“Worcester????” That was the reaction of almost everybody when they heard that Barbara and I were going to Worcester for a micro-vacation a few weeks ago. Not anyone’s idea of a vacation spot, after all.

But we had a great time. In the first place, it was only for a long weekend, not for a long period of time, so we didn’t need to have a huge number of things to do. Second, the main point was simply to get away for a few days and not to spend too much time getting there, so it fit the bill. Third, there’s actually enough to do in Worcester for a couple of days, and it has some great restaurants!

By accident we unknowingly picked two restaurants with the same owner on our first day: The Sole Proprietor (great name!) for lunch and One Eleven Chop House for dinner. Both were truly excellent. Seafood and steak in the same day — what more could one ask? Our other excellent meal, on Saturday, was at Bocado, which was really just like other tapas restaurants I’ve been to in Waltham and in West Hartford. (Which reminds me, Barbara and I still have to try the newly open Brookline branch of the West Hartford one, Barcelona.) Three high points of our visit were the fine Worcester Historical Museum; its fascinating Salisbury Mansion, where a highly informative guide told us even more than we would ever want to know about the house and its history; and the multi-faceted Ecotarium, which is primarily aimed at kids but still has plenty for adults to do, including seeing quite a number of live animals in natural habitats.

We stayed at the Hilton, which is in an only slightly creepy neighborhood across the street from the DCU Center.

Oh, you wonder why I didn’t include the famous Hanover Theatre and the Worcester Art Museum among the highlights. The theatre was closed at the time, and the art museum suffered from a bizarre problem that seems to have affected nobody but me:

We went into the first gallery, and I was almost immediately unable to breathe! Since this gallery was carpeted, I figured that it was some chemical that they had used to clean the carpet (although nobody else, including Barbara, had any problem). So we went out to the central hall, where there was no issue. And then into another gallery, which wasn’t carpeted…but again there was this overpowering odor that only I seemed to notice and that didn’t bother anyone else. We tried a third gallery, on a different floor, with identical results. All we could think was that some chemical was in their ventilation system — though why was it only in the galleries and not in any of the common spaces? And why didn’t it affect anyone else?

So unfortunately we couldn’t stay. Definitely the low point of our trip. Otherwise a great time. And we clearly picked the right restaurants!


Categories: Travel