Locks and Bagels

We recently took a ninety minute Boston Harbor cruise on a gorgeous Summer Saturday morning.

Unlike the better-known Boston Harbor Cruise, which departs from (and returns to) Long Wharf in Boston, ours (click on the title) departed from (and returned to) the Charles River, just outside CambridgeSide Galleria in Cambridge (weekend parking $3.99 in the mall garage). And you can get coffee and bagels at Au Bon Pain before you depart.

After passing by the Museum of Science on the Charles River, we waited under the Zakim Bridge for the Boston Harbor Locks to open so that we could enter Boston Harbor.

If you’ve never passed through any kind of locks before, being in a boat as it gradually drops ten feet is certainly a unique experience!

Gail and I must have been the only Bostonians aboard a boat full of tourists, so the Cruise Guide’s chirpy commentary was a little too general for us – especially his take on The Big Dig, which neglected all the ways in which that project has made it easier for us locals to get through and around town.

It’s always a great pleasure to see the USS Constitution, but for me the best part of the cruise was the opportunity it provided to see facets of the city visible only from the water. I never realized that so many beautiful waterfront greenspaces, parks and walking trails had been created as part of the new condominium projects in Charlestown and Cambridge, because they are not visible when you’re trying to navigate the area from behind the wheel of your car.

And in case you were wondering, the new Institute of Contemporary Art is one seriously ugly building when seen from the water. I much prefer the old building on Boylston Street.