OUR BOSTON TRIP IN DETAILAuthor: QuiGonJohn (More Trip Reviews by QuiGonJohn)
Date of Trip: August 2013
OUR BOSTON TRIP IN DETAIL
WEDNESDAY – July 31, 2013
After arriving at Logan International Airport (BOS), we made our way to ground transportation and took the MassPort shuttle to the blue line Airport Station of the subway, or "T" as it is referred to in Boston. An MBTA worker helped us purchase 2 Charlie Tickets with a 7 Day Pass loaded on them. These were a great deal, only $18 each and provided unlimited rides on the subways, buses, even the inner harbor ferries. We made extensive use of these, we really got our money's worth. Since all our luggage was just in each of our backpacks, we went straight into the city and did a little sightseeing before going to the hotel. We took the blue line to State St. Station and made our way to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. We grabbed some lunch, I had clam chowder from Boston Chowda and Cretia just ate her food bar for lunch. Next we walked through the marketplace and through Faneuil Hall. Then we walked up Hanover Street into the North End and Little Italy and went to visit the Paul Revere statue, we got a couple of pics, with the Old North Church in the background. We continued our walk through the North End and then took the T from North Station to Back Bay Station and went to our hotel to check-in. We stayed at the Boston Commons Hotel and it was very nice considering the price and this area, the hotel is just off Copley Square and it is close to 2 T stations, Copley on the green line and Back Bay on the orange line. Both are a very short walk. After getting settled in the room and unpacking we got ready for the evening and took the T to Hynes Station and went to dinner at McGreevy's Irish Pub. I had Shepherd's Pie and Cretia had Mozzarella Sticks and Chicken Fingers. Next we took the T to Kenmore Station and a short walk to Fenway Park as we watched the Red Sox face off against the Seattle Mariners. Being in this ballpark was amazing. The energy of the fans is electrifying. For a couple days we were Red Sox fans. I'd say, at the height of the game, it must have been near 90% occupancy, actual fans in the seats, and this was on a Wed Night. Most games here are just as crowded. Big difference from Marlins games. Also interesting is, instead of tailgating, before the game, many of the fans gather along Yawkey Way, which is a street alongside the ballpark, and during games, access is by ticket only. You go through security and the turnstiles just to get onto the street, before actually going into the ballpark. All along Yawkey are various food, beverage and souvenir vendors. This game went 15 innings, we stayed until the end of the 14th inning, about 11:50 pm, when they put up on the boards that the last train leaves the station at 12:10 am. The Red Sox won, 5-4, with a walk-off hit by Stephen Drew which allowed Dustin Pedroia to score. Then we took the T back to the hotel and went to bed.
THURSDAY – August 1, 2013
Up early and breakfast in the hotel, which included continental breakfast. We also bought in advance Go Boston cards. These provide free admission to many attractions in the area, and most of what we saw while here, was included in the cost of these cards. This was the first day using these cards and we began with the Hop On/Hop Off Red Trolley Tour of the city. We walked to the Prudential Center to begin the Trolley Tour. Very good tour, took us around most of the sites in the city and gave us a lot of information. We left the trolley at the State Street stop and took the T to Boston Commons. Here we began our Freedom Trail Guided Walking Tour. This is led by a revolutionary character, our tour guide was Rachel Revere, (Paul Revere's wife). She was very proud of her husband and gave us lots of tidbits about him and things he did. We began with a few stops in Boston Commons, lots of details about the Liberty Tree and other goings on during Puritan and Colonial times. Next we spent some time in the Granary Burying Grounds, where we saw the graves of John Hancock, Samuel Adams, James Otis, Paul Revere, the Boston Massacre victims and Benjamin Franklin's parents. We went outside Old South Meeting House, then some history of Spring Lane, the location where almost all of Boston