Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"I think I'll go to Boston..."

I had a feeling once I visited Boston, it would become my favorite (American) city.

What can I say? I know myself well.

Chicago has been in first place (San Diego might also tie) since I visited several years ago, and I've been dying to return. Well sorry, Chicago, you've just been edged out.

I loved Boston. The tree-lined streets, the history, the amazing food, the "big city" feel where strangers still offer to help you with directions; I loved every second. Which is saying a lot considering it rained approximately 66 hours of our 72 hour trip. But not even the rain could damper this trip.

Is it too soon to start planning a return trip?

Here's a way too detailed recap!


Our flight landed around midnight on Thursday, we hailed a cab to the hotel, and immediately fell right to sleep.

We had a spacious corner room on the 28th floor with a view of the entire city. The second I woke up, I could hear the rain hitting the windows. Curses. I was hoping the Weather Channel was going to be wrong!

I wanted to get outside and start exploring, which I think is the best way to orient yourself in a new city. I'm a huge nerd and love maps (thanks Dad!) and had already researched our hotel's location in relation to some of the city's sights.

I knew we were pretty close to the Public Garden, so we grabbed some coffee and ventured into the rain.

       Boston Public Library   |    Boston Marathon   |       Trinity Church       | Tortoise & Hare statues

(I must admit, I was completely improperly dressed for the rain. I have rain boots that I used to trek to class in when I was in college, but they're incredibly heavy and would've taken up my whole suitcase. I didn't want to wear my tan boots either because water does a number on leather. So what did I bring? TOMS. The most inappropriate shoe for rain - they're cloth! Ryan had quite a laughing fit watching me sit on the hotel floor trying to dry my jeans and shoes with the hair dryer. #whitegirlproblems)

We lingered around the Garden for almost an hour. I was on the hunt for the "Make Way for Ducklings" statue and had to wait almost 20 minutes for little rugrats to stop climbing on them so I could take a proper picture. Good things come to those who wait!

We were pretty hungry seeing as it was almost noon. I had researched a few cafes in the area, so we began our trek down Newbury Street. Ahh, Newbury Street.

This street may be one of the top reasons I'm so in love with Boston. My biggest complaint about big cities is the lack of green grass and trees. This tree-lined street is full of New England architecture and every shop and restaurant you can imagine.

We ducked into the adorable Trident Booksellers and Cafe for lunch and were not disappointed. I had a deluxe grilled cheese (bacon + tomato + cheese = rainy day comfort food). This was the type of place I could've spent hours in as a student studying and people-watching.

We stopped into the hotel briefly to freshen up (nearly impossible since I looked like a drowned rat at this point) and then jumped on the T (the subway) to the Sam Adams Brewery. This was a fun, informative tour, and there was so much Clemson orange at the brewery! Someone even started the Cadence Count (one of our cheers) and the whole place erupted. Pretty cool to travel all that way for a football game and see familiar faces! Our tour guide was quite funny and we even got to keep our tasting glass!

After the tour, we hopped on the party trolley to Doyle's Cafe, the oldest bar in Boston and the first ever to sell Sam Adams on tap! I highly recommend doing this after your tour; they give you a free Sam Adams glass if you show them your stamp from the brewery tour! They've filmed several movies there and every member of the Kennedy family has enjoyed a pint or two there at some point. It was also our first chance to taste real New England "clam chowdah," which Ryan was quite happy about. It was very tasty and we topped that off with an order of onion rings (soaked in Sam Adams before frying, of course). Looking back, this was the beginning of the food coma that lasted for the rest of the evening...

Ryan let me choose all the restaurants on this trip because, in his words, "I'm a foodie," and he'll "eat almost anything". I asked friends for suggestions, then I went to Yelp to do some homework. After several hours of reading reviews, I landed on Neptune Oyster for the "best lobster roll in town." The restaurant was tiny and reviewers had warned the wait could be upwards of 3 hours on a weekend night.

Even though Ryan and I weren't particularly hungry after our appetizers at Doyle's, we went to the North End (ironically, the Italian district) to put our name on the waiting list. To our surprise, the wait was only 30 minutes! But because the restaurant is so small, they take your cell phone number and call you when your table is ready. We tucked into a bar across the street to wait, and the hostess called us less than 20 minutes later!

