A Travellerspoint blog

The Vinyahd

Or, how to park in Rhode Island to go to Martha’s Vineyard.

-17 °C

Sunday = Martha’s Vineyard day. We decided to get a really early start because we knew that there would be a bunch of travel time going to and from the ferry to the Island, taking the ferry, etc., so we were ready to go by the time the gift shop opened (7 a.m.) so we could get the car right away. The woman running the desk was surprisingly competent and expedient with the process of filling out the forms and we were on our way in about 15 minutes. We took a little “accidental detour” to Sandwich, but we were only off track for about 10 minutes or so, and then we were on the way again to Woods Hole to catch the ferry. And so began my new relationship with the Massachusetts rotary. Otherwise known as the circle of death in Chicago. Except that people here drive them way crazier than people at home, at least from what I’ve been able to tell. During what I believe to be the first or second rotary on the way to catch the ferry, I got in an incident with a vehicle in the inside lane of the rotary that decided they had the right to cross right in front of me to take a road that I was not turning onto. I was apparently called a b!tch and who knows what else, but no vehicle was damaged and we carried on our merry way. On the same road, we saw an incident with two drivers and a whole lot of the state bird. Good to know we’re all friends in Massachusetts.

We finally reached a parking lot for the ferry, and because we had heard on AM 1610 (the ferry station) that the Woods Hole lot was full, we decided to just park there because it was the first one that we had found. We pulled into the lot and had to take a ticket and eventually saw a guy at the back of the lot that was flagging us his way. Unfortunately, all he did was mumble that the lot was full and give us a piece of paper with a shoddy map that basically went back the way we came. Thanks for that up-to-date information, AM 1610. So, we had to drive approximately 10 miles back the way we came to go to the Cataumet ferry lot, which we finally did. We boarded the bus and were on our way to the ferry, which was quite a bit further south than the first lot we went to. I have a hard time believing that it’s the best solution to have all of these lots spaced so far apart, and so far away from the place where you actually board the ferry, but I guess to some extent you just have to live with it. We got to the ferry (an unscheduled trip which allowed us to not have to wait for the next ferry which would have been quite a bit later) with just moments to spare – we bought our tickets and the boat left about 5 minutes later. The ride was about 45 minutes and let us out in Vineyard Haven (Tisbury).

We walked to the Black Dog Bakery/Cafe, which was touted as being an excellent place to go by the Fodors and other things that I read and got a pastry and a drink for breakfast. After eating, we found about 27 additional Black Dog gift shops in the general vicinity of the Bakery/Cafe that we went to. I have a hard time believing that anyone could possibly need that much Black Dog stuff, though I suppose we did see a lot of people on the island that were walking around with it on. We perused the shops, cute little places with jewelry and clothing and gifts; Maura bought a Christmas ornament, and then we caught the bus to Edgartown. There were a handful of repeat stores (same as in Vineyard Haven). We got lunch at a little coffee house (I got my lobster roll! It was great and I think it would not be a problem to make at home, given I didn’t completely overcook the lobster), walked around some more, and then hopped the bus to Oak Bluffs. Oak Bluffs had a nice little park in front of the gingerbread houses. We looked for shells on the beach, and then rode the Flying Horses carousel and started seeing A LOT of repeat shops; we walked around a bit more and by that time it was a little before 6. We had reservations for dinner at a nice restaurant, but we had eaten lunch late and neither of us was hungry, so we just skipped it and caught the 6:15p.m. ferry back to Oak Bluffs. It was fine getting on the boat, but there were no directions on how to get off (not the same way we got on) and we got stuck behind these two people with two giant strollers (and a lobster baby) and had to wait for them to haul their strollers up and down flights of stairs (nicely planned exit strategy for the boat – hope they never have an emergency!) Then, once we had gotten off, we had to wait for a bus – there were a lot of busses in a row, but it took a while to load them and because of how long it took us to get off the ferry, we were quite a way back in the line. The bus driver got us back to the Cataumet lot (there was a guy on the bus that looked just like Tom Cruise), and then a whole new delay began – getting out of the lot. Parking was $10/day and they only had one cash register to ring out cars, so there was a huge line to pay and leave. I finally stopped being nice and letting people in front of me because we were waiting FOREVER and just wouldn’t let anyone else in front. We finally got on the road north to Braintree; when we got to the place where we needed to catch the freeway, we got mixed up and went the wrong way. We found a Friendly’s for dinner (mmmm, Fribble), got some gas, and got back on the way. Everything was fine until we got back to the Braintree area (though there was a ton of traffic all the way back from the cape and a lot of drastic speeding up and slowing down.) At the point where we were really close to the hotel, it all just went to hell. The map that the hotel had given us told us one thing, the road signs didn’t tell us that, and we just went in circles over and over again. We tried to use the highway, we tried to take the side streets, we tried to ask for directions, and we kept going the wrong way no matter what we did. It was ridiculously hysterical. There was one time when we were not even a mile down from our hotel, but we didn’t realize it until it was too late and we were back on our way to not getting back to the hotel. Finally, we found the right person to give us directions and mercifully got back to the hotel about FOUR HOURS after starting back. Luckily, we didn’t get in any accidents, and the whole thing was just plain funny.

