Day Seven: Burlington, VT – Manchester, VT – Bennington, VT

Burlington

Church Street, Burlington, VT

Miles travelled
124

Where we stayed
Hampton Inn, Bennington, VT.  It was a massive room with really comfy bed, but for some reason I only booked a room with a shower which for me was a DISASTER!

Where we ate
A quick stop at McDonalds for lunch (yes I know, terribly bad, but we were on the road!)
We went to Chili’s for dinner, and I’ve since discovered this is another thing we don’t have in the UK (used to, but I think it went under).  The waitress we had was ADORABLE.  She loved our accent and my purse, and was so incredibly cheery.  I loved her.  Anyway, I had a Quesadilla Explosion Salad (soooo much chicken and cheese!) and Husband had a Bacon Ranch Quesadilla.  We were stuffed and had to waddle back to our hotel across the parking lot.  WADDLE!

Photos
Day Seven

I was just looking through my photos from today, and I really didn’t take that many.  Again, it was a “we need to stop halfway” type of day, as our ultimate goal was Connecticut.  Anyway, it was quite busy in the breakfast room again, and I only felt like a banana so we didn’t spend that long before setting off.  We parked at Burlington Mall and walked straight down to Lake Champlain.  I’d hoped for a boat trip but once again, we’d missed the season, so we just walked along the waterfront for a bit.

Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain

Back up into town after a wander, we stopped at Starbucks for a quick coffee and then walked down the pedestrianised Church Street.  Modelled on Copenhagen’s Strøget, the street was dotted with shops, restaurants and ski lift benches (so cute!) and really felt like the heart of Burlington.  I was very excited to find the University of Vermont shop and bought lots of merchandise to take home, so I can pretend that I work at a fancy American university instead of an ordinary British one.  We considered going up the hill to visit the University, and I’m regretting not doing so now but that just means I’ll have to go back!

This was our first experience of a being in a college town, and on our drive to Route 7 after a couple of hours in town, it was so weird so see all the big fraternity and sorority houses dotted along the road.   They have some great houses – our courts/halls really don’t compare.

So we were back on the road, and it felt like a long drive.  We drove through cute little towns, like Brandon, VT, slightly bigger towns like Rutland, VT, and then we were back in the mountains – the Green Mountains this time.  Once again America, you win with your mountains – so so beautiful that at times it looked faked!  We saw a sign for Emerald Lake State Park but, yes, you guessed it – out of season.  Never mind!

Route 7

Route 7

We did a very odd route at this point.  Normal people might look at our route and probably think we’d gone a bit insane, which I suppose we had just from being in the car for a couple of hours.  We are a bad influence on each other.  We came off Route 7 and drove through Manchester, VT – another town filled with outlet shops, but these were fancy shops.  No Old Navy here!  It was really cute though.  It wasn’t a big mall or retail park – all of the shops are just along Main Street so it gave the outlets a very down to earth, yet quite exclusive feel.  There was a McDonalds here too of course, so we had a late lunch here.

When I wasn’t concentrating on where we were supposed to be going, I read the Lonely Planet guidebook to try and find places to stop along the way.  I was scanning the Vermont pages, and read something about a Historic Route 7A.  What made it historic?  Who knows!  (As it turns out, it’s to distinguish it from Route 7 – not that historic really).  Not knowing any better, we thought “Hey!  We should do the historic thing!” so despite having already gone passed the exit, we turned back.  We kept expecting history to jump out at us, but all we got were ‘turning circles’ lurking around the corner.

We got into Bennington and checked into the Hampton Inn – they’ve made the lobby look super fancy!  The room was nice as well, but I was mainly using it to carry on reading Allegiant.  We did a quick Google search to see what food was in the area, and the Chili’s was in walking distance.  Not having to drive was an added bonus, so Husband could have a sneaky beer or two.  I haven’t been to a Chili’s before, and we stuffed our faces with really nice food.  We received such great service – despite being a big chain place, we had a really good time.

We dragged ourselves back to the hotel and I settled in to finish my book.  Yes, there were tears at the end.  I had a shower (UGH!) and we fell into the very comfortable bed for a well deserved sleep.

Day Six: North Conway, NH – Waterbury, VT – Burlington, VT

Vermont roads

Vermont

Miles travelled
142

Where we stayed
Best Western, South Burlington – again, a very pleasant room.

