I definitely preferred American Airlines. They are all so unbelieveably nice :D And they have nice planes with more leg room than Delta (or so it seemed). Anyways, the reason for this post is not so much an analysis of different airlines as it is my flight from Boston to L.A. That was by far the most amazing flight I've ever had! Why? Well, look at this!

And yes, that's a shot from the plane (I love my camera). We flew over the Rockies and over parts of New Mexico and Arizona :) It was absolutely breathtaking! I mean, look at this!!!

And the best is yet to come! Sure enough, at some point, I look down and I'm thinking "wait, isn't that..." and that's when the captain informs us that we are indeed flying over the Grand Canyon :D There wasn't a cloud on the sky, so I got to experience the Grand Canyon from 30.000 feet - PHENOMENAL!!!!

I know, technically this still means that I wasn't there, but, seriously, could I have any better view than this? I highly doubt it! :D I was virtually glued to my window for the entire flight and we we neared L.A., I actually got the panorama shot with downtown L.A. on one side and the Hollywood hills on the other - no time to get out the camera though... but at least I took a picture of the city and the Sierra in the back from my next fllight on my way to Edmonton. I'll be back there soon, so it's not like I won't have another chance for that panorama shot ;)


Bye Bye Beantown

Wow... four months have passed... feels more like five minutes :) or like a lifetime, depending on the perspective, I guess... I took off from a crazy-busy Logan Airport very early thursday morning and headed West. I know I will return one day and thanks to all this beautiful technology, I will easily keep in touch will all my newfound favorite people :D So much has happened in the past four months that it's still a little hard to wrap my head around everything. So I was happy to wrap up my time on the eastcoast by saying goodbye to everyone and everything in Boston I've come to love :).

Goodbye-week started last thursday (on the 13th) with the Write on the dot end of year event at Savin Bar&Kitchen. Coming full circle from when I first encountered the students from the master program at UMass and have read my own poetry at the open mic night, the evening was the perfect opportunity to say goodbye to my Bostonian Word nerds - and to Saving Hill in a way - and I was glad that Katie and John came out too to enjoy the show with me :) We enjoyed the metaphoria game as well as the Rum Diary cocktail :D and I introduced my fellow writer Katie to some of the MFA students. Kurt said goodbye in German and Aaron gave me another one of their journals for my word nerds in Frankfurt :) Maybe we can create some kind of writing-exchange or something :D that would be so much fun...

Friday morning, I met with Modupe at our usual location: McKenna's
Again, this felt like saying goodbye to Savin Hill in a way - enjoying Savin Hill's best locations once more before I had to leave :D NOTHING beats breakfast at McKenna's! It's sooo good! And it was nice to see Modupe again, the first friend I made at UMass, before she flew back to London for the holidays. I'm glad she found time in her very very busy PhD schedule to say goodbye :)

Saturday, I walked over to school one last time, enjoying the Harbor Walk and finally taking some pictures of the school and the waterfront before I headed into the city to say goodbye to the North End. I'll really miss my morning walk to school :) I mean, seriously, who can say they enjoy a stunning ocean view on their way to school? That might be the one thing missing from my University in Frankfurt :D
And my beloved North End *hmpf* How I will miss Haymarket, Italian Bostonians and Mike's pastries :D I finally tried that sandwich shop I wanted to find ever since I watched "What's your number" and I found it *yay* still don't think they actually shot the movie there, but oh well, close enough, isn't it?

They really do have great sandwiches at Bova's bakery by the way :D

Not even checking to verify the deadline for my Final take home, I decided to have a do-nothing-day on sunday and just stay in. The weather was yucky anyways, so it seemed like the perfect plan... yeah, the deadline was monday at noon.... probably not such a good idea after all... so monday morning, I frantically tried to finish the exam and made it just in time *phew* but I have to say, that was probably not my best work... The rest of monday was Maureen day :D We went to the Cheesecake factory for lunch (which was absolutely delicious as usual) and just hung out, both still in denial about my departure... and I still hadn't sent my bag, but somehow, I couldn't find the inspiration to think about packing too much...

