How our Boston Trip Clarified my Direction in Real Estate – September 2015

Have you ever visited Boston? If you have, I would love to hear what you thought about this amazing city. If not, I would highly recommend putting Boston on your ‘bucket list’ of places to visit.

Susan and I were looking for a long weekend getaway before starting the new year with school, soccer, jobs, etc. Having been married to a teacher for 13 years I have learned that our years are not really calendar years, rather our year starts when the school year starts and ends the last day of summer vacation.

This schedule works well for me and my business as most real estate agents are wrapping up their year, slowing down September through December; however I am rejuvenated. I start with my planning and strategizing for the next calendar year. I spend the last few months of the calendar year gearing up for the next 12 months. Last year, I was putting together the foundation which has developed into my Podcast, Frederick Advice Givers. I’m 20 episodes deep, as of this writing, where I interview local Business Owners and Entrepreneurs to learn more about their story. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can find us on iTunes or Stitcher by searching ‘Eric Verdi’ or ‘Frederick Advice Givers.’ The interviews are also posted to the website and the Facebook site.

Sorry to sidetrack. Back to our Boston trip.

Susan and I started talking about going away, just the two of us, for a few days and wanted to visit a place that we had never been. My vote was for an island where we could go, chill, sit back and relax. A place to just kinda ‘tune out’ for a few days. Susan, the learner, wanted to visit someplace with a deep history. We ultimately decided on Boston, and I’m glad that we did. Keep in mind that it was midsummer so we didn’t have to deal with the 3+ feet of snow that they encountered last winter, or my opinion of Boston might have been different.

Yes, we hit the touristy attractions of Boston… Fenway Park and a RedSox game, Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, Cheers, the top of the Prudential Building, a guided walking tour of key historical spots, a bus tour, a boat tour of the harbor, a reenactment of the Boston Tea Party, and I might be missing a few things… but what was so cool was the historical stories of Boston and our founding fathers.

Boston was the first major city of America, the home of Ben Franklin, John Hancock, John Adams, and Paul Revere to name a few. I knew the basics of the stories from history in high school and college: How America was breaking away from the tyranny of Britain, how the founding fathers fought against the controlling grip of Britain. Not only were these early Patriots fighting for independence from Britain, but there was also a large section of the population that was fine with the status quo whom the Patriots had to fight against. These citizens were happy with being under British control so not only were the Patriots fighting against Britain, but also a large segment of the population in Boston too.

Visiting Boston and walking through some of the oldest buildings in the US while hearing their stories was amazing.

The underlying theme of Boston was the pride that Bostonians have for their history, and the history of the US. There is unity, common knowledge of history, and a sense of pride unlike any other city that I have visited. I’m sure that you’ve heard the saying ‘Boston Strong’ that was so prevalent after the Boston Marathon Bombing, I thought this was just some fictitious rallying cry made up by the media. Wrong. It is a bond, a sense of pride that is prevalent throughout the city and its residents, and it is real. It’s pretty amazing, actually.

Before we went to Boston, I imagined it would be like any other major city that I’d visited. It was different. Definitely smaller and more intimate that New York. More, natural, history than Washington DC. It sits on a Harbor like the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, but cooler. San Francisco and San Diego, have a different vibe all together.

Having been to Europe 3 times, Boston has the closest feel as far as the architecture of the buildings, the streets, the park in the middle of the city, the ease of walking as a European city. The river running through the city reminded me of Rome. Walking the city had the same feel as walking a city in Europe.

Boston is a big city with a small feel.

The area that we stayed, near the Harbor next to Faneuil Hall and the ‘north end’ was a perfect central location for most everything that we wanted to see. We literally spend two and a half days walking about 7 miles each day (according to Susan’s fitbit  ). The only times we needed public transportation was when we went to Fenway Park to take the tour and watch the RedSox game and when we ventured up to see Harvard and MIT.

–Side notes: Did you know that JFK initially wanted NASA to be headquartered in Boston because of the proximity to the geniuses at MIT? Houston ended up being the headquarters, but it was almost Boston. Did you know that Boston Commons used to be a place where the residents used to ‘park’ their cattle so that they could graze? Right in the middle of the city. That the church next to the cemetery where Adams, Revere, etc. are buried housed all the gunpowder in the basement when the British invaded. That one woman helped disguise all the patriots that ended up boarding the ships and dumping the tea into the harbor. –

These are just a few of snippets from our trip.

Susan does a great job of planning out our trips, (She is the planner. I am spontaneous and don’t plan). This ends up working out well for us when we go on trips. Susan researches the attractions we want to hit, the routes we want to take to see these landmarks, and she knows the details. Heck, before we got to Boston I had never even heard of Faneuil Hall, but it was on our list of things to do. So, while Susan does the planning for attractions, my part is actually talking to people to learn about places to eat… then we research. 

So whatever city we visit, I always just end up talking to locals and asking their opinion on favorite restaurants/food. The first night after we got back from going to the RedSox game, we stopped in the little restaurant/bar attached to the Omni Parker House, and as we were talking to the bartender I asked her of a good place to go to breakfast the next morning.

She mentioned a restaurant down next to Boston Common and just a few blocks from Cheers on a ‘side street.’

