This was our first visit to Boston and I have to say we were very impressed. We used our air miles to supplement the cost of the trip and booked 3 nights at the Boston Park Plaza hotel. People constantly tell us that we are mad travelling long-haul for anything less than 2 weeks, so you can only imagine what we hear when we say we are heading away for only a few nights!
The hotel was in a good location, just off Arlington Street and South of Boston Public Garden, a large park area. It was not in the heart of the tourist area, but near enough to make everything accessible. The standard of accommodation was excellent, which you come to expect when visiting the States. After getting checked-in and dropping off our bags we ventured out to explore the local area. It was already 7pm, so we weren’t planning on going too far.
Apart from the Boston Massacre (1770) and the Boston Tea Party (1773), the only notable thing I could remember about Boston was that it is where the sitcom Cheers was based in the 1980’s. This was a firm favourite of mine as a kid, so we had to visit the bar…or should I say bars, as there are actually two of them. It turned out that the original bar, used for the exterior shots in the TV show, was only a short walk from the hotel in the Beacon Hill neighbourhood. The layout inside was nothing like the TV show, but we still had a nice couple of pints and some food whilst sat at the bar pretending to be Cliff and Norm (younger readers should now click this LINK), before heading back to the hotel via a couple more bars.
Day two, the Saturday, was to be our primary day for a pub crawl so as to avoid a hangover when travelling home. However, it was also the day that Michael, my brother, and his wife (Brooke) and children (Autumn, Amber and Abigail) were coming over to meet us for the day. The only solution was to take them all drinking with us! Well, that’s not totally true, although we did manage a good few beers during the day. We found the second Cheers bar in Quincy Market. This was more of a replica of the interior of the TV show, but still wasn’t anywhere near as authentic as I was hoping. After a walk to the waterfront and then lunch at Hard Rock Café (another glass for the collection), we headed down to the Samuel Adams Brewery Tour.
The Boston metro, known as the ‘T’, was very easy to navigate and the trip from Haymarket to Stony Brook took only 20 minutes. In comparison, finding the entrance to the Brewery Tour took us nearly as long even though it was under half a mile. Once found, we managed to get on the last tour of the day and it was totally free of charge. The tour itself wasn’t overly technical or lengthy. Our host was very funny and seemed equally as eager to get to the tasting room as his guests. The tasting room was brilliant, with each table of 8 receiving pitchers of three different beers that the brewery produces. Then we were told that we could collect our complimentary pint glass from the nearby pub by boarding the free shuttle bus. This was in fact a full-on party bus, with limousine style seating, disco lights and the tunes turned way up. After some food, more beers and collecting our pint glasses, we headed back into the heart of Boston, to the Christmas market, before saying goodbye to our American family (thanks for joining us guys, it was a fun day).
On the Sunday, we headed over to the Harvard University campus area and, after a brief stroll around, we decided to hit our first bar and grab some brunch. The bar of choice was the Grafton Street Pub & Grill and I tried my first proper Corned Beef Hash. This was nothing like the mushed up crap we get served in the UK, it was proper beef and was totally amazing…I’m a convert. Next up, I suggested a dive bar called Charlie’s Kitchen. I truly wish we hadn’t! It was a version of the typical American diner stereotype, but with one added extra…a totally hammered woman sat next to us at the bar. Conversation was started and when she asked what we did for a living, I used my stock answer of “I’m in IT” and I instantly became her best friend. She must have been 20 stone, with more rolls than Cadbury’s and a rather fetching bogie hanging out of one nostril. She offered to join us for the day and give us a tour of Boston’s bars, so to avoid this fate we necked our pints, paid our tab and legged it. When I say legged it, I literally grabbed Amanda by her arm as we hit the sidewalk and ran around the corner, using my best escape and evasion techniques, to ensure we weren’t followed! The remainder of the afternoon was much more sedate and we steadily got drunk whilst laughing about our close encounter. You have to love bar life experiences.
After a morning of shopping and lunch at the Atlantic Fish Company, which is highly recommended, we returned to the hotel, collected our luggage and started the journey home. It may have only been a 3 night trip on this occasion, but we thoroughly enjoyed Boston, meeting up with our American family and creating more memories (plus a Charlie’s Kitchen nightmare). Boston is so lovely. We described it as a nicer, friendlier, cleaner version of New York, without as many iconic landmarks and tourist attractions. If you can only go to one place in the North East of America, then I’m sure most people would choose New York, but please do not discount Boston when making that decision.
Next up on our travel calendar is Thailand in late February 2018.