We were flying Porter, therefore we did not have to trek all the way out to Pearson Airport, the island airport is a lot closer. Because it was a business trip, the cab ride to the airport was covered. The idea of taking a cab from our house to the island airport might seem like a bad idea. Taking a cab, through downtown Toronto?! It’d be faster to walk, you say! Well our flight was at 7am, we were on the road at 5:30am: too late for the club-goers and too early for the business people. The Porter airport was the polar opposite of Pearson. No long line ups, people understood how to go through security. We did not have to clear customs, that would be once we landed. The waiting area was also a lot nicer, with plush leather chairs and apparently there were free snacks- it was too early for me. I tried to read my book but could barely stay awake. I did end up falling asleep on the plane, almost as soon as we had taken off I was out cold. I got scared out of my sleep by the flight attendant. I had been in such a deep sleep I had forgotten I was on a plane. I jerked up and lifted one knee and gasped, he laughed and then I laughed. I could then hear him telling his co-worker at the back of the plane. At least I gave him a good story.
The customs guy in Boston was very chatty. I could not tell if he was flirting with me or very amused by the picture taken of me by the self-serve customs border crossing kiosk. I further made a fool of myself when I told him I wanted to see Fenway Park and he informed me, as if I didn’t know, that the baseball season was over and there were no games. When trying to leave the airport, I got pulled aside for a “random search” when handing over my customs form. Crap, I thought, a delay! She asked me the reason for my flight, this time I just said visiting. And that was that.
We had enough time before Brent’s meeting to take a cab to the hotel and drop off our bags. Except our room was not yet ready, it was only 9am after all. The hotel had no secure place for us to leave our bags, just an easily-accessible-by-all, common room behind the desk. We rearranged a few things and set off with our bags in tow. The plan was to return after lunch and try again. Two blocks later we split ways. Brent was headed downtown to his meeting, I was off to Bunker Hill. The usual hotel where Brent stays while in town was booked up and everything else nearby had been overpriced due to the Ivy League schools regatta. We were staying just outside downtown. The only thing this did was reverse my Freedom Trail walking route. I would be doing it backwards.
The rain was tapering off and the clouds were starting to part. I had been worried that it would rain all day. I even saw a rainbow on my way. Bunker Hill was just that: a hill, with a giant monolith monument on top. I walked up to get a good view of it and found out that there is a stair-climb to the top. No one had told me about this. There were 294 steps to the top. I started out at a fast clip. It was by about stair 50 that I started to regret my eagerness. I was wearing wedge boots and carrying my backpack and purse. What had I been thinking setting off so quickly?! Around step 100 I was starting to seriously lose my motivation. At step 150 (they were marked, no way was I counting them) I started cursing my sweater. Step 200, I could see the light, I only had 94 left. I had to push the “wait, that’s only 2/3 of the way” thoughts out of my mind or I wouldn’t make it. I was panting and dizzy, so thankful for the small bottle of water we had gotten on the flight. I was thrilled to finally reach the top. The first thing I did was set my bag down and I took my sweater off. Only then could I start to enjoy the views, which were amazing. Only one window had rain drops on it. I met a nice lady there, who had also lugged a backpack and DSLR up to the top. I joked that it was a great way to start the day. On the way back down I had to periodically stop and smush myself against the wall to let a group of school kids pass.
The Freedom Trail had been an easy walk, my map proved to be useless- a good thing, as I had lost it early on. The entire trail had been marked on the ground as a brick path. I held onto my Google maps printouts just in case though. I did not enjoy the bridge I had to cross, it was grated and you could see the water below. Before the bridge there was a panel on the ground that said “acrophobia friendly zone.” The same panel was at the other end of the bridge. As I was photographing it I had to wait for a man in a business suit to pass. He joked about being a free model for me.
I stopped in at Cobb Hill cemetery because it was on the trail. I do not understand why though, it was just one of the oldest cemeteries and some pirates had been hung there once. I paid the $3 admission to see the Old North Church. Apparently they had hung a lantern there after Paul Revere rode by. However the steeple climb mentioned was nowhere to be found- I guess it was no longer available as an activity for visitors. The Paul Revere statue was in a small square with a fountain behind it, making for a nice photograph. Because I was doing the Freedom Trail backwards and it was so early in the morning, the square was not busy at all. I stopped in at a 7-Eleven on the way but the candy selection was no different.
