Often my International Travel Bucket List trumps my Domestic Travel Bucket List. When I was in Ljubljana, I stumbled upon a large photographic tribute to the United States National Park System. Walking through and viewing some of the beautiful country in my own back yard gave me an appreciation for the things I’m leaving behind me each time I search out a new travel destination overseas.
I started to look more closely at cities and sites in the good ‘ol US of A. Without question, at the top of my list was Boston. I have wanted to check out Boston for years, but never quite got there. In a perfect world, the Royals would be playing the Red Sox at Fenway, but alas, this September it could not be. In fact, even the Red Sox weren’t playing at Fenway while I wandered the historic streets of Boston. (No worries – it’s just given me another reason, amongst many, to go back).
Fall travel 2017 is in full force and what better way to start it off than in Boston, considering I’ll be completing my Fall travels with the British! 😉
The day I left Kansas City starts somewhat sadly. Those who follow my travels regularly may have noticed an abrupt end to my Thailand blogging last February. Very sadly, upon my return home I learned one of my precious four-legged friends had become acutely ill. She went to Doggie Heaven 20 minutes before my plane landed in Kansas City. I’d had a bad gut feeling before I left on that trip. I honestly thought maybe my plane was going to crash, and (very) briefly considered canceling the trip. But that’s silly, right? RIP little Mina Moo.
Needless to say, leaving my remaining pup while I set out on another long international trip filled me with trepidation. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I cried like a little baby the morning I left him, but I felt comfort in knowing he’ll be in good hands. I also didn’t have a bad feeling like before, so off I went to work.
Yes, work. Like a dummy, I planned a day of work before my red-eye flight to Boston. At the time of booking it seemed like a great idea – “It’ll give me a full day in Boston!” While I did get extra time in Boston, I’m not sure it was worth it. Work was long and emotionally difficult, which left me crying after work as well. I clocked out and hurried to my car, knowing that everything had to work perfectly and without interruption if I was going to make my 8:40pm flight. I tend to get anxious before leaving on a trip, and this scenario wasn’t helping… until I learned my flight was delayed! Typically an annoyance, I was pleased to learn I had extra time.
As planned, my boyfriend, Justin, was at my apartment ready to whisk me away to the airport. Given the extra time, we opted to grab a bite to eat. Even better, my dog sitter sent a text letting me know they were finishing their walk and I got to see my little man when I dropped my car off at my apartment!
Heart and belly full, we went to the airport. I breezed through security (thank you TSA Precheck) and found a seat to plop down in right away. This would have been a good opportunity to notify my hotel that I would be arriving late – that is, if I had one. You see, a dear friend convinced me to use Hotwire.com to book my hotel last minute. What he left out was the 3-5 days in advance part.
So here I was, headphones on, chilling in the airport, dreaming about what kind of AMAZING hotel deals I was going to find when I rolled into Boston at 2:30am.
Upon landing, I searched and searched Hotwire and every other app under the sun. If I found a hotel less than $300, it was seemingly ghetto, already completely booked, or was located an hour outside of Boston. I finally broke down and called one of the nearby airport hotels to find out what a partial night’s rate would be. The first call I made was to Gabriel at Hyatt, and he hooked a sister up. I willingly paid a whopping $209 (before taxes) for about 7 hours. What a steal! Honestly, I’d have slept in the airport if there was a space other than the floor. (Nursing-derived floor germ phobia). At 4:30am, I finally arrived at Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor.
I checked in and upon entering my room, wearily dumped my bag and went to the window to raise the blind. The blind was broken, and the only way to look outside was to hold the giant blind above my head. The view was beautiful as my room faced the harbor with downtown Boston opposite of me. But who wants to hold up a blind all night? So I let it down and quickly fell asleep in my dark little room.
The next morning, before I did anything, I 1) sent a ‘thanks but no thanks’ text to that ill-advising friend, and 2) booked my next 2 nights’ stay using the app that defeated me hours previous. As it turns out, the next two nights would be a Hotwire win! (I promptly notified the friend of his excellent advice and thanked him profusely).
I grabbed a fresh and delicious lunch at the hotel restaurant and then enjoyed a brief moment of relaxation at the harbor’s edge before I set out to navigate the city.
I hopped a shuttle bus that took me to the subway station. I waited just a few moments before the Blue Line train picked me up. I then transferred flawlessly to the Orange Line. The Orange Line took me just blocks away from my hotel. I had afternoon plans, and my morning was taking longer that I’d anticipated, so I was in a hurry to get to my hotel and drop my bag off. I came out of the subway station to find myself directly opposite the entrance to the commuter train station I’d be needing later. Unfortunately, after multiple 50 foot walks in all directions (and subsequent returns to Point A), I still could not orient myself to where I was at on my map. I later realized my Maps app was routing me on a road which was underneath me. No wonder I couldn’t find the street I was supposed to be on! Technology is great, but as it turns out, the brain is still better. I went the way I wanted to, and found the hotel promptly. After 1.5 hours of sweaty, hot subway rides and walks in circles, I was thrilled to find the Green Line has a stop DIRECTLY TO MY HOTEL DOORS. (Note sarcasm).
