When our tour to SE Asia was canceled for the SIXTH time, we decided to go ahead and take the time off work, and travel somewhere else, but where? Initially, we looked into driving to the Florida Keys, but nixed that one when we looked at the time it took to drive from Northern Virginia to the tip of Florida. Nope! We looked into booking another tour to Central America, but no one could watch the dog for us. Being the fools that we are, we opted to drive up into New England with Guinness… our 12 year old Pit Bull. In the dead of one of the coldest winters in quite some time. Days after a blizzard rocked the Northeast. I swear we are usually smart people.
Anyway, first stop on the journey… Boston, Massachusetts. Hubs had never visited the home of the Red Sox, and had always wanted to explore the history-laden city. We loaded up the truck, and departed with the dog in tow. Our AirBnB was south of Boston’s city center in Upham’s Corner, occupying the first floor of an old two-story home along a narrow one way street. We arrived late, pulling onto the street which was lined with large piles of snow and little parking. Shit. Thankfully, the owners of the home allowed us to use their driveway. After several multi-point turns and twists, Hubs successfully maneuvered the truck into the cramped alleyway. The house was frigidly cold, with the thermostat set in the low 50s. At first, we couldn’t get the heat to kick on and were worried we’d have to flee for a hotel. Eventually, warm air gradually began permeating the space. Crisis averted.
The weather decided not to cooperate on the first full day of the road trip, and we were stuck putzing around the house with little more to do than twiddling our thumbs, working out (that was mainly me, of course), and looking out the windows at the snow and sleet falling outside. We played Yahtzee and cards, watched TV, drank hot tea, and cooked food. It was relaxing at least.
Day two arrived, as did clear skies. Parking is at a premium in downtown Boston, so we used our capable legs to walk from our accommodation. Three and a half miles up, strolling through town, and then ultimately an Uber home due to the hour and my poor footwear choice. As mentioned previously, we visited shortly after a blizzard had whisked through the area. Much of the sidewalks were trampled down ice and packed snow, as opposed to the preferred shoveled clear. The ice and snow caked to the sidewalks rendered my thin boots ineffectual, and my toes were numb after about 45 minutes into the jaunt. I powered through, and we made it into the city. However, it was time for a pitstop to warm up by that point. Three and a half miles walking in the 20 degree temperatures takes a lot out of you!
Mod Espresso greeted us on Hamilton Street, a large coffee shop calling itself “Boston’s Premier Coffee Bar,” serves fancy coffee, artisan sandwiches (I need a fancier word for sandwiches), deluxe pastries, all surrounded by an elegant, contemporary decor. If you’re in the mood for elaborately concocted brews, this place certainly has you covered. Lavender honey lattes, Vietnamese coffee, Turtle lattes, hot vanilla and cinnamon macchiatos all grace the menu.
Next stop was planned courtesy of my Google searching… Blackbird Donuts (aka. Fancy donuts). So. Many. Choices. They will top a donut with ANYTHING. I wish I had taken a photo of the selection menu… it was incredible. Everything Bagel, Boston Cream (of course), Salted Toffee, Rhubarb, Apricot Cobbler, Ube Boba (whatever that is), Sweet Pea and Parmesan (not sure how I feel about that on a donut), Chocolate Old Fashioned, etc. They even devised such things as doughnut pies, cakes and cookies – otherwise known as heart attacks in donut form. Wait… that’s probably just donuts in general. Stop by one of their many locations if you like donuts, and let’s face it… who doesn’t?
We moseyed on over to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market to peruse the cornucopia of restaurants, shops, butchers, fresh meats and vegetables and spices, food carts, retail shops, and unique dining options. Cuisine from Boston Baked Beans, Indian Pudding, clam chowder, lobster rolls, and cannolis… all local and regional delicacies are present in the Hall and Market. If you aren’t hungry (but you should be just strolling through there), you can browse the specialty carts adorned with both modern and vintage fashions. Hell, you can even shop for your four-legged pooch! When it’s not 20 degrees outside, there are performers littering the area around Faneuil Hall, from juggling to musicians to acrobatics. If you get lost enroute, just follow the Freedom Trail… it’ll land you right there.
The Hubs and I are both fans of books, including reading them. I discovered a marvelous bookstore that sells used books of a HUGE variety of subjects. One can find novels on traveling, world languages, antiquarian books, religions, history, fiction, food, poetry…. I could obviously keep going. The prices are fantastic. The two story shop also has an outdoor clearance section that was too cold for us to venture into, but was definitely worth the visit if you like the written word. Check out the Brattle Book Shop.
Boston Common is basically a giant park plopped in the center-ish of the city. No matter what time of year, the park is definitely worth a chunk of time to wander. Generally, I’ve visited Boston in the dead of winter, so Boston Common is typically quiet and peaceful. I’m sure the quaintness dissipates in the warmer months, but the park is beautiful blanketed in a layer of snow. While the Hubs and I were unable to visit many of the places in Boston worth the trip, we still enjoyed our time there. I’ll still mention those locales we were unable to visit. The Waterfront has an amazing number of restaurants will phenomenal views of the Boston Harbor. If you like cannolis (if you don’t, you aren’t human) and Italian food, check out the North End… delectable food and desserts abound. Back Bay is fun to wander any time of year… Trinity Church, shops, restaurants, Emmanuel Episcopal Church of Boston, Boston Public Library, coffee shops and bakeries, Old South Church of Boston…. I am FAR from religious, but the architecture is gorgeous. Beacon Hill is cluttered with stunning row homes overlooking the Boston Common. If I had that sort of money, I would be okay with living there too.
Boston Harbor Distillery and Boston Winery are both in the same area along the bay not far from where we stayed. Unfortunately, the winery was not open while we were there. The distillery, however, was open and allowed dogs inside the establishment. Lyft offers a dog-friendly option, so that one may ferry their furry friend with them. We took advantage of this, and took Guinness with us to the distillery one night. After ordering the ride, we loaded the pup into the BMW, and headed for the whiskey maker on the harbor. The building was mostly empty by the time we arrived, but those left were ecstatic to have a dog present. Guinness made friends with not only the two female bartenders, but also several of the clientele. My dog is a whore… she’d leave me for anyone willing to provide her with attention.
Anywho… the distillery offers a number of craft whiskey cocktails, as well as whiskey flights. Oh, they can get you hammered quite quickly with little effort. We enjoyed flights of our choice whiskeys, followed by a few different unique aperitifs. One such liquor was titled “Demon Seed”… Scorpion pepper, ginger and maple syrup flavored whiskey. It made for a delightful cocktail!
On our final morning in the capital city of Massachusetts, I made sure we took a drive over the bridge into Cambridge. The college town lines the Charles River, and Memorial Drive runs along it. I’m sure the walk is much better in the warmer months, as it was a bit frozen over in January. Guinness still enjoyed the ramble along the water. The area provides fantastic skyline views of Boston.
Guinness goes to Bunker Hill… She wants to learn about our nation’s history, too! Also on the Cambridge side of Boston, Bunker Hill sits among a neighborhood of old row homes. You’d never know the site was that of a battle during the Revolutionary War, but the phallic symbol in the center of the hill would say otherwise. That seems to be a common construct for monuments of some historical significance in the United States. This obelisk took seventeen years to build, and still stands today marking the spot where the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought.
And just like that, we’re off to New Hampshire.