Monday, August 27, 2012

Safari #66: Red Bull Cliff Diving at the ICA

How many times have you taken a deep breath and made a wish?  If you attended the Red Bull Boston Cliff Diving World Series this past weekend at the Institute for Contemporary Art, you probably did it more than you'd care to admit.

We've all seen competitive diving before, but never quite like this.  Not many competitive divers dive from 80 feet.  In just a matter of seconds, the divers reach the water with a gut-wrenching, feet first, entry. 

This event, now in its second year, is free and viewable along Boston's Fan Pier.  And without a doubt, Red Bull knows how to draw a crowd.  This event is perfect for hungry Boston sports fans, general city dwellers, and anyone looking to say "Ahhh". With jumbo trons and dive by dive announcements, it was easy to stay engaged, excited, and absolutely thrilled.

If you would like to see more images from the event, visit the Red Bull website.

My Tips:
  • Take Public Transport.  While there is plenty of parking available in this area of Fort Point, I'd suggest taking the T.  I (wrongly) decided to drive - and spent 45 minutes trying to find parking.  I only saw 15 minutes of actual diving.  Sniff, sniff.
  • Bring Seating.  I can't begin to tell you how many spectators came to the Fan Pier.  If you're early enough, you can grab a spot along the pier or within the grassy area located between Strega and the ICA.
  • Food Truck and Vendors (Oh My!).  There are plenty of places to grab a bite and cool drink while you watch the festivities.  You could also opt to bring your treats.
  • Visit the ICA.  If you are so inclined, you can attempt to watch the diving from the ICA.  You will also get a chance to view the current exhibits.  Regular admission charges apply.
*Image kindly borrowed from Fred Durso.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Safari #65: Shakespeare on the Common

For the last 17 years, the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC) has been offering free performances of Shakespeare's plays on the Boston Common.  At this point, it's practically a tradition to head to the Common every summer to picnic and watch the show.

And there are a number of ways to do it.  Pay $30 (a donation to the CSC) and secure a lawn chair near the front of the stage.  There's also the option to stake out your own spot on the lawn and have a picnic - which is exactly what friends and I decided to do.  We brought our own blankets, delicious nibbles, and beverages to enjoy the show.

This year's performance of Coriolanus (one of Shakespeare's most political plays and possibly apropos for an election year) was excellent. Shows run Tuesday through Saturday, and start at 8pm.  The Sunday show begins at 7pm.  There are no shows on Mondays.  The performances run through Sunday, August 12th - so make your way to the Common ASAP!

Last but not least, the play runs 2 hours and 45 minutes with the intermission occurring after Coriolanus is expelled from Rome (Act 3, Scene 3).  Hit the restrooms just before!

My Tips:
  • Send a Scout.  Given the number of people who attend the performances, a spot on the lawn offering premium views of the stage is a valuable commodity.  Try to arrive early to stake your claim.
  • Make a Donation.  Why not?  Give back a little and help others enjoy the show too.
  • Read Along.  Depending on where you're sitting, you might want to have a copy of the play in print or on your smartphone.  I read along on my iPhone so as not to miss any of the dialogue.
  • Don't Forget - Flashlight, Bug Spray, and a Trash Bag.  It's easy setting up at the beginning of the evening, but at the end, the Common is dark.  A flash light and your own trash bag will make cleaning up your picnic a snap.  The bug spray will keep you comfortable.
  • [Update as of July 2016] - There are food trucks available onsite, so if you only have enough time to grab a blanket, you'll be ok ;)
 Have you attended a performance?  What tips would you share?  Add them to the comments below!

*Image kindly borrowed from DigBoston at

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Safari #64: A Free Downward Facing Dog

Last summer, I blogged about ongoing outdoor activities at the Esplanade, including yoga. If you’re still trying to find ways to enjoy free yoga around town, I have a new resource for you - Lululemon.

In addition to offering clothing and equipment to yoginis, Lululemon also offers free, weekly yoga classes. Combine a class on the Esplanade with one of Lululemon’s classes, and you’ve got free yoga twice per week. How’s that for your downward facing dog?