Posted by alisandra 14:39 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Harvard Gardens, Swan Boats, and Whales


-17 °C

I hate to harp on the food aspect of this trip, but I had the most amazing brunch I think that I will ever have today. We got a little bit later of a start because we got in late the night before and were trying to beat the Travellerspoint website into submission. In any case, we took the T to the Charles/MGH stop and right near the stop is the Harvard Gardens restaurant. I had made a reservation there because I had no idea how busy they would be and it was recommended by the Fodors. Little did I know that there would pretty much be no one there, before we got there or after we left. Oh well. What can I say, I was trying to be prepared. In any case, there were a number of things on the menu that looked good, but I ordered the omelet-of-the-day, which I thought was just an omelet, but it ended up being an omelet with pico de gallo, sour cream, and this crumbly salty cheese (almost like feta), there were these fried potato chunks with parmesan and herbs and caramelized onions on top, fruit, strips of bacon, and the biggest English muffin I’ve ever seen. I mean just amazing. The only reason I didn’t clean the plate was because there was so much and my stomach has a limit. In any case, after brunch, we went to the flagship Filene’s, which is closing (for remodeling – it will reopen) – we found some good deals. Maura even tried on a $9,999 dress, which fit, but really did make her look like Tinkerbell on crack. It would have been $20. Maybe we should have gotten it and sold it on eBay.

We were really near the Public Garden and Common, so we went through the Granary Burying Grounds where we saw some extremely old gravestones (1600s & 1700s), as well as the gravesites of Franklin and Revere. We then made our way to the Swan Boats. The line was pretty long, but was moving really quickly due to many boats running at the same time. It was a fun, short ride. We headed toward the Paul Revere house/Freedom Trail historical area. On the way, there were many cute little Italian restaurants and dessert shops. We stopped into Trani, which makes “n-jectables”: cupcakes, donuts, brownies, eclairs, and other baked goods that they pump full of ice cream and cover with a layer of chocolate. I had no idea such a thing was being made in the world. I think they’ve got serious franchise opportunities. We made it to the Old North Church just in time for a short presentation that was being given about it, then continued down the Freedom Trail toward Long Wharf. Along the way, all of our maps said that we would come upon the Paul Revere house, but we looked and looked and looked and we completely couldn’t find it. Given that it was referred to elsewhere on the web as a “dump,” I’m not too heartbroken about it. We walked through a park and saw the Rose Kennedy Rose Garden, then looked for somewhere to grab a bite before whale watching.

We got our tickets for the whale watching cruise really early so that we could get a good seat on the boat and waited on the wharf. When they let us on, we hauled up to the top level and got a bench near the railing. The ride out was long (1 hour) and extremely windy (we have pictures to prove it, and I lost a bunch of hair later while brushing due to it) and by the time we got to our destination, the Boston skyline was pretty much just a tiny blot on the horizon. We spent about an hour moving around through the marine wildlife preserve that they had brought us to, and did have quite a few whale sightings. I didn’t see any “breeches,” (whales coming completely up out of the water) because I was always either on the wrong side of the boat or not looking when it happened (usually happened fairly far in the distance), but we did see a number of fins and some tails and quite a bit of spraying. It was definitely worth the money.

We got back in pretty late from the boat ride (9:45p.m.) and when we got back to our hotel it was even later. And for the second time, our room keys didn’t work. Maura went down to the front desk and when she got there, they gave her some story about thinking that we were checking out that day...or maybe someone just typed in the room numbers wrong when they were checking out some other room...or maybe a roving band of gnomes that live in the walls changed the key code. So, the guy from the desk had to come up with us to the room and we had to dig up the hotel confirmations to prove to him that we should be let into the room (that we have already paid for in full, months ago). He said he would bring us up new keys so we didn’t have to continue to go back and forth from the front desk, but Maura had to call two more times to get them to bring them up. The hotel itself is just fine, and the shuttle experience has been great and free, but I don’t know what is up with their computer system. They need to work on that.

