Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 6: Go Boston Card Tours

So, Day 6 was kind of a whirlwind because we were trying to get our money's worth for our $110 Go Boston Cards. It's a fun program but it gets to kind of take over your vacation...
So we started our day by catching the earliest of the Duck Tours that we had tried days prior. The Duck Tours pick up at the Science Museum, which was included in the Go Boston Card so we were hitting two birds with one stone :) (No pun intended)
I've seen the duck tours everywhere (even in Galveston, back home) but had never taken one. They're pretty neat in that they travel on land with the wheels and then they "dive" into the water and tour the waterways as well. These old Army Ducks were bought after WWII decommissioned them and the tours begun by the company's CEO.
One of the museum's most famous attractions is the T-Rex and what a fun place to start the line for our Duck Tour.
When we were on the tour we headed into a part of Boston I hadn't seen. I loved this church!
And the amazing designer shopping streets were such a tease. These apartments/condos were so pretty. I hope to see that side of Boston some other trip.
Then we headed to the water. We got to see a lot of the city scene and the sailing school they have for kids.
After the duck tour we headed into the Science Museum. It was really neat and I highly recommend it for science lovers and children.
I liked the T-Rex but it was difficult to get a good picture of it. I have to say Chicago's is better :)
Triceratops!! I really liked the Giant Sequoia Tree piece. I can't wait to see them up close and personal on the West Coast!
Then we headed on the 2-day trolley tour. It's a 2 hour complete trip around Boston, including Cambridge for the Ha'va'd Ya'd and MIT. My only beef is: I hate seeing something and not being able to explore. So, when we passed Fenway (in the rain) I was sad we couldn't go in. Same with the Boston Tea Party NHP and MIT. But, we had to get our money's worth...
During the Trolley Tour we got to see the "Make Way for Ducklings" statue. I had really wanted to come here so I was at least excited to get a good picture! Next time I will definitely be exploring Boston Common!
The (New) State Building was gorgeous!!!
Then, we went to a place featured in Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network called The Barking Crab. There was so much traffic on the trolley that we were really late so the tour guide just pointed us on our way.
I had a gigantic margarita that was meant for 2 but Kristi or Casey refused to drink with me so, yep, I drank it all by myself! Walking a mile back to the Metro was real fun :) Lol
The crab cakes and lobster roll was AMAZING! So much lobster it was insane but you definitely paid for it... Still so good and such a fun place.
While walking along the harbor 10-15 blocks to the Metro station I got some good pictures but it was a bit cloudy... We went back fairly early, though, because we were getting up for our whale watching tour in the morning! I was soooo excited :)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Day 5: Back to Boston

Before Kristi and Casey got ready to go for the day I snuck to the Salem National Historic Site: The Armory. There were other places to see, houses and such, but we didn't have time for that. But, that's ok, I'll be back :)

The National Park was right across the street from our hotel so I just left about 30 minutes early.
The exhibit had some interesting artifacts. I mostly went for the stamps in my National Park passport. There was also a one-hour film on the area and the history of it but I didn't have time for the entire film. Supposedly it won an award for it, though.
Then I met up with Kristi and Casey and we went back to the Peabody Essex Museum. Before we got started we had a quick breakfast in the cafe.
We began in a water exhibit that was "visiting" the museum. Then we got into their permanent collection which included a lot of Asian pieces.
There was plenty of art...
There was an exhibit of old sailing journals...
Nice exhibit lay out.
There were also exhibits of Native art and sailing pieces. Really a huge variety of things... I'm just not versed enough on the different types of art to give a thorough description of it all.
There were other beautiful houses that were apart of the Peabody Essex Museum but they weren't open at that time...
Then, unfortunately, it was time to get back to Boston, so we had to take the ferry back.
We decided to put up our luggage and go to the Cambridge side of town. I had a Groupon to Eagles Deli since it was featured on Man vs Food.
Eagles Deli is most known for their HUGE burger challenges. I didn't stand a chance...
So I just got a Cowboy Burger with BBQ sauce and cheddar cheese. ;)
Then we headed to Harvard!!! I was watching a movie lately where the kids had to recite the 4 reasons this statue was invalid. Ohhhhhh what was that movie?? Maybe it was that Facebook movie?
Then, my biggest excitement/disappointment... We made it to the Harvard Library!!!!! But you had to have a college ID to get in :( I would have wanted to spend the night in there but still, I would have really liked to go in there! Maybe when I'm a student :)
Most of the lovely Harvard campus :) It was beautiful!!
And more... Ahhhhhh, beautiful!
And Kristi and I both had to go to the bathroom so bad, so we snuck into this science building to go lol. Then I finally found a co-op store to get plenty of Harvard school supplies and clothing :)
Afterwards, we ended up shopping at the big mall at Prudential Center. While Kristi and Casey went to chill at The Cheesecake Factory I went upstairs to the Tower to get some killer night views of Boston!
My camera settings couldn't quite handle the bright lights below with the reflection in the windows but still a stunning view nonetheless.
Views of the water... Harbor, perhaps? I had no sense of direction up there!
The viewing area of the Prudential Tower... Really roomy and very nice. I think it costs about $8.
Then I joined Kristi and Casey for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. It was so good, and our waiter was so cute. We had another great day and Day 6 was FULL BLAST so be prepared :)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Boston Trip Day 4: The Witching Side of Salem

