Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | December 6, 2016

How’ve You Beantown: A Mini Jaunt #3


“Where’s the snow?” Thanks a lot, Caroline. Where, indeed.

What a day. What a marvellous, wonderful day – despite the snow and rain. The snow I blame on my friend Caroline, who asked where it was after I posted yesterday. It’s melted now, but there was enough to stay on the ground for a little while this morning, as I walked with my Starbucks gingerbread latte in what I thought was toward the aquarium.  Unfortunately for me, my Google maps couldn’t pinpoint where I was properly and kept telling me to turn onto streets I was already walking on. Combined with my abysmal sense of direction, I got further and further away from my destination until I finally gave up and found a cab.  The driver provided very helpful directions back to my hotel, so I did manage to make it there, but I took three times as long to get there than I did on the return.


Once there, however, it was magic. I love aquariums, and the New England Aquarium is a fantastic one.  It winds around a deep cylinder tank with thousands and thousands of gallons of water and some 1500 different species within it, if I recall correctly.  There are even turtles in it. There’s also smaller tanks to observe fish and giant octopi, plus they have a sea lion and seal tank and penguins, and a place where you can pet rays (manta and sting) and even little sharks!

Part of me just wants to post all my aquarium pictures.  Here’s a sampling. Such fun.


Underwater camera makes for great shot of this adorable ray!

There were a few school or daycare groups there, but it was actually not too crowded, so I’m glad I saved it for a weekday so I could drift around at my own pace.  Some of the kids were pretty cute, though, like the little boy who kept saying he didn’t want to touch a shark or shark egg (it still boggles my mind that some sharks lay eggs).  No one was going to make you, buddy, we promise.  I, on the other hand, took advantage of the opportunity to pet one. It had an almost prickly-feeling skin. Very unlike the rays, which the little boy did eventually pet (though I think he was a bit scared at first, then he had trouble reaching them since his arms were shorter than mine).  I pet them a lot, because I love the way they feel, like a combination of silk and velvet that is wet.  I also experimented with putting my camera underwater for the first time (it is supposed to go to 15 metres deep without a problem) in preparation for my cruise in February where I intend to take it snorkelling. I’m very pleased with the results and look forward to having a real opportunity to try it out!


Sometime I’d like to go with somebody who knows my name.

I could have stayed hours more at the Aquarium, but I was really hungry and wanted to make my way back so I could hit the Freedom Trail before dark. I stopped at a restaurant/bar called Anthem for lunch, and ordered a coffee and a grilled three cheese sandwich with the soup of the day (chicken vegetable). The food was great but the service was only okay; they didn’t seem that busy but no one ever refilled my (tiny) four dollar coffee or even asked. I still tipped because that’s just what you do in the United States, but it was 15%, not my usual. Of course, after I’d already ordered, I saw that I was across the street from Cheers, as in the television show. I didn’t stop in, because it was already past two o’clock and I still had to go back to the hotel and blow-dry my gloves which were still wet from my morning walk (and get a replacement hotel key card, since mine fell out somewhere on the way to the Aquarium it seems). I did take a picture though, and will have to stop in next time I come to Boston and grab a beer!

Thanks to the taxi driver’s instructions, I got back to my hotel in short order. Once my gloves were dry, I took a peek at what I could find on the Freedom Trail and discovered I could do a walking tour from the Boston Common if I hurried to make it there before three. I arrived with about five minutes to spare since this time, at least, I had a better sense of what I was doing, and I’m very glad I did. The walking tour (called A Walk Into History) is about 90 minutes, with lots of fun historical facts, and I really, really, really could not speak more highly of our historically-garbed tour guide, Lydia Mullikan. She was knowledgable but also enthusiastic even in weather that had her poor fingers turning red with cold, and really funny. The group was small but participated really well with the “huzzahs!” to cheer good things and the “fie!” on King George III. Her tea puns were also top notch, though I’ll let visitors steeped in those on their own.  It’s a really neat walk and definitely a fun way to learn more about Boston and its revolutionary history, one I enjoyed participating in even though I’m not American at all.

A fabulous walking tour where I learned things such as Samuel Adams had the victims of the “Boston Massacre” who were not of the same station buried next to him in his family plot, a representation of America at its best. And also about Momento Mori on the gravestones, which were bleak reminders to the living that we’re all going to die. Good times.


Boston creme pie and a fancy coffee – an excellent way to end the day in Boston.

After that, I managed to find a post office to pick up stamps, so a few friends and family members will actually get their postcards this time. (I completely failed on my Seattle trip, but this time they are already stamped and in a postbox so yay me!)  I finished my postcard over dinner in The Last Hurrah, where I wanted to check out some of the great looking cocktails.  I had an Omni Sparkler complete with an edible hibiscus flower before dinner, a Champagne Cocktail with a bitters-soaked sugar cube after my delicious plate of lamb loaf with roasted asparagus and carrots, perfectly creamy mashed potatoes and steamed spinach. I don’t normally like gravy but whatever was on it was divine and I was barely able to stop myself from licking my plate. Of course my indulgences weren’t quite done, since it is my last dinner here. I had the Boston Creme pie for dessert – which was beautiful and tasty – and threw in a fancy (alcoholic) Cork Street Coffee that was glorious. I thought about a fourth drink because vacation but thankfully managed to refrain myself before things got totally excessive.  Then it was back to the room for a hot bath to warm my bones, because even though I’m a hardy Canadian, it was very wet today and that made warming up a little more difficult. Tomorrow I head back to Ottawa mid-afternoon and I plan to just be lazy in the morning, so unless something spectacular happens between now and when I get home in the wee hours (leaving Wednesday, due in midnight-ish on Thursday morning) I’ll sign off until my next adventure… which isn’t that far away. February 23rd, so stay tuned!


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