Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday in Beacon Hill

Today, we wandered over to Beacon Hill to visit some open houses. The first place turned out to be a basement duplex, which won't work for us because I have asthma. Too bad: it had a shady, two-level deck that was so tightly enclosed that our cats could safely go outside. The young couple who owned it were selling it themselves and were very friendly. We asked about their neighbors, and they said they were great, and that they sometimes all got together for cocktails or dinner. "Wow!" we said. Then they asked about our neighbors, and we said that, in a nutshell, we wouldn't be having cocktails or dinner with some of ours anytime soon.

At the next condo, which was packed with browsing couples, we saw the handsomest deck so far, complete with a big tent-canopy lined with fairy lights, many flourishing potted plants, and comfortable reading chairs. I could live on that deck for four or five months of the year. Unfortunately the apartment attached to it was too small. We need room for a giant desk and at least 300 linear feet of bookshelves, so a tiny second bedroom is not going to work for us anymore. In our price range, Beacon Hill is not the place to find large rooms and big, empty walls for shelves. Or your own parking space. Still, I love walking over there for food (Iggy's bread at Savenor's), antiquing, hardware (Charles Street Supply has a friendly calico), and old Boston charm.

We split a super burrito at Anna's for lunch; we'd eaten there just the day before on our way over to the Haymarket. We rarely get tired of strolling the mile-plus to the Anna's on Cambridge... but when we do, we're still happy with the same burritos at the five other Anna's in Brookline, Cambridge, and Davis Square.

Walking down Charles, we passed a small street fair, so we checked it out. While my husband watched a geezer rock band wail on their guitars, I checked out the booths. At the best one, I met Isabelle English, the teenage owner of Curly Cakes, the new cupcake shop on Charles, opening in late October. I think she's delightful, and not simply because she was handing out free samples. A friendly cupcake shop should be a perfect addition to Charles Street. I hope she'll be as successful as her father, the famous Todd.

The best place for dessert on Charles now is Café Vanille, which offers breakfast croissants and Danishes, as well as a terrific selection of French pastries, including a perfect Parisian eclair. They also have a lunch menu and all the coffee drinks you'd ever want.

Still, I think I'm happier living in Back Bay, where the streets aren't the least bit steep, and the wide sidewalks and front gardens make the neighborhood feel less claustrophobic. Here, we have a supermarket where one bag of groceries only sets you back $40, not $80, like Whole Paycheck on the Hill. We've also got two bookstores (I remember when there were six), the library, Trader Joe's, two farmers' markets, heaps of interesting stores and galleries, and three Green Line stops (when it's running). Our hardware store doesn't have a cat, but it has Eric, who knows everything.

And since there's no Anna's, we're prevented from eating there every single day.

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