Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Boston: Trip report 12.3.14 to 12.7.14

Right after our recent Las Vegas trip, I flew out to Boston for a work trip. Since I do not usually travel for work, this was a pretty exciting thing to have come up. And since I had never been to Boston before, and it was not a lot of trouble, I was excited to add days to the trip and stay for the weekend. John was able to come as well and joined me on Thursday night for the weekend.

So I departed MSP bright and early at 7am on December 3rd. I only had a few hours at home to switch suitcases, go to bed and get up bright and early for my taxi ride to the airport. I was a bit nervous that the taxi would not show up, but it was in my driveway right on time. (I had made a reservation online the night before.) Traffic was very light and the taxi cost about $60 with tip. I'd always wondered how much a taxi to the airport would cost and now I know. The security lines were pretty short and I got through quickly. Ike's was not open yet and I wandered over to French Meadow Bakery planning to go through the quick service line. As I wandered by a server at the bar said she could wait on me with the same food for the same price so I sat down. I was so tired!

classic egg breakfast
I scored an exit row all to myself (for free) and I might have managed to sleep a bit on the rather empty plane as I arrived in Boston around noon feeling somewhat refreshed. I took a taxi to the hotel and dropped my bags and crossed the street to the office. The cab driver was very nice and made sure to point out exactly where both of my destinations were.

We went over to the food court at Faneuil Hall for lunch shortly after I arrived with coworkers. I had a meatball sandwich, but forgot to take a photo of it. The food court at Fanueil Hall was great- very large with lots of choices, though the prices seemed a bit on the expensive side. I guess it is a tourist hotspot in the summertime
After work, I checked in at the Langham Boston. It is an older hotel, but very nice. I was very impressed throughout my stay with the politeness and professionalism of the staff. They were aways willing to accommodate any requests it seemed. The hotel even had robes and slippers in the room for guest use, which I love.
old school, but nice room

nightlight with a switch, how cool!
We had a work holiday party that night, so we all headed over to the Hilton a couple blocks away after I checked into the Langham. It was a very nice party with lots of food and beverages, but I found myself talking more than eating, so after we left I was starving. We ended up at a bar/restaurant called Anthem Bar and ordered drinks and some appetizers.

Prosciutto flatbread pizza
Thursday morning we went to a diner near the office to pick up breakfast.  I think it was called Scali Deli. There were lots of these little delis around downtown actually. And we went back to Fanueil Hall for lunch. This time I tried some seafood from Boston & Maine Fish company.

peel and eat shrimp, quite good
view from office conference room we were stationed in
Fanuiel hall Christmas tree
Thursday night the four of us from Minneapolis were on our own for dinner. So of course we ended up over at Fanueil Hall again. We had dinner at Durgin Park. They menu had a nice variety and the meat case in the window caught my eye.
prime rib
The food was average at best. I ordered my prime rib medium at the waitresses recommendation and it came out looking pretty well done. Afterwards we ended up at some bar called Clarke's just off Faneuil Hall and John met us there once he arrived.
great drinks at Bond Bar at the Langham hotel- the room was amazing too, lots of chandeliers

Friday I was on PTO, so John and I were free to do our own thing all day. We also had to switch hotels, since I could no longer stay on the company dime. I had booked the Hilton a couple blocks away, using points, so we just walked out bags over there. we were able to check in right away and we were given a two room suite as an upgrade. Very nice!
living room

exterior of Hilton hotel

After checking in, we took a taxi to South Street Diner. It was not that far and we probably could have walked there, but we had no idea where we were going. It was a real diner too, with a few booths and a long counter for seating.

I'm not sure why, but everywhere we went in Boston for breakfast only offered breakfast potatoes and not hash browns. Hash browns are not available it seems. I wonder why this is? A regional thing? Do Bostonians only like their potatoes in larger pieces?  Regardless, the food arrived quickly and was quite good.
diner special
burger and fries

South Street diner exterior

After breakfast, we decided to do the Freedom Trail walk. We took the train to Boston Common to start, bought a guidebook and did most of the walk, except for going to see the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill monument.
Granary Burying Ground where Samuel Adams, John Adams and Paul Revere are buried
Paul Revere's house

The walk was pretty interesting and we got a lot of steps on our fitbits for the day! We went back to the hotel to rest a bit and change clothes and walked over to Legal Seafoods for dinner.
clam chowder

John with lobster and bib
me with lobster and bib

Legal Seafoods was really good. The food was all excellent and the service was good as well. I wondered if it was too touristy, but people at work said it is good quality, so we should go if we wanted to. The lobster was quite inexpensive, $29.95 each and it included two sides. You can't get it at the price in Minnesota!

