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A laid back trip to Boston

London, UK
Level Contributor
67 posts
17 reviews
A laid back trip to Boston

My partner and I spent a few days in Boston before heading to Newport, Rhode Island for a wedding. Here's the trip report.

1. Saturday – We arrived at Logan from London late afternoon. Got the T to Massachusetts Avenue and walked the short distance to the apartment we were renting on Tremont Street in the South End. Nice residential neighbourhood with plenty of restaurants around. Not many watering holes in the area though – everything seemed to be about food.

Anyway, we did need to eat, and we randomly chose Stephi's - apparently big on Newbury Street and now to be found here in the South End. Wary of US-sized portions, we just ordered entrees. My meatloaf was superb. Graham's medium burger was closer to medium rare and therefore impressed him less. The wines were expensive - well, we thought so. We paid $36 for a nice merlot from Sonoma. The handful of cheaper wines were from Europe and we wanted something 'local'.

2. Sunday - We walked the Freedom Trail. We'd been to Boston before, albeit years ago, so sightseeing wasn't really high up on our agenda. The Trail was nice though, especially in the glorious sunshine. Highlights were seeing the painting of a horse's backside in the meeting room of Faneuil Hall - make sure you go up the outside stairs and through the door that looks locked to get in - and climbing the Bunker Hill Monument to get the great views.

We had lunch at the Warren Tavern in Charlestown. Washington and other patriots used to hang out there. First pint of Sam Adams. Lovely.

By the way, we were impressed by the number of free/open wifi networks around town. Very handy.

In the evening, back at base, we did a large circular walk via Washington Street to find a pub, but to no avail (actually, we found the Eagle, but didn't feel in the mood for it!). We ended up back at the Parish Cafe on the corner of Tremont and Mass Ave. Quite busy, probably because it was the day before the Memorial Day holiday. A good selection of beers here - we tried the local Harpoon ones. Couldn't face a full-blown dinner, so we just ordered a couple of appetizers: the corn cakes and chicken satay were nice. Good service.

3. Monday (Memorial Day) - Took the T to Boston University and headed on foot across the bridge to Cambridge and on to Havard. Another day of glorious sunshine. Had a simple lunch at Leo's Place on JFK, then checked out a couple of bookshops and walked through Havard Square.

We then headed down Cambridge's Massachusetts Avenue towards the Cambridgeside Galleria shopping mall. Graham was after an iPad. Silly us, we thought we'd just be able to walk into the Apple store here and get one. Ah. No, we couldn't. And Best Buy were out of them, too. But Best Buy suggested we follow them on Twitter, where they announce when the shipments arrive.

Having seen all the Italian restaurants in the North End the day before, we decided to head back over there in the evening for dinner. We did some research online and Antico Forno on Salem Street got good recommendations. It was packed when we arrived but they managed to fit us in.

Again, the wines were expensive - compared to what we would pay in London, anyway. We had an excellent shiraz from California, at $31. (By the way, there wasn't much drinking going on. We were next to a party of about 25 celebrating a 30th birthday, and they had one bottle of beer between them. Oh well, I guess we're just a couple of boozy Brits.)

Disappointingly, the food was nothing special. We chose a couple of simple pasta entrees, but they didn't wow. Probably too much sauce - nothing very subtle about them. Nice bread and olive oil though. And given how busy they were, decent service.

Needed a nightcap, so headed to the area of bars near the Haymarket T. Can't remember the bar we went into - might have been the Green Dragon. The barman helpfully told us to stay clear of the house beer, so we opted for a Sam. Just as we sat down, the Amateur Stand-up Night began. Whoops. No-one had warned us about that when we went in! The compere made us chuckle a wee bit, but the acts didn't. As soon as we could, we scarpered.

Really needed another nightcap now, so headed back on the T to Back Bay, and into Brownstone.

4. Tuesday - Had a slow start to the day. Popped down to a supermarket and returned with stuff for lunch. There had been a thunderstorm in the early hours, and although the morning had seen some sunshine, the clouds began to return as the afternoon wore on. Very humid.

We fancied seeing a film, and after some online searching, came up with 'The Secret In Their Eyes', a film from Argentina showing at the Landmark back in Cambridge. Only four of us in the theatre, but it was a good film. Dark. Recommended.

The other benefit of the Landmark was the Cambridge Brewing Company round the corner. Headed there afterwards for some beer and din dins. Graham had the miso salmon fillet and I had the lamb shank. Both very good.

Got back to the South End to find our local offie ('liquor store') had just closed. Probably a good thing. So we had a cup of tea and watched Doctor Who on the iPlayer. Rock and roll.

5. Wednesday - Just as we were starting to think about a plan for the day, a Tweet from Best Buy popped up - 10 16GB iPads had come in. Graham had had his eye on a 32GB one, but this chance was too good to miss. So, back to Cambridge. Back to Best Buy. And an iPad was his.

On the way to the store we'd seen the long line outside Boca Grande. A good sign. So we headed back there and came away with tasty burritos for lunch.

Walked all the way back into town and to Long Wharf. There we bought tickets from http://www.bostonharborcruises.com/ for the fast ferry to Provincetown on Thursday. (Tip: we'd found $8 off vouchers in the Bay Windows newspaper.)

Returned to the apartment, so Graham could play with his new iPad and I could start writing this report.

In the evening we went to the Addis Red Sea Ethiopian restaurant just down the road on Tremont. Unfortunately they'd run out of the Ethiopian red we wanted to try, so we settled for a Malbec, which was so-so. The food was very good. We had a selection of dishes, all served on a pancake type thing, with extra bits of pancake type thing to pick the food up with. Warning: no cutlery allowed! It was just like an Ethiopian meal we'd had in Kentish Town, London, so authentic or not, it was consistent.

