Solo Traveling Boston: The Subway Entrance

Faneuil Hall, a popular tourist spot in Boston

Overwhelming. This is the word that best fits my first solo travel experience in Boston, a state in a country so far from my own.

Traveling the Philippines, Brunei, and Thailand was easy as they had almost the same landscape, culture, and people I grew up with. I can look baffled or lost without worrying so much about being pawned by the local joker.

Boston was different. Everything about it was so foreign. Here, I stood out, but not in the best light. I was a petite Asian woman, a novice in the American world, who doesn't even know where the entrance to the subway is.

Yet I had to look like I was one of them, like I knew the streets at the back of my hand, to keep me safe from nasty onlookers.

I boarded out of the Amtrak Train at Boston's Back Bay Station at about 7:30 AM and headed out into the open. I planned to go to Faneuil Hall via Boston's subway to join one of the history walking tours they offer. I marveled with joy as soon as I stepped foot on Boston's concrete streets, then I quickly realized that I was lost.

What next? Where's the entrance to the subway?

Tall, white, blonde Bostonians all sharply dressed in jet black trench coats and scarves distracted my train of thoughts. They were all walking very briskly, obviously in a rush to work or school. It was so different from the quiet and laid back vibe that welcomed me in Chicago; Madison, Wisconsin; and New London, Connecticut. Everyone suddenly looked so intimidating.

The train station at New London, Connecticut, where I boarded the Amtrak to Boston

I checked my phone and saw the subway's location in Google Maps. It was definitely in my area - probably across the street from where I was at - but I couldn't see the entrance!

Where was the entrance to the subway?

I coolly walked the streets, as if I lived there for the past 10 years, and headed to the first coffee shop I saw. I wanted to settle down and figure out where exactly I was. My only aim at that time was to land in Faneuil Hall so my solo adventure can begin.

I ordered a cup of coffee and took the chance to ask the waiter where the entrance to the subway is. He then pointed to the exact direction that Google Maps was pointing to. I thanked him and thought I could use the time to breathe and enjoy my coffee, and just figure out the subway later.

Flour Coffee, my sanctuary

I sat down by the window, observed the surroundings, and people-watched. Now I can see locals from all walks of life. I saw some in casual wear, walking their dogs. Others were in fashionable leather jackets and boots, striding the sidewalks with their laptop bags. The cafe bustled with friendly morning chatter. By the looks of it, no tourist was in sight.

Slowly, the morning was turning out to be a good one. I turned back to my phone after a while and reviewed, once again, the directions to Faneuil Hall.

As soon as I felt like I've already settled in to this new world called Boston, I bid goodbye to the cafe and headed my way to the direction that points to the subway entrance.

Lo and behold, I found it. It was there all that time - Google Maps wasn't lying. It was that building I passed by with the recessed entrance and the wide, vast facade! It certainly didn't feel like a subway station.

It didn't look like what I expected it to be.

I laughed at myself and headed on, amazed by the turn of events, surprised by judgments. I opened the doors and found myself in a "comprehensive" station - if I can call it that - which connects all sorts of train lines and systems.

Another world to figure out.

It was an overwhelming morning, but a good one at that. I was waiting to reach Faneuil Hall to begin my Boston adventure, but I realized that it had already started.

Click here to read the One-Day Boston Travel Guide I've prepared to help you in your future travels!

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