Cambridge has been my home for the past two years. It is a small city across the river from Boston, and home for so many incredible experiences. If you didn’t know it already, after 8 years working in the Oil & Gas industry in Brazil, I decided to quit and to start graduate school. I came to MIT for an MBA+MSc double degree, and spend the past 2 years cultivating amazing friends and enjoying all the seasons that New England has to offer. Today I’m leaving Cambridge, so I decided to compile a gallery of special moments I cherished during this period.
Cambridge is home to two amazing institutions: MIT and Harvard. And I was lucky enough to experience living in both of their surroundings. It is also really close to Boston and all it has to offer – culture, food, nightlife. It is quite probable that this will be my biggest photo gallery to date, with around 300 pictures covering these two years, but I’ll try to make it easy to follow.
Of course this gallery couldn’t start differently. MIT was the reason I came here and how all of this started. It had been a distant dream for years, if not decades, to be able to attend it. The infrastructure and staff are world-class, and you have, at any moment, infinite possibilities of what to do. There is a saying at MIT that studying here is like drinking from a fire hose – you get some of it, but mostly you just feel like you are drowning.
The MIT Campus is spread along 2.3 km (1.4 miles for my Imperial System friends) of the Charles River esplanade. It is a prime location in Cambridge and provides beautiful views of the Boston skyline. On the east side we have the Sloan School of Management, where I spent most of my time, between classes, psets and enjoying moments with friends.
Killian Court, the main grass field in front of the dome, is a place to relax, have fun, and even attend many events. Some undergrad capstone classes, such as the acclaimed 2.009, have amazing final presentations here.
Finally, west campus is where a lot of housing, student life and recreation and sports happen. There is a Student Center, many undergrad and grad housing, sports fields and a complete athletic center, with a gym and full sized olympic pool. I’ll be honest, I didn’t attend this side of campus too much 😬.
My program accepts around 50 people every year, and they quickly became my best friends. Going through this together, specially during COVID, made us stick and bond so much. These are friends I’ll take for life, and I couldn’t be happier to have spent these two years with them, from my touchdown here to my departure to New Jersey.
Note: Only open to MIT affiliates
The Muddy Charles is a pub located within MIT’s premises. It was founded in 1968 and has been operational ever since. Over the years it grew into MIT’s social hub, a place for students, faculty and staff to relax, socialize and integrate outside of the academic scenario.
It is heavily integrated into the MIT infrastructure and is funded through the ODGE Graduate Student Life Grants, but is able to be financially independent through pricing of beverages and snacks.
As the Institute provides the bar space free of rent and the Pub is operated on a non-profit basis, the Pub is thus able to sell beverages at affordable student prices. A pint of Miller High-Life – the best-selling beer of the pub – is priced at $2.00. I guarantee you will not find cheaper beer anywhere else.
Unfortunately, the Muddy Charles Pub is only open to MIT affiliates. This includes students, faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as their friends and family. Be sure to bring an MIT ID and a physical ID showing proof of age (21+ only). Accepted forms of 21+ ID are passport and US ID card (e.g. US driver’s license, MA liquor ID, US Military ID).
MIT stretches all the way from Kendall Square to Cambridgeport. As I mentioned before, most of my time was spent on the east side, close to Kendall Square. And for my entire first year, I lived at an apartment building 3 minutes walking to the Sloan School of Management, in Kendall.
Kendall has been through a transformation for the past 5 years. Lots of commercial and residential buildings are being developed and dozens of companies are moving there, especially bio-tech ones. Kendall is also home to Google and Facebook.
And because of this modernization, Kendall also feels very cold. Its high buildings, wide streets and avenues and lack of local commerce makes it feel distant and quiet. But it is also really close to the Charles River, a great place to stroll, exercise and just wander around. The Boston views from Memorial Drive are among the most beautiful ones I know around here. Sunsets are breathtaking in Kendall, and with each season new scenes arrive.
Kendall was my first home in Cambridge, and I still remember arriving here with 3 suitcases to an empty apartment. I slowly made it into a cozy home, and my wife arrived a few months later. Even if some parts of Kendall do feel a bit cold, there are still some nice places to visit, specially during Spring and Summer. Shybird is a nice anytime restaurant, and walking towards the Central region you will go through many more.
Going to Boston is also a quick walk across the Charles, by the Longfellow Bridge. In fact, Boston feels a lot closer when in Kendall than anywhere else in Cambridge. We used to go to Boston for walks and dinner dates almost every week.
Shybird was probably the first place I’ve eaten after arriving in Cambridge. It is a nice restaurant, with good drinks and beer, open almost every day, early mornings to late evenings. It is really close to MIT Sloan and 1 block from where I used to live.
I’ll give special recommendation to their Fried Chicken and Egg Sandwich and their Fried Dunks. The fries are also quite good.
They also serve coffee and pastries if you want to grab something quick for breakfast.