Afterwards we dropped into Sister Sorel for another glass of wine. Very pleasant.

6. Thursday – Our last full day in Boston, although it was time for our trip to Provincetown. We set sail at 9. The fast ferry was pretty empty. The journey was quick – just 90 minutes or so – and the free wifi worked without a hitch.

Graham had been to P-Town years ago, at the height of the season, and noticed a big difference between that visit and this early June jaunt, which was much quieter. In spite of the fog, which did eventually lift, we had a lovely time wandering around. For lunch we walked deep into the East End and went to Fanizzi, apparently the place many of the locals eat in. Very good food. We had the clam chowder to start, followed by baked scrod for Graham and mussels and linguine for me. All washed down with Sam Adams.

After another stroll, we popped into The Squealing Pig for another beer and then it was time to catch the 4 o'clock trip back. Perfect.

Back in Boston, the thunderstorms had returned. We made it to the Back Bay T just in time for a torrential downpour. Got home relatively dry in the end.

Decided to keep it simple in the evening. Got a bottle of red from the local Wine Emporium and a pizza from Upper Crust and stayed in. After all, Graham had his iPad to play with and 'scrod' to look up on Wikipedia and I had to finish writing this. All to the soundtrack of Radio 92.9.

7. Friday - Hasn't started yet. But we have to pick up a car from Avis and then head out of town.

Thanks Boston for looking after us. We enjoyed ourselves.

Boston, MA
Destination Expert
for Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Martha's Vineyard
Level Contributor
6,385 posts
168 reviews
1. Re: A laid back trip to Boston

What a great trip report - I have to say, by Sunday afternoon I was wishing I ran into you two to share a Sam! (the painting of the horse's backside is what hooked me) Happy travels, come back anytime.

Destination Expert
for Boston
Level Contributor
6,518 posts
60 reviews
2. Re: A laid back trip to Boston

Wow wow wow! Outstanding recap of your visit here. You covered a lot of territory. I so agree with your assessment of the meeting room at Faneuil Hall. I think many folk just see the marketplace stalls in that building and miss that stairway to history!

Level Contributor
7,378 posts
40 reviews
3. Re: A laid back trip to Boston

Thanks for the report. Good for you for doing all that walking. There is a Best Buy in the Back Bay. I wonder if you could have gotten the iPad there instead of going to Cambridge?

Level Contributor
6,217 posts
80 reviews
4. Re: A laid back trip to Boston

Great report. Really enjoyed that.

Wine tends to be a big money-maker for restaurants here.

There was an article last year in the Wall Street Journal, "10 Ways to Save Money" when ordering wine in a restaurant:


One particular point I found very interesting: avoid the second cheapest wine.

Level Contributor
2,701 posts
5. Re: A laid back trip to Boston

You're right, the South End is definitely not a big bar neighborhood, but many of my favorite bars are actually in restaurants. Boston is definitely trending away from places that are strictly watering holes; in order for a new business to get a liquor license, they often have to promise a certain percentage of food sales (over liquor sales). I know, stupid. So many restaurants will have a kitchen that closes at 11, but the bar stays open until 1. The bars at Stella, Franklin Cafe, Toro, Beehive, and Deluxe (all in the South End) are fun, to name a few.

Wine markups are also pretty ridiculous here. There is a place downtown (Ivy) that I do like, which boasts a wine list with many bottles all priced at $26. Which sounds great, until you actually check out the list and see that some of the bottles are ones you only pay $8 retail for anyway. So, not really such a great deal.

Glad you enjoyed your trip, at any rate.

Dallas, Texas
Destination Expert
for Boston, Orlando, Walt Disney World
Level Contributor
31,318 posts
117 reviews
6. Re: A laid back trip to Boston

Glad you had a great time in Boston thanks for a outstanding TR.

Level Contributor
2,907 posts
19 reviews
7. Re: A laid back trip to Boston

You two certainly walked a lot didn't you! That's great! Thank you for your trip report, you did an outstanding job with it, we love hearing back from visitors to our fair City.

SO glad you got to the Warren Tavern! Speaking of watering holes, that one was mine many many "moons" ago. In fact, I have many fond memories being in that Warren Tavern where I lived near it for years! Quite a lot of laughs & tears (from laughing) in that place! Also, happy to read that you climbed the Bunker Hill Monument as well. Yes, the views from there are incredible you're right about that one.

Thank you again lpgm for taking the time to write up this great trip report! You'll have to come back to Boston to continue this one as we'd all enjoy reading more of your adventures!

Edited: 05 June 2010, 12:02
Level Contributor
5,748 posts
1 review
8. Re: A laid back trip to Boston

Great report, but my oh my, did you two do a lot of walking! I'm not sure the title of your post should read "A Laid Back Trip to Boston", haha.

I think the two of you would have enjoyed Jacob Wirth in the theater district and Bukowski's in the Back Bay. A couple good spots for brewski's. Oh well, maybe next time.

Glad you had a good time in Bo...ermm...Ca, Boston and Cambridge!

London, UK
Level Contributor
67 posts
17 reviews
9. Re: A laid back trip to Boston

Thanks for the comments. I'm glad you've enjoyed the read.

Yes, there was a lot of walking. We enjoy walking around cities, straying off the beaten track when possible. We did do some tactical T trips though!

We might've been able to get an iPad in the Best Buy in the Back Bay, but they weren't Tweeting, so we went with the Cambridge one.

(Off topic... We're in Newport now. I dismantled my first lobster last night, at a clambake.)

10. Re: A laid back trip to Boston

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