a few days in Boston

Wednesday, August 6, 2003 – We got up this morning and after a complimentary breakfast and a brief drive on the Mass. Pike we found ourselves in Salem, MA. The first destination for us was the National Parks Service information pavilion where we got some maps and information as well as a peek into their small museum about the maritime and textile industries that formed the area. Soon after we found ourselves in the Salem Witch museum which essentially provided a recap of the events that took place in 1692 with audio and still displays, I found this to provide rather basic information and nothing that I hadn’t heard in history classes. Leaving the museum, we took a brief walking tour of downtown Salem as well as a look at the exterior of some of the older homes in the city. I would recommend skipping the witch museum and spending a little more time in the town of Salem if you plan to visit the area. After we got back in the car it was a very brief drive up to Marblehead where we had reservations for the night at the beautiful Marblehead Inn. After driving through downtown Marblehead, we drove out to the Marblehead Lighthouse and poked around for a bit, taking some pictures before heading back into town. After finding our Bed & Breakfast just outside of downtown and checking in, we parked the car downtown and took a walk around scoping out a few of the various restaurants for dinner. We eventually settled on “The Barnacle” which is a seaside seafood and steak restaurant where we ate our dinner. While the food wasn’t fantastic there is something to be said for eating right out on the ocean. After dinner we poked around downtown a little bit more, including stopping at a local grocer for milk, cereal and a few other supplies, before heading back to the Marblehead Inn. We got back to the B&B with plenty of time to relax and recuperate from the days in the car before turning in for the night.

Thursday, August 7, 2003 – We got up this morning and ate a continental breakfast at the B&B before heading out to the “Terminus” of our trip, Boston; however, before we got to Boston itself we had decided to make a detour to see Gordon College, where one of Anna’s friends will be attending school in the fall. We left some notes in the mailroom for her so she would have some mail as soon as she got to school later this week. After this brief stop we continued on our way into the city of Boston. We soon learned that the immense number of pedestrians did not mix well with heavy traffic and constant construction. After several zig-zags, detours and much confusion we found ourselves outside of Prudential Center, landing site of the Boston Duck tours. Everyone from the area that we spoke with said that we simply had to do the duck tour while in the city, but after a brief inquiry we found out that they were already sold out for the day and we would have to come back tomorrow to try and get tickets for Friday. However, we were able to secure tickets for an 8:00 Blue Man Group show, we had hoped to get student rush tickets, but they were already sold out and we ended up paying full price for the tickets. While we were at Prudential Center we also made sure to get three day transit passes as similar passes have served us well in New York City, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. Soon we found ourselves in the subway heading out to Cambridge for a look at Harvard, the school and the square. While mom was somewhat disappointed by the look of the Harvard campus (not at all as she had imagined it) I found it to be essentially what I had expected, a cramped compact urban campus that had overgrown it’s original land and spread into the surrounding neighborhood. After this stroll through the campus we spend quite a bit of time in the Harvard Book Store looking through the Boston section as well as the used and remainder sections, though we didn’t buy anything it was very interesting to see the large selection of books they carried. Just a hop, skip and a jump down the street found us at Herrell’s Ice Cream getting a fantastic snack; I had the peanut butter cookie dough (highly recommended) but also sampled the chocolate pudding (also highly recommended) amongst others. After boarding the subway again our group split up; Anna, Noah and Dad went back to Prudential Center to pick up the car while Mom, Josie and I continued on to the New England Medical Center stop where our Hotel is conveniently located right next to the subway exit. After a little bit of confusion over the reservation we found ourselves in two neighboring hotel rooms and our car in parking for the remainder of our three days in Boston. While on the subway mom talked to a native of the area who suggested we go to Jacob Wirth’s for dinner, so after we got our things into our hotel rooms we headed over there for a quality German dinner. Following dinner we walked up the street to the Charles Street Playhouse where we picked up our tickets for Blue Man Group. The intimate setting of the Charles Street Playhouse gave the show much of its energy and provided a unique experience would not have received had we gone to one of their national touring shows. After a brief wait we found ourselves enjoying this modern example of experimental performance art mixed with hilarious non-verbal comedy, outside the theater we even got a blue man to “autograph” a program by leaving a blue handprint on the cover.