At the Paul Revere house the courtyard was under construction and there were no photos allowed inside. There was no way I would pay admission for that, deal-breaker. I took a short detour from the trail to get my Dunkin Donuts/caffeine fix. On the way I walked by the Hay Market/Boston Market and could not resist popping in to see. I ended up spending $3 on a salted-caramel bourbon donut. At Dunkin I saw that they had a Reese’s peanut butter square donut but that would be too much food. The ground coffee selection sucked (as per usual, but I thought maybe they would have pumpkin spice at least?). They did not have the pumpkin spice flavour shot, only the pumpkin spice swirl- which is a sweetened flavour shot. I had not thought this through, as now I was juggling my coffee and my camera. In my detour I was afraid I had lost the trail, and this was when I realized I had lost my official trail map. I remembered the general direction it seemed to be going in, so I headed that way. The telling sign was giant crowds of tourists, I knew where it picked up.
Paul Revere’s house
I passed by an odd-looking building that reminded me of the FBI offices in Washington, DC. I wondered if the FBI had offices in Boston. The concrete behemoth, along with the steel and glass skyscrapers, stood in stark contrast to the historical buildings. I was in downtown Boston now. I walked by Old City Hall, but apparently it is still an active building and therefore tourists are not allowed in. I ended up going into two more cemeteries. In one of them however the trail seemed to end there. I panicked as I knew it was supposed to end somewhere near where I was supposed to meet Brent. I tried to find myself on my printed out maps but to no avail. I walked back to the intersection and saw that there the trail had forked and I had taken the dead-end route to the cemetery. We were back on track.
I did not feel like going to the mini-museum, instead I chose to look at the outside of the building. It looked like an old courthouse or school, except now half of it was museum and half was an entrance into the metro. Walking through Boston Commons park was unpleasant. No one had warned me (again) of what to expect. There were a lot of people on a lot of drugs, and it was only 10 in the morning! One guy called me beautiful, wished me a nice day and then said he would like to marry me.
The capitol building was gorgeous, the gold domed roof gleamed in the morning sun. The trail also seemed to dead end here. I asked a nearby military guy if this was the start of the Freedom Trail, he directed me to a park ranger who told me where to go next. He did not understand that I was doing the trail backwards. I had just under an hour before I was supposed to meet with Brent. I was not going to spend any more time in the park, which was also under construction. This was the small section of the park, I did not even bother going to see the bigger half. I had made up my mind about the Boston Commons and that was that I did not like it. Instead I went to Macy’s.
All day long I had been seeing people with paper bags marked in blue, Primark. Next door to Macy’s I found out it was a store. On a whim I went in and I had found heaven. It was like Forever 21 with lower prices. It instantly became my new favourite store. It was good that I went there first, because Macy’s was a dud. They no longer sell Soffe’s and there was no good workout gear on sale. Brent was a bit delayed meeting me, as I stood there I realized something about the people of Boston: they are fearless and non-chalant jaywalkers. Not even, they just walk out into the street without looking, and when they get honked at they act as if the driver is being unreasonable. I saw a few people almost get hit by cars at that one intersection alone.
We got to Omni Parker Hotel restaurant 15 minutes early but thankfully they were able to sit us promptly. The service was downright weird. The first server instead of bringing us a drink menu, asked Brent to name a beer he wanted. It took some convincing to get the menu. After that we had a different server. The grilled short rib and Vermont cheese sandwich sounded so good on paper. In reality however it had some flaws. The ratio of cheese to meat was paltry. The meat was too big chunks and I found myself really having to chew off pieces and eventually it just fell apart. The buttered brioche it was served on however was out of this world. I had the Boston baked beans on the side and they proved confusing. They were in a soup-like liquid, was I supposed to eat them with a spoon? I ended up spooning them onto pieces of bread when my sandwich disintegrated. We traded halfway, and their “famous” fish and chips fell flat. The fish was bland and the fries were soggy from being underneath the fish. I was worried about dessert. They were supposed to have invented the Boston cream pie, what if it was a disaster? I had built it up in my mind. So far the best part of the meal had been my glass of sweet Ruffino wine. The Boston cream pie was super fancy, but the chocolate drizzle had hardened on the plate and was hard to get in a spoonful with the rest. Other than that it was an amazing dessert. Who knew Boston cream pie’s included almonds?
