Our Duck driver, the Admiral Amnesia (known at home as Charles Perry), proves not only loquacious, but - good news for kids and adults alike - funny and enthusiastic. The Duck Tour isn't cheap, but in the company of the Admiral it is worth every cent.

As we course through the streets of Boston, the Admiral, who appears to be wearing boxers adorned with green sharks, informs us of many things. We learn plenty of historical facts. We also learn where Massachusetts Senator John Kerry lives ("The Secret Service loves it when I point it out").

Proving his ease on the water, the Admiral even lets Cullen and Graham drive. Lest you doubt his professionalism, I will relay this exchange.

Me: "How was it?"

Cullen: "Fun, but he held the wheel most of the time."

That night we eschew the subway and take a cab to the North End and Pizzaria Regina, recommended by several Bostonians and lauded in a guidebook as famous "for the humorously brusque service and tasty brick-oven pies."

Regina's is worth lauding, though there is a substantial line outside. Inside, Regina's (serving pizza since 1926) is as a pizza place should be - they serve Black Label in a can, air conditioners labor futilely, plates are paper, and the mouth­watering pizza stains them soppy. The pizza is also reasonable, and the waitresses­ aren't rude, just busy.

"People come here from all o-vah," says one, passing us by like a breeze. "We're in the middle of no-weah and people still find us."

After dinner we wander the narrow North End streets beneath a half moon, happy light from apartments and numerous Italian bakeries pouring into the street. Finally, like moths, we are drawn to the light.

Behind the glass at Bova's Bakery rests a Who's Who of baked delights: vanilla pizzelles, cannoli, cream puffs. Also behind the counter rest the Bovas. No chains here.