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Published: October 21st 2009
It was a drizzly morning today as we made our way over to Penn Station to catch our Amtrak train to Boston. It was only a 4 hour trip and we were excited to get out of New York and start exploring Boston. The first half was rather uneventful as we crossed through various small towns in Connecticut. The train didn't seem to be going as quickly as I thought it should and every now and then, it would completely stop for a few minutes. One of the stops seemed to be lasting for quite a while. I looked out the window and we were definitely out in the middle of nowhere. I believe we were somewhere in eastern Connecticut. As time ticked by and we were still not moving, the passengers started to become restless. The temperature of our train car was starting to rise as were some of the people's tempers. People started to wonder aloud if there was anyplace we could even walk to if we had to abandon the train. Word got around that the train was experiencing technical malfunctions and that we would shortly be on our way. Of course, we all knew that was the
A random street in the Beacon Hill neighborhood
standard response in order to calm the passengers. After about an hour and a half, the train finally continued it's journey. It seemed to be going even slower than it was in the beginning and every time it slowed down, we all feared it would break down again. Eventually, we traveled through Rhode Island and into Massachusetts before finally arriving at Boston's South Station at around 3:30pm. Our 4 hour train ride in the end took almost 7 hours!
It was still sporadically raining when we arrived in Boston. Now it was off to the Enterprise Rental Car to pick up our vehicle for the next 5 days. After a smoke break for Shea and Kevin, we caught the T which is what the subway system in Boston is called. Unlike New York, the subway system here in Boston seemed much more manageable and much easier to navigate. The T took us through Boston's northern suburbs before we reached our station in Malden. I strategically chose this rental place due to it's close proximity to a subway stop. We could have easily walked to Enterprise but since they provide free rides, I called them for a pick-up. We ended
The place where everybody knows your name
up with a dark gray Toyota Camry, not bad for 5 days and for $180. Next on the agenda was to check into our hotel, The Fairfield Inn in the town of Woburn. Initially, we had some difficulty getting out of Malden. Trying to figure out Kevin's navigation system proved a little difficult at first but we eventually made it to Woburn. The Fairfield Inn was probably the nicest hotel of the trip. The room and bathroom were spacious and modern, the staff was very friendly, and breakfast was provided. Not wanting to waste any more of the day, we decided to get into the car and check out the city after freshening up. The next hour would easily be the most frustrating time during the entire trip. We decided to go downtown and have dinner at the Union Oyster House which is famous for being the oldest continuously opened restaurant in the United States. As we drove into central Boston, the sporadic rain had increased in intensity and Friday evening rush hour traffic was at it's worst. Going against my best senses, I put all my trust in the navigation system to get us to our destination. Normally, I
will also have a map with our destination marked out. I entered 41 Union Street as the address to the restaurant. I misunderstood the directions that the navigation system had given us and accidentally took the wrong highway. I was not worried, knowing that it would recalculate our location and redirect us to the best route. For the next half hour to 45 minutes, the navigation system directed us through numerous residential side streets. I felt like we were going in circles. Add in the rain which made it quite difficult to see the street signs, the pedestrians walking everywhere which I had to be careful not to hit, and the fact that the navigation system constantly referred to some of the streets as "unnamed" streets; I was stressed out beyond belief. Shea and Kevin seemed to be taking it all in stride and were laughing at the whole situation. This contributed greatly to my stress level. While driving down Beacon Road, things started to calm down a bit. We started seeing a large number of ethnic restaurants and I had the feeling we were in a university area. I began to think that we were nowhere near where we
needed to be. It seemed to me that we were somewhere near Cambridge and Harvard University. Finally, the navigation system lead us to our destination, 41 Union Street in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Somehow the navigation system lead us to the correct address but in a different city! Eventually we managed to find our way downtown to the Union Oyster House. We parked at a parking garage and walked over to Faneuil Hall. The night air was cool and crisp, perfect New England weather in my opinion. We arrived at the Union Oyster House only to find out that the wait was 1 1/2 hours! Hungry and tired, we chose not to wait and settled on an Irish pub called PaddyO's that was right next door. The service left a lot to be desired but the food was good. We consumed a couple of Sam Adams during the meal and debated whether to stick around and watch the Red Sox vs Angels game that they were setting up to watch. We ended up leaving and were intending on going back to the hotel but during the walk back to the car, Kevin decided that we should watch the
