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The Upside of Change

As travelers, we do a lot of whining about how great certain places were 10 years ago—before Starbucks served Paris, before Louis Vuitton outfitted Beijing, and before cell-phone towers connected the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro to the rest of the world.

But while I was visiting Boston this weekend, I was struck not only by how much the city has changed in the past decade, but by how much better it is today. When I first went there 10 years ago, the Big Dig was in full swing: cranes dominated the skyline; displaced rats ran rampant; and construction sites isolated the city’s most historic neighborhoods from each other.

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member zabelle

Now that the epic construction project has finished, downtown is beautiful once again. The cobblestones of Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market lead to new green spaces lining Boston Harbor, and the waterfront now connects seamlessly to the North End (which, incidentally, means easier access to such iconic North End institutions as Mike’s Pastry).

And it’s not just streets directly affected by the Big Dig that feel revitalized. New facades abound in Kenmore Square, Central Square, Brighton, Chelsea, and even around Boston Common; there’s a new subway line and many new trains and renovated stations on older lines; gorgeous architecture has sprouted up, perhaps most notably the new Institute of Contemporary Art building; even Boston’s famous dirty water is clean(er) and full of kayaks and sails. And I can’t not mention the sense of Red Sox pride evident around Fenway Park, courtesy of a pennant win that seemed impossible 10 years ago.

So while I accept that 10 years can indeed change the face of a place, it’s not always a bad thing. I also have to propose that perhaps now is the perfect time to schedule a trip to Boston—who knows how it will look in 2018.

In what other places have you witnessed dramatic changes, for better or for worse?


My name: Michelle Doucette

How I earn my keep: I'm an editor at

Favorite way to get around: Some of my favorite trips involved renting cars in foreign countries and driving through the countryside, stopping on whims. You get a feel for the culture away from the big cities and meet interesting people on the road, including, I must admit, an embarrassingly high number of local policemen. I suppose it would be prudent to learn all of the traffic laws ahead of time.

Best meal I've had while traveling: Since a succession of gelato cones probably doesn't count as a meal, my favorite must have been a fresh crabmeat lunch prepared by a St. John sailboat captain while we took a break from snorkeling in the Caribbean. Sharing baklava as the sun came up over Paros, Greece, (while, once again, not technically a meal) was also memorable.

Travel ambitions: Since climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I've figured out that I'd like to keep trekking while traveling. I've got my eyes on epic hikes in Nepal, Bhutan, and Peru.


John Villani

The dramatic changes underway in Ventura, CA will turn this somewhat overlooked community into an arts & creativity hotspot. For starters just check out the Working Artists Ventura live/work project.

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