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Boston Weather: 42.0°F | Partly Cloudy

Say What Esplanade

By Christina Kang
STAFF COLUMNIST


Snow! Sure it’s exciting, but that also means it’s getting cold. Before the temperature drops, take advantage of beautiful days with gorgeous weather. Too busy to take a trip to the Cape or up to the Maine coast? Take advantage of the Esplanade right across from our campus. This past Saturday, my friends and I stuffed my laptop, food, a blanket, and psets into our bags and trekked across the Harvard Bridge to the Esplanade. The Esplanade stretches 17 miles along the banks of the Charles River and is home to the Hatch Shell. (For a listing of events, see http://www.hatchshell.com.)

Besides being a concert venue, the Esplanade is a great date spot, both free and romantic. Ride your bikes as the sun sets or take a late-night walk; the dim lighting and romantic shadows created by the trees are entrancing. Go out onto one of the docks, lie down, and snuggle with your significant other (all under the stars). Bring a light snack in case you get hungry, or feed the animals that scamper about.

In the daytime, the Esplanade is a great place to walk, run, skateboard, and rollerblade. It’s also full of great subjects for photography and other art media and inspiring for writing and thinking.

To reach the Esplanade from campus, walk on the far side of the bridge from the dorms; before the sidewalk ends, you will see an entrance to a ramp on your left. Go down the ramp, take a left or a right, and you are on this little haven of nature (nature, if you have forgotten, includes flowers actually growing out of dirt, plush green grass, and lots and lots of trees). A turn to the left takes you to the Hatch Shell. After passing a little green, a little dirt, you come across the playground complete with swings, monkey bars, jungle gyms, and curvy slides! Take a trip down memory lane, and go swinging high into the sky, but be forewarned: there are little kids running around as their parents give you amused looks.

Once you have fulfilled your childish yearnings, keep treading down the path. The Esplanade presents many options, but just stick to the path closest to the river. You will come across a set of stone stairs and a dock. I found a nice little corner, (if the dock is too crowded for your tastes, keep walking down; there is another dock nearly identical to this one) laid out a blanket, got out my laptop, and sat down to work. When I realized that the gorgeous sun making me warm and cheery was also creating an impenetrable glare on my screen, I did what every motivated MIT student would — I took a nap. The sun beamed down on me, while a nice breeze from the water kept me cool.

After my nap, I decided to make a tent for my laptop so that I could see the screen, and I wrote my essay, working more efficiently than if I had been in my room or at the library. Everyone on the dock was either studying or sunbathing, so there was little noise.

To be outside, inches away from the water, looking out toward the MIT campus, which, despite what anyone says, is quite beautiful, watching the sailboats line the horizon — it was a breathtaking experience. I even ran into four groups of students from MIT; it was fun to be able to talk to them in this environment. Students were there to study, to sleep, to enjoy the scenery, or just to take a break.

Fishing is also possible from this dock. I ran into two children using fishing line and a hook. They ended up catching an eel-like, long, slimy thing that they proceeded to set free into the river, but fishing in the Charles was not something I had imagined was possible.

You can watch people in kayaks, boaters, and gondolas ride past, many with cute dogs standing at the head of the boat. And yes, I did say gondolas. Imported straight from Venice, these authentic gondolas are rowed manually by Venetian style “Voga” (gondoliers). Rides are quite pricey but definitely worth it for special occasions. You can find more information about it at http://www.bostongondolas.com. They run from May 28 until Oct. 16, Wednesday through Sunday.

After a fun, productive day on the dock, I headed back to campus, refreshed and in an amazing mood from my little excursion that had also proved productive! For those who live in Boston, close to the river, it is incredibly easy to get to these docks and even easier to take a break at the Esplanade. For those living on campus, get out of the same old routine, and try taking your work to a natural environment. Boston has so much to offer … don’t miss out!