Boston/Southern Maine Trip Report

Old Aug 6th, 2006, 07:28 PM
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Boston/Southern Maine Trip Report

(Have tried posting this before...hope this time works.) After reading and posting several threads for our trip to Boston and Maine, we complete our trip with grand success and enjoyment. Below is the (overly long) trip report in several installments due to length. If I have something wrong or misspelled I apologize in advance.
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Old Aug 6th, 2006, 07:29 PM
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Boston/Maine Trip Report – July 29th to August 6th

Day One – Houston to Boston (Saturday)
Traveling – parents in late 40’s and grown son.
Left Houston IAH 11:00am and arrived at Boston Logan Airport on schedule 4:00PM.
Had arranged airport transport through Star Shuttle www.starshuttle.com a week before. It was a shared ride ($36 for 3 persons) and because of the amount of luggage we had and the closure of roads due to the tunnel reinforcements, we did not want to use the subway or take a cab. We called the shuttle service when we arrived and they were waiting for us after we retrieved our luggage, which went very quickly compared to IAH. We arrived at the Sheraton Boston Hotel (Back Bay/Copley area) where the hotel was full but service was still top notch. I had pricelined the hotel about two months earlier for $150 a night which turned out to be a real bargain. The hotel location could not have been better. It is connected directly to the Prudential Center and to the Prudential Center “T” subway stop on the E Greenline.

Since it was late afternoon, we decided to visit the Oak Bar in the Fairmont Copley hotel. We changed from our shorts because there is a no shorts policy after 6PM there. We ate the hot spinach/artichoke dip and the fried calamari from the bar menu….both outstanding. The pomegranate martini was also to die for. After our visit to the Oak Bar, we decided to watch the sunset at the Top of the Hub on the top floor of the Prudential
Center. The drinks are not cheap, but a great way to get a view that you can linger over.
Go before sundown or the line gets really long for a night view. You can eat dinner there as well but from what I could tell reservations were a must and I have no idea about the food. We then retired to our hotel which was just steps away.
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Old Aug 6th, 2006, 07:29 PM
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Day Two – Boston – Fenway Park Tour/Freedom Trail/North End (Sunday)
Got up and headed via the T to the Kenmore stop on the greenline (not E but B, C, or D trains) to take a tour of Fenway. (We bought 3-day visitor’s passes for the T at a kiosk using our credit card. They are good for the T and busses all over Boston as well as some inner ferry boats. They were $18 each and we got full use from them besides the convenience of not having to stand in line to buy tickets every time you enter the subway.) We were going to game the next day but wanted to take a more detailed tour. We got tickets for the noon tour but we were able to slip in with the 11 o’clock group that was just leaving which turned out to be great. I highly recommend the tour. It takes you to the top of the Green Monster, the press box and other behind-the-scenes spots. We have toured many ballparks and think this tour was one of the best. We finished about 12:15 and headed to Boston Common to start our Freedom Trail trek. The weather was a bit warm but for native Texans, it was delightful…complete with cool breeze and lots of shade. We opted against taking the audio or guided tour and purchased a detailed guidebook instead. We stopped along the way in the shade and read about what we were seeing next. Walking the Freedom Trail was very easy and was marked with a big red line the entire trip. It is about 2.5 miles long from beginning to end. Because we were not with a guide, we were able to stop along the way for a bite to eat and refreshing microbrew.

When we got into the North End area, (around 3PM), we stopped for a late lunch. We had seen on Fodor’s that Pagliuca’s off the corner of Hanover and Permenter/Richmond was a favorite of many posters. It is a very small spot but arriving in between lunch and dinner was perfect. The lunch menu was still being served and the price was much less than what the dinner menu (with basically the same items) was beginning at 4PM. We had three different veal dishes and they were all fantastic. We continued on the Freedom Trail, and ended it a stop or two early at the USS Constitution. Just too tired to keep walking to Bunker Hill. Walked back and stopped at Mike’s Pastry on Hanover for the obligatory cannoli. Was able to grab a table and take a few minutes to people watch. We continued retracing our steps. We had seen The Bell in Hand Tavern which is supposed to be the oldest Tavern in America, but it was too loud and we wanted a place to watch the Red Sox game so we opted for The Publick House right next door. Great pub and friendly bartender. Had nachos at the bar and other libations. Had the game on HDTV which was also a nice touch. Went back to the hotel and fell into bed.
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Old Aug 6th, 2006, 07:30 PM
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Day 3 – Boston- Quincy Market/Long Wharf/Harbor Tour/Red Sox Game (Monday)

