January 25, 2012

Beantown – Part 1

At the end of September The Honey and I took a well-deserved trip to Boston. We were flipping through ideas and settled on Boston because we had heard of so many great things from other people, and we’re glad we went. I picked up a guide book to flip through for ideas and The Honey took to the net. He discovered that Cape Cod wasn’t too far from Boston and so we decided on a few days in both places would be an ideal vacation – the big city and sandy beaches.

We left Ottawa after rush hour and still hit a snarl in Montreal. Thankfully after Hwy 40 it was pretty smooth sailing, including crossing the border in Vermont. It continued like that all the way to Boston. Along the way we could feel the mountains on either side, but due to the dark night we had no idea how big or small they were. Getting a radio station and one that didn’t play country was difficult and often we were stuck listening to music you normally wouldn’t dare catch us listening to. It seemed like the song of the holiday was about someone who could dance like Mick Jagger, and after our drive we heard it everywhere (and I mean everywhere!). We arrived in Boston around 1am and quickly settled into our room. It was tempting to go to the hotel bar for a drink after the six hour drive, but we wanted to get a decent start to our day.

The weather was on our side until our last day – warm sunny days. It was no longer summer, but it was the perfect temperature for getting around. I had my list of things I wanted to see and after our first day the majority had been ticked off. It isn’t because I’m a crazy tourist, Boston is just so easy to get around and most of the places happened to be on our trek.

We set off looking for breakfast at Quincy Market, at the suggestion of the concierge at our hotel. It was supposed to be a quick walk as our hotel (the Langham) was in the financial district. Unfortunately we got turned around a few times due to some filming of a Ryan Reynolds movie and none of the streets are grid-like. Seriously, they go in every direction, turning here and there. Finally we figured it out and found Quincy Market – a happening place due to some dance tryouts and being a Saturday. Since it was so busy we settled in at the first place we came to – Cheers, where we were able to get a decent breakfast. We planned on going to Cheers (aka the Bull and Finch), but not so soon and I wanted to go to the original – no replicas for me thank you.

We continued around the market then moved into the financial district where we came across the Rose Kennedy Greenway, a park-like area that runs between two streets. With the greenery, tables and chairs, and fountains it was a calming spot within the city.

At the end we crossed over to the wharf and took our time taking in the peace and quiet. It was nice walking along the waterside looking at the architecture and boats. When we came to the Aquarium (a place on my list) we saw the huge line and decided to return on Monday when it would be much less busy. 

Further along the wharf was Christopher Columbus Park and eventually Little Italy and Paul Revere Mall. 

We continued on our walk and found ourselves back at the top of Atlantic Ave. We needed some lunch and on the corner of Atlantic and Salem was a little pub called Goody Glovers. There was a nice little patio where we could people watch and look out over the park. The beers were cold, the food was good and the shining sun was warm (no problem with good cold cider and knowing about gluten-free food). 

After lunch we found ourselves at Congress St and a huge market. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen and found myself continually smiling (The Honey on the other hand was overwhelmed). There was stand after stand of fruit, vegetables, and fresh fish and seafood. It looked all so beautiful. Fresh fish sitting on packed ice and mussels being shucked right there for people to eat.


To The Honey’s relief we finally made our way out of the hustle and bustle and back towards Faneuil Hall. It wasn’t long before we saw a crowd around a group of buskers dancing and with a routine. They really got the crowd going and had a great sense of humour (even poking fun at themselves). These guys would have been good enough for the Busker Festival here in Ottawa (if you enjoy their show, don’t forget to support them with some cash!).

We still had energy so we walked down to Washington St to see what the shopping was like. On our way we began hearing bagpipes. Thinking we were hearing things we continued on our way, but the sound got louder and louder. Then we saw them. Was it a parade? Were they a band? Were they more buskers? We weren’t sure what it was, but it was pretty cool (found out later it was the Bunker Hill Pipe Band’s pub crawl to mark halfway to Paddy’s Day). We watched them pass and make their way down the streets, developing some followers like us, and stop at the Irish Famine monument on Washington St. And when they finished their song, they continued on their way. I couldn’t help but think of the old Labatt Blue commercials of the ‘90s where ‘Anything could happen out of the blue’.

Once we started a little shopping The Honey’s energy quickly disappeared (shopping does that to him) and so we made our way back to the hotel. Unfortunately we came upon the film shoot again and were detoured. Knowing we’d get lost again we ducked into an Elephant & Castle pub for a pint hoping that the movie would wrap up by the time we were done. The beer and cider gave us enough energy to find our way amongst the detours and once in our room The Honey quickly fell asleep. That man can nap anywhere.

Thankfully his stomach growling seemed to wake him up as I was getting hungry for dinner too. We remembered a pub near Quincy Market that was having a party to mark the halfway to St Patrick’s Day so we ventured there for dinner and some entertainment. We arrived at the Black Rose (on State St) with many people who had the same idea. We got a drink from the bar while we waited for a table. The Honey was falling in love with the seasonal Sam Adams beer while I was stuck with Magners. Being a big Irish village Magners was the cider in the majority of Boston pubs. It’s not my favourite, but everyone drinks it over ice which makes it taste a bit better. The server and the kitchen helped me with some gluten-free choices and so we had a nice worry-free meal.

Not long after dinner the U2 tribute band started up (The Joshua Tree Band). They helped create a celebratory atmosphere with high energy and great music (they are really good). The Honey knows I like U2 so he did his best to enjoy himself (he’s not that familiar with them), but the night had to end sometime.

We had great seats, good service and good drinks and closing time had to roll around eventually. It had been a long time since we closed down a bar (we must be getting old!).

Throughout the evening we talked about our day. I was impressed that we hadn’t planned one aspect and we encountered one moment of enjoyment after another – plus many surprises. I normally plan because I don’t want to miss anything and here I hadn’t planned a thing and we felt we still hadn’t missed anything.  We walked back to our hotel with smiles on our faces. One wonderful day down, 3 more to go.


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