Tuesday was Katie day, which was perfect since I had a LOT to discuss with my favorite UMass person ;) We hung out all afternoon and I'm sorry if I talked your ear off Katie, there was just so much to tell :D I also got to share some music with her *yay* and eventually, John decided to join us too and we went to the Venice for dinner. Oh yeah, the Venice :) another one of those Savin Hill places you HAVE TO visit! :D *yuuuum* Best Chicken Alfredo EVER! Katie and John loved it too and I managed to take a quick picture to remember them by ;) I know you guys probably hate me for uploading this, but this is exactly how I will remember you :D I love you guys! :D

Maureen had the fire going when we came back, which made me a little sentimental, I have to admit... Goodbyes are not my strong suite... So we sat by the fire for a little while longer until I absolutely couldn't stay awake any more...

Wednesday I had a more or less surprising visitor :) And so instead of making wednesday my cry-and-goodbye-day, it became Jeff Day! He had never been to Boston, so I absolutely *had to* show him around, which in turn gave me the chance to properly say goodbye to Beantown too. So I took him to all my favorite places in the city (minus cambridge - not enough time for that) We started at the North End *surprise* and made our way over Quincy Market, Faneuille Hall up State Street and over to the Common, from where we went into the Public Garden and eventually walked up Newbury Street. I finally tried Georgetown cupcakes and immediately wished I had tried them before *yum* So if you're ever in Boston, make sure to stop there ;) On our way back, I took a final picture of the best skyline view in Boston and we shared the leftover Alfredo before he had to head back and I was left alone, packing up the rest of my stuff and saying goodbye to the place I've grown to love so much.

I don't know what I did to deserve yet another place to call home, but I will be forever grateful for this experience. Seems like yesterday that Maureen picked me up from South Station with her convertible and showed me around her beautiful city. And now, I'm sitting in my Winter Wonderland in Canada, miles away from the Atlantic coast - crazy :)

No home would be complete without the people that make it so homey. So thank you Katie, John, Modupe,  Jeff and, most of all, Maureen (and Hankie, T.C. and Patches!) for making this one of the happiest times of my life. I love you and can't wait to see you again! That's a promise :)


Christmas Decorations

hach.... es is Weihnachtszeit... keine Plätzchen... kein Glühwein... kein Weihnachtsmarkt... aber!

Hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps :) (am I the only person thinking of Big Bang Theory when they hear peppermint schnapps???) oh yeah! Maureen finished the Christmas decorations on wednesday. 12.12.12 what a wonderful date :) We were both very... casually dressed, but we decided to take pictures anyways :D with the help of my camera's self-shooting mode... go figure :D

So, armed with hot chocolate (with extras...), brownies from Savin Scoop (heavenlyyyy) and with the "help" of Patches and Hankie, we celebrated decorating the tree! It's a patriots fan too of course.... and Red Sox - even though they sucked this year... The tree doesn't judge (apparently)

On sunday, we were listening to christmas music, too, but this time, we had the 12.12.12 concert on, live from Madison Square Garden - it was awesome! The boss rocked with Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones were as awesome as ever - it was the perfect musical addition :) Patches had fun playing with the decoration while Hank didn't look quite as happy about being decorated :D but Maureen and I certainly had fun bellowing out "Dead or alive" while alternating between the living room and the music room :) Man I'm gonna miss this house...

And then the tree was finally at a point where it looked like Santa had thrown up in the room - which was what Maureen had been aiming for all along - so we took a final picture (pretty, huh?) I pressed Rudolph's paw one last time to rock with the red-nosed reindeer (and to make Hankie jealous) and we finally shut off all the lights to enjoy the christmas lighting :D I love christmas...

In diesem Sinne frohe Weihnachten, merry christmas, happy holidays, felize navidad, buon natale und vor allem cheers! :) 



Today, I took a stroll through the ever-busy streets of Cambrige around Harvard Square. The sun was out, the weather was finally chilly enough to be called mid-December and the lights were already up everywhere. The great thing about Harvard Square is not necessarily the university looming in the background (though it might help) - it's the rustle and bustle of a college town, the cute, little shops sprinkled around everywhere and the many many brickstone buildings that make it feel like home (my northern Germany home that is). 

They have the notorious Starbucks Cafés of course. Many of them, actually, on every other corner... But there's also a "Licks"  next door, that's home made ice cream! Not as good as B&J but not many things are... ;) Then there's my favorite store :)

Though, I have to say, I spent more money at the Body Shop at the T station... :) But, oh well... today, I ventured over to Panera - I know it's a chain but they have an open fireplace! - to enjoy a cup of soup and an early sandwich before I explored the streets around Harvard Square... mighty pretty here, I must say...

I found a rather odd looking Christmas tree... 