The restaurant is really cozy inside, with creamy white subway tiles and marble tables. Because we were just a party of two, we were sharing our table with another couple! It's certainly tight quarters, so we were prepared to make friends with our neighbors!

We settled on two glasses of white wine and put our order in for two hot lobster rolls, with butter. Trust me, it was worth every last calorie. The lobster was so fresh and melted in your mouth. I didn't eat another lobster roll while we were in Boston, but I think this one would've probably been pretty hard to beat!

It wasn't even 7 pm and we had already consumed a weekend's worth of food, but we still had one last stop to make. Whenever I talked to someone who had been to Boston, the first thing they said was, "You have to go to Mike's Pastry's." At least 10 people recommended it, and while I don't have much of a sweet tooth, I figured we had to stop based on its praise alone! The bakery happened to be close to Neptune Oyster, so we stopped by before going home. The cannoli was right on par with the ones I ate in Italy! I couldn't come close to eating the whole thing since I was so full from dinner, but Ryan kindly ate it for breakfast the next morning to make sure it didn't go to waste!

After a full day of eating sightseeing, we made our way back to the hotel and crashed. A 9 pm bedtime on our first night in the city? Yeah, we're party animals.


Saturday was Gameday! We started the morning like we would any gameday in Clemson or elsewhere: dressed in orange with a mimosa in hand! The rain let up for a few hours, and we enjoyed brunch at Sonsie before heading to Chesnut Hill for the Boston College game.

The tailgating at BC is pretty much nonexistent, so the New England Clemson Alumni Club had planned an event at the only a bar near the stadium. When we got there, the line was wrapped around the building and they were only letting people inside as people left. It was almost hilarious to see the entire town invaded with orange. We were there for at least 2 hours before we ever saw a BC fan! They just don't take their football as seriously as we do down South...

My cousin and her husband live in Boston, and her sister and mom and dad were also in town for the game. We met up with them and went to the only other option in town, Applebee's. Ugh. I was a little disappointed we didn't get to enjoy the Alumni gathering, but I guess we should've gotten there early!

Our Tigers won and we headed back happily to the city for some more adventures!

Even though we don't cheer for the Red Sox, we still would've liked to catch a game at Fenway! Unfortunately, they were on the road but we knew we couldn't leave town without at least catching a glimpse of the park. I had read about the Bleacher Bar and knew that would be second-best to seeing a game. We had a few drinks, watched college football, and then walked around the park before heading to dinner.

Our friend Emmie has been working in Boston the last few weeks and texted Ryan last week to tell him that we must eat at the Island Creek Oyster Bar. Thank goodness she did, because it was certainly one of the top 5 meals I've had in my entire life. I'm not even exaggerating

From the amazingly fresh raw oysters to the cayenne honey butter they served with the bread, I was in heaven. I would happily eat that meal every day. We started out with a few selections from the raw bar (Island Creek, Moon Shoal, and Spring Creek) and they were outstanding. We followed those with a bowl of clam chowder with homemade buttermilk biscuits. Next, fried oyster sliders with a lime chile aioli. I could've bathed in that sauce, it was so divine.  Finally, we split their signature lobster roe noodes. And just to prove how delicious everything was, after we finished our entree, we ordered more sliders and oysters because we just had to have more. 

If you ever find yourself within 250 miles of this restaurant, go. You will not be disappointed.

We stumbled home blissfully full and happy from another great day in Boston.


We were a little bummed to wake up to another rainy day on Sunday. It was our last day to see the city, but we weren't interested in trying to explore the Freedom Trail and walk around Harvard's campus in the rain again. But at least we've saved some sights for a return trip!

We had a comforting lunch at Piattini, a cute little wine cafe on Newbury. We then ducked into a nearby bar to catch a few NFL games. 

Next thing we knew, it was time to make our trek to the airport. I was sad to leave, but know I'll be back as soon as possible!

Until next time, Boston!


Amy said...

So glad you had such a great time!! Aren't those cannolis to DIE for?? SO good!

And glad to hear that you liked San Diego, too! Definitely one of my favorites, and not just because I was born and raised there :)

Anna said...

Looks like so much fun, I want a vacation sooo bad so I'll live vicariously through your pictures and stories! I've surprisingly never been to Boston but it's high on my list of destinations for the next few years--glad you enjoyed it!