A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: alisandra


1. No vehicular incidents.
Complete! There were a couple of "exciting incidents" with the rental, especially in relation to the rotaries, but we made it out completely unscathed - fantastic.

2. Tea shall be thrown into the harbor.
Sadness - we were down there a whole bunch of times, but we kept forgetting to throw in the tea bag that we had snatched from the room. I still have it - maybe I'll put it in the scrapbook or something.

3. Consumption of a lobster roll.
Done. Had it at the Espresso Love Cafe on Martha's Vineyard. It was quite enjoyable and seems ridiculously easy to make.

4. At least one bout of uncontrollable laughter.
Ok, it's called circling the hotel area forever while trying not to end up running over American Indians, or whatever it is that they're keeping on Chickatawbut Road.

5. One lighthouse. It doesn't even have to be functional.
Chatham Light - did it on Cape day. It was functional, too, though not open for tours when we were there.

6. One amazing dessert.
Finale desserts. You just can't go to Boston without going to this place. And honestly, that mousse that Maura had at the Legal Sea Foods was pretty to-die-for, too.

7. The learning of at least one new thing that I didn't know before that is really cool.
I consider learning that there are places in the world where waffle cones are being made with globs of rice krispie good on them, and palces where cupcakes are being injected with ice cream and covered with chocolate really cool. There was other interesting historical stuff, the fact that I had no idea that there would be three different kinds of whales off the cost of Boston, and a bunch of others.

8. One really good picture of my like, totally, BFF and me.
There are a bunch. I think Maura has copies of them.

9. Personal discovery. Is that too deep?
I don't know. I'll have to think about it.

10. Fun!
Tons. Loved it.

Posted by alisandra 14:59 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The way home.

-17 °C

I dropped off the rental car key early in the morning so that we wouldn't get charged for another day and then fell back asleep. I finally woke up pretty late; thankfully, there wasn't much to do since we had packed 95% of our stuff the night before. We checked out and the shuttle guy was nice enough to make a special trip to take us to the mall. We thought we would grab a quick, good lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, but there was nothing quick about it. We ordered, and after a while the waiter came over and told us that our order would be out shortly (we had only ordered a pizza and parmesan chicken, it wasn't like it was something super-special), but then 20 minutes later we still didn't have food. I joked that they had probably burned it the first three times that they made it and then the manager came over and told us that they had indeed burned it twice. It must have been at least another 20 minutes and we were getting to the point of being in danger of missing the shuttle to the T when the food finally rolled out. It really seemed like they should have offered us some sort of compensation for sitting there for almost an hour while we saw people constantly coming in, getting their food, and then leaving. We ended up snarfing down what we could and then running to catch the shuttle back to the hotel. We got our stuff, and as was the case throughout the trip, our Charlie card didn't let us down. We were at the airport in plenty of time. Which was good because we got off at my terminal, terminal B, but were told that we needed to go to the terminal B across the street (shouldn't it really be named something else if it's across the street?) and when I checked in, the woman tagging my luggage nearly threw my drivers license into oblivion when she slid it across the counter and it fell between the self-check in stand and the counter. Luckily it was retrieved and the rest of the journey home was uneventful. I can't believe the week went by so quickly. There were still several things that we didn't get to do (JFK Presidential Library/Museum, some of the cute restaurants in the North End) that I would like to do someday if I make it back. All in all, I really enjoyed the city and would highly recommend as a fun place to go in the US.

Posted by alisandra 14:47 Archived in USA Comments (0)

On the Cape

-17 °C

So the drive to the Cod was easy because we pretty much did it yesterday. We headed toward Hyannis and once we got there, we checked out the JFK Hyannis Museum (since we weren’t able to get to the JFK Presidential Library and Museum, we had to get at least a little Kennedy in). It was inexpensive, but it was way too small. I feel like I could have stood there for hours looking at the pictures – I know it was just supposed to capture his time in the Cod, but surely there is more stuff they could have packed in. Still, it was really interesting. Afterward, we walked down Main St. and found La Petite France Cafe and had lunch. We drove on and it got really crowded through Yarmouth – both with traffic and with stores selling inflatable pool everything in every neon color imaginable. There was also a lot of mini golf, shops, and even a big structure that was pretty much a giant trampoline. It took forever, but we eventually made it to Chatham Light and the ocean at which there was almost no visibility. We then took a different route back west with the intention of checking out Sandy Neck light house, but we didn’t realize that it was privately owned and not open to the public...and you couldn’t even see it from the spot where you can actually drive. But the views were nice and it was fun searching for rocks – and omg, the cape was freeeeeeezing! We kept driving on through Sandwich; the good thing about Martha’s Vineyard was that all the shops and stuff were really close together, but all over the Cape, everything is really spread out making it pretty much impossible to walk everywhere, so if you wanted to stop at a bunch of places, you would have to drive from one to the other. We only stopped at one place, and it was after Maura had seen it and we turned around, but it was a great find. It was an artist co-op where they were all selling their collective works and they had some really nice stuff – jewelry and pottery and photography. After getting some excellent soft-serve at “Ice Cream Sandwich” (in Sandwich, ha ha) we tried to find a gas station, of which there were many, but every single one was full serve and I’m just to cheap to pay for some dorkus to pump my gas for me. When we got back to Braintree, we checked out the South Shore Mall. After shopping, we went to the 99 Restaurant and Pub – the food wasn’t that great, but we had an excellent “Green Monster” cocktail – very location appropriate.

Posted by alisandra 14:43 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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)

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