So, Thursday morning, I got pointed down 40 about when I wanted to. I hit the Pilot about halfway down the highway for the cheapest gas I'd seen in awhile, and got to ambermae's place of work right on time. We went and had order by number Chinese for lunch, and wandered around a park for a bit before depositing her back at work.
I drove over to artisanal_xara and feebdaed's house (with a stop by Trader Joe's for coffee) where I had a pleasant surprise - George was home from work early from a meeting, so I got to see both of them. We sat around and chatted lazily and ate cheesecake and played with the little one until it was time for me to leave for the airport.
I parked with these folks, who are doing free parking through the middle of August in honor of their grand opening. The staff were friendly and polite, and we got me parked and onto a shuttle and over to the terminal in no time. I was through security in no time flat, and ate the rest of my Chinese from lunch for dinner and chatted at Jeff. We loaded up on time, but got delayed because the sky bridge thingie was broken and we had a passenger in a wheelchair. They were bringing her down on an elevator when the TSA guys decided that she needed to be screened again. Oy. Despite this, we still got landed in Boston on time. I was thoroughly impressed with the folks at Jet Blue, for what it's worth. Jeff picked me up, and we headed back out to the hotel in Waltham. Collapse commenced.
Friday morning, we got up and availed ourselves of the free breakfast (not bad, and certainly better than a lot of hotel breakfasts I've consumed.) The shuttle dropped me off at the rail station, where I took the express bus into the city (cheaper and faster than the commuter rail, so, much as I like trains...) I got dropped off in the financial district, and moseyed towards Quincy Hall to buy tickets for the duck tour the next day. On the way, I met Samuel Adams. (There are a whole hell of a lot of statues in Boston.)
Tickets were acquired, and I headed towards Boston Common through the the government plaza (that's city hall on the right; the picture doesn't convey how nifty the building was). Along the way, I got distracted by an exhibit at the Boston Athenaeum, a private library. It was about summers at resorts in New England during the earlier part of the century, and it was really neat. It was almost enough to make me wish I could visit that part of time for a little while, even though I probably would have been a galley wench. :)
Back outside, I wandered through the Granary Burial Ground, where the victims of the Boston Massacre are buried. So are Ben Franklin's parents.
I finally made it down to the Common, where the big attraction was the frog pond wading pool. I took off my shoes and wandered through it, seriously considering getting a locker and getting into the water, but I didn't want to spend a couple hours drying out.
I wandered across the street into Boston Garden, where the other big goal of the day waited: a swan boat ride. Along the way, I saw the world's cutest ducks. I eventually got to the front of the line, and got my turn on the boat. It was relaxing and lovely and fun to listen the kids talking about the ducks and the water and the boat and such. :)
I couldn't quite decide what I wanted to do next. I was skipping a lot of the big historic stuff because I wasn't sure what all we were doing Saturday, so I ended up at the Boston Public Library. The idea was that I'd check email and get out of the heat for a few minutes. Well, when I asked for a guest past for the computers... they gave me a library card. Allrighty, then. :) It was a stop worth making, anyhow, because the building the BPL is in (the BPL was the country's first public library, which makes my inner book geek glee) is just just gorgeous.
Back outside, I ended up walking along the Charles River for a very long time - there's a really nice greenway along the river. I saw baby geese! They were so cute.
Eventually, I realized I was getting hungry, and extracted myself from the park. I looked at the maps and figured out where I was, and headed for the first food I could find that wasn't fast food: sushi at Whole Foods. Sigh. Not exactly the local cuisine I was hoping for (I was having a massive chowder craving) but I was reaching MurderDeathKill levels on needing to eat. Shortly after, Jeff texted and said he was out of training, so I found the bus stop and got back into town, and called for the shuttle to pick me up.
For dinner that night, Jeff was jonesing on a burger, so we consulted the internets and ended up at Joe Sent Me. Jeff had a (by his report) great burger, I had a good buffalo chicken wrap, we were both happy. Back at the hotel, there was reading, and early sleep.
