Exploring Boston during a long, hot weekend

If your significant other is on the same coast of America, you should make all efforts to see each other.

That was my thought when Tom said he’d be in Boston in July working a conference, since Boston is only 490 miles away, rather than San Diego’s 2,700 miles. My research quickly turned to planes and trains, and what you may call “apartment b&b’s” through the growing site airbnb.com; I was determined to make the trip work, and ecstatic to be in the same time zone, not worrying about family get-togethers and holidays, as we so often do when we see each other. Instead, the weekend was just about the two of us (and a few friends), and exploring a new city.

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The only snag in our fun long weekend getaway was Mother Nature. Boston may usually be a temperate city, but when a heat wave strikes the East Coast, the city is not ignored. 100 degree days didn’t mar our trip, though the heat slowed us down and necessitated plenty of extra water, and maybe a few fewer historic stops. And the heat also could be blamed for us missing out on a tour and tasting at Sam Adams? Though, perhaps our negligence at planning ahead could be the culprit. (But really, why would the largest craft brewery close at 3 p.m. on a Saturday?! Still makes no sense to me.)

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But first, Thursday was a girls day, and was I ever excited to wander around Boston with Emily, a girlfriend from college that I haven’t seen since graduation. Messaging on gchat is nothing like in-person bonding. We meandered through Harvard’s idyllic campus in Cambridge before feasting on margs, chips and Mexican dishes, which you may agree with me is a perfectly acceptable way to recover from little sleep, lots of coffee, and lack of hydration.

The Gardner Museum was up next on the agenda. Showcasing collections that Isabella Stewart Gardner collected and arranged throughout her life, the museum is not like any other. Rooms are left just as she left them, themed but not identified with signs. You can take a virtual tour here to get a better sense of what I mean. One room had leather-covered walls, while another had huge tapestries hanging. A 1990 heist of $500 million worth of art from the museum has yet to be solved, though this year, the FBI announced they know the identity of thieves. Empty spaces on the wall show where those pieces–including a Rembrandt, a Vermeer, and a Manet–should be hanging.

Emily and I finished our hothothot afternoon window shopping on Newbury Street. Obviously we didn’t buy anything except for ice cream.

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Friday: The Freedom Trail. That was the one thing that Tom and I had really discussed doing on this trip. What I didn’t realize was that the trail is a literal line of red bricks that runs through 21st century Boston, connecting sites we’ve learned about in elementary school that maybe we’ve forgotten. Good thing a fine looking tour guide was available to refresh my memory, with a book we picked up at the starting point.

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The 2.5-mile trail led us past the State House and the Granary Burying Ground, where you’ll find Paul Revere, Sam Adams and the victims of the Boston Massacre. The site of that day is another stop. The Old North Church and the USS Constitution are other notable stops.

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Lunch at Union Oyster House, Boston’s oldest restaurant, seemed fitting. As did a lobster roll to share and two cold beers–a Sam Adams for me.

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Tickets to the Red Sox game were outrageously priced–it was the first night of a series against the Yankees, after all. Instead, we walked around Fenway Park after the game had started, grabbed dinner nearby, and took the (insanely crowded!) T to Cambridge to spend the rest of the evening in an Irish pub with two of Tom’s friends.

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Saturday was another hot day of sightseeing, and with no real plan, we walked toward the waterfront and aquarium area, then through LIttle Italy, over to the USS Constitution, the oldest still-commissioned warship afloat in the world, first fighting in 1812, where she became known as Old Ironsides. Typically, sailors lead tours through the ship, but the heat led to the Navy closing all but the deck and first floor below.

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All I really wanted to do all day was play in these fountains, part of an urban greenway that runs through part of the city.

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During a late lunch of pizza (and LOTS of water, and cookies too!) in Little Italy, we realized that we wouldn’t make it on the Sam Adams brewery tour. At least that leaves us at least one activity on our next trip north! Much-needed down time was followed by another walk, through Beacon Hill (past John Kerry’s townhouse surrounded by Secret Service), along the picturesque Acorn Street, through Boston Public Garden where you’ll find real-life and statue ducks, then on to Newbury Street. Dinner and sangria on the patio at a wonderful Spanish tapas restaurant concluded our day.

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Our flights home were Sunday afternoon, so we spent the morning wandering through the SoWa Open Market, where you’ll find handmade products, farmers market produce and food trucks. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the food trucks until after grabbing lunch at a cafe (keep walking further, if you go!), but I’d still highly recommend a Sunday morning visit to the market. Had we not already spent too many dollars in the city, I’m sure we both would have purchased several items to take home.

Boston was just the first trip of the summer; Charleston and San Diego followed! But this was a city I’m certainly hoping to visit again–though maybe in the spring!

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