Our Boston Getaway

Feb 7th, 2016, 09:11 AM
  #1  
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Our Boston Getaway

Our initial plans for a summer vacation were dashed when in July my MIL was diagnosed with lung cancer which had spread to her bones and went undetected before. For months she had a cough that would not go away and back pain--at first it was diagnosed as sinus problems and arthritis of the back! She never smoked so they didn't think there was anything wrong with her lungs. Anyway she spent a month on hospice before passing away shortly after the real diagnosis. This is the same MIL who had fallen three years ago the day before we were to leave for Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains and we had cancelled our plans because she required emergency surgery. You just never know.

Anyway after all that stress--we decided we needed a getaway so this fall we made a quick trip to Boston for five days and here is our trip report.

We took the Amtrak train to Boston Back Bay. We got up and stood in the corridor waiting for the train to stop and there were three ladies standing in front of us. The train stopped and they were just standing there not letting anyone pass to get out of the train. We said excuse us so many times and it took a long time before they moved themselves out of the way. They were waiting for the last stop but Back Bay is one before last. Anyway my DS and I got out of the train with our luggage. We saw the door closing while my DH was waving his arm at a closing door. He was stuck on the train! We yelled to the conductors and others chimed in too that not everyone was off the stop. Luckily the conductors heard us and stopped the train reopened the doors and out emerged my DH and his luggage and a couple of other folks. That was a ridiculous start to our adventure.

Our hotel was just a short walk from the train station. We were staying at The Lenox Hotel. Upon check in our room was not ready yet but we were told what floor we would be on and that we should go out and enjoy our day and come back later for check in. They offered us free water, coffee as well and let us store our luggage. Ok so we decided to buy our Charlie Cards and take the green line to Haymarket and walk to the aquarium from there. There was no one at the Copley square station manning it so we bought the paper travel cards from the machine. The green line T (for trolley) came rather quickly and we rode it to Haymarket. The walk to the aquarium was nice and we passed through a little park with bench swings which were rather cool.

We purchased the Boston City Pass at the aquarium and spent about two hours there. It is a rather small aquarium but very well done. On the top floor we joined a talk at the sea turtle tank. Very informative and nice to see. The aquarium is rather circular as you make your way around the exhibits with the large viewing tank in the center. Even though it was small it was packed with loads of information about the fish and we enjoyed our visit very much including the penguins!

Back to the hotel for check in and they proceed to give us keys to a room on a different floor than what was mentioned earlier. When I inquired they said "no this is your floor". We go up and the key didn't work. So back down to the lobby and they re-key the key and send us back with the bellhop who was holding our luggage. Low and behold we enter and this room had a king bed instead of two queen (we were three of us traveling my DH, my DS and myself). Not only that--this was someone's occupied room--their luggage was open and stuff was everywhere! Well even the bell hop was embarrassed. Back down again to the front desk and this time I was angry after the day we had earlier with the train experience this didn't help matters. How could they give us someone else's room? They apologized and said there was a mix up with the keys. Finally our room was on the floor originally told to me upon initial check in and were finally escorted up to our intended room. The front desk gave us a breakfast voucher for the next day. I am sure the people in the other room would have a problem when they returned and would have had to have their room keys redone too.
Other than the mix up the room was a decent size and clean. The hotel itself is very classy. Just couldn't believe the mix up.

By this point we had five minutes to run across the street to catch the 6PM Boston Public Library guided architectural tour which we had intended upon going to so we hurried over and missed the introductions in the hallway but made it to join the group. DS stayed in the hotel room to relax. My DH and I absolutely loved this tour. I was very much enthralled with the John Singer Sargent murals. The whole architecture of the building is stunning. The new modern wing not so much.

Starving and exhausted by this point we joined DS and went across the street again to Atlantic Fish Company for dinner. This was a fabulous meal. Pricey but really good service and food. A nice end to our interesting adventures for the day.
europeannovice is offline  
Feb 7th, 2016, 10:31 AM
  #2  
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forgot to tag this as a trip report. How do I do that now?

Freedom Trail Day

Today we got up early and used our free breakfast voucher at the hotel. We did parts of the Freedom Trail today. We visited the Paul Revere House and I enjoyed speaking with the docents in the rooms. We also visited the USS Constitution Museum--the USS Constitution was under a lot of scaffolding but the museum was open and we spent a little time visiting. We also walked over to Bunker Hill and took pictures by the monument. We were too tired to climb to the top so we viewed the exhibit at the bottom and at the little museum across the street.