Where we ate
Lunch was ice cream.  Hell yes.
Dinner was at American Flatbread in Burlington, and it was so good – definitely one of my favourite meals.  We shared a massive New Vermont Sausage flatbread, and then I had a brownie for pudding, whilst Husband had carrot cake

Photos
Day Six

No watching the sunrise this morning – the view over the closed mini-golf wasn’t particularly epic – so today started quite ordinarily.  The breakfast room was packed full of French-Canadians and we weren’t used to hearing French, especially not when we were half asleep, so it felt a little surreal.  I had another go at the waffle machine and shared a waffle with Husband, and I was also very thankful for the free fruit (something I had missed at previous breakfasts).

Our drive today would be through the amazing White Mountains, and over the Kancamagus Highway.  Wowsers.  This was a beautiful road with plenty of places to stop for a wander round.  Paying for a parking permit was really quaint – you had to put $3 in an envelope with your license plate number and post it in a box in one of the car parks, then hang the receipt on your rear view mirror.  So trustworthy!  We paid for our permit at the first place we stopped – Lower Falls and made a quick visit to Falls Pond.  It was a little grey and overcast, so no beautiful blue skies for our photos but it was still really pretty.

Falls Pond

On the way to Falls Pond

We stopped again a bit further along at Sabbaday Falls, and had a lovely little walk up to the falls.  Unfortunately, it had started raining at this point, but the mist over the hills were making it look really dramatic.  If not grey.  Back down from the falls, and I decided I would be brave enough to have a drive.  There was no one else on the road, and I knew if I didn’t do it now, I wouldn’t get a better chance.  I drove for about 10 minutes up the highway and I found it so ridiculously frustrating.  Because we were going up hill, I knew what gear I wanted to be in, but the bloody automatic wanted to decide for itself.   I pulled over into a car park, gave up, and left the rest of the driving to Husband.  One last view point, and then on to one of the absolute highlights of the trip – the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, VT.

I.  Was.  Excited.  Despite the pouring rain as we ran across the car park.  Tours are every thirty minutes, and we got there just as one left, so we wandered about the shop and the mini-museum.  First stop on the tour was the Cow Over the Moon Theater where we watched a short film about the history of Ben & Jerry’s, and then our tour guide Blair took us to the mezzanine over the production room.  No photos were allowed (Blair made sure he weeded out the ice cream spies) and we got a little wave from someone on the production line as Blair explained how the ice cream was made.  It was such a great tour, and Blair had a great sense of humour.  Someone asked if there were any new flavours coming out, and Blair said that there was a film tie-in coming out (which was then revealed that very day to be Scotchy Scotch Scotch!) so we got a bit of an exclusive there.

They were making Peanut Butter Cup so I assumed that we’d be getting a sample of that, but instead we got a (quite large) sample of Mint Choc Chunk which was delicious.

Ice Cream

Mint Choc Chunk

But this wasn’t enough ice cream for us, and we went over to the scoop shop – I had Chocolate Therapy and Husband had Maple Walnut which is apparently now only made for the scoop shop in Vermont.  I asked for a small cone and got a ridiculously sized thing – I don’t know if I misunderstood or if this was the small, but I couldn’t finish it!  The rain had died down, so we took a trip to the Flavor Graveyard to pay respects to the ghosts of ice cream past.  The first gravestone we saw was for Peanuts! Popcorn! – NO FAIR, I WOULD HAVE LOVED THAT!!

We took the obligatory comedy photo in the Ben & Jerry’s photo cut-out thingie before driving the extra half an hour to South Burlington, VT for our evening stop.  And one of my most important purchases – Allegiant by Veronica Roth – from the Barnes and Noble across the street.  Yes, I did choose the Best Western based on it’s proximity to a book store the day that Allegiant was released.  You’d all do it too.  I accidentally ended up buying two other (hard back) books as well, which would eventually be a massive pain in the arse when it came to packing my suitcase, but it was totally worth it.