Shea and the Boston skyline
game at the Hard Rock Cafe. So instead of watching the game with a bunch of rowdy locals, we watched it with a bunch of tourists who could really care less. When we pulled out of the parking garage to pay our fee, we got hit with the ultimate in sticker shock. We were totally ripped off! Not even 3 hours and we had to pay $31. When we arrived, we failed to take into account the exorbitant parking fees of downtown Boston. Before heading back to the hotel, Shea wanted to find a Walgreen's and Kevin needed to pick up some drink. We found a local supermarket called Market Basket that was still open at this late hour. Kevin searched high and low throughout the store but did not find any alcohol. I inquired and apparently they don't sell alcohol in grocery stores in Massachusetts. We would have to locate a liquor store which by now were all closed. We made it back to the hotel around midnight and spent the rest of the night watching Wanda Sykes' stand up comedy.
Since we had a late arrival yesterday due to the mishap on Amtrak, today was basically our
only full day to explore Boston. The plan for today was to check out the historical sights along the Freedom Trail. We didn't want a repeat of last night's outrageous parking fees so we chose to drive the car over to the Oak Grove T station in Malden and take the T all the way into Boston. So after a quick breakfast at the hotel, we headed out around 9:30am. Yesterday's rain had somewhat dissipated and despite the cloudy skies, the sun was trying to break through. We caught the T all the way to the Downtown Crossing stop right outside of Boston Common. However before following the Freedom Trail, we decided to make a stop at the place where everybody knows your name, Cheers. We walked up to Beacon Street where we had a great shot of the gold domed Massachusetts State House. Continuing west on Beacon Street we walked passed the famous Beacon Hill neighborhood known for it's rowhouses, gas lit streets and brick sidewalks. The Cheers restaurant was the inspiration for the hit 80's TV show by the same name. It was really just another tourist hot-spot. A lot of people came here just to take a
picture of the Cheers sign and then move on. Of course, we were no different. We cut through the Boston Common, a large urban park and one of the oldest in the United States. We checked out the Soldiers and Sailors Monument within the park before walking over to the Park Street Church to begin following the Freedom Trail. After Park Street Church, we followed the red path that is marked on the sidewalk. This path is the Freedom Trail which takes you to all the significant historical sites in downtown Boston. Right after the Park Street Church is the Granary Burying Ground. I just love old cemeteries. This one was founded back in 1660 and definitely fit the bill. Here lies the final resting place for some notable revolutionary era patriots including three signers of the Declaration of Independence. We just wandered the grounds and tried to find the oldest gravestones. Next stop on the Freedom Trail is the King's Chapel. I'm not quite sure of it's significance but I believe that it is still an active church. From there, we made our way over to a statue of Benjamin Franklin on the grounds of the Boston Latin School,
Granary Burying Ground
Final resting place to some Revolutionary War era patriots
Boston's first public school. Moving on, we made our way to the Old South Meeting House. This building was made famous as being the site where colonists gathered to organize the Boston Tea Party. It was at this point that I realized that all these historical sites were towered over by all these modern skyscrapers. It was an interesting mix of past and present. The trail next lead us to the Old State House, a very significant monument of the revolutionary era. The ancient brick facade set amidst towering downtown skyscrapers makes this site stand out in the area. History happened here as colonists gathered inside to debate the future of the colonies and outside was the site of the Boston Massacre. We entered the building thinking that it would be free to tour. However being the cheapskates that we are, we immediately turned around when we learned there was a fee. Next the trail lead us to where we were last night, Faneuil Hall. It was near lunch time so we decided to check out the Quincy Market and eat at one of the food stalls inside. The seating area was absolutely crammed with people so when I saw
Granary Burying Ground
Old Cemeteries are awesome!