We had rented a car for the day and took a nice ride out to Lexington and Concord. We stopped by a farmer's market that sold sandwiches and ate a picnic in Lexington by the green. It was a rather nice day and not too cold. We managed to get into the Concord museum and I loved viewing Paul Revere's lanterns. At the Concord museum they showed a little film too. This was a very lovely museum and I highly recommend anyone visiting Concord to visit this museum. We visited the North Bridge and the minute man statue sculptured by Daniel Chester French.

For dinner we ate at Nico in the North End. The food was plentiful and the ambiance was cozy as it is a small place.

Art Day
Car returned and back to using the charlie card. Well DH and DS card worked just fine. Mine didn't let me through the turnstile. This time there was an agent at the station and he said "oh this happens often with the paper card". Just have DS or DH pretend to exit so the gate can open and just wave your card in the air and go through quickly. I had to do that for the remainder of the trip since my card would not work and they would not issue a new one. Someone else said that MBTA stands for most broken transit system. I guess so--they said the plastic cards you get from an agent doesn't do that but the paper ones often don't work well.

Anyway we took the green T trolley line again to the Museum of Fine Arts. A special exhibit on the Dutch Masters was showing and I had to see that. I bought the audio guide and toured it. MY DS and DH went to tour the museum at their own pace and we met for a late lunch in the cafeteria. This was the first time some of these works were in the US. I thought the audio guide was well done as I viewed the different rooms this exhibit was displayed. After I toured the John Singer Sargent section of the museum including the ceiling murals. Fabulous works of art. After lunch we all toured some more of the Americas wing. The Museum of Fine Arts is one of my favorite art museums!

We had a bit of time to visit the Isabella Gardner Museum nearby. As others have said the museum is kept very dark in order to preserve the works but it made for difficult viewing. I loved the courtyard but can't say I enjoyed the rest of the museum as much as the Museum of Fine Arts.
europeannovice is offline  
Feb 7th, 2016, 10:51 AM
  #3  
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Forgot to add from previous day that we had dinner at Brasserie Jo which is connected to a hotel near the Prudential Center. The food was very good. This was recommended by some locals and I agree with their recommendation.

Next Day Harvard and MIT Museum

This time we transferred to the red line train and took it to Harvard. Upon exiting a man was standing there ready to give a tour of Harvard. He was a former alumni who volunteers to give tours. A group of around 12 joined him and we proceeded to tour the University. He provided loads of history and historical insight as we stopped by the buildings and he gave a description of each one. We even entered a church on Harvard grounds. It was a well rounded and well informed tour.

For lunch we went to Mr. Bartley's Burgers. I loved the menus and the commentary or description for each burger. I think one of them is labeled MBTA--most broken transit system and the political commentary is a hoot. We enjoyed the burgers too.

We visited the Harvard Museum of Natural History and did get to see some of the glass flowers--amazing! We also took a nice tour of the Harvard Art Museums.

On the way back we took the #1 bus if I remember correctly from Harvard to the MIT museum. The bus had a homeless woman on it chanting and singing. The MIT museum is very interesting for anyone interested in science and technology. My DS and DH had fun looking at all the innovative robots.

We took the red line back toward Chinatown and found the Gourmet Dumpling House where we waited a bit outside for a table. The place is also rather small but the food was worth the wait. It was good, cheap, and plentiful. We did get lost finding our way back toward Copley Square. Somehow we managed to find our way back after first going further into the financial district.

Last Day Museum of Science

We all loved this museum. We especially loved the Pixar Exhibit which we spent an enormous amount of time playing with all the interactive exhibits. They did a fantastic job of explaining different roles one can do for Pixar. We managed to also see a planetarium show and to catch the lightening show--very well done. We enjoyed are day at the science museum. Picked up bags at hotel and off to the train ride home.
europeannovice is offline  
Feb 7th, 2016, 07:09 PM
  #4  
cw
 
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Thanks for your report. Seems as though you had your share of glitches with the train, hotel, and T. Glad they didn't impact your enjoyment. I agree that the BPL is a gem and I, too, love the MFA.
cw is offline  
Feb 8th, 2016, 03:43 AM
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Nice report. I love reading what someone else has done in a city I visit.
dfrostnh is offline  
Feb 8th, 2016, 07:16 AM
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What a nice trip!

Congratulations for eating at both Atlantic Fish and Mr. Bartley's. We go to Brasserie Jo before concerts and enjoy it.
Ackislander is offline  
Feb 8th, 2016, 10:05 AM
  #7  
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Yes despite some glitches we did enjoy the trip very much. We enjoyed all our restaurant choices too. We picked them based on previous fodors suggestions so thanks!
europeannovice is offline  
Feb 8th, 2016, 11:33 AM
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Sounds like you made the best of a trip that started out sorry. Thanks for reporting back.
emalloy is offline  
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