We get up the next morning and walk to this restaurant before starting our day of attractions. So as you walk up to the restaurant and you notice people lined up to the door, so it must be good, right? So you get in line and slowly make your way to the front, to the ‘counter’ where you order your food and watch it being made right in front of you. But there is a caveat. You can’t sit at a table until you have your food. So, you don’t go find a table, send someone there to save it and go order. If you’ve ever seen the Seinfeld episode with the Soup Nazi, it was just like that, but with breakfast. You wait in a line. Kinda nervous about how to order. Watching the people in front of you. Give one guy your order. Shuffle to your left to the cashier give her your money and by the time you pay, the food is ready. They have a sign when you first walk into the restaurant that says something along the lines of: Do not sit until you have your food. We have used this system since 1913 and amazingly enough once you have your food there will be a table. And sure enough, after waiting in line for 30minutes to get our food probably 50 deep when we got there and 80 deep as we were leaving, their system worked just perfectly. Oh yeah, the food was pretty darn good too.

So we spend the day walking around the city, doing the tours and seeing the attractions. We know that we want to eat in the famous ‘North-End’ of Boston. This is where all the best restaurants are located. There are probably 200 restaurants in a 4 block square, in the Italian district. I ask 5 or 6 people that day to name their favorite restaurant in the North-End and get 5 or 6 different answers. With each answer Susan and I pop on Trip Advisor to do our own research and then go the restaurant’s website to check out the menu.

Each of these restaurants are ‘top-notch’ and the reviews are all amazing but we choose Trattoria de Monica.

In our opinion it had 2 features that differentiated it from other restaurants. It was a small, local restaurant that was off the beaten path that literally sat 34 people. Trattoria de Monica was hard to find. You had to go down a side street, and the store front was small and unimpressive. If you didn’t know it was there you would have missed it. The second feature was that it had a pasta called Bucatini. Bucatini was my FAVORITE pasta from our trip to Italy 2 summers ago and I very RARELY find it in the restaurants around here, so it was a must once I saw it on the menu. If you’ve never had Bucatini, it is the length of Spaghetti, but the pasta is larger in diameter and is hollow in the middle. Think coffee stirring straw, but the length of a Spaghetti noodle.

So we decide on Trattoria de Monica for our dinner and I call that afternoon and they take our reservation for 7p that evening. We walk over to the North End a little early that evening to check everything out and the main street is literally closed for a festival. The days that we were there was a Saint’s festival that weekend. So there were vendors all over the street, parades, concerts, Italian pride exhibits. Pretty cool time to visit. We walk around the North-End for a bit before going to dinner. Yes, the restaurant was hard to find. We took a wrong turn but finally found the side street where it was located, and when we get to the restaurant there 4-5 couples waiting outside in the street. Because the restaurant is so small, there is no extra space inside to wait, no bar area to wait in. Every available inch of this roughly 15’x40’ foot dining area is used for seating. When one of the waitresses pops out they call your name when a table opens.

The food was amazing and it reminded Susan and me of one of the many restaurants that we visited in Italy. Small local joint that specialized in amazing food, and you could actually customize your order you could have your meal put over a different pasta or you could ask for a different sauce than what was on the menu. This told us that they are back in the kitchen actually making each plate to order, not some assembly line in the kitchen. What was important to Trattoria de Monica was serving Amazing food, and boy did they deliver.

The next day, Susan and I were talking again about dinner and we had our list of 5-6 that the locals recommended and they all looked good, but we again chose to return to Trattoria de Monica. We were thrilled with our meal the first night. Why chance it? Returning we had the same great experience and meal. Susan and I changed up what we ordered. Susan actually got an ‘off the menu/custom’ meal and I got the Bucatini with Pancetta over red sauce.

Out of 200ish restaurants in the North-End we ended up choosing a small, off-the-beaten-path, local’s favorite BOTH nights, and we could not have been more satisfied.

I would like to think that my company, my agents, and myself are the real estate equivalent to Trattoria de Monica. We are a smaller family owned company that focuses on the Results for our clients, teaching our sellers how to take a Value-Driven Approach to maximize your value when selling. We focus on the highest level of customer experience and satisfaction during your purchase or sale. Unlike others that spend massive amounts of money promoting themselves and their company, talking about how many homes they have sold, or offering some ‘flavor of the month’, Guaranteed Sale Program or Free list of Homes to get ‘leads’. Our focus, our energy, our money is spent on getting the best results for our clients. I would rather spend my money having your property Scientifically Staged, Professionally Photographed, etc. The results and focus are on my clients, not on myself.
Just like the Trattoria de Monica, ask around if you are looking to purchase or sell… Then do your own research and go with an agent and a brokerage that fits your personality. Some people prefer the assembly line of the larger restaurants/brokerages that do the fancy advertising about themselves… but others prefer that their real estate agent focus on their needs, their experience, their bottom-line – not the agents. Whomever you choose, make sure that the agent and the company are a comfortable fit and you are confident that they have your BEST interest in mind… not their own.

Next time you are thinking of where to travel and looking for a cool destination, I highly recommend a trip to Boston…

Hope you are well, as school has now started, and, if you are, like me, your year has just begun.