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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    How to enjoy Harvard without breaking the bank

    How+to+enjoy+Harvard+without+breaking+the+bank

    If you like swirling leaves in the full spectrum of warm colors, idyllic brick buildings covered in ivy, and crispy cannoli filled with thick pillows of ricotta cream, then a weekend trip to Boston is a great way to experience a world away from dusty Tucson.

    If, like me, you think lecture classes are time well spent browsing good deals on Expedia, you should know that Continental has some great deals connecting through Houston to many major cities on the East Coast. When I saw a sale to fly to Beantown for little more than it would cost me to get to San Diego, I called my friend who goes to school at Harvard University and told her I was coming to town.

    Visiting friends who go to school in cool places is a great way to travel and save money. You can usually sleep on the floor of their dorm, eat in their dining halls and have them take you on a tour of all the local attractions. You get a feel for what it really is to be in a place, rather than just visiting as a tourist, and you get to spend time somewhere you might not otherwise visit.

    Cambridge, the suburb of Boston where Harvard is located, is exactly how you would think an East Coast Ivy League town would be, complete with brick sidewalks and large numbers of sweater vests. If you are lucky enough to have a friend who goes to school there, or find yourself nearby, be sure to check out these highlights of the Crimson area.

    Tourists often visit the Harvard campus just to take pictures, and the buildings look just like a postcard in late fall. The nearby Harvard Square offers shopping and restaurants, including locally owned tea shop Dado Tea. For less than a latte at the Starbucks across the street, Dado offers loose leaf iced and hot tea as well as selected baked goods, like the raspberry truffle I enjoyed. Visitors, take note: it’s also one of the few places in Harvard Square and the surrounding area that offer free wifi for paying customers who aren’t Harvard-affiliated.

    Harvard also features several art museums, though many are closed for renovation for the next several years. The Arthur M. Sackler Museum features highlights from the university’s collection, including some famous works by American landscape artist Albert Bierstadt. Admission is free if you are a guest of a Harvard student, and $9 otherwise.

    The university also features many performances by students and visiting artists. I enjoyed both a dance show and an a cappella jam on my weekend in Cambridge. The Harvard Opportunes and The Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones performed a show in the beautiful Sanders Theatre in Memorial Hall. For $7 one can enjoy more than two hours of live music. Both groups, which sing modern popular music with both skill and humor, have released CDs that are available online. For schedules of Harvard student performances, check www.harvard.edu. Most schools compile lists of on-campus performances which allow students and visitors to find affordable performances and discover local talent.

    If you ride the T — Boston’s subway — a few stops into downtown Boston, you are in a major city full of great attractions and a stark contrast to everything out west. The Museum of Fine Arts (admission is $18 for students) has a wonderful collection of ancient as well as contemporary art, including the famous “”Ballet Dancer”” statue by Edgar Degas and Monet’s “”Water Lilies.”” The Museum of Science is also hosting Harry Potter: The Exhibition ($24) through April 2010, a great opportunity to see props and paraphernalia from the Harry Potter movies.

    For a cheap meal on the chic Newbury Street, check out Thai Basil for a locally owned treat for much cheaper than the chain restaurants in the hip area. Be sure to walk through Beacon Hill for a peek at the New England you always pictured and to walk along the Charles River at sunset for a great view of the changing leaves. For dessert, head to the famous Mike’s Pastry for a wonderful mini Boston cream pie. Located in the North End’s Little Italy, Mike’s is always packed and features great éclairs and cannoli.

    Be sure to pack your wool coat, nice shoes and a polo shirt when you visit this epitome of Northeastern sensibility. For pastries, art and an idyllic long fall weekend, you can’t do any better than this city of brick, ivy and falling leaves.

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