Always looking for an excuse to travel, Dan and I seized the opportunity to commemorate our first year of marriage with another adventure; albeit stateside this time. In true DeRose fashion, rather than wrapping up surprises for one another, we decided to replace the gift-giving tradition with a pair of plane tickets, and a week-full of memories to go with it. After all, since the first year is supposed to be a gift of paper, plane tickets were totally apropos!
Thankfully, our flexible work schedules allow us to take full advantage of off-peak travel specials so when we found cheap flights to Boston and a couple good deals on Airbnb, we quickly decided a tour of Harvard Square and Fenway Park followed by a quiet (and productive!) week-long retreat on Cape Cod would suit us just fine. After securing subs to take over my CrossFit classes, we packed our suitcases, laptops in tow, and headed out for our 8-night trip to the Northeast.
We flew into Boston Logan early afternoon on a Monday, and jumped on public transit to the center of the city. Staying right off Boston Common, we quickly became acquainted with the city’s very-present homeless population. Coming from Chicago, we are well aware of the needy among us, but the stark contrast we picked up on is that in Beantown, they were allowed to openly take over one of the city’s most renowned public parks; where they were congregated en masse that afternoon. Literally hundreds of people were camped in makeshift homes; all in front of the Massachusetts State House! We couldn’t deduce if their homeless population was greater than ours or just more centrally located, but it was a humble reminder that there are so many in need.
After checking in to our studio apartment rental, we grabbed an Uber to catch one of the last daily tours of Fenway Park, but not before grabbing an Italian sausage and an ice cream cone outside the stadium! We enjoyed an hour-long entrée into the bannered history of America’s oldest ballpark; seconded by our own Wrigley field! We sat in seats that have been in place since the 20’s, enjoyed relics of Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, and even got a chance to sit atop the Green Giant, the highest and most challenging to overcome left-field wall in Major League baseball. Clearly an event booked in favor of my husband’s interests, but I had more fun than expected!
From there, we dined at the oldest restaurant in America, Union Oyster House, in operation since 1826 and known for being the birthplace of the female waitress and boasting a specially-produced Sam Adams brew that can only be sampled on-site. After a starter of clam chowder and oysters, Dan learned the art of shelling his own lobster, while I enjoyed the lazy man’s version of the same crustacean served up in a special casserole. Both fantastic!
The next day, we revisited one of our favorite traditions developed abroad and dropped in on a free walking tour of the city. This time, we followed a generously pierced, and generously accented, fellow named Brian along the Freedom Trail and took in the history around us. It was a welcome treat to see the history come alive in one of our own American cities for a change!
We saw Paul Revere’s home, the church that Ben Franklin was baptized in, and the grave of Samuel Adams. We also saw the oldest standing brick building in the city, dating back to 1710, that originally served as a publishing house where some of our most renowned authors congregated, including the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Charles Dickens. However, this being America, it now houses a Chipotle and a frozen yogurt stand. Go figure.
When our tour graciously ended (it was a million degrees out and I was a sweaty mess), we hid in the air-conditioned haven of a North End Italian joint, the center for America’s oldest Little Italy dating to the 1630’s, and sampled the most amazing chicken parmesan. On our way home, we stopped into Mike’s Pastry, and snagged a couple cannoli to go. Let me tell you, this came in clutch later that night!
After our scheduled nap time (doesn’t everyone book this into their itineraries?) where I slept and Dan obviously worked, we headed west to get a glimpse of Cambridge, home to Harvard, MIT, and a smattering of other colleges. Did you know that with 55 in total, Boston boasts the greatest number of colleges of all our US cities? Crazy!
We walked around the post-apocolyptic-esque campus of MIT (seriously these guys could do better…aren’t they training a bunch of engineers?!), and the gorgeous tree-lined streets of Harvard. We saw students moving in and imagined what our lives would be like if Dan would have accepted his offer to join the Class of 2017 in MIT’s MBA program; an opportunity that we were considering upon his acceptance last spring. We would be getting settled into a new city as we speak! I might be grateful we’re not…
That evening, we stopped for a quick bite to eat at Carrie Nation, a speak easy, named after one of America’s original feminists, ironically famous for her anti-alcohol establishment raids in the early 20th century. After enjoying the view from the bar, we retired early and looked forward to heading to the Cape the next day.
Stay tuned for the next chapter of our adventure to the Northeast on the blog soon!