Day Fourteen: Boston, MA

Harvard

Harvard Library

Miles travelled
Only 9 miles walked today – slackers.

Where we stayed
Our final night at the Revere Hotel, Boston Common, Boston, MA.

Where we ate
Starbucks again for lunch
Rustic Kitchen for dinner.  This restaurant was next to/in our hotel and was perfect for this evening as we didn’t want to go too far.  I had baked rigatoni which was really nice but hotter thank the sun.  Husband had stuffed chicken which wasn’t great quality chicken, but he didn’t hate it.  He then had pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.

Photos
Day Fourteen.  Not many photos from today as it was a bit rainy.

Our day started with a very serious conversation with the server in Panera about riots and politics in Boston.  We did not expect such a heavy topic over the cinnamon rolls.  The main gist of his comments were that he didn’t envy us today due to 1) the Red Sox playing in the World Series that evening; 2) Obama giving a speech at Faneuil Hall; 3) possibly ‘fun’ riots later on in the day.  It turns out that the last time the Red Sox won the World Series, Boston got a bit riot-y, someone died, and everyone was angry.  But we were reassured that it was just rioting to celebrate so we didn’t need to be worried.  Uh, ok.

Pushing all of that to the back of our minds, we walked over to Park Street to grab the MBTA over to Cambridge.  It was really easy to buy a ticket ($2.50 each way) and in no time at all, we were walking out the Harvard exit and over to the Harvard Vistor’s Center.  We put our names down for a tour which would be leaving in about 45 minutes, and then figured out what to do for 45 minutes in the rain which wouldn’t spoil our tour.  We found some shelter, and after being asked if we studied there (YAY!), we went back to the center to start the tour.

There were about 20 people on the tour, from Ireland, Germany, Argentina, and Japan.  The tour guide was in her final year studying Sociology and she was a sweetheart.  She was really chatty as she walked us from building to building, giving us personal and historical stories.  We wandered around the Old Yard, looked at Mass Hall, over to the Science Center, then into Memorial Hall where we listened to the din from the Freshman dining hall next door.  Only Freshman are allowed in this hall to breed a sense of community amongst the new students, and not even we were allowed in to look (although that didn’t stop some people in the tour from opening the door – so rude!)

Old Yard

The Old Yard

We then went over to the library (again, not allowed in) and the tour finished at the fake statue of John Harvard, also known as the statue of three lies.  We really enjoyed the tour, and thanked our guide before heading off towards MIT, stopping at one of the Harvard stores to buy merchandise.  We hoped to use the MIT app to look around as it had a really good walking tour, but it didn’t seem to work without 3G so instead, we wandered about a bit not knowing what we were looking at.  We jumped back on the MBTA at Kendal/MIT and travelled back into Boston.  We grabbed a Starbucks for a very late lunch and went back to our room for another nap after watching Obama do his talking thing across town.

Still a little bit worried about fun riots, we decided to stay close to the hotel for dinner and went next door to the Rustic Kitchen.  Pretty much everyone in Boston was at home or in a bar watching the game so it was quite quiet (although the game was on in the restaurant as well) and we enjoyed a peaceful dinner.

It was the last night of our holiday, so back in our room, I had a fun game of trying to squash everything into my suitcase whilst we watched the rest of the game.  It felt like the game went on forever, but the Red Sox won and we switched off the TV, trying to hear if there were riots.  We figured we were far enough away from Fenway Park so we weren’t worried as we fell asleep.

Day Thirteen: Boston, MA

DSC_7290

Bunker Hill Monument

Miles travelled
My Fitbit says we walked just under 12 miles.  Sheesh.

Where we stayed
A second lovely night at the Revere Hotel, Boston Common, Boston, MA.

Where we ate
Starbucks La Boulange savoury square – yummy.
Cheesecake Factory for dinner.  OMG, so much food, it was ridiculous.  We shared a quesadilla to start which was a very stupid idea as this was far too much food.  Husband had a GIANT chicken salad for his main and I had an Americana Burger.  We took away our dinner to eat back at the room – Red Velvet and Chocolate Tuxedo.

