Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A real change of season- Boston

While it's still fresh in my mind I wanted to do a recap of my trip to Boston at the end of October.
I was able to go to Boston twice last year through work trips, but that also meant that we wouldn't get out of the conferences until after 4 or 5, so I mostly saw Boston at night. And both of those trips were REALLY cold.
This time, however, the weather was perfect! It seems we made it right in the middle of that very brief period where all the leaves are bright reds, oranges and yellows and it's still 50-60 degrees and sunny (well mostly sunny). It also happened to be a mini vacation added on the front end of one of my parent's work trips so we had 3 full days of tourist-ing. This was mostly on account of my little brother since the rest of us had hit all the big spots on previous trips. Also, he's 16 and in American History so we absolutely HAD to do every historical thing in and around Boston. Not complaining though, I had a lot of fun, and our trips are always these non-stop "go go go" type vacations anyways so I'm used to it and just had to sleep for a week after getting back (I think I'm getting old)

Day 1- We arrived late on a Saturday and it was rainy and cold so we bundled up and walked a bit before grabbing dinner- a cozy Italian place where I had them create a pizza just for me, no cheese, lots of veggies, and really delicious crust. Boston has a lot of good Italian places but you have to find the usually tiny authentic places among the many overpriced North End restaurants (Italian area of town).

Ok maybe Mike's Pastry Shop is worth the price and the line the goes far beyond the door every night.

Day 2- My family went to Salem because of course all the witch museums and activities are really cute to see, especially Halloween week. I passed on this since I did all those same Salem museums the last trip about 6 months ago and it really would not have been worth it to pay to see the same talking robot witches and pirates again. But I promise it's worth it the first time around! When I went with just my parents we got a 3 museum pass that makes it a bit cheaper too. Salem itself is a really cute Northeastern style town with little shops and restaurants, so I'd also recommend just giving yourself time to walk around and enjoy it too, especially on a nice day.
I also had a great day walking around Boston. I discovered the South End Urban Market. It was kind of a walk from our Beacon Hill hotel (The place is called John Geoffrey's House- great price and location) but very worth it. There's a small food market but the arts vendors are really what it's all about. This weekend of course was Halloween themed with people in costume and each vendor stand giving out candy (free!). There were rows upon rows of stands with really unique creations. I bought a beautiful necklace which unfortunately broke so I'm still waiting on the replacement. I also sampled some jams and briefly checked out the large warehouse of antiques behind the market. After that I literally walked all over Boston. I didn't want to do any of the tourist spots without my brother so I checked out Trader Joes, walked through the park. Then went to Fanuil Hall, which in the past has been both a meeting place and market, but I held off on the historical part and just did some shopping. Then I stumbled on another Halloween fair while waiting on my family to get back from Salem. I got some decent flavored coffee and of course had to try a candied apple, and then listed to some Gay rights protestors.
When my family arrived I took them to a spot I had scoped out earlier called Pheonicia, a middle eastern place, that seriously had some of the best food I've had in Boston. Now I know Boston is not known for it's Middle Eastern food but we're going by my standards here, and while I love a good plate of homemade pasta, most places like that are really difficult for me to eat in because of lack of veg options and really heavy meals that tend to make me feel sick. This place was perfect. Several totally vegan versions of traditional plates like moussaka and the pumpkin kibby that I ordered. This was so good! I think I want to recreate it for our Thanksgiving. And the greatest thing was the real Turkish coffee at the end of the meal. I love finding the strong coffee grains at the bottom!

Boston Commons. I don't know if you can tell, but they were playing soccer with a giant rubber ball, FUN!

Day 3- Concord: We took the train to Concord where my brother had a whole list of places we needed to see. Outside the city is where you can really see all of autumn's brilliant and abundant colors, it's no wonder so many famous authors and poets found inspiration here. Writers like Louisa May Alcott (Little Women), Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathanial Hawthorne all had homes here and are now buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetary. Walden Pond is also nearby and is suppoesd to be a beautiful national park but they recommend having a car to get out there. The Concord Museum also tells you about the small town's historical significance. You may remember learning about the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the first battle in the war for Independance. Like all of my family vacation days this was also an exhausting one of non-stop walking so after taking the train back we only made one quick stop into the Liberty Hotel- an old prison closed down for its continued violations and prisoner abuse, and now turned into a hotel. Dinner was just italian again...I don't really remember it but do remember passing out soon afterward.

I couldn't take enough pictures of these leaves!

Day 4- This day was rainy and cold but we were still determined to complete the whole Freedom Trail (http://www.thefreedomtrail.org/)  Much of the Freedom trail is simply walking by monuments, but it does include some interesting spots such as the first Public school, the Granary Burying Ground with people like Samuel Adams, the site of the Boston Massacre, The Paul Revere House, and the Bunker Hill Monument. After walking all of Boston to see these sites, I had a very much needed break while my parents checked on the conference site. I literally was about to lay down in the lobby of the Medical Conference Center but that would have appeared unproffessional since we were meeting with people I sometimes work with too. But sitting down for about 30 minutes gave me the energy I needed to then go to Harvard. We walked around campus though it was still rainy. We snuck a peek at the freshman dining hall that looks like a scene out of Hogwarts! I then parted with the family and met my friend Hannah ( http://1singlestep.wordpress.com/) for dinner at Wagamama's. This place is so good, please come to Houston! I had a great time catching up with her before hopping the train back to the hotel. I love public transportation :)

My brother and Ben Franklin

So that was my trip. If you want more information or have questions on any of the sites I visited just leave a comment and ask me. I just didn't want to make this post any longer than it already is. I give Boston two thumbs up, and definitely hope I get to go back, even for work, really soon.

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