Day 2 – Sunday, February 20th, 2011 – BOSTON
I promised Nia free breakfast at the hotel, but I was wrong. One of a million things I ended up being wrong about on this trip. At least they had coffee. And at least I had breakfast bars, and LOTS of them. So we put another type of coffee in our coffee cups, chatted with the hotel receptionists about the wind that blew scaffolding everywhere, they ohh-ed and ahh-ed over our accents, we grabbed a few Boston and Freedom Trail brochures, and headed back up to the 2nd floor to grab our luggage. We took advantage of the deals on parksleepfly.com and scored a hotel room and free 10 days parking at the hotel while we were away.
[You may be wondering, WHY did we drive to Boston? Since Nia and I are both experts at saving money we calculated that driving would be able half the cost of flying since we waited too long to purchase ticket. Anddd who doesn’t love a ROAD TRIP?!]
Our game plan for the day: explore the Freedom Trail, meet up with Caleb and tour Harvard. We checked out of the hotel, loaded up the car, and typed in the address for the Boston Common Parking Garage. But it wouldn’t be a good trip without a pit stop to Target at the start of the day. Nia failed to pack thermal underwear, and after experiencing the wind and cold the night before she quickly decided she needed more layers for Europe. We went to Target and debated over knee high vs. thigh high socks for approximately 20 minutes.
Broadway sure looked different in the daylight than it did the night before, and I’m still not convinced the GPS didn’t drive us incircles to get todowntown. But I do know one thing, I love Boston. And Nia felt like we werein an episode ofBoston Public. We parked in the Boston Common Parking Garage underground, made our way up the stairs, were nearly blown away by the wind, and thought “ok, this cold isn’t too bad, once you get used to it.” This is right about when we tightened up our scarfs, pulled on our gloves, buttoned the top buttons of our jackets and put our hoodies up. And from then on, Nia could neither see nor hear anything I did because of that hoodie.
We walked around in a few circles in Boston Common, facebooked some mobile uploads, eyed some folks ice skating, pulled out our giant “hey I’m a tourist” map snagged from the Red Roof Inn, and spotted the start of the Freedom Trail. To be honest, I couldn’t tell you a thing about the Freedom Trail or what’s on it besides a statue of Paul Revere on his horse. We were too focused on following the double red brick line to actually pay attention to any of the historical places. I did get pictures of an old cemetery, Nia standing in opposition to the donkeys, the Old City Hall, some random buildings that are probably really important, a bridge, and the monument in Charlestown. Don’t worry, I took a lot more than just 6 pictures, trust me. After following about half of the Freedom Trail (its 2 miles total throughout downtown Boston), we got a call from Caleb and decided to meet up at Mike’s Pastries. As we continued down the Freedom Trail we kept our heads up at this point, on the look out for the deliciousness that is Mike’s Pastries. We saw at least a dozen people toting fancy boxes from Mike’s and knew we were about to experience something great. A BIG taste, if you will.
And then I felt like I was in an episode of Seinfield, you know the one where Elaine is in the bakery packed out with people trying to get one of those black and white cookies. The place was packed but we managed to grab a table. After Caleb wandered around lost for a little bit he showed up as well, apparently he couldn’t remember where this place was, even though it was his suggestion! Our order: Boston Creme Puff, Chocolate Croissant, Apple Fritter, 2 cups of coffee. Caleb: “Are yall really going to eat all that?!” Yes, yes we are. The waitress loved us (probably just loved our accents) and even let Nia go back into the kitchen to use the private bathroom. She says she was almost stuck in there because the door was blocked by a giant rack of pastries on her way out.
