When we found out we'd be going to Connecticut over the summer we knew that a trip to Boston would be a must, and what better time than Independence Day weekend! I mean Washington DC is all about America, but Boston typifies the independent spirit---this is where things really started, where people said 'hey, we're not gonna take it anymore!', took action, and began a pivotal change in the course of history. I don't think you could ask for a more perfect place to celebrate America's independence!
We decided that we didn't want to schedule a bunch of activities---besides fireworks, we left our schedule pretty open so we could just do whatever we wanted, and if we needed a break (like Saturday afternoon when we said 'ok, its too hot, lets go to the hotel pool and then see the Lone Ranger'), then we didn't have to worry about feeling like we were missing something. I mean we wanted to check things out in Boston, but more than anything, we just wanted to relax...and eat. If you haven't noticed yet, food is kind of our thing. And one of our favorite things to do, especially in a new place, is find new restaurants and try local favorites. We are firm believers that food is an integral part of traveling. You learn a lot about an area by eating your way through it! So sorry if you hate food photos----but then again, I'm surprised you're still reading this blog if you feel that way because I am a notorious food photo poster. And no, its not called 'food porn'. That term is gross, I hate it, and it will never come out of my mouth [end rant].
This was just too cool---we got off the T at State Street, right underneath the Old State House. You know, the site of the Boston Massacre. pffffffft. No big deal---!!! We loved how much history is woven throughout modern Boston. And as if Boston isn't full of historic treasures as is, the Fourth of July was overflowing with glimpses of colonial life. In fact, the same time we were exiting the Old State House, a group of re-enactors and tourists were gathered for a reading of the Declaration of Independence from the balcony, just like it was read on July 18th, 1776.
One of the funnest parts of our trip was our super sweet hotel. We snagged two nights at the Langham Boston for dirt cheap. Like, highway robbery, it was so cheap. So for two and a half days we got our fancy on and lived it up!
Though we didn't catch the USS Constitution turn around, another Boston tradition, we did walk to the harbor and watch her sail by. And did you know she's still a commissioned US Navy warship? Pretty cool!
Our hotel recommended Legal Seafood for the best "boston chowdah" so we decided to give it a go. In addition to bowls of chowder, Joey got a soft shell crab sandwich. Poor little crab, snatched up while in the middle of growing a new shell, completely unaware of his imminent, fried fate. But that naked little crustacean was mighty tasty! Sorry, my vegetarian friends.
And what was right across the street from Legal? The aquarium. You guys. I love the aquarium. Like, I turn in to a giddy little girl at the aquarium. And when we found out military got half price tickets? We knew it would be the perfect afternoon activity and a great break from that hot summer weather. First stop at the aquarium: the sting ray tank. And yes, I may have been the only adult hopping in there to pet the sting rays, but I don't care! Its one of my favorite things to do. I could stay there all afternoon if Joey would let me.
Second favorite aquarium exhibit: the jellies. And boy, this one had a great jellyfish exhibit!
Loved watching this sea lion toss his rope toy up in the air and catch it. Its like watching a Remy-mermaid---because that's all they are, really. Just puppies with flippers!
And this guy. This fur seal was too cute. He hopped up on the dock and kept trying to take a nap, but every time he heard a noise, he'd sleepily lift his nose in the air, eyes half open, and kind of bob around to see what was going on, before gently laying back down--just like Remy and Marley when they're sleeping.
We watched scuba divers feed the fishies in the giant, 24 foot ocean tank. The tank holds over 2,000 animals (holy cow!), including this old turtle named Myrtle.
We took lots of breaks with sorbet or 7eleven slurpees in an attempt to cool off whenever we could. Gosh I hate the heat.
We decided to face the madness and go to the Boston Pops concert and fireworks at the Esplanade. We figured that since its just the two of us right now and we don't have to worry about children running off or getting separated in a crowd, we ought to go to the popular 4th of July event. So we staked out some blanket space (which happened to be right next to a family with a very, very friendly and snuggly golden retriever), played some Phase 10, and listened to the concert while we waited for the sun to set and the fireworks to start. Oh and another favorite part of our experience: listening to Boston police officers direct people to various locations. They sure like to misplace those 'r's!
Howie Day was performing at the concert and sang Collide, and in the middle of the song, this mom got up with her little boy and started dancing. He had the biggest smile on his face! Talk about cute.
It was the best fireworks show we've ever seen! Though the craziness after the show ended was a little much. You had people climbing over barricades and fences, drunk people being...well, stupid, and trying to get on the subway again was just bananas. As if pushing and shoving is really gonna make things better, people! And don't even get me started on the body odor. But what can ya do when people cram themselves into small areas in a poorly ventilated area on a hot summer night?
After all of that we were more than ready to refresh with a shower and cuddle up in our comfy--and apparently famous--hotel robes and slippies (Buster Bluth, anyone?). And while we were at it, why not test out that room service? Boy I'm glad we did. We've only done it once before at a different hotel and it was rather disappointing, but we figured that a five star hotel would be the place to try it again. And oh, it was. We ordered their signature chocolate croissant bread pudding with ice cream and cocoa sauce and it was incredible. We've both been day dreaming about this dessert since then. Mmmm.....
The next day, we may or may not----oh who am I kidding? We proudly had cannolis for breakfast! And it was totally worth it. We had heard that Maria's was the best place in Boston for cannolis so we decided to head there in the morning. Some say that Mike's has the best cannolis, but after reading some reviews from disgruntled Bostonians about the alleged "tourist trap", and its long line around the block that we saw later that night, we're glad we skipped Mike's and went with Maria's Pastry Shop.
Oh yeah. So. Good.
We got a traditional ricotta filled cannoli with chocolate chips, a custard cannoli with pistachios, and we also tried paragina, a yellow cake with flaky pastry and pastry cream. Amazing.
Late morning activities included Haymarket, and Quincy Market + Faneuil Hall.
Another fun thing we liked about Boston was the Freedom Trail, a red brick line that runs all over the city connecting historic locations like Paul Revere's house and the Old State House and marking other places and events relevant to American history. While we didn't take a full tour of the Freedom Trail, we liked spotting it beneath our feet as we walked around Boston.
We haven't had Vietnamese for over two months and have been craving it for quite some time, so a good place for Pho and spring rolls was a must. I think Pho Pasteur was a winner!
I finally got to try arancini at Antico Forno! I've been wanting to try these fried risotto balls ever since I learned about them a couple years ago, so I was beyond excited when I saw them on my dinner menu. This one had bolognese sauce, peas, and fontina cheese inside--yumm!!
Saturday morning we caught more revolutionary re-enactors as we headed out for lunch.
We ventured out a little from downtown Boston to Brookline Village to try sandwiches at Cutty's.
Ok, if you're going to go to Cutty's, go on Saturday. You see, on Saturday they have two special sandwiches, one of which is a pork sandwich with garlic and pickled fennel. Holy Cow (or pig?), it was incredible. Just like the chocolate croissant bread pudding, we are still thinking about and licking our lips for that pork fennel sandwich. It was the perfect last meal in Boston and kept us quite satisfied for the train ride home.
We loved our weekend in Boston--and wish it could've been longer! There was something about that city that just struck a chord with us. We felt comfortable there, welcome there, and it connected with us in a way other cities haven't yet. I mean we love DC because that's where we got married, but Boston had a certain feel that we really enjoyed. We're hoping that later on in Joey's Navy career he'll get in a particular program that could send him to MIT, so getting a little preview of Boston was exciting for us as well. And now we both agree that the Boston area is on our potential future home list---something Joey never thought he'd say!