I was kindly welcomed by Corinne at the Colonnade counter. (Alliteration coincidental). Corinne had spent a few years living in my next destination, which I took to mean as further confirmation I found the right hotel! I entered my Back Bay hotel room to find a luxurious and comfortable space with a beautiful view of Prudential Center. With no time to sit and enjoy it yet, I dumped a few items into my day bag and quickly headed back to the Back Bay/South End train station, where I hopped a train one hour west to Westborough.
Waiting for me there was a dear friend with whom I spent many years nursing alongside. She and her chubby, adorable little baby picked me up and we spent a wonderful afternoon walking and talking through a park. When the work day was over, her hubby met us for pizza. We had a nice dinner reminiscing about old times and sharing new great things that are happening to us. Soon it was time to go. It was a quick trip, but just a few hours with a special person can be so good for the soul.
I returned to my comfy Colonnade retreat, eager to sleep and take on Boston again in the morning.
The next morning I awoke refreshed and excited for the day. With my recent flight and complete sleep disruption, I didn’t have much of an appetite. I opted against breakfast and took the opportunity to sleep later than I should’ve. Upon realizing time was getting away from me (as per usual), I quickly got ready and grabbed the all-too-convenient, right-in-front-of-my-face, clear-as-day-on-all-mbta-transit-maps-and-apps Green Line.
A few stops on the Green Line, a transfer, and a few stops on the Red Line got me to JFK/UMASS station, where I grabbed the free shuttle to the JFK Library. The Library itself is beautiful, but the exhibits inside were wonderful as well. To watch the documentaries and walk through videos and photos of JFK and his life makes you feel like it was all a movie. Yet my mom, and others who were alive to experience his assassination would tell you how real it felt to them. My mother, just 1 year old, remembers seeing the fear and disbelief expressed by her mother as they were shopping in the grocery store and the news was announced. His life was beautifully depicted in the library, and his assassination only briefly acknowledged. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but have feelings of sadness and solemnity as I walked out.
Though sad, I was quickly brought back to life when I received a text from Justin notifying me his plane had landed. There were other parts of the city I was so excited to see, but was waiting until he arrived.
We met up in the subway, and checked out Eataly (YUM) before starting our Freedom Trail tour with Silas as our colonial schoolmaster.
The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile red-brick pathway that winds through downtown Boston. Following the trail takes you by multiple sites that are significant in the history of the USA. Some of my favorites include: Boston Common, the Old South Meeting House, the Old State House, historical cemeteries with notable occupants, site of the Boston Massacre, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere’s Home and the Old North Church.
Once “school” let out, Justin and I continued down the Freedom Trail to see a few sites our tour didn’t cover. Conveniently, our walk took us to the North End – the Little Italy of Boston. Without any exaggeration, no sooner did we cross the street to the North End and the smell of delicious Italian food boldly entered our noses! How we resisted an Italian dinner is beyond me! Another highlight was the New England Holocaust Memorial. I am fascinated by World War II history, and this memorial was beautiful.
Less enjoyable sights: New England Patriots and Red Sox gear. Everywhere.
On our walk back to the hotel, we stopped by the original Beacon Hill Cheers pub. It only seemed appropriate. Those of you who know my Woody story will understand why.
We then diverted off the street into the peaceful, flowery Boston Public Garden. As we passed through, I was so disappointed I couldn’t spend more time there. People were relaxing on the lawn. Swans tranquilly swam across the pond. Flowers of all shapes, sizes and colors adorned every corner of the park – as well as the rest of Boston, for the record.
Finally, just blocks from our hotel, we took an opportunity to see the disappointingly covered Trinity Church. Literally every side of the church is under reconstruction. The fences, scaffolding and canvas covers left a lot to be desired as only parts of the church’s gorgeous Romanesque style architecture for which it is known could be seen. Stopping only to refer to our map, we continued on to the Boston Public Library and Old South Church.
Feet tired from a long day, we went to sleep. We would have another very long day coming up!
The next morning we woke up, grabbed breakfast and packed our bags. My Aunt Melinda and Uncle Steve live in Connecticut, and by coincidence they were traveling to Boston for the weekend. Mindy and Steve both used to live in Boston, and what began as a call to get recommendations on things to do, soon became plans to meet up and spend a day together!
They picked us up at our hotel, and we then went to see the USS Constitution – the oldest and only active United States naval vessel that has ever sunken another ship in wartime. We spent the day touring the museum and navy yard, and to our surprise, “Old Ironsides” herself! The ship was supposed to be closed to tourists, but on this day, they opened it up! What a treat!
We ended our day with a waterside meal on the end of Pier 6, and then Mindy and Steve graciously took us to the airport, eliminating any need to navigate public transportation back to the airport.
Checked in. Backpack through security. Seats assigned. Headphones on. Off to…..
IRELAND! (Stay tuned)!