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Trip Report From Baltimore to Boston via Amtrak

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Thank You! to the Boston Fodorites who helped me with the planning of this trip. yk, you in particular went above and beyond by providing walking maps, tips and information. And if that wasn’t enough you took the time to deliver tourist information and a fare card for the T. I was really touched by your thoughtfulness and the time you took to do this, thank you!

This was my first trip to Boston and I loved it. Clean, easy to get around and friendly. What really impressed me most are the arts, history, architecture and food. I didn’t make time to shop but the opportunities seemed endless and inviting. I hope the feeling I have from my walks down Commonwealth Avenue and through the Public Garden stay with me for a very long time. This was my favorite area to be—here and along the Charles River. One day in the Public Garden there was a lot of fuss going on beneath one of the trees still holding tight to its gold leaves—a beautiful Bard Owl perched high on a branch. What really took me by surprise is the size of the squirrels. Nuclear. Anyone remember the 70’s b-rated horror film, Night of the Lepus? Okay, so they weren’t that bad but did appear large enough to warrant collars and a license, easily lured to the city office with a biscuit, no doubt.

Getting there:

With the recent airfare wars between Baltimore and Boston it would have been less expensive to fly and travel time drastically reduced but I love the train. The Acela is even more expensive with a time savings of only one hour so I took the Northeast Regional from BWI to Boston Back Bay at a rate of $153 round trip. Travel time, a distracting 7 hours. I had never before taken the train beyond New York City and once we hit Connecticut I could not peel my eyes from the windows, the inlets and harbors are so picturesque. All along the route there is so much scenery to take in, good and bad, I like to see it all. Very different from a plane where I usually bury my face in a book or fall asleep listening to music. From Baltimore and Boston, both trains departed and arrived on time. Great experience, time permitting I would take the train again.

Hotel:

Charlesmark Hotel, 655 Boylston Street. Rate of $179 plus $25.87 room tax per night, rate includes continental breakfast.

It was an easy five minute walk from the train station to the hotel located across the street from the Boston Public Library. Upon check in, I am given the key to room 101 and am told elevators are to the right. As I wait I wonder why an elevator is needed for a room on the first floor thinking I’m on the first floor. Expecting to go up, I go down. As I go down my anxiety level goes up. A bit of a claustrophobe the idea of staying in a basement does not set well. Out of curiosity, I decide to take a look-see at the room just in case there’s a surprise ocean view but can’t get the door open. Return to the front desk, explain that I don’t feel comfortable in the basement and am given a room on the fourth floor with a view of an alley and a wee bit of sky.

In addition to the three rooms located in the basement are lockers for employees, workings of the hotel (laundry, cleaning supplies, etc.) as well as a door leading outside. From the vantage point of the back door I can see that any view in that room would include car tires and feet.

My room on the 4th floor looks exactly as depicted on the website and in photographs posted on TripAdvisor. It’s small but loaded with unique storage solutions, a stereo, t.v., great lighting, complimentary bottled water, decent toiletries, etc.. I like that the sheets and towels don’t have the industrial scent to them, instead they smell as though they came out of my home dryer. Pillows and bed are extremely comfortable as is the room, bathroom. I would have preferred a better view but I understand front facing rooms are limited, more expensive and come with street noise. I think the location is terrific for what I came to Boston to see and do.

The only reason I would not stay here again is the noise coming from guests in the room above. It's an old, completely updated, building with wood floors. Normal shuffling about not so bad but a loud stereo between 2:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. as well as banging, things dropped on the floor made for a very unpleasant night and had me longing for the Westin. Thankfully, that guest stayed only one night and it sounded as though previous and future guest kept similar hours to my own. Still, I wouldn't chance it, I need my sleep.

More to come.

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