Headed to Quincy Market to grab a little breakfast on the go before going to the Long Wharf for a Boston Harbor Cruise. Quincy Market was crowded and very touristy. We decided instead to walk to the Long Wharf for an early lunch instead at Legal Seafood. Got in just in time, about 11:30 am. Got a table and had some great chowder and other lunch specials. When we left about 12:30, the place was packed with a long waiting list. We got in line for the Harbor Cruise. All in all, it was pleasant. I was a little disappointed with the route but it did make a turn and pass by the USS Constitution giving us a much better view than from the Freedom Trail. They offer other tours and maybe the new Locks and Charles River tour might be a better option. (I must say that we skipped the Duck Tour that is so highly touted because we had taken them in Pittsburgh and Seattle. I would highly recommend doing that instead of the Harbor Tour if you had to choose one of the other. Book ahead of time. We saw signs at both the Science Center and the other boarding area that said they were sold out for the day.)

We then headed back to get ready for the Red Sox game. I had gotten tickets to the game off of Ebay. I had to pay a pretty penny but we wanted good seats that we could see the whole field from…got them right at 3rd base on the 3rd row of the grandstand. Even with the jacked up price, we felt like we got a deal. GREAT SEATS! Took the T to the Kenmore station around 5 for a 7PM game. Stopped in at a The Cask and Flagon pub across from the stadium for a crowded but festive pregame munch of nachos and beer. Walked across the street and watched the Sox beat the Indians with a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the ninth by David Ortiz. Doesn’t get much better than that. John Kerry also sat about 6 rows in front of us. He could have sat in the more private luxury boxes and didn’t so I was impressed by that. The atmosphere at Fenway as well as the fans made it the best game we have experienced in a major league park…including Wrigley. (Have visited about 15 of them.) We love the Astros but have adopted the Red Sox as our favorite AL team. After the game we walked across to Boston Beer Works for a microbrew. It was not crowded but still lively and their signature blueberry beer should be tried at least once. Great way to finish off the evening.
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Old Aug 6th, 2006, 07:30 PM
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Day 4 – Boston Harvard/Cambridge area/Science Museum (Tuesday)

We took the T after sleeping in a bit to the Harvard Station in Cambridge. My son wanted to walk around Harvard Square and the campus. I must say it was quite enjoyable. We had record heat that day so the shade of the trees was a welcome sign as we walked around. We took a free tour of the campus area lead by two students…one from Texas and the other from Mass. Took about an hour and well worth it. You could get information at the Visitor’s kiosk right at the T stop. We also visited the Harvard Bookstore and had lunch at John Harvard’s Pub. Had a good microbrew there and the food was quite tasty as well. It was spiced a little more than what we had run into elsewhere in Boston but not too spicy. From Harvard, we took the T to Charles Street to Charles Street Liquors and to walk the street and see the neighborhood. We had a friend from Wales and are always on the lookout for imported beers that are hard to find. The staff at Charles St. Liquors was very helpful and we found several hard to find brews to take back home to our friend.