:D but then again, it is a college town after all :D

I decided to head home rather early... but not without checking out those two lovely looking shops!

With a cup of tea and a cupcake in hand I took one last round around the neighborhood - guess what the back of that Starbucks looks like? 

I just had to take a picture of that :D hihi... :)

Why I love Midnight in Paris

Ok, this might seem like a weird post and it might very well be, but it's actually very current :) I just woke up and went downstairs where the TV was running (as usual) and since it's sunday, a movie was on. Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris to be exact. 

Now, I don't know how many of you know this film but I think it's absolutely lovely. Why? Because it's ultimately about art and an inexplainable love for the written word, the painters of the past and Paris in all its glory.

Many of you know that I am not particulary fond of the French, and yet, this film makes even me want to jump on the next train to the French capital (yes I live close enough to board a train to Paris - well, not right now, but when I'm back home...) And that alone already says a lot. 

But it's Owen Wilson's performance of a struggling and maybe slightly over-illusional writer that really grabs my attention every time I watch this all-time-favorite. He struggles, he dreams and his dreams come true - as unlikely as they may seem. It is hard to talk about the film without giving away too much, you just gonna have to watch it yourself. All I can say is as a writer and an art-lover, this film speaks to me. It lets me dream and it touches something in my own imagination that makes me want to write or paint or sometimes both. It's a revelation wrapped in a fairy tale and I never tire of watching Wilson walking through the nightly streets of Paris. It makes me want to go to France :) 

So, if you have the time, go check it out! It's worth it :) And it's the perfect start for a lazy sunday filled with writing! 

Midnight in Paris on IMDB.com


Texas - epilogue

Just two more things about the Lone Star State. Jayne recommends Austin's local beer (Austin Amber)  as tested at Frank and Angie's Pizzeria on Sixth Street (delicious!)

I can recommend the pizza! :)

And I forgot my favorite picture! The Texan Christmastree: 

Happy holidays everbody :)


Ursula :)

Ok, I just have to share this :) It's too funny!

so, today I did some christmas shopping in the city (Copley and Prudential as usual) and I was contemplating getting lunch somewhere. It was already way past 12 and I was getting hungry but I didn't want to spend money on food and so on... Finally, I decided to try out California Pizza Kitchen. I've wanted to for a while, but I just always ended up at the Cheescake factory instead ;) So I walk into the restaurant and look for a place to sit at the bar (ah, the single life...) and there are two free chairs next to this adorable but grumpy old lady, so I sit down there. She comments on my jacket (that looks very warm young lady) and I notice her accent, so I decide to ask her "So, where are you from?" I kinda already knew she was from Germany, but oh well. Sure enough, she says Germany and I reply "ah, dann können wir auch Deutsch reden!" because, let's face it, her English is not very good... She lights up and replies "oh, sind sie auch aus Deutschland?" yeah, I am, believe it or not ;) she continues "Ich komme aus Hamburg!" I laugh. Of course she's from Hamburg! :) I tell her that I've lived there for a while and she lights up even more. Apparently, she is from Winterhude (which explains her fancy dress) and came to Boston for love :) *awww* so we keep chatting while I desperately try to check out the menue (I eventually gave up and settled for the first pasta on the list: Chicken Taco Linguine - delicious!) and we reminiscent about Hamburg and the Alster and the Elbe (I still get homesick talking about it, by the way) until eventually, we start talking about languages and she says "mi piache molto la lingua italiana" and and I say "anche io!" we laugh - I can't believe it.

It gets better :) so, apparently she used to go to Italy on holiday a lot. So did I! So I said "Northern Italy" and she said "there's this place.... Lago di Garda" Yep, there is this place where MY NEIGHBORS have a house and this place is Malcesine, Lago di Garda! Sure enough, her brother usually goes to Limone - right across the lake from Malcesine :) And we laughed some more :D I just... I still can't believe it. I can't believe it! She's from Hamburg, she loves Italian and her favorite place to be in Italy is Lago di Garda and she just happens to be living in Boston! And I just happen to meet her! *I love my life*

Oh, and then the whole Heidelberg story :) So she tells me about living in Vienna for a while and starts singing this song about Vienna (she wanted to be a singer) and then I say "Well, my song would be 'Ich hab mein Herz in Heidelberg verlorn' because I'm actually from Heidelberg" and she grabs my arm - again - saying "Oh I love Heidelberg! We were married there!" she was married in Heidelberg... Because the guy from Boston was in the military.... and because Heidelberg is so romantic.... oh man!

