Phill Jupitus on Boston

The Never Mind the Buzzcocks team captain talks exclusively to Philip Wilding about just what it is that he loves so much about Boston. If you're wondering, it has something to do with baseball.

The comedian and broadcaster had never been to the US when he first landed in Boston in the mid 1990s. It is, by his own admission, not the starting point that most visitors choose when first visiting America. He opted for one of the States' most richly historic cities on the advice of a friend who had been smitten by the city's understated charms.

One of America's oldest cities, Boston has more history than most other parts of the country, great venues and restaurants and a baseball team you might just grow attached to. Here are some of Phill's favourite things.

Phill on where to start

Interview: Phill Jupitus - Boston skylineBoston skyline / Stephen Orsillo

"The best way of seeing the city is by starting the day on the viewing deck of the John Hancock Tower. You get a very real idea of the place straight away. New York has that with the Empire State building too, but that's something that London's really lacking: a static point where you can see all points of the city. Then we did the Duck Tour, which is the amphibious bus tour of Boston and that's a must do too, because with that and the tower you really get to see the city from every aspect."  

Phill on what makes Boston special

"It's a very old town, especially by American standards. Plymouth Rock was settled down the road, and you go into places like the Union Oyster House, and even though the food's not up to much, you'll discover not only that it's been open since 1826, but the Kennedys used to eat there and it's where Noah Webster created at least some of his world famous dictionary. He used to sit in there and order brandy by the pint and work - no wonder some of his definitions were a bit questionable.

"Everyone seems to go to New York first and my friend said that Boston was more European in a way, more laid back. I think with New York you have more preconceptions, in terms of landmarks and architecture, so more people tend to go there or to Disneyland, the familiarity thing, whereas Boston surprises you. It's in the middle of the most extraordinary countryside too; it's very beautiful. It's weird, in ways, parts of it remind me of Edinburgh, bits of it feel like George Street."

Phill on what keeps him going back

Interview: Phill Jupitus - FenwayNo visit to Boston is complete without a trip to Fenway Park / Stephen Orsillo

Since his initial trip in the 1990s, Phill has been drawn back time and again to the city in order to sate his appetite for one thing: baseball. Home to the world famous Boston Red Sox, one afternoon at their home ground of Fenway Park he had what sounds suspiciously like an epiphany. So deeply grounded is his love for the team that he now has the B of their logo tattooed on the inside of his wrist.

"I saw them for the first time on that initial trip. We wanted to do something that the locals do, but we went with low expectations. I never thought I'd get it or understand it and then we sat down and there was this guy behind us who had brought his kids for their first game. He was explaining it to them ball by ball and so I got to hear the whole game and by the end of it all I had a rudimentary understanding of it. I go back now primarily for the baseball."

Phill on shabby zoos and sleek aquariums

"I took the family to the zoo. I can't remember which one as they have a few, but it was out of town and it was deeply shabby. It made Chester Zoo look like Longleat Wildlife Park. Saying that, the first day we were there, we went over to the New England Aquarium and that's the best aquarium I've ever been to. They have this 25ft-deep cylindrical flexi-glass tank called the Giant Ocean Tube that you walk down and around. It's around 40ft across and it's full of sharks and turtles and all manner of sea life and divers go in there to feed them. It's got this real wow factor especially compared to some of the aquariums you have here, you know, where their main display is a flounder they've caught somewhere off Kent."

Interview: Phill Jupitus - PhillPhill on his travels
Piers Allardyce

Phill on Boston as home  

"I know where I'm going to eat, what bars I'm going to; it feels like going home almost. There's a bar called An Tua Nua where I drink and eat before a game. It's a 10-minute walk from there to Fenway Park. I'll sit there and have a Sam Adams Summer Ale."

Phill on where to eat

"There are lots of great places to eat. Even though it's part of a chain, Legal Sea Foods is amazing. Sadly, one of my favourite places, The One World Café, has now gone. Fifth Street is full of great Italians - take your pick, there's so much going on. Newbury Street is great for shopping - they've got two great malls, the Prudential and Copley Plaza. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts is fantastic."

Phill on where to stay

Interview: Phill Jupitus - Copley SquareCopley Square / Stephen Orsillo

In the 10 or so times he's visited the city, Phill has set up home at the Copley Square Hotel, though major refurbishment had him casting about for a new place to stay on more recent trips.

"Another chain, but in terms of where to stay, there's the Jury's there. That's an excellent hotel. But I love the Copley Square's sense of history. It's where all the visiting baseball teams used to stay - it's where Babe Ruth stayed when he first came back to Boston with the New York Yankees. If you're going for the baseball, or any sport, then try the Back Bay Hilton as they have a ticket office in the foyer. Give the guy a day and he can get you tickets for anything. It'll cost you, but he's brilliant. I remember going there once. I watched the Red Sox beat Cleveland in the afternoon and then went on to The Avalon to watch Blondie play that night. That was a great day."

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