After dinner we took a taxi to Harpoon Brewery at the Boston Seaport. It was a really nice taproom and a larger brewery than we anticipated.
flight of beer

The weather was rainy, so we took a taxi closer to the hotel and ended up at a bar called Warehouse. We realized after looking at the menu it has some sort of Dave Matthews Band theme going on, though they were not playing any Dave Matthews music. We just picked it because they had lots of TVs with football games on and it was close to the hotel.
can cozy

I don't think we stayed out that late as we were tired from all of the walking earlier in the day.

Saturday morning we took at taxi to Mike's City Diner for breakfast. They had only breakfast potatoes here as well, though they called them home fries. I was surprised to see they had grits on the menu, so I gave those a try and they were decent.

two eggs with home fries
two eggs with grits
It was pouring rain off and on all day Saturday. We decided to go to Prudential center and do a Duck Boat tour. As cheesy as it sounds, the tour was actually really awesome and the guide/driver was hilarious. We drove past a lot of the Freedom Trail sites and some additional sites and then a short boat ride in the river. I'd highly recommend the Boston Duck Boats actually. It is a good way to see a lot of things in a short amount of time.
outside of Duck
inside the Duck
view from the river

After the Duck tour, we went next door to the Convention center and went through the Craft Boston Holiday show. I'd call it an art show, and I found some really cute blown glass Christmas ornaments to bring home.

We took the train over toward Fenway Park and had lunch at Sweet Cheeks BBQ, a restaurant owned by Tiffani Faison, a former Top Chef contestant.

lemonade and tea
big cheeks tray with beans, cole slaw, pork belly, beef brisket
big cheeks tray with pork ribs, burnt ends, cole slaw, collard greens
The food was all quite good, although I did not care for the beans very much as there were a lot of kidney beans in it. The slaw was kind of a rough chop style of slaw. The sauces were interesting; one was a spicy vinegar sauce, one was more sweet and the last one was blazing hot. The meats were all very tender and had some good smoke flavor.
Fenway Park

We wandered around by Fenway a bit after lunch and headed back to the hotel to rest a bit. There were lots of people on Holiday bar crawls all over town, so it made for some interesting people watching.

 Had a couple good drinks at a place by the hotel called the Bostonia Public House.

Then we walked over to the North End and slowly made our way, in the rain, to Neptune Oyster. the wait was quoted at 2 hours, but I think we only waited about 90 minutes. We ended up waiting at a bar across the street. The restaurant is small, I think I counted 40 seats. I guess it is debatably one of the best seafood restaurants in town, and I would have to agree.

fresh oysters, wellfleet, beausoleil and kumamoto
warm lobster roll and fries
scallops with Brussels sprouts and Maytag blue cheese

I'm not usually into oysters, but I tried a couple at Neptune and they were very good. The scallops were excellent and so were the Brussels sprouts, there was just a lot of food! The quarters are a bit crowded in the restaurant, but it was worth it for the quality of the seafood. The service was what I would call efficient, they were just trying to turn tables, so not a lot of extra time for chatter.

Sunday morning we had some extra time before we had to check out of the hotel and go to the airport, so we had a breakfast of Dunkin Donuts and went to the Boston Tea Party Museum. The tour was quite interactive, with costumed guides. A major highlight of the tour was when you went on the replica boats and kids got to toss the "tea" into the bay.

Boston tea Party Museum complex
After the tour, we went to Joe's American for lunch. It was within walking distance from our hotel. the service was OK, but we found the food to be excellent. This would be a great place to visit in the summertime as it looked like they had a nice large patio overlooking the waterfront.
fish sandwich and fires for me
fish and chips for John 

After lunch we walked back to the hotel, got our bags and took a taxi to the airport, which only took 10 minutes or so and we toured the airport a bit before settling down to wait. I got a piece of Key Lime Pie from the Legal Test Kitchen to eat on the plane and it was quite good.  Our flight home was a few minutes late in departing as the arriving flight was late, but we arrived home at about the time we were scheduled to arrive.

Overall, we had a great time in Boston. I'd like to go back in the spring or summer or anytime the weather is a bit warmer and less rainy!