I'm over 21, but don't drink (alcohol doesn't mix well with angst-management meds).
If you're arriving "day of", South Station might not be that bad of a place to meet up, or for locals to "pick up" arrivals for subway escort. The easiest way to get downtown from the Airport is via the Silver Line buses between the General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport ("Logan" to anyone who doesn't want to hurt themselves) and South Station.
South Station is also the main terminal for all inter-state passenger trains NOT coming from Maine (to my knowledge, the Downeaster is the only Amtrack line that runs out of North Station, not counting the local commuter rail). As a "local", I'd be happy to hang around South Station to be people's guide to the subway system.
Actually... If you don't yet have a "CharlieCard" (the local fare-card system), you might want to give a shout-out. I can try to get my paws on a stack to give out when you get to Boston. It'll save the trouble of having to figure out where to get one, gets a slightly discounted fare off the rate for the disposable CharlieTickets, and can make a cheap souvenier. They can be refilled at fare vending kiosks at most subway stations (streetcar-level stations further outbound from Kenmore or Symphony stations on the Green Line often don't have them until you get out into the suburban stations that have actual parking lots). Vending kiosks take most major credit and debit cards, and most also take cash.
If there's a chance you may be using the bus or Silver Line services, it's probably best for everyone to have their own rather than to share one. While you usually CAN share a CharlieCard by passing it back to the person behind you, you lose the advantage of the free bus-to-bus and subway-to-bus transfers. Transferring from a bus to the subway isn't quite free, but it's just the difference in fare between the bus and subway systems, so all trips that use the subway at some point have the same total fare as just a subway ride.
The T has been doing a lot of cool tech things lately. Want to know where your bus is and when it's expected to get to you? There's an app for that. No, really, there is. Supposedly, they're working with Google (which just so happens to have an office in Cambridge) to integrate public transit route and vehicle location information into Google Maps. So those of you with smartphones, feel free to geek out. They've also got a pretty good web site with trip-planning tools, service notices, maps, schedules, etc. at MBTA.com > Official Website for Greater Boston's Public Transportation System
Bits of transit info for visitors to Boston:
There are actually two, completely disjoint "Silver Lines": The Waterfront Silver Line has three branches (all starting at South Station) that serve the Airport and the "new" convention district, as well as the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) museum. The Washington Street Silver Line is just what it says, running along Washington Street from Downtown Crossing and the Shopping District through the South End (one of the more "hip" and upscale, aspiring-artistic neighborhoods). Just don't ride it too far outbound or you'll end up in Roxbury, one of Boston's more notorious gang hotspots.
Other things to watch for in the subway:
The Red Line has two branches: Ashmont and Braintree (NOT to be confused the the Green Line's 'B' branch). They both run from Alewife Station in Cambridge, through Harvard and Central Squares (cultural hotspots where you'll find a fair mix of fine dining and bars/pubs catering to the university crowd, coffehouses, etc. you'd expect to find in an upscale college town right. Harvard Square is so called because it's right next to Harvard University, which tends to be a top pick for the Rich and Powerful to send their kids. A little further down the line is Kendal Square, Cambridge's big TECH hotspot, though not really the most happening place. It's mostly notable because it serves M.I.T.. For the truly nerdy, Infocom used to be there.
If you happen to be a looking into colleges, you should SERIOUSLY drop in for BCBCon, even just because you can check out two of THE top universities in the world afterwards (not to mention that you can barely throw a stone in Boston and Cambridge without hitting SOMETHING associated with a college or university. (Fair disclosure, I haven't attended any of Boston's educational institutions, but I did attend some of the student-run programs at M.I.T. geared toward high-school students. Remind me to mark my calendar for the opening of grad-school applications in September.)
Regardless, BCBCon attendees probably shouldn't have to worry about the Ashmont/Braintree branches, since the branch-point is well after any station you're likely to want to get off at, with the possible exception of Quincy Center in the Historical district. You might be better off using the Aquarium station on the Blue Line I'm not sure if the T still charges extra to get out at the Quincy Center stations.
Tourists DO need to be careful with the Green Line: There are FOUR different branch lines (B, C, D, and E) all of which seem to go different distances north up the main trunk. If you're headed outbound, make sure that you get on a train that's going where you want to. This is rather important once you get past Copley Square and its landmarks, since this is where the branches spilt: Only the 'E' Line will get you the
Only the 'E' trains go through Prudential Station (local shopping mall, Duck Boat tours, and the Prudential Tower's observation deck), the Museum of Fine Arts, and Symphony Hall, one of the most acoustically perfect spaces in the world and right up there with Carnegie Hall in terms of prestigious places to be invited to play. It's also home to the Boston Pops. BCBCon attendees have the "good" fortune of being in town when the Pops give their annual, open-air "Pops Goes the Fourth!" concert that headlines Boston's 4th of July celebrations. Don't plan on getting to sleep early on 7/4. They play the 1812 Overture the way it was MEANT to be played: with field artillery and church bells.
Most likely, the furthest north you'll want to go on the Green Line is Science Park for the famous Museum of Science
. The Science museum is home of the recently-renovated Hayden Planetarium and the Mugar Omni Theater (You know IMAX? This is 5-story IMAX dome for surround image. If you're prone to vertigo, be forewarned that entering the theater can be a bit disorienting, as you emerge from the darkened entry tunnel at the bottom of the theater, with the lit dome making a rather steeply-slanted "horizon". Just remember the advice of the friendly announcer voice before the projectors turn on that if the images feel a bit TOO real, just close your eyes, relax back into your seat, and the feeling should pass. Duck Boat tours also depart from here.
Nightmoon, on 15 June 2011 - 05:53 AM, said:
... blah blah blah blah blah ....
Yeesh. Seriously, me... You've got to get the wall-o-text brain-barfs under control....
This post has been edited by Nightmoon: 15 June 2011 - 05:58 AM