A friend of mine who moved from Alberta back to Ontario knew I was going to be in Albany for the holidays, so she decided to come stateside so we could explore somewhere together.
We had initially planned on seeing Vermont and participating in some snow activities. My friend was going to teach me how to ski, snowshoe and maybe even skate. So we had plans. Unfortunately, Vermont was not complying with out plans, there had being no snow. So we revised our earlier plan and visited Boston instead.
I love the champagne lifestyle even though my budget is often the coca-cola level. I love staying at luxury hotels if I can get them for a steal. This lead me to priceline’s express deals. I don’t mind the mystery of what hotel as long as I know its going to be one of the world renown brands I am staying with (vain much, I am).
We booked the Seaport Hotel in Boston just overlooking the harbor and it was definitely a nice one. My only complaint was that the beds were a double instead of a single. Who uses a double bed theses days??
There is NO parking in Boston. You have to budget parking for each day you spend in the City.
Seeing the City
I think hop on hop off tours are a great way to see any city even if they are the ultimate tourist trap. It helps that city attractions have being specially curated to tell the story of the town. I always check groupon to see if there are tour tickets on sale there of a better discount than you will get if you bought it at your hotel or at the tour pick up location.
Our tour guide was a rapid fire speaker ( I barely heard what he was saying) but the tour pamphlet helped me follow along, I also didn’t get most of his jokes or references to pop culture (as I am brought up in North America).
These are the highlights of my tour day in Boston
USS Constitution “Old Ironside Ship”
I still find it weird that they call this ship the constitution, but another name of the ship is also “eagle of the sea’. It is the oldest warship commissioned ship still afloat. The old iron side ship is moored in Boston Harbor, a floating museum of naval history and a tribute to the Age of sail (the time before we discovered how to power machines with steam). This legend (the ship) is actually made of wood (American Oak) instead of iron as previously thought by the British soldiers.
Summary – It was the star ship in the American Revolution.
Fanueil Hall/Quincy Market
Quincy Market is a historic market complex near Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston. It offers over 100 stores, artisan pushcarts, restaurants, and pubs right on Boston’s famed Freedom Trail.
The market place often has artists dancing or showing us the latest magic trick. And there are a plethora of options for food inside the closed market place.
Boston Tea Party
As a newbie to American history, I visited the Boston tea party ship, hoping that maybe some of what I learn there about the history and the rationale of dumping my much loved tea into the ocean will stick to my brain, but alas, google had to come to the rescue again.
The ship is anchored just by the Boston Tea party building where Abigail’s tea house is located. The employees were in costume fielding questions about the history and refilling massive jugs of tea :). For $3 you get to sample 5 different teas that were dumped into the ocean by the sons of liberty in 1773.
The main message though was – Taxation without representation is tyranny
Little Italy, Old North Church and Paul Revere’s house.
Little Italy really is such a charming neighborhood, there are so many restaurants, patisseries and bars scattered across this district. While its nice to walk around in the day time, it really comes alive at night.
The old north church is the oldest church in Boston and also played a role in the Lexington battle. It was used to warn the colonialists of the impending arrival of the British army – Hang one lamp if they come by land or hang two if by sea. This began the American revolution.
I had to google Paul Revere, as I didn’t know what he was on the map for but apparently he had a huge role in the battle of Lexington (so many battles to keep track of :|.
I’m not really one to focus on food on my trips, but when I do mention food, then pay attention. As a baseline for my food tastes- I HATE bland food. I can’t stand it. I love well flavored, preferably spicy food. So lets talk about Bostons food.
New England Clam Chowder.
Guys, if you are ever in Boston, then this is the meal to have 3 times a day. It was so good. zero spice/hotness but 1,000% flavor. My friends who swore they didn’t like clam chowder, tried some of mine, promptly regretted their food choices and went and got their own chowder.
At Quincy market, you may see stores offering a taste of their chowder, after tasting several (experience from my Costco runs), I settled on the best – Boston Maine. The chowder was served in a bread bun and was just delightful.
** I tired the Manhattan chowder in Albany and the difference is that it is tomato based. Please SKIP the Manhattan style chowder. Not tasty at all.
I also got this from the Boston Main company and while it was a bit pricey for its size, it was also one of those must try foods in Boston. It was so good.
Dinner at Ben Cotto
We decided on Ben Cottos after prowling the internet and we got there without reservations, luckily we only had about a 10 minute wait before we got a table. The restaurant is pretty small with a lower floor but we were lucky to secure a seat. We ordered the bruschetta and it looked so good when it came out that it was almost done before I remembered to take a pic (still getting the hand of this “snap before anything life”). But the appy – bruschetta was so good. I had the ravioli for my main meal and it was equally as good. I also tried some of my friend’s gnocchi and that was good too. So in summary, Ben Cottos is the place to go if you are looking for great Italian food.
Rosa Mexicano in Boston – My friends and I walked to this restaurant which was close to the hotel (about 2 mins). I don’t have much to say and what I do have is not that flattering. I didn’t really enjoy eating here.
It turns out that Bostonians love their pastries, or at least love these two vendors – Mikes pastry and Modern pastry. We joined the long queues for treats from Modern pastry and I came out with a strawberry cheesecake (its my weakness).