I'm gonna meet her again for lunch on the 12th (provided she'll remember) I can't wait! I can't believe it... Ursula! I'm so happy I've met you :)


Texan Thanksgiving!

And there goes another item on my bucket list :) Jaynelle invited me to TEXAS for Thanksgiving *yay*


I had such a great time in the Lone Star State! Jayne picked me up at San Antonio Airport on Thanksgiving to take me to her meemaw's house for their family dinner! My first thanksgiving *yay* I was so excited! The Stokes family welcomed me with open arms and I will be dreaming of Janet's sweet potatoe casserole for a loooong time *yuuuum* The whole athmosphere was just so perfect, football, lots of food and fun stories :) Believe it or not, Jayne's dad makes these cameras with which he can scan fragile documents and he just happens to be the guy who built the cameras they use to scan those old paper printouts of turn-of-the century movies they store at the Library of Congress! How cool is that?! (yep, still a nerd ;) ) Once I found out about that, John T and I talked about all kinds of techniques and he showed me some scenes from The great train robbery - the original! *very cool*

The next day, we went to their ranch in Thorndale to feed the horses :)
That's my kind of friday morning :D I made some new friends... Honey and Sammy are two adorable dogs and this buckskin? It's the perfect horse for me! we also had a bit of action on the ranch: the next door pony stallion got loose and ran around the ranch, harassing one of the mares (men...) since it's such a small, cunning pony, we had quite a workout tryingt to catch him again. Finally, his owner came over and caught him for us *phew* Janet's stallion would have killed him...

And then the girls took me to a Mexican restaurant... and they got the sombrero... yeah... the sombrero... :D But, hey, it's Texas! everybody needs a little Tex-Mex fun :D

That same night, we did some Black Friday Shopping and then went to downtown Austin where we had some great pizza. We asked the waiter for a nice little bar where we could continue our conversation and were sent to the tiniest bar in Texas :) so cute! AND I really liked their decoration :D SO true!

Saturday we visited the capitol (everything's bigger in Texas - even the capitol!) and went back to Jayne's place to get ready for a night out in Gruene :) That's right, Gruene :) There are a lot of German settlers around here...

Gruene is soooo cute! Jayne took me to a small winery (see first picture) and we tested some of the local wines *yummy* Of course, I couldn't help myself and bought some more gifts for y'all (can't wait to see y'all again) we also had dinner at the old cotton estate (very stylish) and were browsing through the gift shops... I really enjoyed meeting some of Jayne's friends :) Uch, I'm just having such a great time down here!

Today, we spent some time in San Antonio. I learned something about Texan history at the Alamo and enjoyed the beautiful San Antonio river walk! So cool!

We met a couple of Jayne's friends at nice little restaurant called the Cove where they serve local and healthy food and soda. Best turkey sandwich EVER!  They even gave me a little potatoe heart *the small joys in life* I love Texas!


Things you should know about UMass :)

Ok, another one for future exchange students. Here's Carolin's Guide to the Campus :)

The most important part is orientation. The campus is rather small, so it's actually very easy. If you arrive with the shuttle bus from JFK/UMass T station (red line), you'll walk straight into the CampusCenter. As the name suggests, this is the building that holds all kinds of important offices, like the Office for International and Transnational Affairs (OITA) for example. This is where you'll find Lurlene. The Student Service Center is here, too. You should go there on the day of the International Students Welcome Event and get a Student ID card - you'll need it for the gym and the library. Also, they offer special deals on sports and theater tickets for students here, so you might want to swing by every now and then. The university bookshop where you can get all your necessary books for class and stock up on notebooks, pens and UMass clothing, is right at the entrance to your right! The main cafeteria is also in the CampusCenter. Breakfast is pretty good, but they only serve it till about 10:00 so be aware :) The bagels are available for a little longer, but if you want to enjoy bacon&eggs, you gotta hurry :) The CampusCenter is also the only building with a full ocean view - I spent a lot of time here :)

If you leave the CampusCenter and walk further into the campus, Weathley Hall is the first building on your left. I had all my offices in here (English and American Studies). I think it's mostly humanities and liberal arts, but I didn't really pay attention to anything outside of my institutes, so I wouldn't know... The next building on the left is the McCormack building. The gym is in here (in the back of the first floor). The gym's free, simply go there at the beginning of your semester and show them your ID, they'll put a sticker on it and you're ready to go! They have lockers and showers and everything, a couple of treatmills - the usual. They also offer classes, like yoga and zumba and so on. The times can be found on the counter in the gym or online on the umb website. McCormack also has a theater for school productions as well as guest lectures and readings. The entrance is on the second floor.