Friday, August 08, 2003 – Dad woke up early this morning and got us Boston Duck Tour tickets for 11:00 so the rest of us got up and hiked over to the Prudential Center to meet him shortly after 10:30. Our duck driver was fantastic and it showed that he really enjoyed his job, even letting Noah and Josie drive the duck for part of the trip in the river. The tour gave us a good overview and history of the city of Boston. We knew the Johnson’s were in the Boston area taking Joanna to college and had a few messages on our phone from them but we hadn’t hooked up with them yet so when we finished the duck tour we headed over to Quincy Market where they were going to be eating lunch sometime around one. We took a brief walkthrough Faneuil Hall “The Cradle of Liberty” but the large meeting room on the second floor was closed for the day due to a special event so we weren’t able to hear the rangers give their talk. Next we moved on to Quincy Market, a large Greek revival building that currently houses a large food court. Though my dad thought the chances of running into the Johnson’s were slim, I never really doubted that we’d find them; after all it’s hard not to spot us if we’re in your vicinity. Sure enough, we found them finishing up their lunch in the center of the building. It’s always fun to run into people you know when you’re off on vacation somewhere, once before on our trip to Yellowstone National Park we unexpectedly ran into our dentist and his family which was also a fun experience. After a few minutes of walking through the markets we decided to stop for lunch at Durgin Park which is an excellent restaurant in the North Market. After a hearty lunch including some Boston Baked Beans we started on part of the “Freedom Trail” which is about a three mile walk through some of the historical sites in the Boston and Charlestown areas which is delineated by either a red brick or printed red line on the sidewalk. We followed the trail from the markets up into the “North End” to the house where Paul Revere and his family lived, which has been restored to its appearance in the early eighteenth century. After stopping to see and walk through his house, which contained some of the original furniture provided by the Revere family, we continued on to Old North Church where the famous “One if by land…” lantern signal was given during the revolution. The trail continues on to Bunker Hill monument, which actually doesn’t even sit on Bunker Hill, but we had been told that it wasn’t worth following the trail over the Charles River to go see the few things in Charlestown so we headed back towards the center of Boston. On the way back I made a point of stopping at Mike’s Pastry up on the North End as it had been recommended to me as a place to see while in Boston. Even though the food there looked delicious I was still quite full from our lunch at Durgin Park so we were able to see the shop without actually buying anything. By this time we were all quite tired out from all the walking we had been doing after so many days of riding in the car, and based on the fact it was starting to rain pretty well we decided to head back to the hotel to rest up for a while. We walked back to North Station which was still a little hike and we all ended up getting a little wet before we got back to the hotel. Once we got there Noah and Papa went to the attached YMCA to go swimming in the pool, which was free to use as hotel guests. I was able to get a slow modem connection set up on my laptop and finally able to check email and a few web pages of things going on in Boston. I also set up my laptop to provide wireless internet access through my modem to Anna’s laptop so she and the others could check their email as well. After refreshing ourselves for a few hours Anna and Mom decided they would like to try and catch the outdoor performance of Macbeth in the Boston Commons at eight. The rest of us were going to head over to the Charlestown Navy Yard to see an outdoor performance of South Pacific which was a special three day performance being put on by the Boston Orchestra and Opera companies. We were told that the easiest way to get there was to take the subway up to Sullivan Square and then take bus 93 back down to the Navy Yard, unfortunately for some reason we waited and waited but bus 93 never came to pick us (or any of the other people waiting for it) up. After a while we gave up and took the subway back over to the hotel where we read the paper and had a small snack before heading out again to meet Anna and Mom for a late dessert. Our original intent was to meet at a dessert spot called Finale but since we had a little more time to poke around than we had anticipated we found that it wasn’t quite the spot we had hoped for and we found a place next door called M.J. O’Conner’s Irish Pub where we ended up meeting for dessert, which was quite good. By the time we all got there and had eaten it was getting quite late again so after a brief walk back to the hotel including a stop at the neighborhood 7-11 for some more milk we fell into bed.

Saturday, August 9, 2003 – Papa got up early again today and went over to Fenway Park to get some tour tickets. As it turned out the tickets weren’t in as big a demand as we had anticipated and we could have picked them up just before out tour and still been ok. In any event we all walked to the Boylston green line station and headed out for a ten o’clock tour of the famous ballpark. We had a large tour group, but a fantastic guide named Steve who made the tour interesting from both a historical and baseball perspective. I personally, found the history of the park itself fascinating to hear and enjoyed the tour thoroughly. Leaving the park we split up again; Mom, Anna and Josie headed down Newbury St. for some shopping while Papa, Noah and I took a walk over to see the MIT campus. MIT was somewhat larger than I had envisioned but was not huge by any means. It was interesting to see the varied architecture of the buildings that make up the campus from a traditional 1930s building that felt like an old high school, to more modern buildings with big screen TVs built into the hallways. On one such screen we were offered an opportunity to watch a real thirty minute Rube Goldberg contraption operate in the film Der Lauf der Dinge which was quite interesting to see. After walking through campus we took the subway back to the hotel where we met back up with Anna, Josie and Mom. We all went to church in the Downtown Crossing area before we headed back to the North End for an Italian dinner in the family owned and operated La Summa restaurant where I had an absolutely incredible fettucini al fredo the white sauce was honestly the best I’ve ever had, I highly recommend stopping here for dinner if you ever have the chance. After dinner Anna and Josie were tired and took the subway back to the hotel, but the rest of us decided to try and make tonight’s performance of South Pacific in the Navy Yard. This time we took the subway only as far as the community college stop and then hiked a few blocks down to the pier with no trouble. I really enjoyed the performance, getting to see a play put on by professional actors is always a thrill and with the ever increasing price of theater tickets getting to see one for free is even better. During the intermission I took a few minutes to call Miss Daisy and firm up plans to meet tomorrow for dinner at Isaac’s in Plymouth, MA where we will be spending the day tomorrow. Thankfully the rain held off until after the performance and we were back at the hotel and safely in our beds.

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