Photos
Day Thirteen

My plans to start the day with a relaxing bath went to hell as I discovered the plug hole was broken.  Curses!  I would later google how to block a plug hole without a plug (pro tip – soak a flannel or hand towel and use that to seal the hole.  Worked a treat!) but in the meantime, I had a not-so relaxing shower.  We did report the problem, but it didn’t seem to get fixed – we got the impression that the front desk staff member was just updating her Facebook status about the annoying British people complaining about a plug.  The Skoah toiletries made up for it though.

Today was going to be a bit of a test as we knew we wanted to walk the Freedom Trail, but I didn’t know how well I’d do on my ankle.  The Freedom Trail is about 2.5 miles long, but we somehow managed to do a little under 12 miles throughout the whole day (according to my Fitbit).  About 1.5 miles of that was walking to and from dinner, so we must have done a significant amount of detours to get up to 10ish!  I suspect this might be some of the reason why my ankle is still bad now – I did not go by the RICE method at all.  American medicine helped me along a little bit.

DSC_7253

Boston State House

We went over to Boston Common to find the start of the Freedom Trail – the red bricked line that would be our guide for the day.  It took us first up to the New State House which had a huge “Go Sox” banner on the front.  They’re obviously very proud of their team.  We then walked over to the King’s Chapel Cemetery which looked very picturesque in the dappled sunlight.  We walked passed the Old Corner Bookstore (which is now a Chipotle!) and decided to go in to the Old South Meeting House.  It was surrounded by scaffolding so I didn’t have high expectations but it was really good!

The museum is set around the edge of the seats in the meeting house, and whilst we were there, some school children were having a historical debate, pretending to be figures from the American Revolution and Boston Tea Party, so we’d hear them yelling in agreement or disagreement every now and again.  It was really fun to watch them getting into character and their teacher was really enthusiastic.  I actually learnt quite a lot from the museum exhibits.  I didn’t really understand what the Tea Party was before, or appreciate any of the history of the American Revolution, but I feel like now I do !  It also didn’t try to gloss over the past, so learning a bit about slavery was fascinating as well as shocking.  A great little museum.  They also had a cute gift shop (the other side of the entrance, and yet the same girl served us which confused us immensely) and I bought my Dad some Boston tea.

Next on the trail was the Old State House and the site of the Boston Massacre.  We didn’t go into the Old State House, so marched on to the next historical point, Faneuil Hall.   We didn’t go in here either, but we did get exasperated by the idiot vans parked on the pavement.  We had to squeeze passed them, grumbling about inconsiderate drivers, before realising that they were probably getting ready for Obama’s speech the following day.  How exciting.  We deviated off the red brick path to walk around Faneuil Hall Marketplace, which was very pretty but seemed to be full of touristy shops.

Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall

After this, we cut across Route 93, watching a woman spectacularly drive the wrong way down a road, and into the North End, a neighbourhood of Boston that’s also known as Little Italy.  There were some really nice looking restaurants here, and if we had more time, we’d definitely have gone here for dinner.  We walked passed (of course) the Paul Revere House and the statue of Paul Revere, who was wearing a Boston Red Sox shirt, and up to Old North Church.  The church grounds were packed with children and costumed tour guides, so we took a brief look around before walking up to another cemetery, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground.  We were a bit disappointed in this site, as there as a footnote on one of the info board saying that many of the grave stones had been moved to make space for a pathway.  That sucks!

On to Charlestown, and to get there we had to cross the Charlestown Bridges which was CRAPPING TERRIFYING.  I’m not the best at crossing bridges at the best of times, but I usually manage it because most bridges don’t consist of just GRATING that you can clearly SEE THROUGH TO THE RIVER.  I freaked out a little bit a lot and was almost in tears at one point, but I managed to get across – go me.  I was rewarded with a sit down in the City Square Park, where Husband perked me up by singing the “Let’s Go Bruins” song at me, only with our names instead of Bruins.

