My oldest friend and I went on vacation over Labor Day. We hit 4 states in 6 days. Here are the highlights.
1. Day 1: Travel. This is what happens when you fly anywhere using Southwest. I heart Southwest, I really do, but if you're traveling across the country you can be hard-pressed to get a direct flight. And then? When you land? You're often not at the major airport. In my everyday life, this is a huge positive. On vacation in a new place full of strangers (Yankees, no less) and where one is using one's own money, this poses a bit of a challenge. Our flights were smooth but slightly delayed. We had decided to take the Amtrak from Providence to Boston. The problem was we needed to get from the airport to the train station. There was a cheap, on-the-hour bus service that we hoped to take. We arrived at approximately 5 minutes after the hour. We took a cab. The cabbie (surprise, surprise) was a crazy driver. We did get to take the scenic route so we saw a bit of the city but I wanted to kiss the filthy ground when we got to the station. Turns out he was Hungarian. Once I told him about my Hungarian pseudo-family, we was all smiles and politeness. Train ride? Ours was the only one that was delayed. And it wasn't what we expected but something we can cross that off the life list. When we got to the South Station, we took a brief cab ride to our hotel. Safe at last.
2. Day 2: Freedom Trail. What better way to start out our exploration of the city than with the Freedom Trail... The city has such a small footprint, you can pretty much wander your way throughout. I loved the history and the architecture. The weather was fantastic, too. It was fall! So many nifty places--cemeteries, churches, Paul Revere's house, the Bull & Finch (aka Cheers). As expected, I was entertained by the accent. It was especially appealing coming out of the Italians on the North End. My favorite parts of that day were probably the State House and the Public Gardens. Beauty, beauty everywhere. At the end of Day 2, we were excited because we had planned a guided tour to New Hampshire and Maine. When we pulled out our info to see what time we needed to be where, we realized that we were supposed to have called the day before to confirm. Crap. After much investigation, several bad phone numbers, and multiple long waits on hold, we were told that our tour had been cancelled.
3. Day 3: Hyannisport/Cape Cod. The other day tour that cost the same as our cancelled one (and the other one we had been trying to decide between when planning the trip), was the one to Cape Cod. On the way there we saw cranberry bogs and some quaint, sleepy little towns. We visited the JFK memorial, saw the Kennedy Compound by boat, and wandered around the little shops in Hyannisport. At the end of the day we checked out the waterfront and ate at The Black Rose.
4. Day 4: Whale watching. This was my favorite part of the trip. Hands. Down. We had been having a good time but had hit a few little snags along the way. If we hadn't seen whales, I don't think either of us would have been surprised. But we did! It was amazing. We stayed with a mother and her baby for probably about 40 minutes. We got so close to them; it was just so exciting to see. I highly, highly recommend it.
5. Day 4: Cambridge/Harvard. After whale watching, we grabbed a bite to eat in Quincy Market and went back to the hotel for a brief nap. Then we were off to get the rental car. I had heard only horror stories about driving in Boston. Frankly, it didn't seem any worse than any major city. I'm proud to say I never got honked at...I did get yelled at by a pedestrian but I yelled right back. We decided to drive to Cambridge. Harvard was beautiful. It was so Norman Rockwell. The kids didn't go back to school until after Labor Day. The air was crisp. The leaves were just starting to change to their vibrant shades of yellow and orange and red.
6. Day 4: Fenway. We didn't have time to squeeze in a game. That, and we procrastinated on buying tickets. It's a whole different baseball world there. I would have loved to have grown up in it. We did do a Fenway drive-by on our way back into the city that night. I'd still love to go inside.
7. Day 5: Salem. Ahh, Salem. Another quiet, little town. This time, though, it was one with a moral what with the whole witch trial thing. We wandered around town, saw the House of 7 Gables, and went to the Salem Witch Museum. Glad to have spent some time there as well. I have wanted to go there since high school.
8. Day 5: New Hampshire. After Salem, we drove ourselves to New Hampshire and Maine. I think it worked out well. We hadn't done any research beforehand (since our tour was supposed to be guided), but we just took the main road closest to the coast and let the wind take us where it may. We ended up at Hampton Beach. The private areas were quite pretty; the public areas were quite crowded and surprising. So many Yankees flocking to the water, their last chance before being humbled by back-to-school rituals. It felt very different, like these people don't have 700+ miles of coastline upon which to spread themselves.
9. Day 5: Maine. On up the coast to Maine. It was just like you expect Maine to be...rocky coastline, light houses, lobster. I would love to go back and spend more time there.
10. Day 6: Plymouth. We headed down to Plymouth on our way back to Providence. Plymouth was also a small, quiet town. We saw the Mayflower II, Plymouth Rock, a beautiful park. And we had breakfast at a great little cafe. Not a whole lot to see there but we thought that since we were that close, we should see the rock. The drive to Providence went smoothly. It really was a nice place to drive once you got out of the city. So much nature. I would love to go back in a few weeks when the fall color is sure to heat up.
Fantastic trip. Would definitely not mind going back.