an open table, I had to quickly grab it. Kevin and Shea went to get their food while I saved our spot. I ended up getting New England Clam Chowder in a bread bowl as well as some baked clams. Across from us, some tourists from Italy were quite amused to see me eating soup out of a bread bowl. Apparently they had never seen such a thing before! After lunch we wandered around the little shops and stalls in the area shopping for little gifts for friends and family back home. Before returning to the Freedom Trail, we stayed and watched a group of acrobatic street performers in front of the Quincy Market. They were quite entertaining and kept us entertained for about 15 minutes before deciding to move on.
From the Faneuil Hall area, we continued on the trail through Boston's North End passing the Union Oyster House and a cool looking tavern called the Green Dragon Tavern. From here the trail was interrupted by a farmers market that sidetracked us for a bit before we eventually found our way to the Paul Revere House. The house was a three story home built around 1680 on a
cobblestone street. We chose not to pay the fee to enter but chose to just admire it from the outside. From here we walked through some of the streets of the North End. This area has a strong Italian influence evidenced by all the Italian restaurants and bakeries. This was easily my favorite part of Boston. We visited a few souvenir shops along the way before arriving at the Old North Church. This site is famous for being the source for the "one if by land and two if by sea" signal that is associated with Paul Revere's midnight ride. From here we wandered past the Paul Revere statue and made our way over to the Copp's Hill Burying Ground. This was another of Boston's revolutionary era cemeteries. Like at Granary Burying Ground, we wandered the grounds examining all the old gravestones from the 1800's and 1700's. We ended our walk along the Freedom Trail here. The trail actually continues over the river into Charlestown but our travel weary feet were just not in the mood. Instead we just sat around the waterfront taking in the cool air and admiring the views of Bunker Hill Monument as well as the
new Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge. We had initially wanted to make a drive down to the Sam Adams Brewery sometime today for a brewery tour. However, early evening was approaching and it would be quite a while before we would get to our car. Instead we chose to pay a visit to Fenway Park, one of America's most famous baseball stadiums. On our way to the subway we cut through an area of the waterfront containing abandoned and condemned buildings. Some lady was looking at us and when she approached us, she said "aren't you guys from the train yesterday?". She was the woman who was sitting directly across from us on yesterday's Amtrak ride. How strange to run into her in of all places, the abandoned waterfront buildings. We caught the subway from the North Station right outside of TD Garden, home of the Lakers' archrivals the Boston Celtics. From the North Station we rode all the way to the Kenmore stop on the other side of town. While walking to the stadium, I noticed a large number of nightclubs and bars. This neighborhood must have a really vibrant nightlife scene. Barricades and security agents were everywhere at Fenway
The Old South Meeting House
Where the Boston Tea Party was organized
Park. Security was tight as a huge playoff game was scheduled to be played here the next day against the Angels. While taking photos and walking the perimeter of the stadium, I found a bar that was open that a view of the playing field. I wanted to go inside to have a look. I thought that I would have to be stealth and slyly sneak my way in but I surprisingly just walked right inside and had a look of the field trough a chain-linked fence. Afterwards, we visited the official Red Sox fan store. This store was huge and devoted to anything and everything that was Red Sox; posters, jerseys, caps of all colors and sizes, memorabilia; you name it and this place had it. Shea was on the hunt for a Red Sox cap for her brother. It was quite funny to learn that all these years she thought the "B" on her brother's Red Sox cap stood for his name, Brent. After Fenway, we all had sight-seeing fatigue so we made our way back to the subway to get tour car and returned to the hotel to relax. It was a quiet night tonight as we
The Old State House
The oldest public building in Boston. Site of the Boston Massacre.
chose to stay local for dinner and just went to a local Chiplotle's.
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