Will and I just got back from a restful and relaxing long weekend in Boston. So relaxing and restful in fact that I forgot I had a life, or a job, or any responsibilities, and truly began to believe that my life now consisted of waking up late, drinking coffee, smelling flowers, walking four miles, then eating whatever I wanted. Re-entry into the real world this week has been well, tough.
Jokes aside, this was such a sweet trip! We loved Boston, and have been scheming as to how we can both live there and transplant all of our favorite Austin people there.
- Eating our way through the city (Lobster Rolls, Clam Chowder, Pasta, Bagels, Donuts… we took all the carbs, all of them, there are no more)
- Watching Big Papi hit a home run for the win at Fenway (I know sports stuff now!)
- Our Freedom Trail tour led by a historian dressed as a colonial woman (“she was on the wing! I saw her… there’s something they’re not telling us!” -Bridesmaids)
- Absolutely gorgeous weather (though, cold. But I’ll take blue sky any day), and flowers everywhere.
- Seeing what we thought was the Hocus Pocus house on a day trip in Salem. It wasn’t, but we got to have the same nostalgic feelings like it was.
- Spotting Ben H and Lauren B of bachelor fame in the Austin airport when we got home. I nearly lost my mind. I couldn’t get up the courage to ask for a picture with them (and Will didn’t want to be in the picture with me for some unknown reason), so I took an awkward, panicked photo of the back of Ben’s head. He was very tall. She was very thin. They were both very attractive.
Where We Stayed:
We booked an adorable tiny studio apartment in South Boston through Airbnb. It was about a five minute walk to the T, and super close to everywhere we wanted to go.
The house across the street from ours- I love the little balconies!
Our darling little place- this may not seem terribly picture worthy to someone who lives in the Northeast, but I can’t tell you how fun it is to stay somewhere with character. I haven’t seen an apartment with anything other than builder’s grade details since… well, never in Austin, that’s for sure. Any old house is converted into a law office, and most apartments were built either in the 70’s, or in the past 3 years–‘oh, they’re putting in an apartment complex here?’ is the Austin equivalent of ‘bless you.’
What We Did:
Our first stop was Harvard Yard, where we had a student snap an obligatory photo in front of an important looking old building:
Check! I had a moment while this girl was taking our picture when I thought ‘I wonder what it’s like to go to a school where there are tourists visiting all the time?’
And then I remembered that I did go to a school like that, and now work at a school like that, and that this past week alone took photos for two tourist groups in front of my office building, including one of elementary aged children planking.
After walking the yard, we spent some time meandering through Cambridge. These adorable little houses are part of Leslie University- we eventually found the rest of campus, which was not quite as picturesque… but can you imagine going to class in one of these buildings? I would feel like an American Girl Doll.
We spent a bit of time perusing the downtown area on our way to the North end for dinner. I spotted a used bookstore in an alley as we were passing by (I have some kind of special sixth sense when it comes to spotting old bookstores. I can’t ever find a parking spot, but I can find a bookstore), and we stopped in to see what they had.
One of my favorite views:
This enormous cat barely moved when I went to pet him. I loved him. I wanted to BE him. What a fantastic life it would be to nap in a bookstore all day. A girl can dream, right?
For dinner, I made a reservation at Panza in the North End, on the recommendation of a friend who had eaten there last fall, and loved it so much that she carried around the manager’s card in her wallet. I didn’t need much more push than that. Plus, for all the thriving food culture in Austin, Italian food is pretty sorely lacking. I had the potato gnocchi bolognese (and that big glass of sangria) and Will had the lobster ravioli. We stopped at Mike’s Pastry for dessert, considered the cannoli’s, then settled on this brownie brick:
It was like a work of art. That we destroyed 30 seconds later.
We started off the day with a stroll through the Boston Common and the Public Garden. The weather was perfect- very different from the tundra I encountered last time I was there 8 years ago!
Coincidentally, this was my Dictionary.com word of the day on Saturday:
tulipomania \too-luh-puh-MEY-nee-uh, -MEYN-yuh\
1. (in 17th-century Holland) a widespread obsession with tulips, especially of highly prized varieties, as those of a streaked, variegated, or unusual color.
I HAVE THAT. I MEAN, LOOK AT THESE THINGS:
I also have a deep and abiding admiration for trees that borders on obsessive. I point out beautiful trees constantly, and didn’t realize until a few years ago that though this is relatively common in my family, it’s not in any other social circles. Picture 1 out of about 20. I’ll spare you the rest. I just couldn’t get over the pink blossoms on this one!
