Last week we took a trip to Boston for an action packed 4 day vacation, which included the previously written about Pearl Jam concert. But what else did we do that left us so tired? We arrived on Thursday late afternoon and checked in to our hotel. We were staying kind of outside the city in the midst of not much, an option that many other PJ fans were doing as well. Free parking, free shuttle to the T stop that was 2 miles away, and much cheaper than right in the heart of the city. The one thing that was by our hotel was a Boston Bowl, so we ate dinner and went candlepin bowling and had a grand time. Speaking of the T stop, we spent an awful lot of time on this trip taking the T to get here and there, including many transfers. For our kids, who live in a public transportation free area, this is easily one of the most fun parts of a city vacation. They loved it and that we rode all the lines. And let’s face it, people watching is so much better than when you just get in your car and drive to Wegmans.
On Friday we did the quintessential tourist thing and took a duck tour. Before it started we had two hours to spend at the Museum of Science (that was the starting point of the tour) and it was a really lovely science museum. We only saw part of it and would have liked to have gone back after our tour, but lunch and other things beckoned. As for the Duck Tour, I was really looking forward to this and it did not disappoint. We were driven all over the city while the knowledgeable tourguide told us all kind of interesting facts about everything we saw. It was a good way to not have to walk everywhere and get a nice overview. And we did so enjoy the part where we went into the Charles River and the kids even got to drive the boat.
Afterwards we headed over to Quincy Market and got some food and ate outside and walked around and soaked up the ambience. Then went into a branch of Newbury Comics for a long time and bought new graphic novels.
We then met up with my mom, who had driven up that day. We went swimming at the adjacent hotel in the funny little incredibly deep pool, and then all refreshed and hungry, headed back into the city for a late night dinner in the North End. Because it was late I figured we couldn’t dither around trying to compare restaurants to find just the right one. We walked briefly and I saw a place off the main street, it looked charming, they had room for all of us, so in we went. And o what vacation serendipity!! First, when I got home and looked back at emails I saw that someone had actually recommended that restaurant! (I hadn’t even noted the name.) Second, it was one of the best meals of my life. I had the cioppino and it was spicy Italian seafood heaven. My mom had the lobster ravioli which was incredibly rich and delicious. And Paul had some “four meats” thing that was Italian meat heaven. We wrapped up the night by heading into the famous Mike’s for famous cannoli.
On Saturday Paul took us over to Cambridge to Harvard Square. I should mention here that Paul used to live in Boston for a couple years, going to school, working in a bookstore in Harvard Square, buying stuff at Newbury Comics all the time, and the like. So for him it was fun to show us some things he remembered and revisit locations and see how they changed. It rained a bit here so we went to a coffee shop, I browsed a fancy stationers, we took a quick peek at the Harvard campus, and then hopped on to the T to go to the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum. My mom and I had put this high on our list of Boston sights, though I’m not really sure why. I think just that I had always heard it was a good museum, plus it had the fascinating unsolved robbery many years ago. [We did not see the empty frames notes in that linked article.] It was a beautiful and quiet museum, and a lovely way to spend an afternoon. We all enjoyed imagining that we were super rich people in the late 19th century who collected art.
After that mom headed back to the hotel while we took the kids over to Fenway Park to check that out and buy some official Pearl Jam merch. That evening the kids enjoyed more swimming and dinner with mom while Paul and I went out to a viewing of the Friday night concert. The next day, Sunday, was a big one. We had tickets to go whale watching at 10, leaving out of the aquarium wharf. It was clear and sunny and the big boat was nice. It took about an hour to drive away from the city, though we could still see it on the horizon. We reached the Stellwagen Marine Sanctuary, an area where humpback whales naturally congregate to feed in nutrient rich waters and, a whale! For the next hour we saw humpback whales in groups of 2,3, and 4, as well as alone, doing all the things you might expect.
It was truly exciting to see them so close and humongous, to see their beautiful flukes as they dove, great sprays of mist from their blowholes, and so on. I’m so glad we did this because it was amazing. When we returned to the dock we went into the aquarium to enjoy that for a while. Due to it being insanely crowded, we enjoyed and explored this wonderful aquarium much less than we wanted to. It’s clearly a way better aquarium than the one we usually go to, but we were only able to see all the many adorable penguins (being hand fed) and the great big center tube deep ocean thing with a spiral ramp going around it for four floors. I loved this and really, we all did and it was very satisfying.
Then it was time to head back to the hotel, refresh, and say goodbye to the kids and mom while Paul and I headed out to the concert. Which you can read all about here.
The next day we had planned on just coming home, but instead we made it another full vacation day. We said goodbye to mom and got back on the T for one more city outing. This time we went to the Public Garden, where it was, to our pleasant surprise, uncrowded and peaceful. We admired the famous swan boats and took a pleasant ride on one. Then we saw the statues of the famous Make Way for Duckings. We then walked a few blocks into Chinatown, which is always fun. When I saw a fabric shop I insisted on going in. Quite a different experience from Pennington Quilt Works. I bought a length of beautiful fabric which who knows what I will do with. Then, more vacation serendipity, Paul looked up what the best place to eat there was and it was right there and even though super tiny, we only had to wait a couple minutes. The menu was so fascinating I could have sat their reading it for 15 minutes. I did not get sauteed blood and leeks, but rather Ma Po Tofu, and we got lots of delicious dumplings.
After that we headed out of the city, collected our car, and headed home….almost. It was only 40 minutes to Plymouth so we decided to go there and visit Plimoth Plantation for an hour. A wrong turn took us not to the plantation but right into town and Plymouth Rock, which turned out even better. More serendipity! A parking space right along the water right by Plymouth Rock. We admired the small rock, climbed some stairs to a beautiful view, marveled that the island right off the shore was called Clark’s Island, went down to the docks and looked at the Mayflower II and enjoyed the lovely harbor.
We capped it off with some really awesome ice cream from a place with an extensive list of creative homemade flavors and finally buckled in for the very long drive home. Very long. We got home about 1 am (but I’d rather waste a night than a day driving!)
All in all it was a great vacation, very tiring, but we did and saw so many things.