Day 4 started by getting up and ready for some bike riding with our Go Boston cards. Unfortunately, things didn't exactly go our way at first...
The electric bikes had moved from the pier to the main area so we spent $15 extra cab fair to figure out where the heck we were going. Then, it was supposed to open at 9am but there wasn't anyone there until about 10am. Finally, the guy showed and said he had a flat tire (yea, right, guy, that's the excuse I use when I can't get my bottom out of bed!). We got our bikes but Casey just wasn't very comfortable riding them in traffic so we turned them in... It was fun while it lasted at least. It was my first time on a bike in a while and I missed it.
So, then, we decided to go use our Go Boston cards to visit the Peabody Essex Museum, a very big and beautiful art museum. .... But they were closed on Mondays :) Nice, huh?!?
By that time we were hungry and ready for lunch so we went into the small mall area for some cafe food.
I got a grilled cheese but Kristi got a pizza and it was good! The people at the counter were kind of creepy though. They were definitely witches :)
And we had this lovely fellow come and greet us. Welcome to Salem for sure!
Then, since we were in the area we decided to head towards the witches museums on the other side of town but pass all the shopping while we walked, and stop for any cute places we saw. With Kristi and Casey loving to cook we had to stop here.
And I got all my souvenirs here! :) I love my souvenirs!
A picture of the shopping area.... The stores were so cute. I love those types, they beat any mall.
We stopped and had some Italian Ice... I had the pear flavor and it was pretty good.
Then we went to the "Witches House" which is the only house preserved from the 1600s. It belonged to a judge from the Salem Witch Trials and was set up like he was still living there with the antiques and all.
The entrance to the house has a totally different feel to it than the front...
The dining area in the 1600s...
The gigantic "chimney" which was used to heat everything with all the pots around it for the meals and water.
Then we headed to the Witches Dungeon Museum which has an actual dungeon underneath it. And it's most famous for its live reenactment of a witch trial.
As we were walking to the Dungeon Museum I noticed these witch symbols all over the street in front of the museums, so that you didn't park.
Inside the museum we paid our money and were allowed to pick a seat for the reenactment.
There were 10 of these posters around the sides and back of the theater. They had some really interesting information about the witch trials.
The reenactment was a bit short, I could have definitely watched it for more than 15-20 minutes. I guess that means it was good? :)
Then we went down into the "dungeon" where one actually was in the 1600s. It was a bit creepy, though, with lots of eerie mannequins in lots of disturbing historical realities. Women being chained and imprisoned...
The hysteria that befell Salem was just sad. To think what mass chaos brought to these innocent people was very depressing...but history does teach us.
They told the story of this man who could have just said he was "guilty" of being a witch and lived but instead he was crushed (alive) with rocks. Scary stuff back then! What were these people thinking?!?
Then we were finished on that side of town so we took a cab to the water front to tour the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. I love my National Parks/Historical Sites!
The Salem Friendship (ship) is really what there is to explore as far as the historical site is concerned. You can't enter the building on the left. They did have some other building tours across the street (you'll see in a minute) but they are on odd times and this wasn't our main attraction. I'll definitely return sometime to explore more, though. Once I get on my page in the 1000 Things book :)
The ship is the oldest ship still commissioned in the Navy and they take it out about once a month or so.
The cute sign... Lol
The science behind sailing a ship like this just astounds me!
Below deck it was more spacious then I imagined but still must be so hard to live like that!
The custom house was a main center for all the ships coming into Salem with their goods.
While walking to the House of Seven Gables we stopped in at the Witche's Brew Cafe to get a soda.
As we walked to the House of Seven Gables we saw this candy shop across the street. It had all sorts of original candy plus lots of chocolate-covered items. I got some of the Gibralters hard candy (first candy made in America) for my students, and I got some chocolate-covered potato chips. They were yummy!
The first candy :)
The shop is one of those "mom and pop" shops that have stayed in the family business for a hundred of years.
Some of the other candy they had that was original molasses.
Then we walked across to the House of Seven Gables to take their last tour of the day.
In the courtyard where we waited for the tour guide to meet us were these beautiful blue mums.
This was the house that Nathaniel Hawthorne was born into. After almost being demolished the historical society had it moved over to the House of Seven Gables so they could open it as a museum.
We toured the house, owned by a friend of Hawthorne's who he visited often, which gave him the ideas for the book. Hawthorne, himself, was a recluse and very shy. He didn't get any noteriety for his work until later in life. He also didn't marry until much later in life, either.
During the tour you get to see many different rooms in the house, set up like it was still the 1700s. At one point you go through this secret passage way up to the attic and it's a VERY TIGHT, NARROW squeeze. My claustrophobia was going NUTS but my friend Kristi held my hand and we made it through, lol. Another view.... I tour the gift shop UP. I found some really great literary resources and thank goodness, had already hit up Half Price Books for all the Hawthorne books I could find. :)
Then we headed to the Lobster Shanty for dinner. It was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives so Kristi found it for us since she knows how much I love eating at places like this.
They definitely weren't that bad but I did get a bit nervous. :)
I was in a brave mood so I tried the Perfect Storm, which was risky in that I had no clue what was in it!
(Sorry the picture must not have saved the right way...but it looks the same reversed.) I had the lobster mac-and-cheese and it was yummy! I definitely picked all the good lobster meat out since it was such a big portion.
And my perfect storm led me into a state of travel bliss. After dinner we strolled back to the Hawthorne Hotel and I uploaded some pics and got to bed, ready for another day of travel and back to Boston!