From Charles St. we then took the T to the Science Center. We had booked our tickets to see the new Body World 2 exhibit online the morning of our visit. You do not need a printer and only need to swipe the credit card you used online, at the kiosk in the Science Center to retrieve your timed entry tickets. My husband and son really wanted to see this and I am glad they did. It was bizarrely wonderful. We had heard good things about an exhibit like this in Houston. We had a 4PM timed ticket. The price is also good for entrance into the main exhibits at the Science Center. We saw fairly young children there which surprised me a bit. This exhibition will convince you to eat and live more healthy that is for sure. After a long several days, and a VERY HOT ride back on the T, I crashed in the hotel room and my husband and son went back to the Publick House for a beer and dinner.
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Old Aug 6th, 2006, 07:31 PM
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Day 5 – Boston to Round Pond, Maine (Wednesday)

We had reservations for a Volvo rental car at the Hertz location at Logan. Rentals that week were in high demand and the airport location had the model we needed. Normally we would rent close to our hotel. We took the Star Shuttle service again for the same reasons we did coming into Boston. This time, even though we paid for a shared ride, we got the van to ourselves. Took a good while to make our way around the closed tunnels and roads to the airport but we were not in a big hurry. Had no problems with the rental at Hertz but did overhear that every car was sold out there for the day which surprised me a little since it was an airport location. Had the Hertz Neverlost GPS in the car which is a must and well worth the cost if you have to pay for it. We programmed the address in Round Pond and headed out. Had no problems negotiating the roads and were soon on our way through New Hampshire. We had been asked by our hosts to stop at the New Hampshire State Wine and Liquor store at the border (either border). It was an easy on and off and the prices and selection were good as well as not paying tax on your purchases. We continued through three toll roads until we reached Round Pond, Maine. About a 3.5 hour drive. What a beautiful area. We were lucky to be staying with friends that have a summer home right on Muscongus Bay but there were several bed and breakfast type places and inns in that same area. We loved the smaller town feel versus the more touristy larger towns that we had passed through.

The weather was warmer than normal and a little rainy for part of our time here, but it was still a wonderful stay. We had the best meal of our trip that night in Camden, about 40 min. from Round Pond. Our host had made dinner reservations about a week or two in advance to dine at Francine Bistro. A VERY small bistro with about five or six tables in it. All organic, menu changes daily, three or four choices for each of four courses offered. I can not stress enough what a delightful meal we had here. The wine and beer selections complimented the menu and the waitstaff was very accommodating. Entrees were in the mid $20’s but portions were not small. The Steak Frite dish is the only one that does not change off of the entrees list. It was splendid. The halibut and swordfish entrée’s were also stellar. Everything that is served there is made in house. Run, don’t walk to Francine Bistro. We would have eaten there again but they were booked through the weekend.
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Old Aug 6th, 2006, 07:32 PM
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Day 6 Round Pond, ME – (Thursday)
The rains came today so we spent a good majority of the time visiting at home and planning where we were going to eat during the rest of our stay. (can you tell we enjoy our food and beverage?). We tried to eat at The Cupboard Café in New Harbor but it was packed and several specials had sold out. We opted instead for Larson’s Lunchbox, a roadside Lobster Roll stand in Damariscotta on Upper Main Street. Had the obligatory and great lobster roll for $13. All meat and just enough mayo to hold it together. It stopped raining for a while so we were able to eat at the picnic tables right next to the stand. Returned to the house for the afternoon via a stop at Hanniford’s grocery near Larson’s. We also stopped at a roadside stand and bought fresh corn for the evening meal. Not having our fill of lobster for the day, we headed out to Muscongus Bay Lobster Co. in Round Pond for dinner that night. The weather cleared again so we were able to eat on the tables that are not covered right on the bay. Great local place where you bring everything but the seafood. We brought wine, fresh corn, cheese etc. and ordered a dozen oysters, some 4 dz. steamed clams and 7 1.5 lb. lobsters….for 6 people! All for about $100. You can’t beat that. Everything was cooked to perfection…no overcooked lobster here. They give you the utensils and you pick the meat yourself. Fantastic.