got their fresh water in Colonial days. Then we spent some time outside the Old State House, which was the site of the Boston Massacre. From there we went the short distance to Faneuil Hall and the tour ended there. Next we had lunch in Quincy Market, we both had pizza. After lunch we went to a few of the sites we just passed, but went in, as our Go Cards included entry, we went in the Old State House and the Old South Meeting House. We also saw the Irish Famine Memorial and the statue of Benjamin Franklin, which were all in the same area. Next we took the T to Long Wharf and the Aquarium area for our sailing on one of the Boston Tall Ships, the Liberty Star, a 67 foot schooner. I helped hoist the sails. This was a really exciting experience. There was a pretty good wind, so we got some nice speed up, with a bit of listing. We sailed out to the end of the Inner Harbor and then back to the wharf. Next we walked up to the Paul Revere House, in the North End, and toured that. Then we decided we had some time before dinner, so we took the T over to Charlestown and went to the Bunker Hill Monument. I walked up it, 294 steps, and took some pictures. After this we took the T back to the North End and tried to pick out an Italian Restaurant for dinner. Tough choice as there were so many. We wound up at Café Pompeii, mostly based on prices and the look and feel of the place. Chicken Parmigiana dinner, with pasta, was $13.95. Cretia and I shared that, along with some Mozzarella Sticks. After dinner, we walked back through Quincy Market and got some dessert. Then we took the T back to the hotel. I watched the end of the Red Sox game. I had turned on the TV and it was the bottom of the 8th inning, Seattle 7 - Boston 1. Boston scored one run that inning, but I didn't think they had much of a chance. They held off Seattle in the top of the 9th, then amazingly, they scored 6 runs in the bottom of the 9th and won that game 8 to 7. Amazing game and an awesome day.
FRIDAY – August 2, 2013
Up early, breakfast in the hotel. Then we took the T and went to Fenway Park for our guided tour. This was really neat. We got a lot of the history of the ballpark, the Green Monstah (Monster), the seats, inside info on the manual scoreboard, and much more. Next we decided to head up to our day in Salem a bit early, I made a quick stop by the room to get the extra camera battery and we took the T to North Station. Here we switched to the Commuter Rail line. We had to pay extra, but it only was $13.50 each, round trip to Salem and back. And it is only about a 25 minute train ride. We arrived in Salem and grabbed a quick lunch at Boston Hot Dogs, right near the station. Then we walked over to the Salem Witch Museum and saw the presentations. They were interesting and gave you a lot of history of the Salem Witch Hysteria of 1692. Next we walked through Salem Commons, towards the waterfront and toured the House of The Seven Gables. After this we made our way back into the center of Salem for our afternoon Witchcraft Walk Guided Walking Tour. We saw many of the sites related to the Witch Hysteria and learned many details that are often overlooked or even incorrectly told in other locations. After this we went through the Salem Witch Dungeon, a short presentation of part of the witch trials, with actors, and then a replica of the dungeon the suspected witches were held in. Next we went through the 3D Salem Time Machine. This gives you settings for different events in Salem's history. After this we went to dinner at Village Tavern, right in the center of the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall. Nice restaurant, reasonable, we had outside seating. Cretia had BBQ Ribs and I had a Cheeseburger, and a couple of the ribs. Then we walked around Salem for a while, went to the Bewitched Statue, (from the TV show). Then we went for our evening Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour, another guided walking tour. Also interesting and spanned various hauntings and such throughout all of Salem's history, not just during the Witch Hysteria. Then we made our way back to the Commuter Rail Station to North Station in Boston, then the T back to our hotel. I caught a little of the Red Sox game, but they were losing to Arizona and I went to bed. They did not win that night.
