This weekend was my five year college reunion, which brought me to the gritty but wonderful city of Worcester, Massachusetts. I had been looking forward to this event for months. I couldn’t wait to catch up with old friends, see how much my university has changed since I graduated, and relive my college days (at least, for a little while…). By the time I left Saturday evening, I felt I had achieved those goals and more.
Friday: Union Station and the Dorm
I was spending reunion with one of my best friends from school who lives up in Greater Boston. She was taking the train in to Worcester, so the first stop on my reunion adventure took me to Union Station. I had taken the bus from Union Station regularly during my college days, and its gorgeous white cupolas that rise above Route 290 signified that I was returning to my home away from home. The inside of Union Station is just as pretty, with marble tiles and ornate walls. I met my friend outside of the Grand Hall, where an event that we guessed was a senior prom was going on. Considering how well Union Station is constructed, it was a perfect venue. After paying for parking and dumping our bags in my car, we drove out to campus!
While I was at reunion, my friend and I stayed in one of the renovated dorms on campus. Our room was just like we had remembered when we were in school, but the dorm itself was so different! A few years ago, this particular dorm was joined with another one; which resulted in elevators, new study spaces and lounges to be built. When we walked in, we were floored. Things were familiar but strange at the same time, and it was almost as if we hadn’t gone there at all. This feeling lasted throughout our time at reunion as we explored campus and discovered all the changes that had been made.
Saturday: The Worcester Experience
When we weren’t on campus, my friend and I were revisiting all of our favorite places in Worcester. Our morning started off with a stroll down Park Avenue, a street where I logged many miles walking, running, and taking photos. We were searching for breakfast, so I took my friend to Nu Cafe on Chandler Street, just off of Park.
I discovered Nu Cafe my junior year during one of my many long walks. Located inside a brick office building, Nu Cafe is expansive, modern and relaxing; full of exposed brick and ductwork and books artfully placed wherever you look. They pride themselves on serving organic and locally sourced food, and also have gluten-free options (which I appreciate!). My friend and I got the fresh cracked egg and cheese breakfast sandwich; hers on a croissant and mine on toasted gluten free bread. The sandwich was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, with just a hint of spice from the black pepper sprinkled on top. It was the perfect pick-me-up to get me through the rest of the day!
After breakfast, we returned to campus to participate in some reunion activities. Then, it was off to find lunch on Shrewsbury Street.
Shrewsbury Street, Inhouse Cafe and Basil and Spice
Known for its myriad of restaurants, Shrewsbury Street is one of the most popular parts of Worcester. Every fall, the Shrewsbury College Shuffle invites students from all the area colleges for an afternoon of sampling, shopping and exploring. I got the chance to do this my last year, so I couldn’t wait to drive over with my friend and experience Shrewsbury Street again.
The first stop on our tour was Inhouse Cafe, home to coffee of all different flavors and styles. I got a chocolate mint latte that curbed all the anxiety I had developed from my harrowing trip (tl:dr – narrow streets and fire trucks lead to near panic attacks, and turning lanes can be ridiculous). We then decided to walk to find lunch, which led us to Basil ‘n Spice.
Basil ‘n Spice is the epitome of peaceful. It’s a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant with exposed brick, beautiful paintings, and a pergola accenting the bar. The staff is super nice, and the food is AMAZING. My friend and I split their Thai summer rolls, which they serve like sushi. I have never had summer rolls served in this fashion, so I was impressed with the presentation. I was even more excited for the Pad See Ew, my favorite Thai dish. Again, Basil ‘n Spice took a dish I was familiar with and made it their own. In their Pad See Ew, they include kale! I was completely satisfied with my experience at Basil ‘n Spice, and would definitely return the next time I visit Worcester.
At the end of the day, my friend and I decided to have a light dinner and dessert. We returned to Park Avenue, and stopped at Living Earth. Living Earth is a natural food store that became a godsend to me my last two years of college. I had some health issues, and Living Earth’s extensive selection of gluten free and organic foods allowed me to adjust to a new dietary lifestyle. Living Earth has a variety of meals to go, so my friend got a vegan wrap, and I got a delicious salad.
Our last stop was at Yoway, a frozen yogurt shop and cafe. Yoway is a very popular spot, as evidenced by the groups of teenagers we saw hanging out and having fun. One of the unique things they sell is Japanese crepes, which are crepes wrapped like waffle cones and served with ice cream. I was intrigued by this treat, but the nefarious gluten got in my way. I was more interested in their frozen yogurt anyways. I got a mix of mango, watermelon, and vanilla yogurt while my friend got cookie dough and peanut butter. It was the best way to end our reunion!