I always try to post a Trip Report in hopes that I can help someone else who is planning a trip to the area and to thank those that responded to my questions on the forum. I do, however, tend to get very wordy—so be forewarned.
Husband, daughter and I left Saturday morning for Boston and arrived at our son and daughter-in-law Chestnut Hill apartment—Well, temporarily (I say that as they are moving to a 3-bedroom rental house in Newton soon – Yeah! Room for us!). We picked them up and drove to the Mary Baker Eddy Library to tour the Mapparium. (200 Massachusetts Ave.) So glad Will007 suggested this as I have a particularly fondness for maps and to be ‘inside the globe’ was a truly neat feeling. Loved the acoustics. I highly recommend this for others and the $6 admission ($4 seniors & students) was well worth it.
We arrived around 3 to check into our room at the Fairmont Battery Wharf (got the discount rate of $119 through lastminutetravel.com as suggested by Will007.(But did pay the full parking fee of $42/night-outrageous!!) I asked for a waterview and was told that we have one from the room they were giving us. We were assigned a room on the 3rd floor (because one of the floors is below street level it really was the 2nd) and was right over the Hotel’s front entrance -- the low opening windows provided a bird’s eye view of the doormen and the busy (read ‘noisy’) comings and goings of guests. And as far as the ‘waterview’: if you pressed your nose and cheek against the window and faced toward the water and squinted your eye, yeah, you could see a ‘patch’ of blue. I called the front desk and requested another room….they gave us one on the 2nd floor (really street level) and that turned out to have a perfectly fine view of the harbor with the Coast Guard Cutter and some of our fine uniformed men & women doing maneuvers. The bedroom and bathroom were spacious enough--though I really miss having a tub. The bed was extremely comfortable and made up with upgraded linens. The mini bar and food tray was stocked with some very appealing drinks/liquors/snacks and chocolates. But of course, being experienced travelers we knew better than to partake.…I always bring my own anyway. It was a squeeze to get our cheese and stuff into the fridge however. I was surprised to read that if you wanted to remove temptation, perhaps from kids traveling with you or late night sweet attacks, there was a $25 ‘removal’ fee to have them empty the fridge. Really!
I took someone’s advice in one of the TR to sign up for the President’s Club (no charge) to get free internet which was appreciated. (I often wonder why when you stay in a Day’s Inn or even a Motel 6 you often get free wireless but in a fancy hotel you have to pay for it).
We headed out walking the North End—stopped in for a drink at Durty Nellie’s—fun, lively crowd and it was interesting to walk though the lasts hours of the Farmers market. We also took this time to look for a restaurant for that evening. We decided on Cantina Italiana (as recommended on the board here), but when I went in to make reservations, I was told they were very booked for the night (being Saturday of Valentine’s weekend), they did say they could “squeeze us in – in the back at 5:30”. We decided to move on and ended up making reservations at EUNO , 119 Salem Street. (My daughter was drawn to it by the ‘Rachel Ray was here’ sign out front.) It turned out to be a wonderful choice. The ambiance and music was nice, the waiter attentive and meal selection wide and varied. The calamari and pan seared scallop appetizer were to die for. And every one of our meals, the Mushroom gnocchi, Linguine with clams, Linguine putanesca, Tagliatelle Alfredo was delicious. My husband went for the Veal chop special which was HUGE. (All the meals were in the $18-$19 range EXCEPT for the ‘special’ that was $42!! I’m always annoyed when the server does not give you prices of the meals when describing the specials --especially when they are SO much more than the average meal on the menu —one of my pet peeves—but my husband hates it when I ask them the prices as they are reciting the choices.) Three appetizers, 5 entrees and 2 bottles of wine, tax and tip set us back $290 for the night. But spending money doesn’t sting as much when you really get a good meal.
Then off we went to the Improv Asylum for the 8pm show. It was a nice vibe in the bar downstairs while waiting for the show doors to open. The stage was small and all the seats were close up (Because I ordered the tickets late, I could only get 4 “obstructed” tickets ($5 less) and 1 ‘unobstructed. I was a little nervous thinking we wouldn’t see much, but it turned out fine—the only obstruction was a thin supporting beam in the order of the stage. It was a fun time and we had more than a few laughs!
On our walk back to the hotel we conveniently passed by Mikes’ Pastry (300 Hanover St)—so of course we HAD to stop in for a cappuccino and a sweet. Wow! Delicious!! It’s a very busy place on a Saturday night, but with plenty of help on hand, the lines went quickly.
At 2:30 in the morning we were rudely awakened to the hotel fire alarm and the endlessly repeated recorded message “….to leave your room and exit the hotel until further notice”. By the time we got dressed and made our way outside following all the other very sleepy guests, we were told that we could return to our room , “…some drunk pulled the fire alarm”. Unfortunately, the ‘all-clear’ recording blasted for another 15 minutes upon return to our room.
Sunday morning my husband and I got up and walked to Chinatown – It was Chinese New Year’s, so the firecrackers were going off and the blessing of the businesses were going on. Once the kids met up with us, we had an early lunch at Penang (685-691 Washington St). Our waitress was very helpful in describing the dishes and recommended some very good appetizers: Roti Canai (crispy style pancake & curry chicken dipping sauce) and Steamed Malaysian spring roll stuffed with jicama and shrimp were delicious. All our entrées (shared by all) were all delicious. I highly recommend.
We were cutting it close for our 1pm Harpoon Brewery tour and had to rush to catch the silver line there. The Tour was definitely another high point of the weekend. For $5 a person we all tasted some really fine beer and got a souvenir glass as well. Harpoon donates all money to charity—a very nice thing indeed. We headed back to North End and decided to walk around Faneuil Hall for a bit. (After a scary scene in the subway, whereby a young man (alone) just collapsed--hard--on the platform and had a seizure. Everyone pretty much froze, but I was proud to see that some of my son’s Army training kicked in and he kept him calm and conscious till help arrived in the form of transit police, the fire department and finally medics.
We ended up at the Union Oyster House (41 Union Street) and had a nice conversation with Paul the bartender. He has 2 active duty Marine sons, so we had lots to talk about. We had 3 orders of the ½ dozen raw oyster and 2 orders of the ½ dozen grilled oysters and a Irish coffee to warm up with.
After some more wandering, we looked for an Irish pub for dinner. (If it seems like we did a lot of eating and drinking---we did! Our son is ALWAYS hungry!) We asked some locals on the street and were directed to Goody Glover’s on Salem Street. The prices were reasonable, but the food was hit and miss however. The Sheppard Pie was the only really good thing we ordered- the rest of entrees were not memorable and I actually send my beef short rib stew back as it tasted bit ‘off’. To be honest, if we had visited the bathroom (located in the basement near the kitchen) before we ordered—we probably would have just left—it just did seem to be the cleanest place around.
We parted ways with the ‘kids’ on the street outside and promised them that we would walk directly back to the hotel and not ‘get into any trouble’ Gotta love it when you get the age when the children get to worry about you for a change! We made sure the path back went by Mike’s Pastry for a cappuccino nightcap and a sweet.
A visit to Café Vittoria (294 Hanover St) was perfect on Monday morning for a cup of cappuccino. It’s a nice art-deco style café with a display of antique cappuccino machines and just a short walk away from the hotel. With that, our little weekend birthday getaway came to a close.
With my son living so close to Boston and having a spare room for us, something tells me we’ll get to know Boston quite well! I’m looking forward to the opportunity to check out some more of those wonderful North End restaurants we passed by. Thanks again for all your help and I’m sure you’ll be seeing me on the Forum again!