Boston Getaway

Old Sep 28th, 2018, 03:05 AM
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Boston Getaway

The four of us started visiting Boston on school field trips. I worked in the financial district for 2 years back when if you walked too far past Jordan Marsh you were in the Combat Zone. Our weekend getaways started almost 40 years ago when it was a big deal for young mothers to getaway without husband and kids so Boston was our destination for the first two years. Between then and now, we've also been to cities like Chicago and New Orleans but generally we choose a place accessible by car but we were NOT going to drive in Boston. We know better than that. We are now also of the age when we can't stay up to late nor walk too long so no more capping the evening with a visit to an Irish pub. We also like the comforts of home and decided we wanted an air b&b 2 bedroom apartment. No more cramped hotel rooms for us but that meant staying outside of the city proper and in a residential area of Brighton.

I've seen posts asking about staying outside the city and using public transportation. Although our host left instructions for bus/T service, it still included a long walk and a resident we met said it takes her 50 minutes to commute. Uber rates varied slightly depending on time of day and all rides to/from Boston tourist areas was slightly over $20. The air b&b cost (total nightly) was $190 so two Uber rides a day added less than $50 to our daily costs. Drive time was anywhere from 15-20 minutes depending on traffic. Compare $240/night to any Boston hotel (where you usually have to pay to park). We had an entire well provisioned 2 bedroom apartment on a pleasant residential street.

Day 1: drive from NH to Brighton with a stop for lunch at Moody's Deli in Waltham. Minivan driver lucked out with a parking space right in front of the deli. The Phantom Gourmet raved about this place and despite earlier misgivings (we weren't sure there was table service), all four of us gave a thumps up for our service and sandwiches. Less than stellar however was the charcuterie take-out order we got for evening nibbles. With the minivan parked for the duration we Ubered to the Schubert Theater for a magic show that started at 7:30. Due to large and late lunch we decided we would skip dinner and go straight for dessert before the show. We wandered around and chose the Explorator Restaurant. But, after seeing the menu, friends chose appetizer plus dessert. I stuck with dessert only and happy that my first ever real Baked Alaska was the best choice compared to friends' choices. To each his own. Desserts were $12.00. Fun to do once but a little price-y for what we got. The magic show was great and we were surprised that the theater was half empty. We chose back row seats @ $30 (with service charge) which turned out to be a bargain. A lot of seat holders moved closer to stage.

Day 2 would be an endurance test: Sweet and Savory South End of Boston Food Tour starting with the Elephant Walk. I had already taken 2 Boston food tours which I enjoyed immensely. The North End with Michelle Topor was our very first food tour and I always recommend it. This one was right up there with a great combination of history and food samples with enough sit downs for us old folk and enough food that we didn't need lunch. In addition to the four of us, there were two local couples and one young woman from England. The South End is not to be confused with South Boston which is a different area. I would have like to have returned to Elephant Walk for a dinner but that's for next time. Spying a Whole Foods we opted to get take out food for our evening meal. It would be jammies and Netflix for evening entertainment and recovery time for Day 3.

Day 3 explore the Rose Kennedy Greenway starting with a visit to Chinatown which was having a Lantern Festival. We wasted a lot of time trying to get a physical address for Uber and lucked out on the Chinatown gate where some of the performances were held. This is one end of the Greenway. Our goal was lunch at the food trucks wherever they might be on the Greenway. This turned out to be a big mistake since the few trucks we encountered weren't serving lunch type food. After determining "frozen hoagies" was selling ice cream sandwiches etc. my friends opted for that while I got a banh mi sandwich from Bon Me food truck. It was pretty good. A local friend said she prefers the rice bowls. Basically, if you were looking for lunch and didn't like Vietnamese style foods, you were out of luck. We also stopped for rest and beer at Trillium. I'm not a beer drinker so only got sips of what my friends chose. They chose wrong (Sour Raspberry and some kind of Stout) and felt guilty throwing away most of their drinks. The much younger crowd were just getting started. The Greenway is about a mile long and pretty much ends at the Quincy Market area. Parts of it are very lovely so we enjoyed our walk and agreed the Greenway is a huge improvement over what used to be interstate cutting thru the city. I93 is now underground in that area.

For those not Ubering, Chinatown is an easy walk from South Station. Quincy Market is very close to Boston's North End (Italian neighborhood) and Haymarket is probably the most convenient stop on the T. Being country mice, Quincy Market was not a good choice for lunch. It is very crowded with not enough seating area. Two chose empanadas that they said were incredibly greasy. Friend #3 chose a large bottle of antacids from a CVS vending machine. We could have gone to Durgin Park for old times sake and if we had an ounce of sense we would have gone over to the North End for lunch. Next big mistake was going back to the air b&b and ordering take-out from an Italian restaurant. The food was mediocre.

Sunday was departure morning with a 10AM check out. We got packed and presentable for a late breakfast at Zaftig's deli in perhaps Brookline? We managed to be just ahead of the crowd and were seated right away. Our server was delightful and attentive to refilling coffee cups. The menu was what everyone expects from a popular Jewish deli. It was a hearty breakfast but I wouldn't order the hash again (too salty). From there we headed to Penzeys herb and spice company in Arlington. I really didn't need anything but easily spent almost $30. It was also a convenient meeting place for a husband coming from CT. Despite little sunday traffic, driving in this area was tricky and required careful GPS navigation and a driver who could keep her calm.

The bad part about the weekend was lack of good dinners at Boston restaurants. I give exploring neighborhoods/history an A+. We've been to Boston museums numerous times so it was hard to choose something different to do. Mostly I wanted to post this trip report as an example of how to stay on the outskirts and use Uber (which usually came within 5 minutes). A young couple might be happiest in a Copley Square hotel close to a T station but I think an air b&b on the outskirts could be the best option for a small family. With more stamina we could have enjoyed dinners in restaurants but two friends have health issues and our day time walking was about all they could handle.
dfrostnh is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2018, 10:07 AM
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isabellaa is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2018, 01:13 PM
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Thanks for posting, dfrostnh! Food tours sound great.
TDudette is online now  
Old Nov 14th, 2018, 09:08 PM
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Old Nov 15th, 2018, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by dfrostnh View Post
Two chose empanadas that they said were incredibly greasy. Friend #3 chose a large bottle of antacids from a CVS vending machine.
I've never seen one of these vending machines. Maybe it is the novelty, but that section just sets me off laughing.

You are blessed to go on a girls' weekend.
5alive is offline  
Old Nov 16th, 2018, 01:38 PM
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This sounds like a nice tradition. Thanks for the report.
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