Tues. July 26, 2016:
Toronto flying to Boston, MA
A few weeks prior Brent had mentioned that he would be flying to Boston on business. A few days later he said that the Red Sox just so happen to be playing the night that he was staying there- it totally made sense for us to go, plus I would be able to finish off the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum which Brent had already seen. It was settled, we would have a middle-of-the-week mini-vacation.
Our vacation just happened to be a few days (weeks?) after the release of Pokemon Go in Canada. The whole ride down to the Billy Bishop Airport I was desperately trying to hit as many pokestops as I could, we were driving through St. James town, one of the most populated pokestops areas in the city. Once we were in the airport lounge however there was nothing even remotely close in Pokemon Go and so I was stuck in the real world instead. At least I had a chance to figure out how the complimentary snacks and drinks in the Porter lounge work. I grabbed a cup of tea and a bowl of snack mix. On the flight we were offered wine or beer, but it was way too early in the day for that, it was barely noon! There was no TV in the seatback because we were on a small plane for a short flight. I had not packed a book as I wanted to travel light and so I instead opted for listening to my podcasts- which really sucks when they make you take your headphones out for takeoff and landing.
Our taxi from the airport left much to be desired. It smelled like gasoline and he routinely almost slammed into cars in front of us. We managed to get to the Lenox Hotel in one piece thankfully. Our hotel this time around was approximately a thousand times better than the last time we visited Boston. By the time we had checked in and dropped our bags I was quite hungry. There was a Shake Shack around the corner and I had not had Shake Shack in years, there was no way I was going to pass that up. The plan was originally to get it to and eat them while walking but looking at the burgers and the alcohol menu, it did not make sense. The burgers were massive a-la Burger Priest in Toronto and needed to be eaten at a table. I had the Shake Stack which had a Portobello mushroom atop the burger patty. In the hotel I had flipped through a magazine listing the best of Boston and one that stood out was the best cider which they claimed was from Down East Cider Co. And wouldn’t you know it, Shake Shack had it on offer. It was kismet. The cider was incredible and lived up to the hype (our server also said it was amazing). We had our drinks while we waited for our burgers. Except when Brent went to pick up our tray of food they had poured him another beer. As brent had his second beer I went back and ordered a frozen custard, the flavour of the week was cheesecake with raspberry sauce. It was ok, but paled in comparison to the burger which was outstanding.
As we ate we looked up the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The plan had been to walk over and finish the museum before heading to Fenway Park for the baseball game. We had not planned it out any more than that. Turns out we should have because the Boston MFA closes at 5, and we had planned to be there from 4:30 to just after 6pm. No worries, we had a backup plan. We would just go to the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum up the road. This plan also failed as the museum is closed on Tuesdays. Rather than go back to the hotel we went to the Boston Public Library which I had wanted to see last time we were in Boston but it had been closed. I totally geeked out once inside. The interior was gorgeous with a grand staircase adorned with lions similar to the ones outside of the New York Public Library. The reading room was great, just wall to wall books and one weird guy photographing his girlfriend as she pretended to read. The courtyard was amazing and it made me wish that we had an enclosed courtyard like that at the library in downtown Toronto. We visited a small exhibit about maps. The only interesting item was a pair of bound volumes of maps from the 16th century.
Rather than sit in the hotel we walked over to Fenway Park. I had read online that there was a good bar across the street, Boston Beer Works, where people would go for drinks before the game. That would be nice I thought. What I did not anticipate is that everyone and their grandmother who has tickets to the game shows up just before the park opens. One of the side streets gets shut down and vendors pop up, the so-called Yawkey Way. There were huge line ups just to get into there. And there was a huge line up of people waiting to get into Boston Beer Works. We lined up to get into the stadium. It was so hot, and I was so tired and dehydrated and just standing there in a huge throng of people, I was not feeling so great. Things only got worse when I heard a thump from the crowd behind us and a guy yelling out about his knee. From what I could tell he had tried to jump over a small set of stairs and his foot got caught on the railing and he landed smack on his knee. The sound was either him dropping a water bottle or his knee cap breaking. I don’t know because I could not look. I did hear someone in the crowd say they saw blood. It was enough to make me go weak and I came close to fainting a few times. I kept having to sit down on the curb. Once we were inside I sat in the shade for a moment more. It was a relief to be inside because Brent had bought the tickets online and we were not even sure if they were legit, thankfully they were. Once inside we walked around Yawkey Way. I bought a Powerade and felt much better. Inside the gift shop I found an awesome baseball tee that featured the Green Monster (the wall inside Fenway) but it was too expensive to be worth it. I was not yet hungry, even though there was a stand selling a high quality steak and cheese sandwich.