Blue Bottle Coffee is a nationwide coffee shop chain, but they have a way of feeling local. I’m including here the actual location I used to go to.
Their coffee is amazingly high quality, although expensive, and they are a great place to sit down for a bit of work, if you are tired of staying home. I’ve crunched a couple of psets while at this Blue Bottle.
If you like Belgium Waffles, I cannot recommend theirs enough. So, so good and very true to the actual thing, including sugar pearls that you eventually encounter within the dough.
On the other side of Cambridge lies Harvard Square. As the name suggests, it is home to arguably the most renowned university in the World – Harvard.
After my first school year, my wife started her own master, an LL.M. in Harvard. Having spent an entire year right by MIT, it was only fair that we moved closer to her school. Harvard Square has a completely different vibe from what we were used to in Kendall, with small red brick buildings, hundreds of restaurants and shops, and so many tourists. It’s quite interesting to live where people come to visit. I kinda had that living in Rio, but here it is super clear, when you are crossing Harvard Yard to get to the T station and people are crowed in tour groups learning about the 3 lies of the John Harvard statue.
Harvard Square is cozy, intimate and warm – in the figurative sense, it gets COLD during the Winter.
And, as I said, it is home to Harvard University. Harvard is spread from Boston to Somerville, with many small campus areas. Close to Harvard Square there are the main Harvard Yard, where college students reside and have most of their undergrad classes, Harvard Law School, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Education School and many more.
Harvard Yard is where most people go when visiting. Famous for its spacious courtyards, crossing pathways and brick buildings, it is home for freshman students attending Harvard College.
Most of my photos from Harvard are during the Winter. I just love the look and feel that the snow covered courtyards bring.
You can also find cute cafés and nice restaurant around. Tatte, an Israeli-inspired bakery and café, brings loads of people every morning, specially during the weekends for breakfast and brunch. And Mr. Bartley’s, a burger joint founded in 1960, gathers students and families for delicious burgers.
Tatte is an Israeli-inspired bakery and café. They carry delicious pastry options, sourdough bread, sandwiches, salads, tartines, shakshukas. And let’s not even start with their desserts, tarts and cookies. They are on the more expensive side, but well worth it every now and again.
They have multiple locations around Boston and Cambridge, and are even expending to the DC area, so I linked to the one I enjoy going to, in Harvard Square. This location has an upstairs salon with lots of seats, including a big communal table and coffee bar stools.
Last but not least, they also have really good drink options, from hot coffee, to iced lattes and anything that pleases your taste.
My recommendation here is to go on a cold autumn (or winter) day and ordering a nice warm latte and their version of the croque-madame – on a croissant instead of toast slices.
Mr. Bartley’s is not for everyone, but I find it the best burger in town. They have a unique ambience, a bit chaotic, with servers shouting orders to the kitchen staff and blenders running almost all the time.
Their burger patties are extremely good. That’s what they proud themselves of. And I really like a couple of their options. To be honest, most of their burgers are too complex for my liking – mac and cheese on a burger? Really? –, and many have barbecue sauce, which I’m not too fond of, even if I will eat it every once in a while – I’m more of a mayonnaise kind of guy. But try their plain Mr. Bartley, toasted bun, perfectly cooked patty and a slice of cheese. I’m salivating as I write this.
To top your order, I recommend their Classic Oreo milkshake, with vanilla ice-cream. Just… chef’s kiss.
Alden & Harlow is a modern New American restaurant serving small portion plates meant to shared. The Longfellow Bar is a stylish, sleek bar with astounding cocktails and good snacks. Both of these venues share a common address, at 40 Brattle St, with the more formal restaurant in the basement entry and the cocktail bar at the upper floors.
Both offer really good food and drink options, with shareable plates and some fewer more wholesome portions. The drink list is really good and the ambience vibes are very bougie.
I really like their menus – so much that we had our graduation dinner here – and highly recommend the Fried Brussels Sprouts and Chicken Fried Rabbit. The Grilled NY Strip is phenomenal, but a bit more expensive.
Stoked Pizza opened right before we moved to Harvard Square. It is a great pizza place, with wood fire ovens that produce that crispy golden brown crust. They use high quality ingredients and you can tell by the tomato sauce and cheese.
Everytime I go to a new pizza place I try their margarita or cheese pizza. If they nail the basics it means they are good. And Stoked has everything right.
Their cocktail menu is also very reasonable, and certainly a good option to accompany your pie.
I have to talk about the city across the river, and as much as I’d love to write dozens of sections about it, I will keep Boston to a minimum and write this single section. This is a gallery about Cambridge, after all.
Boston is a big city with the feel of a small one. Or is it the other way around – a small city with the feel of a big one? Either way, I really liked it. It has everything you want in an urban area but is still highly walkable and with good (enough) public transportation.