Posted by alisandra 14:36 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Technical Difficulties...

Bear with us!

For some reason, Travellerspoint isn't letting Ali upload her blog entries...we're hoping this is just a one-time error that will resolve itself overnight. We hope to have her entries up and running tomorrow :)

Thanks for reading!

Posted by mopo1978 22:18 Comments (0)

Visiting Filene and her magical basement

I *heart* no sales tax on clothes!

sunny 25 °C

We had a later start today after a late night last night. Leaving at the crack of noon, we decided to have lunch and go check out shopping in the Back Bay. Our first stop was Filene’s basement, where we gawked at $10,000 dresses and $3,000 coats that were on sale, and wondered how they could have cost that much in the first place. We checked out some of the little shops and things in the area before heading over to Government Center. We looked at the marketplaces around Quincy Hall and Fanueil Hall before changing for dinner. We had reservations at Legal Seafood (which, according to Amy, was excellent!) and spent a nice evening there. True to form, I did not have seafood, but I had a filet mignon. After seeing all the happy little lobsters naively waiting their fate in the tank, I couldn’t do it. I was able to convince Ali to order some wine, and we each had a “flight” of wine to taste; she had white and I had red. They were actually really good wines, and I was proud that she was being adventurous :) I ended the meal with a to-die-for chocolate mousse. We found our way to the North End after dinner, and found Mike’s Pastry, which is a well-known bakery that always has a line out the door. We got some cookies for tomorrow, as tonight we are just too full.

And, on a bright note, literally, there was no rain today! :)

Posted by mopo1978 18:06 Comments (0)

Shopping, etc.

-17 °C

May I continue to reiterate how comfortable the hotel beds are?

We went to the Globe Bar & Cafe for a light lunch and walked up and down Boylston and Newbury checking out the shopping. For the most part it was really expensive (Hermes, Burberry, etc.), but Maura got a super-cute dress at Filene’s and it was fun digging through the racks trying to find the bargains. I found one shirt that I liked, but I’m a cheapass, so I didn’t get it. Maybe if we hit the flagship store, we’ll find more good stuff. We got a smoothie at Emack & Bolio’s – I can’t speak for Maura, but I chose the smoothie because it seemed like blended-up fruit and orange juice was a healthier option than gobs of ice cream, but omg, they had waffle cones where the top was dipped/rolled in THICK rice krispie goo. They also had ones with fruity pebbles, cocoa krispies, coconut, and sprinkles, but the krispies were the most tempting. We hit a few more stores and then took the T to Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market and roamed through the shops. I was trying to find a Coach purse that I saw someone had at the airport, but I think it’s an older “model”, so I think I’m SOL. There was some cute new stuff, though, so maybe I’ll investigate when I get home. I wasn’t feeling so great, so we sat a little bit and then changed into dresses and went to the harbor to see what was out on the water and to go to Legal Sea Foods for dinner. I’m glad we made reservations because it was busy at 7 when we showed up and it seemed even busier when we left – whatever time that was. The meal was really good – I would have had the lobster if I was independently wealthy because we saw a bunch of them coming out and they were rather large and tasty-looking, but at the recommendation of the waiter, I chose the swordfish. I also had a flight of wines (my first flight and I drank ‘em all, baby!), a cup of lobster bisque, and for dessert I got a bon bon (chocolate covered ice cream) and a profiterole. I think it was the most items that I’ve ever ordered at a restaurant for a single meal, but it ended up not being that expensive because I didn’t order the giant size of everything. While waiting for the meal, we decided that when we were done, we would seek out the Mike’s Pastry; we had seen quite a few people at Quincy Market with Mike’s boxes and we figured that if there were that many people that had gone, it couldn’t be that far. We took the T to the stop that was closest to Mike’s and the Holocaust memorial was right there, so we read the quotes and information and took some pictures. Then, we walked down a long, restaurant-lined street (really cute, lots of open fronts, Italian places (mmmm,pasta)) and finally came upon it - the line of course was out the door. I was hopeful that they would have something like a danish that we could get for breakfast tomorrow (you know, instead of the $8 bagel they’re pushing in the cafe downstairs), but they really only had dessert items, so we got some cannoli and cookies and went back to the hotel. Maura expertly arranged the cannoli in the ice bucket for preservation purposes – hopefully they will still taste ok tomorrow – they look pretty good. I think my blog for today may qualify us for iliketalkingaboutfood.com. I LOVE NOT BEING AT WORK.

Posted by alisandra 14:32 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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