Out on the Town: Providence

Living in Greater Boston has presented us with a unique opportunity: We can use public transport to cross state lines. Specifically, it is possible, and surprisingly simple, to travel to Providence, R.I. using the commuter rail. If you’re like me, that’s a reason to go in and of itself. If you need more reasons to go, though, you won’t be disappointed. Providence is nothing like Boston, and the change of atmosphere could be just the study break you need.

Although this trip took a bit longer than previous ones outlined in this column, the logistics remain easy to execute. I left Tufts for Providence at 8:40 a.m. on a Saturday, taking the 94 MBTA bus from Boston Avenue to Davis Square. From there, I took the Red Line inbound to South Station. Upon arrival, I bought my ticket from a window in the main terminal of the station, near the room with the large board where departure times and locations are announced. The MBTA offers a weekend deal on commuter rail tickets, where the price is reduced from $11.50 per ride to $10 for unlimited rides for that weekend. This weekend pass makes a Providence trip much easier to afford. After a bit of waiting, I boarded the train to Providence at 10:05 a.m.

The train ride is a treat on its own. Passing through the Massachusetts South Shore, I observed the dilapidated brick warehouses with morbid curiosity. These periodically gave way to huge marshes with muted beige grass billowing in the breeze. The train was filled with lots of other young people, ostensibly journeying to Providence for their own weekend excursions. Crackling, youthful energy permeated the train car.

After about 50 minutes, I arrived in Providence, the last stop on the commuter rail line. Coming out of the station, the Rhode Island State House loomed over me, an impressive work of marble. I labored in getting up its steps, and I was then rewarded for my efforts with an extensive view of the city. Providence’s skyline, though small, is very easy on the eyes.

Downtown Providence is eerily quiet, and the contrast is made even more apparent when juxtaposed with Boston on the same day. Almost no pedestrians roamed the streets when I was there. Although the quiet was a lot at first, I warmed up to it as I ambled around the city. Calmer than even Somerville, Providence is the place to be if one needs to clear their head. After lunch, I walked about a mile-and-a-half north to Savers. Savers is a thrift store unlike anything in Greater Boston. The humongous warehouse features clothing noticeably cheaper than anything in Davis Square, and their wares also include books, CDs, household appliances and multiple footwear products. My thrifty readership will be right at home in Providence.

Overall, Providence offers a unique experience from Greater Boston, and I would definitely recommend checking it out if you feel so inclined.