On our way in we had been given a promotional bag that had sunglasses, a crappy gold chain and a fake beard. Apparently it was dress up like Pappi the baseball player day. Inside the stadium we circled the concourse. There was no line up at one hotdog vendor so we grabbed a Fenway Frank and split it. It was just a terrible steamed hotdog, but apparently a must when at Fenway. Our seats were at the top of the section just behind home plate and luckily in the shade. We had a great view of the field. We were in a row with some Detroit fans and in front of us was an entire Red Sox family. The game started out with some pigeons in the outfield. There was a blimp flying around overhead and their mascot was making the rounds nearby. He looked like a seasick Elmo and I was not impressed. I soon got distracted and forgot about the distractions as this was actually an eventful baseball game.
Midway through the 4th inning, after three hours of sitting, we went back out again. I had finished my Powerade and needed water. Brent had a Tasty Burger, apparently the official burger of the park. It was quite decent for a stadium burger. There was no sign of the beef tip grilled cheese vendor. I guess it was only outside of the park. It was ok though because I was not that hungry. I opted for a bag of Cracker Jacks instead. As we walked away from the burger stand I noticed a girl with a Jack’s Abbey lager. I pointed it out to Brent, had he not mentioned it earlier and been unable to find it in the stadium? I was saying this to him as he was holding two beers, having been unable to decide between Samuel Adams summer ale and Blue Point toasted lager. His eyes lit up (it made me love him that much more). I had paid attention to where the girl had come from and I pointed Brent in that direction. He left his burger and one beer with me. The line was a bit long and it gave him enough time to finish the beer he was holding. If he was already waiting in line I figured why not get me a drink as well? I had been tempted all evening by the lemonade with vodka. The server was very generous with the vodka, it was at least a double shot if not almost a triple.
When I opened my Cracker Jacks, Brent mentioned that the prize inside is now a digital prize. I pulled out the little paper and matter-of-factly, with an air of triumph really, said “oh yeah? What’s this?!….” and as I turned it over I saw that it had a PIN code to enter online for the prize. I was so disappointed. I’m sad that I have only ever known the Cracker Jack prize as a sticker or pencil topper, I wish they had little trinkets and toys.
A few rows ahead of us there were some really loud hecklers. It felt so good to see them get warned by security. No one likes loud obnoxious hecklers. Only the light-hearted ones are fun, such as the Red Sox guy in front of us who kept calling the guy beside us Tiger Boy because he was a fan of the Detroit Tigers. There was a great moment when Brent and the two men all agreed on one thing: their shared dislike of the Baltimore Orioles. It made me smile. Brent had mistakenly thought that during the 7th inning stretch the stadium sings Sweet Caroline. Google told us it was at the bottom of the 8th. Sure enough, everyone broke out into song. At this point the game was really fun. People were doing the wave, the pitcher was throwing 100 mile an hour balls that you could hear thwomp in the catcher’s glove and the girl in front of us, her braid was hanging down into Brent’s cup holder and faced a dilemma: hold his beer or risk pulling her hair? A woman in the row in front of us was resting her foot on the closed seat in front of her, but when that lady came back and sat down, the seat unfolded crushing the resting woman’s foot and she let out a yelp. It was hilarious, so much apologizing and laughing. Her whole family was laughing at her. The Red Sox lost, which was good for the Blue Jays, who at the time we left were in extra innings. On the walk home we found out they won. A guy passing Brent asked if the team won- but he had never said Red Sox. We will never know if he, looking at Brent’s hat, had wanted to know if the Red Sox or if the Jays had won.
As it turns out the last time we tried to walk back from Fenway Park, what we thought was a dead end road was not actually, it just looked that way from afar. It was stupidly marked. It was a long slow walk back in a crowd of people. Eventually we made our way to the front and broke free. We stopped at Walgreen’s for some snacks: a Snickers bar with crispy bits and some Gatorade. There hadn’t been any new candy releases since the last time we were in the US. The only Dunkin’ Donuts coffee they had was French vanilla. I decided to risk not getting it and waiting until the next day and checking the Dunkin’ Donuts around the corner from our hotel.
The FitBit has been a great addition to our vacations. We had walked a total of 9.1km and I was feeling it.