Travel Black Book with Imbert Fung

Beautiful Boston

Historic and compact, Boston has everything a big city offers, plus the scenic Charles River

Who: Canadian Imbert Fung, 31, director, South-east Asia and India, at Kayak (https://www.kayak.sg/), a travel search engine

Favourite destination: Boston, Massachusetts

Why: Boston is a particularly memorable place because I did my graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for two years.

As a big sports fan, I love the city's strong sports culture and how passionately the fans cheer for the Boston teams.

It's such a historic city and it's beautiful, especially along the scenic Charles River.


Mr Imbert Fung (above) suggests walking along the Charles River to get a glimpse of the city’s lifestyle. PHOTO: COURTESY OF IMBERT FUNG

It also has everything a big city offers, such as sports, theatre, restaurants, museums and concerts, but it isn't too large. Nothing is ever more than a 10- to 15-minute taxi ride away.

I'm fortunate that business trips take me there two or three times a year.

Since I moved to Singapore in 2014, I have been back there five times for business and to catch up with friends.

Favourite hotel

My favourite is Hotel Marlowe (hotelmarlowe.com), which has extremely friendly staff and a great boutique vibe.

The location is quite convenient, being right next to Cambridgeside Galleria (cambridgesidegalleria.com), one of the largest malls in the city. It houses many popular American brands and several good restaurants.

Another reason that I go back is the rooms, which are spacious and some have stunning views overlooking Charles River and the city.

Favourite restaurant

I recommend going to the Little Italy neighbourhood.

My favourite restaurant there is Daily Catch (North End) (thedailycatch.com/northend.html), which specialises in Italian-American seafood pasta.

It's a small place that seats only about 20 people so it doesn't take reservations.

The menu depends on what is fresh that day, which then gets written up on a blackboard. My favourite is the squid ink pasta.

A meal here is usually about US$30 (S$42) a person.

A local secret is Sam LaGrassa's (samlagrassas.com), which has the best pastrami sandwiches, possibly in the entire world.

It really is that good, but it closes very early, at 3.30pm. Sandwiches here are typically US$10 to US$15.

Best place for breakfast

Paramount in Beacon Hill (paramountboston.com/beaconhill) is popular for breakfast and brunch. It's a small restaurant where you can fill up on delicious pancakes, sausages and sweet potato fries.

If you're looking for something that a local might regularly get, a popular choice is a breakfast sandwich that typically comes with egg.

Cosi is a popular chain (getcosi.com/menu/breakfast) with tasty sandwiches and it's famous for its flatbreads.

Must try

I would say that seafood, pizza and pasta in Little Italy are a must.

Mike's Pastry (mikespastry.com) is an extremely popular busy bakery and dessert spot, which is also in the neighbourhood.

Definitely try the cannolis, as it offers the cylindrical, crunchy and flaky pastry with cream filling in dozens of flavours.

My favourite pastry, though, is the apple turnover. Each pastry costs US$3 to US$5.

It is also worth exploring a couple of the local breweries.

One must-visit is Harpoon Brewery (harpoonbrewery.com), which offers a US$5 tour with beer tasting.

During my last visit, it even had the option of a chocolate-flavoured beer.

Favourite cultural activity

It would have to be going to Fenway Park to catch a Boston Red Sox game.

It's the oldest baseball stadium in the league, built in 1912. It is always packed on game nights and is a fantastic way to get to know a big part of local culture.

It's the atmosphere that you go there to absorb - loud rowdy chants, with everyone in Red Sox apparel enjoying hot dogs and local beer.

One of the most enjoyable traditions during the games is how everyone sings Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond during the 8th inning or round, which takes place towards the end of the game.

To get a sense of what Boston lifestyle is like during the warmer parts of the year, take a stroll through the Boston Common park and along the Charles River between Longfellow Bridge and Massachusetts Avenue.

You will see people jogging, reading on the grass, picnicking or playing frisbee with their dogs.

Best view

Find a nice spot along the Charles River on the Cambridge side, such as Memorial Drive on the MIT campus, for views of the Boston skyline.

It's especially magical during winter when the Charles River has iced over and it feels as if you can walk across to Boston, although you shouldn't since the ice is too thin and I don't think it's legal.

Best hidden find

Not many tourists know, but Improv Asylum (improvasylum.com) is a tremendously funny improv and sketch comedy theatre, and a great way to spend the evening with friends or your significant other. Tickets are US$20 to US$30 and include a drink.

Worthwhile side trips

I highly recommend spending an afternoon in Cambridge touring the Harvard University campus with its historic buildings and ivy walls, as well as the MIT campus with its modern buildings and funky architecture.

Don't miss taking a photo in front of the unique Stata Center in MIT (http://bit.ly/2e2CnGl), designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.

Ideal length of stay

Three to four days. Timeout magazine (timeout.com/boston) is one of my preferred sources for ideas of what to do at a destination and there are many visitor information centres in the city where you can pick up free guides and maps (http://bit.ly/2dYpdc3).

Traveller's advice

The best time to visit is in spring or fall. Boston winters are very cold, making it uncomfortable to get around. And the summers won't let you see much of the city's university culture, which is huge, given that Boston is home to so many great universities other than Harvard and MIT.

There's an amazing diversity in the city, thanks largely to the population of students from all over the world.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 16, 2016, with the headline 'Beautiful Boston'. Print Edition | Subscribe