After writing all of this, I think I ramble too much! But anyway, here is a report of our quick (too quick!) trip to Boston. Many thanks to the TA members who helped us out beforehand with some great advice!
Thurs. 06/24 Drove our rental car from Hartford to Boston - ended up parking at the Prudential Center lot which was $38/day - more than we wanted to pay, but very convenient. We were able to check in early at the Sheraton Boston. Thanks to an awesome TA tip about Hotwire, we got a great deal here. I was a little nervous that we would be put in a "bad" room since we had booked through Hotwire, but the room and everything else about the hotel was great. We unloaded our luggage and took off walking down Boylston Street - our first stop was the Central Library. Wow - what a beautiful place! We weren't there at an offical tour time, but enjoyed wondering around on our own. For lunch, we got pizza from Crazy Dough then spent a few more hours wondering around the park, Boston Common, China Town and a few other really neat neighborhoods - loved looking at all of the different housing styles. Spent a few late afternoon hours swimming and sunning at our hotel pool. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that with all the great, original restaurants in Boston, we ended up having dinner at The Cheesecake Factory! But it was storming out and we could get to it without going outside...
Fri. 06/25 Grabbed some Dunkin Donuts for breakfast than took off for Boston Common and our self-guided tour of the Freedom Trail. I thought I had read that there were some free maps/guides somewhere but we couldn't find any so just bought one at the visitor's center (only $3). We really loved the trail - I was just in awe of all of the history. I think my favorite parts were the Granary Burying Grounds and the tour of the USS Constitution. After spending about 5 hours on our feet, we were quite tired and thirsty so went in to the first restaurant we stumbled on to walking back into the North End - which happened to be Joe Tecces. We enjoyed some Italian sandwiches and cold drinks. Walked back through the Esplande - took a break and enjoyed a fresh squeezed lemonade while watching the sail boats on the Charles River and all of the preparations being done for the July 4th/Boston Pop's festivities (I'd love to be in Boston for that night!). Our feet were quite dead at this point so when we finally made it back to our hotel we just crashed for a few hours. Decided not to waste a beautiful evening though, so wondered out again and did some shopping in the beautiful Back Bay area. We had no plan for dinner but stumbled into Steve's Greek Restaurant - my husband thought his meal was really good; I wasn't quite as impressed but it definitely filled us up.
Sat. 06/26 Had to check out of our hotel - definitely wish we had more nights here! Lugged our suitcases to the car then walked to the Prudential T Station - took the T to Harvard - walked around Cambridge and had lunch at the Border Cafe which was a very yummy Mexican/Cajun place with great service and hot, homemade tortilla chips that were addictive! After lunch, we did the Hahvahd Tour with the Harvard students' Unofficial Tours group - great tour, very imformative with a lot of humor as well. After the tour, we walked around Harvard some more then took the T to the MIT stop. Saw some of their more famous architecture examples - my husband would have loved to walk around even more but my feet were done walking at this point so we took the T back to the Prudential Center and sadly drove ourselves back to Hartford for our flight home.
Some random observations:
- We were impressed with how clean Boston is.
- We did a lot (and I mean A LOT) of walking and never felt unsafe or uncomfortable.
- I was disappointed that I didn't hear hardly any of that famous Boston accent :) Guess we didn't visit the right places!
- We were surprised at the amount of foreign tourists. I can't even count how many different languages we heard, which was pretty neat.
- We thought the T was great - fast, affordable, convenient and very easy to use.
- The only thing we will for sure do differently on our next visit would be the parking situation. We will either find a way not to have a car at all, or look into parking outside of the city and taking transit in.
- Having said that, I was definitely very glad we followed the advice I got on TA and stayed at a hotel in the city. It was so nice to have our hotel close by for some rest, but to still be able to go back out each night to enjoy the city.
We had a great time and are already talking about the things we want to do on our next visit!