A quick top up of Ibuprofen, and we walked on to the Bunker Hill Monument.  There wasn’t even a question of walking up the 294 steps, what with me being broken and Husband being fearful of Heights, but it was to wander around the area looking at the house.  We really liked the big houses around Monument Square, and decided that we’d like to live here when we grow up.

The last stop on the Freedom Trail tour was the USS Constitution.  We did the museum first, which was informative and had lots of games (for kids) that I enjoyed playing.  Husband then wanted to go on the ship, and had read that it should have been open today, but the sign on the front said it was only open Thursday-Sunday.  We stood around confused for a bit, before deciding that we wouldn’t bother asking so just looked at the ship from afar.  It looked quite ship-like.

Back over the river (*freak out freak out freak out*), back through Boston, and safely back to our hotel room with a Starbucks, after which I proceeded to have the first nap of the trip.  I had my feet wrapped up in the comforter on the bed, which was the softest material I have ever touched (you could buy the comforter for about $300 which I was seriously tempted by…) which made it a lovely lovely nap.

I woke up refreshed and ready to stuff myself with food, so we walked over to the Cheesecake Factory in the Prudential Center.  We got confused by how to get in (two entrances!) picked the wrong one, but only had to wait about 5 minutes before we were seated, which is amazing for the Cheesecake Factory.  We even had a great table, on a raised bit at the back of the restaurant so we could people watch whilst we ate All The Food.

As is tradition with us, we got our cheesecake to go and took it back to the room, sneaking it in to the hotel so they staff wouldn’t judge us.  I managed to finish mine, but Husband didn’t (his was bigger than mine) as we watched the American X-Factor which was CACK!  I then successfully had a wet flannel bath, and we settled down to sleep with tired legs from our long day.

Day Twelve: Providence, RI – Boston, MA

Boston

The view from our balcony

Miles travelled
52 in the car, about 5 miles on a bus!

Where we stayed
Revere Hotel, Boston Common, Boston, MA.  Really nice hotel, AMAZING toiletries (Skoah spa toiletries – my hair was so shiny!) – I really enjoyed our stay.  We didn’t get the room we booked (two beds instead of a king size) but at least we could fit in one bed so we didn’t mind too much.  We were also supposed to get champagne on check in but that didn’t happen either – probably for the best as I would have fallen off the balcony or something.  But yes, a balcony overlooking lots of pretty buildings.  It wasn’t cheap, but we accepted that we had to splurge to enjoy Boston.  We stayed here for three nights, so there would be no more hotel hopping.

Where we ate
Panera again for lunch.
Fast food for a pre-gig dinner.

Photos
Day Twelve – my photo timeline looks a little messed up as my camera was on UK time, but my phone was on America time, and I didn’t want to take my camera to the gig.

We woke up with heavy hearts today.  We knew that today would be our last day with Walter, our beloved rental.

OK, perhaps it was just me with the ridiculous over-attachment to inanimate objects, but I felt sad that we’d be leaving the car behind after 1400 miles!  Husband just felt quite anxious about driving to the airport.

We woke up (in separate beds – ack!) to the sound of our free morning coffee being left at the door which was a lovely start to the day – thanks Omni Providence!  We had already packed last night, so there was nothing left for us to do except wait for rush hour to die down before heading out up the I95.

The drive was actually quite easy.  Things got busy and a little bit hairy as we got closer to the airport, but everything is well signposted and we found the rental place without any problems.  The big Logan Airport rental parking lot on Transportation Way is done so incredibly well – they direct you as per your rental company, so we just followed the signs for Budget, found our way to the drop off bit and then said farewell to Walter.  You did us proud, little Jetta, and your door compartments were just the right size for guide books on my side, beef jerky on Husband’s side.

It’s ok.  I’m ok *sob*

Anyway, getting into Boston from the airport was almost too easy.  We jumped on the rental bus back to departures, made our way downstairs to the Silver Line bus stop, plopped ourselves on a bus and let the bus driver do all the work.  All this was FREE.  Did you hear that London – a free bus to take us from the airport to downtown Boston.  I’m still not quite over how brilliant that is.  And to make it even more brilliant, halfway through the journey, the dual-mode bus turns electric and goes underground in it’s own tunnel.  Husband and I stared at each other in absolute wonder.  This is the freaking future.

