XML 2006 Boston travel tips

Newbury Street

Correction: To get the Shaw’s grocery store from the conference hotel, you do have to walk across one street outside, for about 10-12 yards.

I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of you in Boston next week at XML 2006. Many of you may know Boston much better than I do, but for those who don’t, I’m writing a few quick tips.

Getting around
Boston has excellent public transit and really horrible traffic, so the subway (called the “T”) and commuter trains are usually better choices than taxis, unless it’s a quiet time of day or you have too much luggage to handle on the escalators. The Prudential, Symphony, and Back Bay T stations are all a short walk from the hotel, as is the Back Bay commuter rail station. The Silver Line on the T connects Logan Airport to the other lines, so it’s a cheap ride in.
The Boston Sheraton Hotel has free wireless Internet and public computers available down in the lobby, and we hope to provide wireless access in the conference area. To access the Internet from your hotel room, however, you’ll need to pay an extra fee (about $10/day, I think), and you’ll need to have an Ethernet card — there’s no wireless available in the guest rooms.
Shopping and dining
The Back Bay area is big for stores and restaurants The two most important areas are Newbury Street, which runs east-west about three blocks north of the hotel, and (for those who prefer malls), the Prudential Center, a large upscale mall and food-fair connected to the Sheraton Hotel. The Prudential Centre includes a Shaw’s supermarket and a Barnes and Noble bookstore, just a few minutes’ (indoor) walk from the conference. If you need to make any emergency computer purchases, there’s a Best Buy about a 20 minute walk west along Boylston, just past Fenway Park.
Sure, the hotel has a gym, but why bother when you can go walking or running around The Fens, through Cambridge along the Charles River past MIT, around the Boston Common, or up and down the steep, narrow streets of Beacon Hill? Bring your winter running gear, but don’t overdress — it’s not going to be that cold (see next).
Current forecasts call for daytime highs from 2 to 6 degC and nighttime lows from -3 to 1 degC over the week. If the forecast for sunny skies holds up, it will actually be very nice for walking around Boston (an amazing walking city), as long as you dress for the weather. Thicker pants, warm socks, and a light lined jacket that can keep out the wind, and maybe a light hat and gloves will be sufficient: unless you’re not used to cooler temperatures, there’s no need to show up in full ski gear. Leave the thin ankle socks and sandals at home. An extra tee-shirt or sweater will let you layer up if you need to.
(Old) New Age Religion
Just in case you’re interested, the headquarters of the Church of Christ Scientist (aka Christian Scientists, not to be confused with Scientology) is located in a large plaza across the street from the hotel.
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2 Responses to XML 2006 Boston travel tips

  1. Jim says:

    Traveling is great: new places, new people, new traditions. But nowadays it is getting difficult to travel because of the safety measures. Everyone needs to pass a clearance check before getting visa. I’ve heard that the British Embassy requires fingerprints scanned before issuing visas ( http://www.huliq.com/288/printed-for-travel-uk-introduces-finger-scan-for-visa-applicants ). This is good for the security, but I bet this will make difficulties for travelers.

  2. david says:

    You’re absolutely right, Jim. In Canada, we’ve been used to being able to visit the U.S. using only driver’s license and birth certificate as ID, but starting in January, we’ll have to show a passport at the border. Most Canadians who travel already have passports, but it will be a big problem for Americans who want to visit Canada, since they’ll need passports to get back into their own country, and most Americans don’t have them — I think it’s going to hurt Canadian conferences quite a bit.

    I flew myself down from Ottawa to Boston in a small plane, so at least I didn’t have to go through the airport security silliness.

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