Saturday morning, we had tickets for the 11:00 Duck Tour, for which they wanted us there at 10:30, so we had to get fairly early. We had breakfast and got in the car and found the Alewife T station, where we parked and got on the train. Once on the train, we were informed that due to construction on the bridge, we had to get off on the side of the water we were on and be shuttled across the water on a bus. Once we got off, we decided to just walk up to the Science Museum where the tour was taking off instead of grabbing the train up. You see more when you're walking. :) Once we got there, we met the duck that we were taking. We got lined up and loaded onto the duck, and made fun of the radio station that was playing, and waited for our guide to turn up. He turned out to be a fan of flair, and I have to admit, I was skeptical at first, but he turned out to be excellent - funny and irreverent but knowledgeable and apparently in love with Boston. One of the best stories we heard was about the man who got elected to the Board of Aldermen from jail. Part of the draw of the duck tours is that you get driven all over the city, and then you get to go in the water. Jeff and I both got to drive the duck, which is when this awful picture was taken.
The tour rocked. I want to go do the Seattle one now. :)
With our tickets for the tour, we'd been given coupons for the Museum of Science cafe and store, so we obligingly ate lunch there (we were hungry, and the food was actually pretty good) and bought a couple small souvenirs (postcards to send off, and magnets for us). After wards, we talked about what we wanted to do next. We ended up walking back down to the Common so Jeff could see it, and then taking the shuttle back over to Cambridge. We ended up poking around the MIT Co-op and the MIT University Press Bookshop. We'd both packed lightly for this trip, and didn't have much in the way of luggage space, which is probably what saved us from coming home with a lot of books. However, a mug with the chemical formula for caffeine did come home with me. :) Eventually, we hoped the train back to the park and ride, and headed back to the hotel. We picked where to have dinner Friday night based strictly on proximity to the hotel, since we were both very tired (it was wicked hot this past weekend). Bertucci's was the closest non-hotel restaurant around, so we headed over. They made me a decent shrimp Caesar salad and Jeff a pretty good pizza. After wards, we went back to the hotel and read, and were both asleep by 9:00. What's vacation for if you can't catch up on sleep? :)
Sunday we headed back into Cambridge. That day, we drove, since we suspected parking wasn't going to be an issue on a Sunday. And it wasn't. Getting there, on the other hand... the Boston area is the worst place to navigate that I've ever been in. Even with maps and directions, they don't match reality, and roads change names suddenly and disappear suddenly. It was awful. But, we got there eventually. We spent some more time in the bookstore, then I asked that we find the library, so I could say I'd been in the MIT library (why, yes, I am a geek.) Funny, it didn't look that much different than any other college library. We wandered around campus some more, grabbed Jeff second lunches, and sat and looked at the maps and guide books and couldn't quite decide what we wanted to do. We were tired, hot, and didn't want to get lost again. We remembered that rhiannonstone had recommended that we hit Toscanini's, so we did (and it was very tasty. I'd never had burnt caramel before, and it was num. So was the Vietnamese iced coffee), and sat there and people watched and read for a bit, and eventually, we headed back to the hotel, where there was more reading and a repeat of Bertucci's for dinner. We both got half salads and split an Italian sausage/ricotta pizza, and it was pretty darned tasty. I packed up and got ready to go.
Monday morning, Jeff went off to training and I shipped myself off into the city on the bus. I got some hot chocolate and wandered around the waterfront for a bit. I wanted to see the aquarium, but for the $25 admission price, it wasn't worth it for the couple of hours I had (in hindsight, this would have been a good thing to do Friday). My timing was off to see an Imax movie, too. However, I eventually remembered that I was in Boston and I could go visit Teaxlue, so I did (which involved getting to walk through the Common again, which was nice. It's very pretty). I got some iced tea and bought some loose tea to bring home. Then, it was time to hop my train to the airport.
I was really, really impressed with MBTA all weekend. I'd looked at a transit map, so I knew which train I needed on the green line to get to the blue line, and from there, everything was well labeled. Getting to the airport was dead easy - you'd have to be not paying any attention at all to miss it. The blue line airport station had a flight information board, the station was right next to the airport, and they were running a shuttle bus for each terminal. Seriously, the whole thing couldn't have been easier, and cost me a whole $1.70, which was much cheaper than a taxi would have been.
Once in the airport, I walked right through security. Logan being a big airport, I had expected it to take longer. So I finally got my chowder for lunch, and then read and worked logic puzzles until it was time to get on the plane. Both flights were delayed, and I hated the airport in New York, but I still got to Raleigh mostly on time. I got unloaded and shuttled to my car and drove home.
And that was our summer vacation. :) We had a lovely time, and we want to go back - we both really liked Boston.