Weekend in Boston

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Jul 24th, 2007, 05:26 AM
  #1
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Weekend in Boston

Hi all, I just got back from a weekend in Boston with some friends. We had planned on four days and three nights, but got robbed when our 6:30am Northwest flight out of Detroit suddenly got cancelled. I could rant on and on about the complications this caused us, but suffice to say that we all had different flights (on other airlines) throughout the day and I didn't end up at our hotel until 11:00pm that night. As a result, we lost an entire sightseeing day. the "official" explanation now that we are home is that there was bad weather the night before. If that's true, why were all the other airlines not cancelling their flights?

I will start by reviewing our hotel, the Charlesmark on Boylston Street. The location was good- just one block over to Newbury Street which is an endless stream of restaurants and shops. In one direction is the Prudential Center and in the other you can walk to Copley Square and the Commons. The subway is just around the corner and is easy to use. We did use cabs sometimes because we could split four ways and they were not very expensive anyway. My solo cab ride from the airport to the hotel was $27 with tip.

What I liked about the hotel: cool vibe, cool bar and living room area, free computers and wifi internet throughout the hotel, good water pressure, accessible plugs in the room, free bottled water, windows that open for fresh air and a pretty good rate ($209). What I didn't like: no doorman, no one to help with bags, not even a luggage cart. (This is germaine because the first one of us to arrive collected all of our bags at the airport and arrived at the hotel with six pieces of luggage.) The room was extremely small. We had a room with a full bed and a sofa bed. However the sofa bed, as sofa beds go, was pretty comfortable. There are shelves to put stuff on and almost no closet to hang things. The TV was up so high you'd get a stiff neck if you were inclined to watch it, which we were not. The front desk staff was friendly but not overly helpful, just kind of "laid back". (The maid service was impeccable.) Our room faced the street and since we had the window open it was incredibly noisy almost all night long: people partying, ambulances, we even saw an arrest in progress. Thank God for earplugs and sleeping pills! Finally, there is no room service and the "breakfast" bar downstairs consisted only of coffee and muffins. That said, I did like our stay there and would possibly stay again, although next time I might want to stay nearer to the harbor area for a change of pace.

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Jul 24th, 2007, 06:05 AM
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Boston was very crowded with tourists, which may be typical of most summer weekends. Everywhere we went it was wall to wall people. I think for that reason I didn't enjoy Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market as much as I hoped. I would go to these places again at a different season and very early in the morning, also to do the Freedom Trail more thoroughly. We did feel somewhat rushed, because of our abbreviated sightseeing time.

We wanted to do the Duck tour, but alas it was sold out so we decided to try the "new" Super Duck Excursions. The vehicles are newer, larger and possibly more comfortable, but that's all. One of our party had been on the original Duck tour and could offer a fair comparison. Our tour remained mostly on the harbor side of town and I felt we went in circles a fair bit. Our guide was not very entertaining. The guests on the original Duck all seemed to be laughing and having a better time. We did go in the water, but we didn't see much and I didn't think it was worth it.

We tried a lot of different restaurants. We'd go to one for appetisers, another for dinner, another for drinks or dessert. A highlight for me was the bar area downstairs at Legal Seafoods. I had stopped in by myself and had a great mojito and my first soft shell crab. It was sublime! Can't wait to return for dinner someday. I know this is a chain, but the quality seems to be there for sure. The next day I ordered soft shell crab at Lucca and it was nearly inedible. Half of the size of the one at Legal and overwhelmed with thyme. Monica's in the north end was very good. Risotto with truffles, yum! Other memorable dining experiences were on Newbury Street: Tapeo, a tapas-style restaurant where we shared many wonderful small plates. My friends loved the Armani Cafe and the tempura lobster appetiser at Sonsie was the best thing I've had at a restaurant ever. Since we were blessed with beautiful weather we dined outside or at the open front windows whenever possible. Great for people watching!

