Day 1 – Arrival & Fenway Park
After a bit of initial panic when I couldn’t check in online the day before we were due to fly out (visa issue!) I was allowed to travel to America with my 3 passports – South African, British, expired British with a very much non-expired US visa in it. The hiccup with online check-in meant that I wasn’t assigned a seat by the system and as the plane was full we ended up in separate seats with me in the very last row of the plane. The flight was fairly uneventful though we were fed and watered quite a lot during the 6.5 hour flight. Getting through customs at Boston Logan Airport was a breeze with an electronic entry system and very jovial and jokey customs staff. We found the car rental place easily and got a nice new Jetta with a humongous boot (handy for all the crap we will accumulate in the next few weeks) before trying to navigate our way to our B&B.
After driving around the airport in circles for at least half an hour we finally managed to get on better terms with Google Maps and got going properly. We stopped at the first Target we could find so I could get an American SIM card but we couldn’t get it working – though we managed to get a few other necessities, like coffee, milk and sugar.
We were staying in the Coolidge Corner area, in the very aptly named Coolidge Corner Guest House. We got to our room and checked in with just enough time to spare for a cup of coffee and a quick shower before heading off to Fenway Park for our first ever baseball game! Fenway Park is about a half hour walk away from the guest house and we enjoyed the stroll after the hours on the plane. Fenway Park is a really interesting stadium with lots of steel and is apparently the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball. The Boston Red Sox were playing the Cleveland Indians and it is fair to say we had no idea what was going on! On the face of it the game is very much like Rounders that we all played as kids, but the scoring system and order of play is quite confusing. We spent a couple of hours at the game while I satisfied my need to have a hot dog at a ball game before the freezing weather got the better of us and we went home. With beers at $10 each we also didn’t bother with drinking!
Day 2 – Tourists in Boston
Day 2 started early – but lazily. We had all day to walk around and explore and were in no hurry to get going, so had a leisurely few hours of coffee and breakfast at the guest house before we got going. We got the T into Boston and a very friendly driver let us travel for free – so far I’m loving the friendliness of the Americans! Our day basically consisted of walking around and sightseeing, which is exactly how we like it. We got off the T at Copley and walked to Boston Public Garden to see the Swan Boats, walked past the “Cheers pub”, ambled along the river for a bit and then got on the T to Harvard, where we saw lots of students in gowns and mortar boards for graduation day. Harvard was a bit less interesting than I thought it would be but we still spent a bit of time there before heading back toward central Boston.
We made the best of Harvard though when I realised one of the famous burger places I read about was just down the road! We had a fantastic experience at Mr Bartley’s – an authentic, no-frills burger restaurant with shared tables and interesting burger combinations. As well as being famous for their burgers, they are also famous for their onion rings, so we tried both – and everything was delicious. Mr Bartley’s made the trip to Harvard worthwhile!
Heading back to Boston central we were flagging a bit so just walked around the Faneuil and Quincy Market area and trying to figure out whether it was worth coming into Boston again later on for food and a drink. Despite my memories of seeing loads of pubs the last time we were in Boston we couldn’t really find anywhere that looked too interesting or lively, so ended up heading to The Tam, which is Boston’s most famous dive bar. The Tam is a great hangout spot, with cheap-ish beer and interesting people and we took the weight off our feet and had the first beers of our trip before getting back on the T to Coolidge Corner. Despite my earlier plans of exploring the local bar scene we were too tired/lazy to walk much more and ended up at Grainne O’Malley’s just round the corner from the guest house where I had my first chicken wings of the trip! I also had a truly awful Chardonnay from the Columbia Valley and had to fall back on a NZ Sauvignon blanc for my next drink!