New England gets known for its beautiful coast, mountains, lobster, and many things that don’t add up to an actual portrait. So I suppose it’s not much different than any other region anywhere in the world. But, to the visitor, a few things stick out from their week-long vacation to Boston, Boothbay, Mystic, or Mount Washington that they take home and which will tend to epitomize their visit.
Back a few years ago, they’d get so hungry from their ramble around the tourist traps of Boston that they’d wind up in the Faneuil Hall Market area. After looking for a restaurant, some locals would smilingly suggest the famous Durgin Park. But, unfortunately, once seated, they’d find that the infamously nasty Durgin Park waitresses more than matched their fit of hangry pique. This event was imprinted evermore in their memories of Boston.
To know an area, you have to habituate it. Tourists can’t do this, and locals resent journalists who reveal “where the locals eat.” Stumbling into a fantastic place in East Gloucester or Rockport that the horde hasn’t swamped is different. You’re an individual; act normal, don’t ogle, and don’t be loud. Enjoy the food and the famous indifferent service, and you’ll get by.
Think of any place you go as a series of nested and enclosed boxes. On your first visit, you explore the surface; some of the boxes open on subsequent ones. Perhaps eventually, you decide that you can’t stay away, and you find yourself relocating. Finally, you’ll realize that you’ve become not a native but a local. Now you too tend to become upset when some New York Times or Philadelphia Inquirer reporter does a “best of” article on your town.