SATURDAY- August 3, 2013
Up early, breakfast in the hotel. Then we took the T to Long Wharf and the Aquarium area for our Whale Watching Cruise. This was really fun. It was a high-speed catamaran and we went about 25 miles out into the ocean, to an area called Stellwagen Bank, which is a raised plateau under the ocean. The steep sides of the plateau cause deep-water currents to rise up when they hit the bank; this upwelling brings with it nutrients and minerals from the bottom, feeding the local ecosystem. This tends to cause large numbers of whales to hunt for food there. We did see one whale several times and a few glimpses of one or two others. We had lunch on the ship, hot dogs & pretzels. When we arrived back at Long Wharf, we went to the New England Aquarium. We were not very impressed with it. Having been to the Sydney Aquarium and the Aquarium in San Francisco, this one seemed very disorganized, not laid out very well and really didn't have that great of exhibits. For one thing, it was so crowded that it was hard to see many of the exhibits. Their one big feature is a huge vertical tank, that you walk around via a spiral sloping walkway, the tank is filled with all kinds of marine life. But the crowds are clamored along it, so again, it is hard to see much. We did see an interesting Fur Seal training session as well as one with Harbor Seals. We also both touched a couple of rays. The Aquarium was included on our Go Card, and I was glad of that. Had I paid additionally out of pocket, I would have been more upset. If you have some kind of package that includes this, it makes a nice time filler. But not something to spend extra money on. Also, the Go Card was supposed to provide "no waiting in line". But they have you go to Advanced Ticketing, where you also wait in line, shorter than the General Ticketing, but also the people working there were slower. Next we took the USS Constitution Harbor Cruise. This was an hour cruise more towards the Charles River and Charlestown, with a stop at the Charlestown Navy Yard, where you can get off and visit the USS Constitution. We stayed on, and planned to visit the ship the next day. Back at Long Wharf we walked over to Quincy Market and ate dinner at Cheers. Cretia had Fish & Chips and I had a Corned Beef Reuben. Next we walked around some of the shops at Quincy Market, then over to the North End where we picked up dessert at Modern Pastry. Most of their desserts are made to order. We had cannolis and you choose the type of shell, the type of filling and any toppings and then they put them together. Mike's Pastry, a block away, is the most famous one in the area. But Modern Pastry, which is newer, is rapidly gaining a following and some think it better than Mike's. We took our cannoli's back to the hotel and I watched the last part of the Red Sox game, they won against Arizona, 5 to 2.
SUNDAY – August 4, 2013
Up a bit later, then we went down to breakfast in the hotel. Then back to the room to shower, get ready for the day and pack to check out. After checking out, we took the T over to Long Wharf and took the Inner Harbor Ferry, free with our 7 day pass, to Charlestown Navy Yard and we went aboard the USS Constitution. After this we walked the north end of the Freedom Trail, back into the North End of Boston, where we went inside Old North Church. Then we worked our way through the rest of the North End over to Quincy Market. We walked through some shops and then had a late lunch at Dick's Last Resort. An interesting, quirky place, where their "thing" is the staff are rude, (but in a joking way). Cretia had Steak & Shrimp and I had a Pulled Pork Sandwich. Then we split a Chocolate Brownie Sundae for dessert. After this, a bit more walking around, through the Rose Kennedy Plaza, with a neat water fountain that kids can play in. Then over to Long Wharf and after a rest there, we made our way to the T and over to the Airport. The T and the Airport Shuttle are a great way to get to/from the Airport. But a word of caution on going back to the Airport. Be sure you get on the right shuttle. One shuttle only goes to Terminals C & E while the other one goes to Terminals A & B. Leaving the Airport, to go to the T Station, you don't have that problem. Anyway, we did not realize this and made the loop through C & E and back to the station. Fortunately, that whole loop was only about 10 minutes and we were quite early for our flight. Next on the proper shuttle we arrived at our terminal. We arrived about 2 hours before our flight was scheduled to leave. I checked the board to see which gate to head to and we then found out that the flight was already listed as delayed until 7:10 pm. This was unbelievable. There were no weather conditions or any such thing to justify this. After phone calls and going to Spirit's ticket counter to find out more, we went through security, got to our gate and waited. We watched a movie on our tablet, then closer to the flight time, we each had a slice of pizza. After getting on the plane, it did not actually leave Logan until 8:30 pm. We didn’t land in Ft Lauderdale until 11:30 pm and got home around midnight. Not fun when you were originally supposed to land just before 9pm. But considering so much else had gone so well on this trip, I suppose it's not the worst thing that could have happened.
We enjoyed this trip very much. We got to see and do a lot in a short time. Really enjoyed the freedom of using the subway, no parking, no traffic jams, low cost. Just be aware, the T can get crowded at times, and sometimes the ride can be a bit jerky, but it's all fun.
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