Day 7 – Round Pond/ Pemaquid Point/New Harbor (Friday)
After a day of rain, the weather turned sunny and cool….more typical for this time of year I am told. We started the day by driving to Pemaquid Point not far from Round Pond to climb on the rocks and visit the lighthouse there. Had a great time and got some exercise. Beautiful spot to picnic or to just hang out at. After working up an appetite, we tried returning to The Cuboard Café in New Harbor. This time we were lucky and found a table and a full selection of specials. Everything here is homemade as well, down to the pies, ice cream, bread and entrée’s. The sandwiches were great and the hot specials were ample and not expensive. After eating way too much, we returned to the house to do some housekeeping and work in the yard which was very enjoyable when the temperatures are in the 60’s. We had a light dinner at home that evening.
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Old Aug 6th, 2006, 07:33 PM
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Day 8 – Round Pond/ Boston airport (Saturday)
We returned to The Cupboard that morning for breakfast. (it is not open for dinner at night). Had wonderful pastries and omelets. After eating way too much, we say goodbye to our hosts and started our trip back to the Hampton Inn Logan Airport for our journey back to Texas. We could have stopped in Maine at the LL Bean store and other outlets there but decided enough was enough. J The traffic on this Saturday was heavier than we expected but much heavier headed to Maine than leaving it. Our drive to the airport area was uneventful. We checked into the hotel located very near the airport but with no plane noise that we could hear. At the urging or our son, we went to see the new Will Ferrell movie at a near by cinema and then went back to the hotel. We grabbed some fast food for the guys and made it an early night.

Day 9 – Boston Logan/ IAH Houston and home to Orange (Sunday)
We were on our way by 8:30 that morning, dropped off our rental car and was at the airport by 9am for a 10:30 Am flight. No problems with long security lines at Logan, but make sure you do your airport shopping/eating before heading through security in Terminal C because there is not much to choose from once going through the detectors.
Our flight was overbooked but on time. We arrived in Houston and retrieved our car and made the two hour trip back to Orange. I must say after being in Maine and seeing the beautiful forests, that I miss the tree canopy that we used to have in Orange before Hurricane Rita, even more than before I left. Losing 90,000 trees in our county is just the pits….. On that joyful note, I will end my very long and probably too detailed trip report. We loved Boston and Maine and hope to return there again next year. The people were helpful and kind and no one made fun of our Texas accents! Special thanks to the Fodorites that again made the planning of this trip so much fun. I also apologize in advance for misspelled words and grammatical errors throughout this report!
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Old Aug 6th, 2006, 08:31 PM
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apology accepted but you really need to learn how to spell lobstah.
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Old Aug 7th, 2006, 05:34 AM
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traceys2cents: So sorry for the oversight!
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Old Aug 7th, 2006, 03:53 PM
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Thanks for taking the time to post. Good job with lots of useful info for those of us who hope to visit Maine sooner rather than later.
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Old Aug 8th, 2006, 11:39 AM
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Thank you too. I did not know there are free tours of the Harvard University. That sounds interesting! Another thing to add on my list for a future visit

I.
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Old Aug 8th, 2006, 05:22 PM
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The free tour is called The Hahvahd Tour. www.hahvahdtour.com It is free but a gratuity is usually given at the end. It is not an ordinary tour and that is what made it so refreshing. They give it 7 days a week at 10am, 12noon and 2pm. The meeting place for the tour is at Harvard Square outside of the visitor's kiosk and T-station. It boasts that it covers more than twice the area of the Information Office and Admissions tours. Since I have not taken those tours, I can not speak to the accuracy of that claim.
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Old Aug 9th, 2006, 10:57 AM
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Thank you again for this info. Sounds great!
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Old Aug 13th, 2006, 01:32 PM
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ttt....great trip report!
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Old Aug 16th, 2006, 07:23 AM
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really great trip report - thank you. Not too long at all.
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Old Aug 16th, 2006, 07:39 AM
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GREAT report! I especially enjoyed the Maine portion as we love that area.
 
Old Aug 18th, 2006, 05:17 PM
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We too have enjoyed many a meal at Francine Bistro in Camden. The food and service can't be beat. I enjoyed your trip report and now look forward to another meal at Francine when we return to Maine this fall.
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 09:23 AM
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We're planning a trip to Boston in October, but will only have two or three days there. Any advice on what we should do in those couple of days and where would you recommend we stay? Your post was great and extremely informative. Thanks.
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 10:28 AM
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I love Maine too. Will keep this info for my (hopefully) next trip.
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