We had tickets for "Sheer Madness", an audience participation comedy/murder mystery which was fun. We sat so close the actors could almost spit on us. I was surprised to hear it is the longest running play in North America. The ending changes every night, depending on the audience vote. It is on Warrington Street, which our newbie cab driver simply could not find. We ended up paying him, getting out and hailing another cab which finally got us there in time.

Thanks to everyone who offered advice on Boston. It would be a great place to return for more exploration.

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Jul 24th, 2007, 07:08 AM
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Thanks for posting about our city - it's always great to hear a visitors take -
I'm so sorry about your initial flying/arriving fiasco - geez, the joys and sorrows of traveling, huh?

Great take on the menus/food and what a fun way to taste test so many things - I've never stayed or had family stay at Charlesmark, so it's great to have your report. I am not personally wild about Faneuil Hall or Quincy Market area in general, I imagine it is mobbed with visitors and probably some residents too, it just has changed so much over the past 20 years it doesn't have anything unique to offer, imo.

I have heard that the new 'super' duck tours, which I believe I read somewhere have been asked to change their name to avoid confusion, were not as good as the original. By the way, for future, you can purchase Duck Tour itx in advance on the web site, which I usually recommend to family since they do often sell out.

Sorry about the cab to Sheer Madness (a fun show though , isn't it? we've been a few times over the years and enjoy it - sort of like Bostons version of MouseTrap that show that ran forever in London)

I find in many cities, if you don't get a seasoned cab driver, it is a good idea to also know the main street it is off, or the cross street, or some such thing - it's helped me even in nyc or la, etc.

Hope you come back !! And that you got the feeling there really is so much more to see you could come again adn again in different seasons too !
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Jul 24th, 2007, 07:19 AM
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The way they sell the Duck Tour tickets irritates the heck out of me....you can only purchase 5 days in advance. Why? Why not let people book at least a month in advance? We were already on our vacation on the 5th day prior to when I wanted to do the tour. I thought I would get the tickets purchased on line from our NYC hotel but then the folks in the business center told me that they were having a terrible time with the printer....that ruled that out. We ended up getting in line early in the morning to buy them.
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Jul 24th, 2007, 07:24 AM
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Sorry about the flight troubles. You seem to have done very well overall with the restaurant selections! I agree with your assessment of Legal's--it's a chain, but high quality.

Re the cabbie not being able to find Warrenton st.--that is unacceptable. It's a small street in the theater district, sure, but it intersects with both Charles and Stuart Streets, two big ones...PLUS it's the home of the theater for Blue Man Group also. How can a cabbie not know how to reach the theater where Blue Man Group is....I mean it's only been running for a dozen years or so at the same location!!!

Hope you enjoyed your stay, come back often!
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Jul 24th, 2007, 07:26 AM
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The best months in Boston are September and October. The weather is still warm. In fact, you could attend the Boston GTG on 10/13/07 in Cambridge. It is for wandering Fodorites.
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Jul 24th, 2007, 10:30 AM
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We were thinking about booking our Duck tickets for our first day, Friday, but it's a good thing we didn't, since we would have missed it.

Since there were four of us, I usually ended up sitting in front with the cab driver. I always chatted with them and every one was very interesting. This particular guy, "Ali", was new to the job, so I was trying to help him out by using our map. He was sweet and at one point a reckless motorcycle came too close and he protectively referred to us as "my ladies". He turned his meter off while he was circling trying to find the theater. It was a good experience, not a bad one.

I will definitely be back in the spring or fall. Not this year though. We are going to Vieques in August and have another small trip planned for September. I've gotta stop-I'm going broke!
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Jul 24th, 2007, 02:42 PM
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Glad you enjoyed our city. Thank you so much for sharing specific details about your hotel etc... you certainly made the most of your time.

Thanks also for inspiring my shout out about the OTHER Duck Tour!