Let’s get to the Charles River again. It seems appropriate, as it splits Cambridge and Boston. The Charles Esplanade is a great place for a walk, run or chilling by the water with a glass of non-acoholic beverage – cof cof. The Longfellow Bridge was my main way to it, but one can also get the T to the Charles/MGH stop. I actually really like the T – what Bostonians call the MBTA subway. Most people will complain that it is unreliable, slow, old. But I think it covers an enourmous part of the city and does it in an efficient way.
As for cute neighborhoods of Boston, I have to point out Beacon Hill and Back Bay. Beacon Hill is a historic neighborhood of Boston, with steep streets, old buildings and chic boutiques. It is also home to the allegedly most-photographed street of the US, Acorn Street – honestly, quite boring. Back Bay is a bit more modern, created through reclaiming and filling part of the Charles River. It is a shopping and dining destination, with art galleries, cafés with cute patios and a lot of shops. If you happen to go there, the place to be is Newbury Street.
And in between these two iconic neighborhoods we have the Boston Common and the Boston Public Garden. Two beautiful parks where people go to exercise or just spend time with loved ones. The Public Garden is my favorite of the two, with beautiful trees, flowers and a nice pond with Swan Boats, which freezes during the winter and provides for a natural skating rink.
The Paramount is an institution of Boston. Great, hearty, American breakfast served all day that will get you up and going. It’s been around since 1995 and operates on a different serving style. You stay in line and order at the counter. When you get to the cashier, your order is most likely ready and a table is magically vacant for you to seat.
After the COVID pandemic they changed operation to a normal seat-and-order style, so I’m not sure if they will revert back to their old style.
Order the Paramount Breakfast for great eggs and meat, or the pancakes for the sweet type people.
A Place of Seasons
New England is the most seasonal region I’ve ever lived in. You truly find differences in each quarter of the year and are able to enjoy them on what they offer best. As someone who comes from Rio, I used to hate hot days. Sweating gets old really fast when it is HOT all year long. Having seasons is a totally new experience for me. Having a hard winter makes you appreciate summer a lot more.
I first got to Cambridge during the Fall of 2020. It was still significantly warm for the region, but coming almost straight from Rio, with only a few weeks in Portugal in between, it was honestly quite ok for me.
Fall is an amazing season, the weather gets milder by the day, the leaves turn orange and red, the food becomes comfier and warmer. You have Halloween, pumpkins, apple picking. It is the season of flannel shirts, but it is still comfortable enough to be outside and enjoy time in patios, sometimes with a nice fire pit for warmth or just ambience.
Ah, winter. I thrive in the cold. And snow is just beautiful, it makes every place look magical. It is for sure my most photographed season, with frozen rivers, fairy lights, Christmas markets. The first snow of the season is always so awaited. In 2020 the first snow came still in October, a shock to everyone. It was actually on Halloween day.
Another snow activity that we are still ages from mastering is building a snowman. Apparently, there is such thing as the proper snow for it, and we have never encountered it.
Finally, buying a real Christmas tree. This has been a dream of mine since a kid, watching so many movies where people would go out, choose the perfect tree and decorate it. We have had two now, and I’ll keep on getting them as long as I am around.
New City is my favorite Cambridge ice cream. Some people will tell you that Toscanini’s is better. These people are wrong.
New City uses prime ingredients and produces small batches everyday. Their ice cream is also fresh and creamy, and their seasonal flavors are worth a try. My personal favorite is their Salted Cookies and Cream.
Alright, done with the winter stuff! By late March everyone is getting antsy for some warmth. We might get a few fake-springs, with temperatures reaching the high 50s, but then quickly plummeting back to the 30s – for my Metric System friends, up to 15°C, and back to around 0°C. Still, we have the occasional beautiful spring day, and everyone hits the streets. People go back to sailing, picnics at the parks. And when the trees start showing signs of life, it’s wonderful. Flowers all around, green leaves pop back out.
Finally, summer. Even though I lived here for 2 years, I only spent 1 summer in Cambridge. My first summer at MIT was remote, I was still in Rio. For my second summer I moved to Nashville to start my internship. Now that I graduated and won’t start working until mid-August, I am finally being able to enjoy a bit of the Cambridge summer.
It is considerably warmer than spring, but nothing close to what I used to experience in Rio. People are out on the streets and in parks. Restaurant patios get crowded and you even forget that during most part of the year you can hardly go out without a big jacket.
Amorino is a french ice cream chain. They have really good gelato and cream based ice cream, but you can find them in many different cities. I’m recommending it here because they are really good, even if common in different places.
Their unique cone serving style designs the ice cream as a flower. You can order however many flavors you want regardless of the size you have. I love getting a sweet option such as the “Inimitable”, a Nutella based ice cream, and a few sour sorbets to counter the sweetness, such as lime, passion-fruit or even strawberry.
Today, I say goodbye to Cambridge. It is my last day here – in fact, movers are in my apartment as this is being posted. What an incredible city, what an amazing experience, what unforgetable two years.
Thank you for everything, I can’t see you again soon enough.