Pretty much directly across from McCormack is the Science Center where they hold all the science classes (surprise!) and the next building on the left (so right next to McCormack) is Healey library. If you want to check out books, simply stop at the info on the second floor and get a barcode sticker! In the back of campus is the Administration building, which also includes the walk-in clinic (Health services). You might want to stop by there and show them your immunzation pass, otherwise the office will send you an email later and ask you to come in or else they'll hold your accound and you can't get any credits.... They are pretty nice over there, though.

Every building has some kind of café and rows of food and drink automats as well as ATMs. The café on the ground floor of McCormack serves Starbucks coffee, the bakery in the Healey library is pretty good and the main cafeteria includes a Burger King and a Panera (best sandwiches ever!)

The wi-fi on campus kind of sucks - it keeps disappearing. And the whole structure is a little odd. There's a nice background story which I won't give away just yet :) Let's just say the campus is funny :)

There's always something going on, so make sure you check the bulletin boards every now and then! And get a "welcome week" booklet to see what kind of activities are offered in the first two weeks! (they usually have movie screenings, barbecues and stuff...)


Things you might want to know about Boston

Ok, this one is mostly for future exchange students: the things you might want to know about Boston, UMass and life in America - list :) I might have to make it two lists actually.... let's start with the city!

Sightseeing in Boston:
Boston is great, but it's actually smaller than some might think. A lot of things can easily be reached by foot or the T, even the popular sights! If you prefer to be driven around, there are a couple of city tours which will help you get a first orientation for the city. Here are my must-sees in Boston:

Harvard Square and Harvard University - come on, you're here, you might as well check it out :) There's always something going on at Harvard Square, they have everything you could possibly need and the food is pretty awesome too! They also have a little store with foreign specialties, so if you absolutely cannot live another day without Milka, check it out!

Copley Square and Newbury Street - two things that can easily be combined. Copley Square has two pretty churches which are always worth a visit as well as the Boston Public Library, which is a bit of a must-see. Right next to it runs Newbury Street, which starts out at Boston Public Garden as a bit of an expensive shopping street but eventually changes to more affortable shops and craft shops towards the end. It also has some nice little cafés and outlets that are worth checking out!

Prudential Center and Hayes Convention Center - not far from Copley Square is the Prudential, which is basically a small shopping mall on the ground floor of two big office buildings. They also have a scenic lookout on one of the top floors, if you're looking for the bird perspective. More importantly, they have a cheesecake factory as well as a food court, The body shop and a catwalk over to the Marriott hotel with more shops including GAP, American Eagle and Victoria's Secret :) I spend way too much time there! My personal favorite is the Starbucks IN Barnes&Noble (bookstore!) that serves Cheescake Factory Cheesecake *happy*

Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market - the place to be on a sunny day! There's always something happening, its nice to shop here and it's in the harbor area (yeah, I know, me and my harbors) so it's just right down my alley. Not far from it is Haymarket, where you should do your fruits and veggie-shopping since it's a LOT cheaper than in the stores! Haymarket is open on Fridays and Saturdays and its always pretty crowded but also a lot of fun! They also have some nice gift shops as well as little craft shops inside Quincy Market and you should check out Red Barn Coffee Shop in Faneuill Hall - my personal favorite!

The North End - not far from Haymarket (just across the Greenway, actually) is the North End. If you like Italian food, this is the place to be! (If you don't, you're weird...) needless to say I am VERY happy whenever I'm in the North end ;) Not only can you meet actual Italian people here, you can also follow the Freedom Trail and learn a lot about Boston's history! Plus the brickstone houses are just so pretty! AND they have Mike's Pastry :D

Boston Common and the Public Garden - right in the middle of the city are the two parcs Boston Common and the Public Garden. The Common is more... well, common and very open and perfect for a nice stroll between shopping springs, the Public Garden is a little fancier (SO pretty) and just absolutely awesome! A real oasis in the city! They offer swan boat rides here, which apparently are a hit with the tourists... Also, right next to the Common is Beacon Hill, which is always worth a tour, and there is city hall with its golden roof and lots of colleges and dorms around the parc, so even if you're just people watching, it's always fun!