Immediately after our three-night stay at the Smugglers Cove Inn in East Boothbay, Maine, we made our way to Boston – my hometown, for the next four nights! I’ll try to capture the fun things we did in the city over the course of the four days. Having grown up in Boston, you see the tourist sights differently and now raising kids away from Boston – it’s so hard to explain to them who these famous statues are and why. They are growing up learning about the world much differently and speaking a different language daily! Totally different than I did as kid – local Boston history is not included so I’m doing my best to fill it in.
As we were looking for a hotel with an outdoor pool (again very important for us) and to be in a good location downtown Boston. The options were The Colonnade Hotel Back Bay and the Wyndham Boston Beacon Hill. Based on location, where we used to live (Waterfront & North End) and what parts of Boston we wanted to visit the most, we decided on the Wyndham Boston Beacon Hill.
Our hotel had views down Cambridge Street and views of the Charles River and just to the right – Massachusetts General Hospital – where both our kids were conceived and born.
We had a great room – two double beds, etc. no complaints whatsoever!
The pool was great too – our friends came and visited us too – first we swam, had drinks in their bar and then ate in a local Italian Restaurant on Cambridge Street – was great! In fact the last day, we gave the bellhop all our stuff, expect our bathing suits and we were at the pool until a 1/2 hour before we had to be at the airport. Turned out our flight was so delayed we didn’t leave til 1:00 am – we could have stayed a the pool for hours longer!
One day we spend walking around Beacon Hill. I love this area even from a young age – but sadly you either live in a tiny shoe box for an outrageous price or a beautiful home which is way above our price range.
Boston Public Gardens
Located just across the street from the Boston Common and it’s much prettier. It was America’s first public Botanical gardens – established in 1837. It is home of the Swan Boats and the Make Way for Duckling Statue.
Into the Boston Common by the State House, and Frog Pond.
In 1634, Boston Common was created as America’s first public park. The 44 acres of Boston Commons was sold by the first settle of the area, William Blackstone for 30 pounds to the Puritan Colonists on the condition that it would always remain a free public space. The common land was used to graze local livestock until 1830. The park was also a site for Puritanical punishments, home to a whipping post and stocks.
We then spent a bit of time following the Freedom Trail. While the actual Freedom Trail stretches 2.5 miles from Boston Commons to Bunker Hill, we didn’t follow it so seriously with a tour guide but you could – and it would be pretty informative!
As we walked the Freedom Trail we stopped in the Granyard Burial Ground to see the famous burial site. It’s Boston’s third-oldest cemetary founded in 1660 – final resting place for Revolutionary War-era patriots including Paul Revere, the five victims of the Boston Massacre, and three signers of the Declaration of Independence: Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine.
We then followed along to King’s Chapel Burial Ground a historic graveyard on Tremont Street, near its intersection with School Street, in Boston, Massachusetts. It is the oldest graveyard.
Carrying along the Freedom Trail we visited the Old City Hall of Boston.
In the courtyard is a donkey signifying the Democratic Party, with two bronze footprints in front of it labeled “stand in opposition” and a plaque explaining the origin of the donkey as the party’s symbol.
We continued on walking around the Old South Church, Quincy Market a.k.a. Fanieul Hall, etc. taking photos and taking in the sites of Boston.
The Bell in Hand Tavern is the longest continuously operating tavern in the United States, having been built in 1795 by Boston’s retired Town Crier. It is also a bar that Nils & I would go to A LOT!
North End & Waterfront
Next up we visited the North End & Waterfront – where we used to live. We walked down Commercial Street taking in the sites and seeing what was the same and what changed. Many of the places we ate and drank are gone, some are still the same. While it’s not something that we did often when we lived there as it’s quite a touristy thing to do, but heck we were tourists in town right – so I took Soren into the legendary Mike’s Pastry for a world-famous cannoli. I had a feeling it might be a bit too cheesy for him to enjoy the entire thing – but he liked it a lot.
While I know they were really interested in seeing the statue of Paul Revere and the Old North Church – no one seemed interested in going inside the church with me. But they did want to visit Paul Revere’s House – which we didn’t end up doing as we didn’t go back that way – we stated to walk the Harborwalk and didn’t get back to tour the house – next time. Would be fun to do this and perhaps walk around Salem – as we used to live in Beverly!!!
As we walked the Harborwalk, we pasted Burroughs, Union & Lincoln Wharf, where Nils lived when we met. The big arch window was the living room. Funny how 30 years ago, we used to come down here to get our lobsters – it was a totally different place!
We popped by the seals outside the New England Aquarium. We didn’t stop inside this trip – as we did visit it four years ago.
We thought it would be fun to take the ferry over to the Charlestown Navy Yard to see the USS Constitution. Considering last time we tried to visit this it was closed – they are closed on Mondays! It really gives meaning to the old saying, “you should have called before you go”.
Onboard you can tour around ship and listen to various guides giving historical talks.
Important: While it is free to tour, anyone over 18 must pass through security and show a government issued ID to get onboard – so a driving licenses from the USA or Passport from abroad. The museum has a suggested donation of $10-$15 for adults, $5-$10 for children, and $25-$45 for families. We did that last time so we skipped it this time plus we were meeting our friends to swim in our pool at 3:00 pm and then dinner nearby the hotel.
It’s from the boat where Soren got very excited about the prospect of going on Codzilla. we totally planed on doing it on Wednesday our last day in Boston – only we left booking the tickets until too – late. They were SOLD OUT! I think a cruise ship came to town as suddenly all tickets were sold out – he was bummed. So I promised him on a future trip to Boston it’s the first tourist thing we’ll do!
When we got back from visiting the USS Constitution, we took the T back to State Street. It’s been nearly 7 years since we have been going around on the MBTA, so it’s quite different now. Aquarium station has been totally redone and the addition of the Silver Line is new for us.
One night we met up with friends in Chintatown at Shabu Zen to eat and say goodbye! This is one meal we really miss in the Netherlands. Not that long ago we visited a place called Shabu and was very excited to eat it. Only to be told as we went to order they do not have Shabu – they are only called that! WTF!
We headed down Commonweath Avenue and ate lunch at the Bleacher Bar at Fenway Park. There were no games going on and we didn’t want to do a tour so this was good enough. Nils bought himself a hat in the gift shop too as a bonus.
While we didn’t do a tour of Fenway Park nor watch a game (Nils has been to dozens of games in the past) but we did do something we have never done – ate at the Bleacher Bar and the kids found that cool. Sure we’ll go back and watch a game in the future – the Red Sox were out of town these days.
There were so many more places to see and people we wanted to visit while we were on our 4 week vacation but overall we had a great time but were ready to get back home to our beds, our routines, our house and other food options – I know that one is hard to believe but we became sick of eating out and the same things over and over. We all agree, we miss Boston and New England, family & friends … it makes it that much extra special to visit when we get ‘home’.