Last Saturday, I made the journey out to Nantasket Beach (near Hull, MA) for an early morning yoga session (followed by a free surf lesson - way cool!). It was wonderful, and the sound of the lapping waves and rushing water made shivasana all the more relaxing.

If you’re interested in finding free and inexpensive yoga around town, try the following resources:
  • Charles River Esplanade Association. Read my post here about Wednesday night yoga on the Esplanade.
  • Community Classes at Back Bay Yoga Studio. One of the best studios in town (and my studio of choice for regular classes), Back Bay offers $5 and $10 Community classes multiple days per week.
  • Lululemon Athletica. Both the Newbury Store and the Derby Street Store (organizers of the beach yoga session), offer free events every week.
  • Liberty Hotel. Every Saturday at 10am, free yoga classes are held in The Yard.
  • Spa at the Intercontinental Hotel. Every Saturday from 8 to 9am, free yoga classes are held on the waterfront lawn. Classes will be held through September 1, 2012.
Do you know of other places to practice free yoga? Please share in the comments!

*Image kindly borrowed from the Lululemon Derby Street Facebook page

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Safari #63: Haymarket

I know what you're thinking, and you're absolutely right.  How is that I've never been to Haymarket?  I honestly don't know.  This past Saturday, I decided to finally make a visit - and it was definitely worth my while.

The Haymarket open air market has been in Boston since the 1830's, and it's just a short walk from Faneuil Hall.  Vendors call out their prices in the hopes of attracting buyers while buyers scramble to find the best deals.  Fresh produce abounds and the colors, smells, and diversity of the crowd make Haymarket feel like a bazaar in a far off place.

Here you will discover some of the lowest prices - if not the THE lowest for produce.  If you regularly prepare meals that require fresh ingredients, do yourself a favor and shop here.  For a whopping total of $5, I bought: 10 apricots, a bag of cherries (yes, a whole bag), a box of strawberries, and 6 ears of corn.  These items will make great snacks and dinner sides for the entire week.

Haymarket takes places every Friday and Saturday from dawn until dusk.

My Tips:

  • Getting There.  Haymarket is accessible from the Government Center, Haymarket and State Street T stops.  A parking garage is also available at the corner of Hanover and Congress Street.
  • Walk Around.  Haymarket can be overwhelming.  Walk around the entire market first, taking note of what you would like to buy and the prices.  You may find your desired item at a lower price if you're patient enough.
  • Do Not Touch.  Shoppers are not allowed to handle the produce, unless the vendor gives you permission.  When you see something you want to buy, ask the vendor to bag it for you.
  • Bring Canvas.  Vendors will provide plastic bags, but it you plan to shop for a week, bring some sturdy bags with you.
  • Meat? Yes, meat and seafood are sold as well, but they are sold in storefronts versus open stalls.  Walk down Blackstone Street towards North Street to find the stores.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Safari #62: Paint Nite

Learning to paint in elementary school was fun, and it most likely included messy fingers and a sippy cup of your favorite juice.  Today the expereince can still be just as fun - minus the messy fingers and the addition of a different kind of juice.

Transform your sippy cup into a wine glass, add paint brushes and a canvas, and you've got a modern day learn to paint class.

Paint Nite Boston offers approachable and fun learn to paint classes that focus on small steps to build a larger masterpiece.  A lesson incorporates mixing paints, blending colors, basic brushstrokes, and other techniques.  After securing a ticket, you can make your reservation based on date, time, and desired painting.  For my class, I selected a sunset.

Paint Nite is a fun and inexpensive way to enjoy an evening with friends and awaken your own creativity.

My Tips

  • Book Early.  Many online coupons are available from companies such as Groupon or LivingSocial.  While the coupons are easy to obtain, securing your desired date, time, and painting can be difficult. 
  • Many Choices.  There are many local companies offering learn to paint classes in Boston.  If you're located closer to downtown, Paint Nite is a great option.  If you're located west of Boston, The Paint Bar in Newtonville is also an excellent choice.

Special thanks to Jen for suggesting the activity and doing it with me!