City Spotlight- Boston
I fell in love with Boston when I was out at school. I had always been infatuated with it and the history there, but it quickly turned from lust to love in my four years on the East coast. I would live there in a heartbeat if I could, and I think I almost have Joel convinced too. That has a lot to do with this trip, though. All of our sports trips up until this one had been GO-GO-GO with games, and we didn’t have much time to do anything else in the cities. That’s generally totally fine with me- I get frustrated if we’re somewhere and there isn’t a plan or something to do, and my interests in most cities are pretty limited to their sports teams and maybe a restaurant or two. But while the girls were at camp, it also happened to be the all-star break for MLB. That week has to be the worst sports week in the whole year. Summer is already pretty dead besides major league baseball, and then you have some time off from that! We watched the home run derby and some of the festivities, but it wasn’t “must watch” tv, so we had to find some other things to entertain ourselves. Luckily, Boston has plenty to offer!
Most of Monday was spent dropping the girls off at camp and making sure they were situated, but in the afternoon we decided to go see a movie. And by we I mean Joel decided. Some would say that I’m an “overplanner” (I’m working on it) and the thought of being in an exciting new city and sitting around doing something that I could easily do at home makes me anxious. I once wandered alone to the front desk of a motel to call home to my parents (bawling the whole time, I might add) while I was down in Florida for a volleyball tournament at age 13 because on the first night we had eaten at iHop and wandered around Magic Kingdom without going on any rides. Burke had taught me better than that kind of inefficiency and lack of planning. So I was a little wary of going to a movie when we easily could do that at home. Joel insisted though and it was actually just what we needed. We went to Life of Pets, so it gave us a little puppy kick (we were missing our dogs pretty bad), we got a nice cry in, and it was a nice relaxing afternoon to split up the busy-ness of the rest of the trip. That night, we went to a bar right by Fenway Park called the Cask N’ Flagon. The food there was delicious and afterwards we walked over to J.P. Licks, a Boston ice cream staple. I would never in a million years have planned this day, but it was absolutely perfect and taught me a bit about building some flexible time into my itineraries (I’ll never change THAT much).
On Tuesday, we wandered around town a bit and checked out what Quincy Market had to offer. This market is right in the middle of town steps away from where the Boston massacre happened and in or around old notable buildings. This alone would be reason to go, but there are also street performers and tons of street vendors selling your typical touristy Boston stuff. I got a Boston notepad that I ended up using as my volleyball practice planner the following fall and a Boston Marathon shirt for my dad. Afterwards, we went and checked out Wahlburgers- this had been my parents one request of the trip. I got the Thanksgiving Day sandwich and Joel just got a regular burger, and we were both pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed them- they were delicious! The best part, though, was that one of the Wahlburg brothers himself was wandering around the restaurant. Of course it wasn’t Mark so I had no clue who he was, but Joel knew and got a blurry selfie with him.
That night, I had found a sip and paint place called The Paint Bar that was offering a class where we would get to paint the Boston skyline. I often get asked if we collect anything from the stadiums we go to, and we don’t really- it’s pretty tough because not all stadiums are created equal and offer the same things across the board. I normally just say pictures or reply with the super corny “we collect memories” (I hate myself), but ever since doing this, I check out what’s going on at the sip and paint places in every city we go to. It’s the first time either of us had ever done something like this, and it wasn’t nearly as hard as we thought it would be. Some sip and paint places don’t offer options specific to the city, but our paintings from Boston are hanging up in our house and are a great reminder of our time there. Also, mine is way better than Joel’s which I like to remind him of sometimes. This particular Paint Bar was in Back Bay, a part of Boston I hadn’t spent much time in. We got there early and went to this dive bar that I can’t remember the name of but had surprisingly great drink specials. It was so cheap that we went back after and got dinner there. The food was average but they had this bar game where they have a ring hanging on a string from the ceiling and a hook on the wall and you try to swing the ring onto the hook. It was super hard but kept the always competitive Joel and I entertained for quite some time.
The next day, we did another thing I’d never done in the city (or ever) before. We rented a tandem bicycle and rode around the city! The company we got the bikes through (Urban AdvenTours) gave us a map of a path to follow, which takes you to a bunch of the coolest locations throughout the city. We went by Fenway Park, the harbor, several stops on the Freedom Trail, and even made it to Cambridge in time for lunch. We went and ate at another place I’d been to before called Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage. It’s this little hole in the wall place that serves some of the best burgers and fries around. The best part, though, is that every sandwich they offer is named after some sort of relative celebrity, politician, or hot button political topic. In my few times there, I’ve gotten the Oprah twice and the Barack Obama. Both were delicious and have probably been renamed by this point. I would definitely check this place out and wander around Harvard’s campus for a bit- I think you actually get smarter just by being there. Just note that Mr. Bartley’s isn’t open on Mondays and only accepts cash!
After heading back to the bike rental place and paying way too much for a lemonade because it was soooooo hot out, we went back and got ready for dinner. Another thing I like to do when we’re on long trips is plan at least one really fancy dinner where we get dressed up and pay way too much. In San Fran it was the crab spot, and here in Boston we did Top of the Hub. The bar was overpriced, and the food was pretty average (and Joel’s limited palate paired with a limited menu is not the recipe for a successful dinner) but the view made it worth it for sure. I got a reservation and timed it so that we would start dinner during daylight and finish after the sun had set, which was perfect. The nighttime view was breathtaking and even made Joel slightly happier that I’d dragged him there. I’ve found at almost every place like this we’ve gone to, the waiters are kinda rude to us to start out- I assume that they must get young kids in there who are obnoxious and then don’t leave much of a tip, so we get unfairly grouped with those dang poor tipping and rowdy millennials. He clearly wasn’t pleased when Joel just ordered a salad, but after he saw that we had tipped him really well I think he felt bad and brought Joel a free drink, which was nice.
The following morning we checked out of our AirBnB and hopped on a bus to New Hampshire, where we’d pick up the girls and head to New York on a different bus. Boston is one of my favorite cities and this trip in particular will always be one of my favorite stops.
Just a couple of sports fans touring the world, one stadium at a time.