Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Destination: Boston, MA

I'm standing in an open square, sweat dripping down my back and forehead as I listen to drums and flutes re-play the tunes of 18th century Revolutionary America. Dispite the heat, I feel terribly patriotic and somewhat moved.

Perhaps it was the combination of Federalist architecture and old cobbeled streets that have soaked the city's history into their bricks. As I walked along the red painted road, history is literally written on the bricks: a placard conveniently notes that this is where the Boston Massacre took place or this is where Paul Revere lived. As I follow the Freedom Trail it shows me spots of great American history. But something else was stiring my patriotism. Perhaps it is was that this day was the 4th of July?

Here's our challenge: see the whole city of Boston in one day. Oh and its 90 degrees outside. Not my usual pace or preferential temperature (I hate sweating) for a vacation but my husband and I wanted to be in Boston on the 4th of July to see the famous fireworks over the Charles River Basin and hear the Boston Pops play. We brilliantly decided to only plan on being in Boston for 48 hours, so we had to arrange a tight schedule.

Day one: We arrived to town just in time for dinner and met up with one of our friends who lives there. His friends had an amazing fireworks viewing spot directly on the river in the Charles River Reservation which they had steaked out the night before at 2am. The crowds were overwelming and everyone was decked out in their best red, white, and blue outfits (or worst in some cases, especially as the night wore on). We all happily tailgated together as we listened to the music and waited for the sun to go down. The fireworks were absolutely the best I have ever seen. The finale gave me goosebumps!

Day two: The Freedom Trail. As if the fireworks weren't enough to get us in the patrotic mood, we decided the best way to cover the most ground would be to walk the ENTIRE Freedom Trail. If you aren't familiar with it, its a line painted on the street which you follow along at your own pace. It leads you through almost the entire city. As you walk, historical points of interest are brought to your attention, sometimes with people in period costumes or special tours. If you don't have much time in Boston, this is a great way to see many of the sights.

We stopped for lunch at the Bell in Hand Tavern which is near the Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall Marketplace. I loved going to the Markets as it brough back childhood memories of when I was there 15 years ago. Then it was special father daughter weekend and this trip was my Honeymoon. Otherwise, it's a tourist trap. Lunch was refreshing and although a bar, the menu was surprisingly varied and tasty. I had a salad and a tall, cold Boston Ale.

We walked along and saw many other historical sights (I don't want to give it all away, you must go see for yourself!) and ended with the USS Constitution, "Old Ironsides". It is important to our Navy's and nations' history. In fact, it was built in the early 1800's, served in the War of 1812, and is still an active duty vessel.  However, if you want to see it I recommend going first thing instead of at the end of the day. I did not appreciate it. By the time we got there, the sweat and tiredness were wearing me thin and I didn't care about waiting in line to see a boat (you had to pay extra for a tour, I'm not sure it was worth it.) My husband bought me ice cream as a consilation and we took the metro back to our hotel. The metro in Boston is clean and easy to use. It reminded me of the metro in Paris.

After a bit of resting, we headed out to dinner at Stephanie's on Newbury. I heard rave reviews from friends and colleagues who live in Boston and it did not dissapoint. They describe their menu as "sophisticated comfort food" and that is exactly what we needed after a long day of walking in the hot summer sun. It was difficult deciding what to eat but I settled on the Porcini Mushroom and Three Cheese Ravioli as I'm a sucker for anything with Truffles in it. I washed it down with some Prosecco, my drink of choice on a hot summer night.

We stayed at the Taj Boston. It is centrally located and their hospitality exceeded my expectations. The staff was friendly, polite, and helpful. The room featured views of the Boston Commons and one could order a specialty bath to be drawn upon returning in the evening (yes please!). They also sprinkled rose petals on our bed as we mentioned it was our Honeymoon. It was a thoughtful gesture that I loved!

The Taj recommended a great spot for brunch, The Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro. We grabbed brunch there on our way out of town the next morning. The rustic, charming decor set a nice background for the food which ranged from simple to complex and from sweet to savory. We got eggs and pancakes (nom nom!). And I ordered American coffee to celebrate the end of our patriotic tour of Boston.

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