Will practically had to drag me out of here, but thankfully we were able to spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying the outdoors on our Freedom Trail tour! Our tour guide was awesome- she was a historian, and totally knew her stuff. Fun fact: Paul Revere was not the only guy to do the midnight ride. He just had the best name for rhyming, which is important for poets, which is why he is famous now.
After the tour, we stopped by Faneuil Hall just to, you know, say that we did, and then grabbed lunch at Quincy Market. I tried to take a photo of the enormous piece of pizza and lobster roll we shared, but … we were really hungry, so it didn’t happen. Well, it kind of happened, but the food was already in Will’s mouth by the time I could get my phone out.
To cap off the evening, we caught a Red Sox v. Yankees game in Fenway Park. Will grew up playing baseball, so this was a huge night for him. I am notsomuch into the sports, but I do love sports movies, and I do love being a part of things, so I had an incredible time. My favorite moment was getting to sing along to ‘Sweet Caroline’ during the 8th inning. Love those Red Sox fans. And those Yankees fans. All the fans. Love em.
Confession: I had this beer, a pretzel, and gummies for dinner at the game.
We decided that for our last day in Boston, we wanted take advantage of our proximity to cute small towns. Controversial choice, I know, but the thing is… in Boston, you can be in another state in 4 hours. In Austin, you can be in Dallas in 4 hours. So the whole concept of ‘getting away’ from the city just seemed novel to us. Our first choice destination was Cape Cod (where my parent’s got engaged!), but a quick peek through the list of things to do on Trip Advisor suggested that it was somewhat of a beach town, and what with the temperature being in the 50’s, we decided that sounded terrible. After a bit of searching on Trip Advisor, we settled on Salem.
For a city that is known for the wrongful death of 19 people who turns out were probably not witches, Salem has really embraced the whole witch thing. There were witch shops and psychics and tarot card readers everywhere. We skipped all that, but had a great day exploring this historic, adorable city. They were even having a poetry festival in the main square; I don’t think it gets much cuter than that. We toured the House of the Seven Gables, a restored colonial home originally built in 1668. My favorite part was the secret passage from the formal dining room to the attic. It is my not so secret dream to someday have a secret passage in my home. Love those tulips!
Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote the book ‘The House of the Seven Gables,’ inspired by, guess what, this House of the Seven Gables.’ His birthplace was picked up and moved in the 1950’s to rest right next door. I seriously can’t get enough of this time period- everything is so dang cute, and I always especially love seeing the letters on display. It makes wonder if someone will visit a museum of iphones 300 years in the future and read our text messages wrought with poop emojis and slang and think the same thing?
After our tour, we visited the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. This is such a sad period of history, and super interesting. I spotted ‘The Witches: Salem, 1692’ by historian Stacy Schiff in one of the stores close by and immediately put it on hold at the library.
We would have loved to visit the Peabody Essex Museum, but didn’t have enough time. Instead, we stopped by Jonathan Corwin’s house, one of the judges during the Salem Witch Trials. His home is deceivingly called the ‘Witch House.’ It was just his house. Still cool, but just his house. The $8 price tag was a little steep for this 30 minute experience, but I did really enjoy seeing the upstairs of the house, including this larger than life loom in the bedroom! We would have loved to stay in Salem and do the Hocus Pocus walking tour, but unfortunately, they only offer them at night. A cursory check on the internet suggested that this was the Hocus Pocus house where Bette Midler sings ‘I put a spell on you.’ Turns out, it was not this house, but another one down the road. However, this is still a very important and historical house because of something, I can’t remember, we were very tired by the time we got there and it was already closed for the day.
Will was decidedly done taking pictures by this point. I have about 10 of him in front of this house doing various model poses and giving me his best Zoolander face. And let’s face it, so was I. I think this is me being Winnie.
A few travel resources we found super helpful:
- We used this app to help us navigate the subway system and get around town. I highly highly recommend it. We would have been lost without it. Literally.
- Trip Advisor, as always, is such a great resource. You have to take a lot of reviews with a grain of salt, (I honestly believe that sometimes when people are having a bad day, they just channel all of that negative energy into writing overly critical reviews of places they’ve been) but I love that people will post ‘insider’ information about where to go, what to do, etc.
- Airbnb! This was my third experience with them and I loved it. We spent a lot less on lodging than we would have at a hotel, and the whole experience was great. I felt like we got to “live like a local.”