I am writing this entry on an Amtrak train that pulled out of Boston's South Station at 9:40 am this fine Christmas morning.
It's been a whirlwind four days of travel and adventure so far with my dearest Cay. I wish I could post pictures but I am shooting film on this trip so I won't be rewarded until after I get home and do some scanning.
We flew into Logan International on Thursday (the Winter Solstice btw) and our old friend David Ashton picked us up from the airport. David drove us up to Salem on the North Shore where he lives with his longtime boyfriend Brad Dobrein in an incredible condo that is a former gymnasium inside a school built in the 1800s.
They walked us through Old Salem at night and we had a wonderful Italian dinner across from the Hawthorne Hotel. One thing I'll never forget is seeing a three hundred year old home on Chestnut Street with three candles in each of its many windows burning bright for the holidays. It's a common sight to see electric candles lighting up windows on the East Coast but to see real ones was truly an amazing sight.
On Friday morning David took us on a nice photography tour that ended at the old harbor and the House of Seven Gables. Cay and I got some wonderful shots that will feature the rich colors that make Salem a very unique place in the States. In the afternoon the boys drove us into Boston where we stopped and had lunch at the oldest restaurant in America, the Union Oyster House. It was a dream come true for me and it was a nice little taste of Boston before we got a ride down to Brewster on Cape Cod where our old college friends Bruce and Amy Christopher live with their son Max and their daughter Sophie.
We hadn't seen Bruce and Amy for almost fifteen years and it was so great to see them settled into a rich life in their quiet neighborhood that is nearly a ghost town in the winter. We stayed up late into the night drinking heavy stouts and ales reminiscing about good times and old friends from Boulder.
Saturday morning we had some rain roll in from the west. We braved the wind, cold, and rain to have a great breakfast at the Red Cottage where we felt most at home among the locals. Bruce drove us to the bayside coast and then out to Nauset Beach on the Atlantic side where Cay and I tried our best to snap pics but I fear the rain might have ruined our attempts. We got dropped at a bus station in Hyannis and soon we were on our way back into Boston where we had reservations at a downtown hotel.
The Omni Parker House is the oldest continually operated hotel in the United States and it's famous for being the place where JFK proposed to Jackie Onassis way back when. It's an elegantly appointed hotel that is just a couple blocks away from Boston Common which makes it ideally located for touring the city.
It was already mid-afternoon by the time we got settled and went out on foot to explore our surroundings. The weather had broken and it was a breezy 52 degrees and cloudy. We walked through downtown past Faneuil Hall and then found ourselves in the North End which is the oldest residential neighborhood in the city. What a stunningly beautiful place. We decided to return for dinner but before it got dark we walked back to the hotel and on the way we spotted the outdoor market stalls of the old Haymarket which was bustling with life. Popped into an old pub called Pete's and had a couple drinks among the locals who make Boston such a treat. By the time I walked out of there I had the accent down and couldn't stop speaking with it until Cay insisted.
Saturday night after chilling in the hotel we walked back to the North End and had a wonderful dinner at G'Vannni's where we met a nice older couple sitting close to us who entertained us throughout the meal. John was a car parts salesman and his wife Mary was a mother from Carlsbad, California. I dropped down to sleep like a rock that night.
Sunday morning we woke up late and knew this was going to be our last day in the city. We were prepared for a full day's walking since we knew we wanted to walk the Freedom Trail and also see Fenway and Cambridge. We decided to start with a long walk along the Charles River to Fenway Park. It was cold and windy along the river so we cut inland to the streets of the Back Bay: Commonwealth Avenue, Newberry Street, and Boylston Street. We walked around the stadium once and then hailed a cab back to the Common where we started the Freedom Trail walk.
The Freedom Trail is a painted red line that takes you through the sites of Boston most relevant to the events that led up to the Revolutionary War. Too many sites to mention here I'll just say it was a wonderful way to see the city. We ended up in Charleston across the river where we toured the USS Constitution and walked up Bunker Hill. Hailed another cab for a ride to Harvard Square and we were amused by the taxi driver's cell phone call to the cab company's owner. It went something like this:
"Mr. Johnson! Mr. Johnson! I want to know where is my lollipop? All the others have gotten their lollipop and I'm wondering where is mine? Where is my lollipop, Mr. Johnson? It's Christmas Eve and I still haven't gotten my lollipop! Mr. Johnson?"
We could only assume he was talking about his Christmas bonus. When we were let out of the cab, Cay tipped him and told him "here was his lollipop." He loved it.
Tired and hungry, we stopped in at an old Irish Pub on Harvard Square called Tommy Doyle's where we chowed on potato skins and Irish stew. Had a couple pints of Guinness too, of course.
It was getting dark and we took one last walking tour through Harvard's campus. Caught the T train back into the city and we met up with our friends David and Brad for one last dinner before saying goodbye.
David had us go to dinner at a great Ethiopian restaurant in the South End called Addis. It was yet another charming neighborhood that we hadn't seen yet so we were thrilled. It was still and quiet there with it being Christmas Eve and it was a nice way to leave the city.
This morning we woke up early to catch the train and now we are looking forward to a full week in Manhattan. Merry Christmas! Ho ho ho!
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