When we planned the trip from the airport to the hotel, we hadn’t planned for me to have a busted ankle (I know – it does feel as though we should have expected this) so the actual walk from South Station to our hotel on Stuart Street was a tad more laborious and  painful than we thought.  I think it took about half an hour instead of 15 minutes, and in hindsight we should have just got a taxi.  Never mind.  We had a quick stop at Panera, where I experienced my first bit of Boston fieriness, when a customer started yelling at the woman behind the till for no reason.  The employee seemed to take it well though, and gave as good as she got.

The hotel was only about a minute away from Panera, so we checked in, marvelled at the beautiful room and balcony, then went for a walk to try and get our bearings.  We ended up walking through Boston Common, down Washington Street (and accidentally into Macy’s where Husband treated me to some Bobbi Brown make-up) and all the way down to the Harbor.

Boston buildings

Out for a wander

We didn’t spend too long out, as we had a gig to get ready for, and I had new Bobbi Brown make-up to put on.

Husband is really into a band called Fitz and the Tantrums, and when we were looking around for fun things to do in Boston, he was really pleased to see that they’d be playing a gig at the House of Blues.  We ended up getting tickets quite far back on the mezzanine level, so we didn’t know how good the seats would be, but we figured they couldn’t be dreadful.

We walked to the House of Blues, stopping at a Wendy’s on the way so we could grab another Pretzel Pub Chicken – there was a Celtics basketball player in the queue behind us, and I of course only know this because the homeless man in front of us was saying “hey, you play for the Celtics”.  And he was tall.  Some of the streets around the House of Blues were a bit scary so we walked as quickly as we could, but eventually we got back to civilisation and queued up to get in.  We got asked for ID which completely threw me as I wanted to say “CLEARLY WE ARE IN OUR THIRTIES” and fortunately, I had both of our passports on us.  The doorman wasn’t ready for weird British passports.

Our seats were actually really good – we had a great view!  The tour was called The Bright Futures Tour, and was a co-headlining tour which we didn’t realise until a bit later.  First on was an LA band called Beat Club, and they were really good.  I’ve listened to their EP a bunch of times since getting back home (I’m listening again to it now) – live, they sound a bit like Simple Minds mixed in with the Strokes with a little bit of the Blade Runner soundtrack and a little bit of the Ramones, and I really hope they make it big.  I do love a band that embraces synths.

Second up, and the co-headliners, were Capital Cities.  Again, not a band that have made it to the UK yet, but they were incredibly popular with the crowd.  They had some catchy songs, including Safe and Sound which I think got to number one in the Billboard Charts, but they ended by dancing around on stage to a remix of their own song which felt a little odd to us.  Everyone else loved it though so they’re clearly doing it well.  They were teaching the crowd a little dance routine and everyone got into it – I very much doubt that would happen at most UK gigs.  It was really amusing to look down on the crowd from the mezzanine to see them all doing the same routine.

And finally, Fitz and the Tantrums.  I must confess that I had listened to their second album a few times before the gig, and it hadn’t grabbed me but hearing it live really did.  Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs were fantastic together – their voices were phenomenal.  There was so much energy and passion and you couldn’t help but really get into it.  Out of My League was probably one of my favourites from the night, as was The Walker.  The staging was really good as well – their ‘neon’ heart backdrop was actually more like a video screen (Husband understands the tech more than I do) and there were amazing patterns and colours to match the music.  And at the end – the classic confetti cannons.  I have listened to their album a heck of a lot more now, and I’m even considering going to their London gig in March.

Fitz

Fitz and the Tantrums

As the gig ended, we all shuffled down to the exit, where the House of Blues managed to thoroughly piss everyone off by messing about with the queues.  Our two options were merch stand or coat check – there didn’t seem to be an option for exit and every time someone asked, they kept shunting us into different queues.  We eventually managed to get out, and sang our way back to the hotel on a post-gig high.  In my 17 years of going to gigs, this was my first overseas gig which has pleased me greatly!