On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a large Walgreen’s but the grocery section sucked, there was no Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and no wacky Oreo cookies. It was a long slow walk back to the hotel. On the way we confirmed that the FBI building was in fact City Hall. We had a short rest in the hotel while Brent’s phone charged. I was very tired and it was really hard to get back up on my feet. Even though I had changed my shoes and no longer had to lug my backpack, it was still slow going afterwards.
Walking to the Boston Museum of Fine Art we made a few stops along the way. I got to see the other, really the nicer, half of the Boston Commons park. Maybe I had been wrong. This half was not nearly as bad, it was actually quite nice. We walked by Copley square, a bunch of old churches and the Boston Public Library. Alas, the library was closing and we could not go in. It was at Copley Square that I thought we were close, I really thought the museum would be right around the corner. Another half hour?! I thought, oh my poor poor legs! They were really starting to hurt. I had been on my feet since 9am and I was closing in on the 8 hour mark. It really felt incredibly far, much more than half an hour. On the way we almost got hit by two cars, each turning from an opposite-facing lane into the one we had right of way crossing. We also saw a lady running and not even stopping to look for cars. There were some girls posting for the most awkward pictures, being all arms-in-the-air-oh-did-someone-just-take-my-picture-teehee.
We got to the museum just after 5pm. The plan was to try and see it all in 2 hours, which seemed reasonable enough, until we got inside and I started having flashbacks to the Met. The museum was bigger than Brent had remembered it. Even with rushing we only got through about a third of the collection. We were not too worried, as our tickets were valid for 10 days (I now understand why) and worst case we could come back the next morning. We did get to see the cool stuff: the Pollocks, the Monets, the mummies and the new exhibit about the Dutch masters. We also saw the requisite Degas’s works. A girl walked up to the portrait of Samuel Adams and shouted to her boyfriend that it was her “main man, Sammy.” Another guy was critiquing the compositions of paintings.
We took a small detour on our way back, stopping to pass by Fenway Park. There was really not much to see from the outside. Using driving directions for walking was not the best plan, as we had to backtrack and find another way around to get to Newbury St, which I had wanted to see. By the time we got to it I was dead-tired. Whereas normally I’d be jumping out of my skin to go shopping, I was barely able to get one foot in front of the other. We witnessed so much terrible jaywalking and just as many bad drivers. As we walked down Newbury we encountered some hilarious drama. Two girls were trying to get somewhere. One was convinced they were going the wrong way and that the numbers were going up not down. Her friend insisted (and was right). The other girl kept complaining, and then exclaimed that she did not even want to be on Newbury St. and subsequently that this was the worst day of her life. For a moment I was distracted from my aching legs. Newbury St. was very nice, a lot of gorgeous architecture and little shops I would have gone to had we more time.
We were having dinner at Ned Devine’s Irish Pub. I had read online that they serve an excellent award-winning chowdah. They just so happened to also have the Blue Jays game on so it worked out nicely. I ordered the clam chowdah, however I was served clam chowder. I was mildly disappointed, until I had a spoonful and then I was in heaven. It was actually a bit spicy which was nice for a change. The raspberry lemonade cocktail hit the spot. We split an order of hot pretzels but they were only OK. I really only suggested them because we had passed a pretzel place on our way in. On the way in I also realized I had walked right by the building earlier in the day.
On the walk back we stopped in at a 7-Eleven but the candy selection was just as terrible as earlier in the day. We went to CVS instead and the only wacky candy they had was white chocolate candy corn M&Ms. No thank you. We got chewy SweetTarts and a Whatchamacallit instead.
By the time we got back to the hotel (the pub had been on the way back), my legs were beyond dead. I joked that my dogs aren’t barking because they are dead. Even the thought of showering tired me. I had also forgotten to pack toothpaste, but I could not care. All I wanted was sleep. Apparently the universe was against me getting any sleep, as a car alarm went off twice during the night.