After Nia’s VIP visit to the pastry kitchen we continued along the Freedom Trail with Caleb joining us. We breezed past all the important historical things trying to make it to the monument and the Shipyard. We crossed a big bridge and this is where we found the USS Constitution and decided we had enough time to explore it. They had some serious security screening to get into the visitor’s center and then onto the boat. You’d think we were back at the airport or something! We climbed the wrong stairs onto the boat (we were in a hurry and wasn’t sure where the right stairs were) and proceeded to go straight down into the inside levels of the boat through some velcro doors. Nia made it down and then a sailor quickly came to tell us we were not allowed down there but Nia could stay because she was already down there. So there she was, inside the USS Constitution and sailor man velcro-ed her in. Then Caleb and I were led to the front of the boat where another sailor was beginning a long spiel and intro to the tour. My phone rings, its Nia, “Where are yall?? I’m down here by myself” “We can’t get down there, he’s starting a tour and the velcro doors are shut” “What am I supposed to do?” “I don’t know” – click – next thing we know, they kicked her out and she was back on deck reunited with us, just in time for the tour to make its way back to the inside of the boat. So before we knew it, we were stuck on this guided tour that we didn’t have time for nor want to be a part of. We followed it down one more level into the boat where I tried to get Nia to cross the rope lines to test out the hammocks but the sailor didn’t let that one happen either. After everyone slowly made it down to the bottom level of the boat we realized this was our only chance to get out. We flew back up the few flights of ladders to the deck and shut the velcro door. Nia and I look around and Caleb is nowhere to be found. What are we supposed to do in the situation? Nothing other than take a Jack and Rose signature Titanic pose picture on the hull of the boat. Oh wait, there are sailors allaround and they yell at us before Nia even gets one foot onto the ledge. Thankfully Caleb appeared from within the velcro, I’m still not sure what happened, and we high-tailed our way off of that boat.
Thanks to the unwanted tour we were now short on time, we walked through Charlestown and ended at the Bunker Hill monument, still surrounded by some snow. We took more pictures in celebration of completing the Freedom Trail and booked it to the nearest T stop toride over to Harvard. Caleb is working on his PhD in some crazy statistics fieldat Harvard and gave us a tour of his movie-star college. In the courtyard Nia and I both said, “I feel just like in themovies! All these smart people walking around dressed nicely.” Caleb made up lots of interesting and not quite true facts about the school during our brief tour, but we did learn that people like to pee on the foot of the statue of John Harvard. Since it had been a long, cold day of walking so far we decided to check out Caleb’s huge dorm room (actually is about the size of a closet) to rest our feet andget warm. Caleb introduced us to a few of his friends, which I think he only did so they could hear Nia talk. They were pretty fascinated! We all grabbed some coffee at this hopping college kid hotspot and then it was time for goodbyes as we boarded the T again back to Boston Common. Thankfully Nia didn’t leave her cell phone on the metro like she did that time in DC. We then drove another thousand miles down Broadway back to the Red Roof Inn and pulled up just in time for Rob and Steven Fisher to arrive as our airport taxi! It was fun seeing Rob and Steven since we hadn’t seen them since graduation a few years ago and we are very thankful they were willing to drive us to the airport!
Here we are at the airport. We realize our adventure has barely even began even though we had already been traveling all weekend. But boy were we thankful to be rid of our giant checked luggage bags (which somehow weren’t overweight). And now its off to get strip searched. Not really, but Nia nearly did. I always make it through security in a breeze but Nia on the other hand, barely makes it through. This time through she forgot to take her laptop out of its bag. They stopped the xray belt with our stuff inside and call for special forces to come check it out. She begins to slightly freak out as a man approaches her and asks, “ma’am, is this your bag? do you have a laptop in here? may I remove it?” After they decide we weren’t trying to bring a bomb on the airplace, they let us through. We hadn’t eaten since those pastries early in the afternoon, and remember we had no breakfast, only breakfast bars. Our flight left at 8:35pm and we had some time to kill. Thats when I spotted Sbarro! I’d been craving it since we tried to eat at the one in the mall near Red Roof Inn. We had some supper, Nia skyped with Austin, I made some phone calls, we boarded the plane, and began to learn so many fun facts about Iceland thanks to IcelandAir’s ads on the tv screens prior to taking off. Did you know that the prime minister’s number is listed in the phone book? Now if that doesn’t make you want to live there, I don’t know what will! Our flight was about 5 hours from Boston to Reykjavik, Iceland and was just enough time to watch a movie and catch a few zzz’s.