Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beautiful Boston

Continuing with our American History tour - in early August, we spent a weekend in Boston. Wow, what a difference compared to Philly. Boston is a beautiful and clean city. It is sorely lacking a grid system, but with Michael's great sense of direction we managed to get around town just fine. We were lucky to get a great deal at the Omni Parker House, it's one of the oldest hotels in the area and it is right on the Freedom Trail. We were in the heart of the city, we walked everywhere. (The Parker House invented Parker House rolls and Boston Cream Pie.)

We took about a 4 hour train ride and were ready for cocktails with Bex, Pat, Joe, and Kathy on Friday night. We planned our visit when the Wades were in town as well. We had tour guides and hosts that drove in to the city Friday and Saturday nights and wait until you hear about Sunday dinner.

Friday night we headed to Fanueil Hall and then to some of Bex old haunts. Most of the bars in the trendy area had lines and DJs - too much for our mellow crew. We did find a great little place and enjoyed a few beers along with the Olympic opening ceremonies. We moved on to a cigar bar, a few members of our party were pretty happy with this turn of events.

Pictured below - Fanueil Hall during the day (it's home to shops and eateries, a fun touristy place.)

Saturday Michael and I were left to our own devices during the day. We started out with lunch at a pretty awesome Irish bar called The Black Rose. From there we walked up to the North End to enjoy some fine baked goods at Mike's Pastries. They are known for their cannoli, but we just enjoyed some pizelle cookies. The 'Big Dig' seems to be complete and there is a big open pedestrian walkway where there was once freeway.

We headed back down to Boston Commons and the Public Garden - along the way we stepped in to a historic graveyard and saw the grave of Paul Revere.

Did you know the Paul Revere's father was from France and his name was Apollos Rivoire. He was sent by his family to the New World and became an apprentice to a goldsmith. Eventually he opened his own store and anglicized his name to Paul Revere (it was better for business) - the same name he gave his oldest son. (The things you learn on the Freedom Trail!)

The weather was perfect on Saturday - not too hot or too humid. I thought the Swan Boats in Boston Commons were small pedal boats, I was all ready to rent one so we could ride around the lake. Well my memories of the boats were slightly off - just one boat operator pedals the boat for a slow 15 minute tour of the lake.

We passed on the boat ride, but did enjoy some great views of the lake from the shore.

After a quick break we headed to the Beacon Hill area for lunch and window shopping.

Beacon Hill was so quaint, we loved the brick houses and tree lined streets. Look at these great carriage doors.

I would love to have a walk up with this cute garden out front.

This is a close up of the same place but to the right of the stairs, love the weather vane.

The restaurants and stores all had great store fronts - lots of brick and lettered wood signs hanging over the doors. We enjoyed a quick lunch at a cute little place called Paramount. It was recommended to us, and the perfect spot for a light lunch. They have fabulous breakfasts too, but the lines are crazy. Lunch was quiet and quite enjoyable.

After lunch we headed down to the Charles River, on the way over we made a special stop just for Mel.

The 'Cheers' bar could quite possibly be her least favorite spot in Boston. The bar was used for the outside shots of the famous watering hole - but the inside isn't the same as the tv show. The bar used to be named something like 'Bull and Finch', apparently they figured out they could sell more t-shirts by changing the name (I imagine some kind of licensing deal had to be worked out as well). We didn't actually go inside, but I did insist on a quick photo.

The Charles River was packed with boats and wind surfers.

Saturday night we did a little pub crawl and went to some great bars with Bex and crew. It was a fun night that ended at a place called Kinsale, they had a huge outdoor patio and live music.

Sunday we were invited to a lobster feast hosted by Bex dad. We took the 'T' to the suburbs and met up with the Wade family on the Boston College campus.

Bex gave us a great campus tour and even arranged for us to walk on the football field. OK, I don't think she pulled any strings, but the gate was open so we were able to walk right on the field. She has all the photos, so we'll have to wait until she does her blog update to see us on the BC 50-yard line.

Now to the feast! We were totally spoiled by Bex and her family. We started out with chips and dips, and then moved on to two types of home made chowder - clam and salmon. Bex sister, Nancy, made the chowders, she didn't think the clam was her best effort but both Michael and I thought they were both delicious. We had to try both varieties, the clam chowder was our favorite.

After the chowder settled we were treated to fresh grilled swordfish steaks. Bex dad grilled the steaks and then served them simply by cutting them in big chunks. It was family style and we learned to not be shy, the food moves quick in that house.

Once the swordfish was long gone it was time for steamers. Fresh steamed clams with salty clam juice and melted butter for dipping. Even though both Michael and I have had clams before neither one of us had clams like this. They had a long neck and to eat them we had to peel the skin back from the neck. They were delicious.

And finally the main event - a 3 pound lobster per person!

Bex was the master of breaking down the lobster - each one was full of sweet, perfectly cooked lobster meat. There was so much meat you almost got tired of eating lobster!

Of course the drinks were flowing and there was an entire table of desserts. Jane made these amazing key lime pie bites - I could not stop eating them.

Thanks to the entire Wade family for not only inviting over to a great dinner, but making us feel warm and welcome. Feel free to invite us back anytime! ;-)