Boston SurpriseAuthor: Roberta Smith
Date of Trip: December 2007
It began with a concert ticket to see the Pat Metheny Trio which turned into a delightful 5 day Boston getaway with my lovely daughter-in-law, at the Samuel Sewall Inn in Brookline Mass. Neither one of us had visited there and we were not familiar with the area. We were found that Boston is an expensive city and hotel rates in the center but we decided to search out some alternatives with Mapquest guiding us around the city. We were delighted to find the Inn's website that looked to promise a good value at a great price and a central location.
Located in Brookline, just outside of Boston, the Inn is a quick drive to many of Boston's historic areas, some really great places to eat, great shopping, Boston University and Fenway Park. If you book through their website, you'll be able to choose your room for about the same rate you would pay going through a travel website. Driving in Boston can be a challenge, but with my daughter-in-law's superb navigation we only had to detour once. We recommend getting a good map and a dose of patience if you're driving in this city, as it is a hodge-podge of old and new streets. The Samuel Sewall Inn, and it's sister the Bertram Inn next door, are historic Victorian homes that have working fireplaces in some rooms, plush beds, Wi-Fi and delicious, plentiful New England breakfasts and hospitality. Parking does cost $15.00 per night and can be a tight squeeze: there is no overnight street parking in Brookline. Coffee, cookies, chocolates are always in the lobby, along with plenty of brochures for attractions. The bathroom we had was quite roomy and the room was beautifully appointed. Their breakfast is served early (7:30-ish) to about 10AM; is always replenished plus the coziness of the Inn led to conversation with fellow guests. They had a selection of coffees, juices, fresh fruit and cereals; along with a hot entree and breads. Brookline has some interesting eating; if you like sushi and other eastern cuisine you'll have quite a choice, but if your taste runs to fine wine, then we suggest you try Finale, a restaurant with a twist: serving just appetizers and desserts! We found a great deli named Zaftig, which we went back to as they had desserts and Reuben sandwiches to die for! The Inn is within a couple of blocks to shopping, which is great because parking can be a problem. Coffee bars and pastry shops are on every corner, and we found Brookline to be a safe alternative to staying in a downtown large hotel district.
Boston is a place for walking, as a lot of historic sites sit right in the middle of skyscrapers or neighborhoods where you walk past both Paul Revere and John Kerry's homes. Maps for the self guided tours are available everywhere. Reputed to be the oldest restaurant in the U.S. the Union Oyster House is near downtown and you can see the booth John Kennedy favored. There can't be a more charming place to eat and we felt like colonists sitting in the cozy booths next to the fireplace eating our chowder. The North End area not only has historic North Church, Paul Revere House, Copps Hill cemetery and a large active Italian neighborhood. Boston has amazing cemeteries, which is an education itself. Crossing the Charles River you'll be in Cambridge. Boston is a seaport and the skyline of the city viewed from the wharf where "Old Ironsides" is docked is magnificent. The riverfront has some beautiful park and jogging areas and we walked through Boston Commons, their version of a central park. If you visit Bunker Hill and the USS Constitution, look for restaurants back towards Boston as there was not much of a choice in the immediate area.
We took a quick 45 minute drive north up coastal route 129, leading to Salem, Mass. and awesome Marblehead with great homes that face the Atlantic. It was such a nice drive to see both the fall foliage and the ocean. Salem, the home of the famous witch trials, is a pretty village with an emphasis on the occult, as every other shop offers tourists spooky merchandise. We always found that the people were quick to help us find places to eat, or shop which was a nice surprise. Even more of a surprise is the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem which made a nice opposition to the kitschy atmosphere of the town. Don't miss the museum shops even if you don't have time to tour the exhibits!
The JFK museum was on our must see list, and Quincy Mass was a short 15 minutes from the downtown area. It is an inspiring area for contemplation as the building is impressive, and it is located on a beautiful harbor side.
We are so impressed with Boston area and not having enough time to see or enjoy many other attractions; theater or Harvard area, as as our weather turned raw and wet, we decided that a return trip in the spring is a must do! We know there would be something for everyone's interest all within a fairly short distance. We look forward to returning to the Inn.
And the concert? Pat Metheny was his usual awesome self performing in Mechanic's Hall in Worcester Mass.. Boston has 2 enthusiastic thumbs up from us both but bring yourself a good guidebook and roadmap. And great walking shoes and appetites!
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