January 30, 2012

Beantown – Part 3

It was our last full day in Boston and there wasn’t much left on my ‘must see’ list as we had inadvertently touched all the bases on our city wanderings. There was; however, the New England Aquarium. We had hoped that by doing the aquarium early on a Monday morning we could go at our own pace and have however much time we wanted, and we did.

Finding breakfast on an early Monday morning wasn’t that easy and the vendors that served breakfast on the weekend didn’t during the week. There were some vendors open, but seriously, who wants chowder or a burger at 8am? We made do with what we found – microwaved eggs and reheated homefries at one and tolerable coffee at another. We couldn’t wait to leave the building.

We quickly arrived at the aquarium and literally spent hours there. We didn’t leave until after lunchtime. I love waterlife and it was really great to see things one would normally never get to see. Personally, I’m on the fence about aquariums and zoos. I’m not happy about seeing living creatures locked up, especially when they are in such a small area (aka enclosure). But on the other hand, many zoos and aquariums have programs working together with breeding programs and protecting those at risk. I’ve been on the fence for over 20 years, and I’m sure I will continue to be there for the rest of my life.

Harbour seals greeted guest at the entrance. They seemed quite content swimming around or floating along the bottom (making a few of us ask ‘Is he dead?’, of course forgetting that seals can hold their breath for long periods of time).

Once inside, we were impressed by the touch tank, a shallow pool with stingrays and small bonnet sharks. It reminded me of a trip to Brighton, England where the stingrays at the aquarium would take their noses out of the water to smell you. That didn’t happen here, but you could really see some personalities in the fish – some would rub themselves against your palm while some would chicken-out and dart away at the last minute. One of the biologists described their skin as akin to sandpaper, but I found it quite silky and soft.

In the basement were many many jellyfish tanks, some jellyfish were so small that a magnifying glass was needed to see them. While I was happy at the touch tank, The Honey was lost in his thoughts with the jellyfish.

On the main floor were three sections of penguins – African, Rockhopper, and Little Blue Penguins. Overall they were chatty and active (there were employees in the pool with them cleaning the enclosure, then later on doing some feeding). Ironically the Little Blues were the loudest of the bunch. It is always surprising how quickly they can manoeuver in the water.


It also seemed like some were just as intent on watching us as we were of them.

The centre of the aquarium contains a very large fish tank; ginormous may be a better adjective. It is probably 3-4 stories tall and has a very wide ramp wrapped around it. It has perfect viewing of different sea life – fish, turtles, coral, urchins, and a shark. Windows all the way up allow you ample opportunities to watch and look (unfortunately the glass gave off a blue tint for pictures).


While there we also saw employees inside with the fish – an employee here and there cleaning the glass, and the biggest surprise, one feeding all the life around him. At the top you could peer down through the tank and ask a biologist some questions. One that intrigued The Honey was why the carnivorous fish in the tank don’t eat the others. Simple – they are fed so they aren’t hungry or need to eat the other fish.

At every floor there were more smaller tanks with a variety of fish, shellfish and coral.

I have to admit that I don’t have one favourite thing; there were just so many cool things. Every time I saw something ‘cool’ or ‘awesome’ or some other crazy adjective escaped from my mouth. We were enjoying ourselves so much that we didn’t really want to leave. But it was getting busier and our tummies were growling.

For lunch we had planned on going to Legal Seafood, where ‘If it isn’t fresh, it isn’t legal’. It was at the wharf across from the aquarium and although there was a long line, it moved quite quickly. The waiter got me a gluten-free menu which had a nice variety on it. The Honey got a lobster roll and it looked quite interesting. I asked the manager who had delivered our food if The Honey’s lobster roll was gluten-free and a look of panic came over his face. Was The Honey supposed to have a gf meal? I assured him that it was only me and that if it was gf than I could try some of the meat before The Honey bit into his bun. The manager looked so relieved. After a short conversation with the kitchen on his walkie-talkie headset I was given the all-clear to try the lobster meat. Our lunch was really good and so was the service. Legal Seafood has many locations throughout Boston, and while it isn’t cheap, we enjoy having one meal we can splurge on when we’re travelling.

After lunch we took a taxi to the Museum of Fine Arts (taking a subway seemed really complicated as we would have had to make three transfers) because I love art and have some favourite artists. What I thought what was going to be a pleasant excursion turned into a bit of a nightmare. Some rooms were really cold, some were really hot, others had no air circulation (who would have thought I would need my inhaler at a gallery?!). Room after room seemed more like an antique store than an art gallery. There is only so much Colonial furniture I can handle. I finally discovered some art to my liking, unfortunately all of it was only in one room. Fed up and very dehydrated I made my way to the café on the main floor to get a tea ($3!!!!) and The Honey couldn’t wait to leave. I was going to drink that tea even if I had to burn my mouth. To make matters worse, we couldn’t find the exit – exit signs that led nowhere, no signs for the entrance. We finally found the entrance after the second set of bad directions we received. The fresh air felt so good, but it didn’t really help our mood.

We walked back to the centre of town to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. On our way we came upon the public library. Although I love books, I’m not one to tour libraries, but my guidebook said the architecture was stunning. We took a walk inside and were amazed by the carvings and detail. It was beautiful. We found a courtyard (seriously, a courtyard!!!) and took a load off our feet. It was nice sitting there in some serenity while some birds chirped away, but it was getting later in the day and dinner was needed.



Walking further down Boylston was UNO Chicago Grill and Pizza where they made gluten-free pizza and served Redbridge gluten-free beer. Our delicious pizza and drinks made the disappointing afternoon disappear from our minds. Feeling much better we decided to walk back to the hotel. The sun was still shining and the temperature was perfect. On our way I lamented about not getting to the original Cheers. The Honey thought the replica was better since that’s what people saw on the show, even though I wanted to see the inspiration; the start of it all. I didn’t want to say ‘Let’s go again’ because it was a little silly, but The Honey knows me very well and suggested going for a pint. Again, the place was full, but we got two stools at the bar and a Sam Adams and a Woodchuck cider.

The Honey said I couldn’t stop smiling. I didn’t mind because I had a great morning and a nice ending to the first leg of our trip.


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