Come back and visit again~~~~~~~~
 
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Jul 24th, 2007, 07:36 PM
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Talked to DH and there is a remote possibility we could make that GTG after all. Gpanda, keep me posted!
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Jul 24th, 2007, 07:51 PM
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Glad you ate at Ármani's. I lived next door for many years under rent control. I cried when I had to leave but now, Armani's will be leaving and no news yet what will replace it.
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Jul 25th, 2007, 04:26 AM
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Cigalechanta, how lucky you are to have lived there! I didn't know the Armani Cafe was closing. Too bad. Do you know anything about the Jewel of Newbury Hotel? It looks like a B&B. I walked into it in hopes of checking it out for future reference and the owner/manager seemed weird. He kept insisting it was "five star, five star all the way", but it didn't look it.
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Jul 25th, 2007, 06:47 AM
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Glad you enjoyed Boston as a former resident, I now live outside the city, I can say to all, avoid the Fanuil Hall area in the late spring/summer. It is too crowded and hot. I agree with the post that said the best time to visit Boston in the late Sept/Oct.
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Jul 25th, 2007, 08:26 AM
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Maggi, friends treted me to dinner at the restaurant. Yes, the owner(Moroccan/American) is little odd. There were rumors few years go when they arrested some alleged terrorists that a few stayed at the B&B and were friends of his.
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Jul 25th, 2007, 09:32 AM
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Maggi: I went into the Jewel of Newbury just a month ago as I was walking home, just to inquire about it, see a room, for when we having company visit in town or family 'overload' -

it was a very weird experience. The room on the left was loaded with duffle bags, and one child doing homework in kid clothes (gym shorts, tee shirt, no shoes) and stuff all over the place - a young man ( staff, in pants and white shirt ) came into the hall to talk to me and I told him I would like if possible to see a room, and inquire about prices for family visiting, etc

He said no problem and we were halfway up the stairs when a man came out from the room - barefoot, t shirt, pants, a tad unkept looking and said 'where are you going, you can't just walk in and see a room ' and the kid looked surprised and I said okay, and he said 'we are full you can't look at rooms with guests' and the kid looked very surprised and I said no problem, I would never want to intrude on a guest I thought I'd like to see a room if one was empty

and he said 'You don't need to see our rooms I can assure you they are fine . They are huge and wonderful and you can have this pamphlet or look online we are a wonderful place.'

and that was that, but to me that was all a tad weird enough.

It was also dark in the entry and while I thought it looked like such a cool interior, the messy living room and just the weird experience I would not stay there until I hear from someone who actually has recently -

anyone???
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Jul 25th, 2007, 09:34 AM
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P.S. I don't tell anyone to avoid Fauil Hall. We take our visiters there. We like going the to The Union Oyster House(oldest resto in Boston) sitting at the oyster bar, chatting up tourists. They love the place it's shops, its jugglers and dancers nd whatever shows up to perform.
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Jul 25th, 2007, 08:47 PM
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Escargot, he told me the same thing they were full up and I couldn't go inside. I never saw anyone coming or going though...I thought he was a bit creepy too.

Cig, I guess I was expecting to see Faneuil Hall in light of being a historical monument where I could wander around and imagine what might have been going on there over 200 years ago. Due to the shops, restaurants and especially crowds, as we were sitting there drinking a Margarita it was hard for me to picture it.
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Jul 26th, 2007, 01:14 PM
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Yes, this is why I can't comment positively on that 'jewel' - I haven't investigated on trip advisor or anyhwhere else yet either - but still, based on my first impression, it would be a no.

If you were inquiring b/c you'd like to stay in a nearby B & B sometime, my cousins were very pleased with the Clarendon Square Inn, within walking distance from Copley Place , immaculate, owners fabulous, plus on all counts.
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Jul 26th, 2007, 01:26 PM
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The reviews are odd too, but he'a definate weirdo.

http://en.venere.com/usa/hotels_bost...on=user_rating
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Jul 27th, 2007, 09:19 PM
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thanks for finding that link - very strange indeed !
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Jul 28th, 2007, 10:01 AM
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Thanks for the tip on Clarendon Square Inn. It looks perfect!
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