I of course immediately started my read in the hotel, but I was able to tear myself away for some incredibly delicious flatbread in at American Flatbread in Burlington that evening.  This was after spotting a free space in Burlington, driving towards it, then realising it was “Mayor Parking Only”.  HEE!  The restaurant was absolutely buzzing but it took about 5 minutes before we got our table which wasn’t bad at all.  The pizza oven was in plain view, so I spent the evening mesmerised by the two bakers making up the pizzas, then a third baker whisking them into the “earthen oven” to produce a very tasty flatbread.

To walk off the yummy food and because we had free parking (something else I loved about the towns we visited), we wandered around Burlington and soaked in the college town life.  We hadn’t decided what we going going to do tomorrow at this point, but Burlington by night made us want to visit Burlington by day.  With plans decided, we drove the 10 minutes to our hotel where poor exhausted Husband fell asleep in front of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and New Girl, and I read a little bit more of Allegiant before sleep called me as well.

It’s not a road trip. It’s a covert operation.

Trip planning

A few months ago, Husband decided we were going on a road trip this year.  Completely out of the blue – I got home from work and there were books about New England on the coffee table that he’d randomly bought on a lunchtime bookshop binge.  Excitedly, I got to work and had our entire route planned before he finished saying “I wonder if there are any Cheesecake Factories in Massachusetts”.

We got the big map out again on bank holiday Monday and started to finalise our plans (using a spreadsheet on the TV – ever the data nerds).  We’ve already paid for three nights at the Revere Boston Common as we found a good deal, so all we had to do it come up with what we’re going to do for the rest of the two weeks.  Hopefully something along the lines of the following:

Rockport, MA
We land in Boston and drive straight out to Rockport.  It’s only about an hour away, so we’re starting off slow.  We might do Salem, MA on the way (or maybe the day after depending on how tired the flight has made us).  Being a witch obsessed teen has made me somewhat fascinated by Salem.

Wolfeboro, NH
I can’t wait to see Lake Winnipesaukee.  Looks beautiful.

Boothbay Harbor, ME
If we have time, we’d love to do a boat trip out to Monhegan Island as well.

Camden, ME
We debated about whether to go to Augusta or to Camden, but decided on Camden in the end.  It looks such a great town, and we’re looking forward to taking a trip to Camden Hills Park.

Conway, NH
Admittedly, there apparently isn’t much here other than an outlet village (which is enough of a draw for me), but it’s we’re we’ve decided to stop here before going across the White Mountains and the Kancamagus Highway.

Burlington, VT
Conveniently near the Ben & Jerry’s factory and The Alchemist Brewery.  Fun for everyone!

Bennington, VT
We’re not sure on whether we’ll stay here, but we need somewhere halfway between Burlington and our next stop.  And I have to visit the Yankee Candle flagship store.  Stop laughing.

Foxwoods, CT
I’m aware that Foxwoods isn’t a town, but it is the 2nd largest casino in the USA.  Those two statements don’t really have a connection.  FOXWOODS!

Hyannis, MA
We’ve had to go a bit of a weird route because hotel rooms were too expensive for the nights we had planned to stay there.  Hyannis is the start of our mini Cape Cod adventure.

Provincetown, MA
Right at the tip of Cape Cod.  It’ll be nice to get back to being by the sea again after all that inland driving!

Providence, RI
We’re planning on doing a tour of Brown University.  I always wanted to go there when I was younger.  I hope they don’t mind random British university Administrators hopping on their tours.

Boston, MA
And this is where we end our trip, taking a detour to Plymouth, MA on the way from Providence.  So far, I have planned on visiting the Flour Bakery, going on a Harvard tour and seeing some art.  There’s an exhibition on American modernist photographers at the MFA which looks exciting.  We’ll probably be exhausted by the time we get here, but hopefully we can stay awake for the last three days.

I think we’re decided on which hotels we’re going to stay at – largely independent places, but the odd chain has sneaked in.  We’re not planning on spending a huge amount each night, but I think some places might test our budget a little.  Trip Advisor has been a saviour in the planning, as has Trivago – I’ve seen many a hotel that I thought was out of our budget, but Trivago has managed to find us a good deal.

Plotting the towns on a map, we are just driving in a big square, and might be missing out on some amazing towns in the middle so if you have any suggestions, let me know!

Now I just need to wait another 4 months (or so) for our trip to come around.  This summer is going to be hard!

(Oh, btw, it’s not really a covert operation.  That’s just me quoting Buffy).