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For my trip to Boston late last year I was in need of a guidebook. I used to buy guidebooks whenever I went anywhere but these days I am less inclined to bother, so comprehensive is the internet for research, however because my sister had never visited the city before and because it was nearly 8 years since I had been, a book was a necessity.
I really dislike carrying huge tomes when I travel so when I was in Waterstones searching for something pertaining to Boston I was drawn to the relatively small Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Travel book entitled "Top 10 Boston".
This is a small paperback book which will set you back £7.99. Every page of the book is in full colour and it features all the sites you may wish to see, information on the different parts of the city and where to visit about town, practical information such as where to eat and where to stay along with places the authors suggest you visit out of town.
The book also includes several maps, including a subway map and a comprehensive street map for the centre of Boston.
It didn't take me long to realise that this book is a steal - the maps contained within the book alone are almost worth the cover price. Even better there is a small plastic wallet inside the rear cover which contains a fold out map which is perfect for tourists like me who hate to be caught out of town with a guide book! All maps are on laminated paper too so there's no danger of them getting soggy if you encounter a downpour in the city.
The book comprises mainly of Top 10 lists - as the title suggests - and this isn't as limiting as one may suspect. For instance there is a top ten of "must see" exhibits at the Museum of Fine Arts along with the ten best things to do around Newbury Street and suggestions of where to go to eat. Families are included too with the best places for children given a top 10 too.
The layout of the book is excellent - clarity is perhaps the book's strongest point in fact. Everything is well set out with copious use of photographs to give the reader a real feel for Boston and for what else there is to see in New England.
The writing style is short and punchy so don't expect much in the way of idiosyncrasies from the authors - this is a book which is based on the factual and ensuring as much information is conveyed as clearly as possible within the confines of the book's 150 pages. The book is easy to navigate with a comprehensive index enabling you to find what you are looking for easily.
As well as the top ten suggestions the book also includes some suggested walking tours which is such a good idea as it helps you to plan your visit and utilise the maps perfectly. So whether you fancy a day exploring Beacon Hill or prefer to stroll around the waterfront there is a suggestion in the book for you.
On my trip I had precious little time and wanted to be able to plan a couple of shopping trips and arrange to meet a friend for lunch somewhere and the book was really helpful for that. There is a mall just to the north of the Charles River in Cambridge that I never even knew about until I read the book but after checking out the shopping section I discovered it was incredibly easy to get to on the subway from our hotel. I was also able to use the book to find out where the city's Italian area was so I could meet my friend there for lunch with my very fussy daughter who is fussy about almost every type of cuisine except Italian. The book gave me a real feel for the North End district of the city with one exception - it didn't mention how steep the hills are.
The book has a good list of hotels but we had already booked our accommodation before we went and to be honest no book is ever going to be as comprehensive when it comes to researching where to stay as Trip Advisor. I suppose you could argue that because this book is small and packs so much in the one thing it is always going to lose points for is the fact it cannot hope to be as comprehensive as heavier tomes so if you want lots of detail this may not be the book for you.
The one chapter I was a little disappointed with was the "Top 10 Things to Avoid" - if you have travelled to any major US city in the past much of it is common sense or dare I say it, stating the bleeding obvious in the case of jaywalking. The section also warns against tourist traps but I have to say I think the authors are a little hard on the "Cheers" bar which we visited and enjoyed.
If you have a break planned to Boston specifically this book is great because it does cover almost everything you need to know about the city and will help you move about without getting lost. The only time I ever got lost during my visit was when I was walking through the walkways at the Prudential Center - which are not on the map - with every other step I took being easy to work out thanks to the clear maps. We even managed to use the subway without incident.
In conclusion I can highly recommend this book for a trip to Boston, with great tips included which will help you plan a trip to the city and navigate your way around easily.