Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Great Escape....part 3. Yay!

Ok, for the final leg of our trip.  When I left off in Tuesday's post, we had crashed at out B&B in Salem on Friday night.  Saturday morning we got up pretty early and drove the 10 minute drive to Marblehead.  This is the view from the harbour.  Just splendid!  All of the colorful sails on the sailboats.  We loved watching how all the boats just "dance" around each other and manage not to run into one another!

Taking all of these pics also made me realize my need for a telephoto lense!!!  If anyone is looking to sell one, let me know!!!  I'm in the market for a used one in excellent condition.  I have a Canon Rebel.

After admiring the fantastic view, we walked to a little restaurant that I had read about in our guide book (Frommers).  It was called The Driftwood.  It was a hole in the wall and it was GREAT!  We had 2 things for breakfast.  1st New England Fried Dough.  We had seen this on several menus and were perplexed by it....of course, we had to have it!  I wish I had taken a pic but we devoured it before I could pull out the camera.....It was a plain yeast dough that had been cut with a biscuit cutter.  So, when it was fried, it puffed up and out on the sides....so, it was like a yeast doughnut without the hole in the middle.  It was served with butter, maple syrup and powdered sugar.  Yummy:)  2nd course was Hash with eggs (over-easy, please).  We both ordered it....we could have and should have split one.  It was really, really good.

After that fine breakfast, it was decided that we needed to walk....a lot.  So, we started walking and marveled at all of the great houses.  This was one of my favorites.  I just love a yellow house:)

Pretty soon, we came up on this little cove.

Then, we noticed the plaque.
Pretty neat!

We kept walking and saw this sign.

This is what is left of the fort.
What a great view!
After walking around the fort, Matt looked at me and told me that he thought it was a good location for a fort.  I'm glad he approves;)

Our pic in Marblehead!

After our morning in Marblehead, we headed back to Salem for our city trolley tour.  If you couldn't already tell, we love a trolley tour!  Once again, it was a "hop on and hop off" tour.  The weather was perfectly sunny and crisp and it was a perfect morning and afternoon to spend outdoors.  So, we saw a few of the sights in Salem.  I was pleased with the city tour.  I was not pleased with the Salem Witch Museum.  It had gotten mixed reviews in the guide book but it did say that it was the most visited museum in Salem.  So, I decided to just do it.  It was a huge disappointment!  Next time we are up there we will definitely do the walking history tour provided by the National Parks Service. 

Now, for a few of the sights.
This is the oldest burying ground in Salem.
This is the Salem Witch Trials Memorial.
This is a replica of the ship Friendship.  It serves as an example of the ships that were used during the time of the founding of the city of Salem.

This is the famous grim statue of Roger Conant (alias "The Puritan).  Although its usually thought to represent the grim severity of Puritanism, Roger Conant was actually one of the good guys of early Salem.  He provided an example of courage and perserverance even with all of the difficulties of the young colony. This statue is right next to Salem Common which is a beautiful park in dowtown Salem.

Because it was SOOO bright, you can't really see what I wanted to show in this pic.  But, if you can tell the house is yellow but the chimneys are white.  Apparently, if you had your chimney painted white in the latter part of the 18th century, it meant you were a Tory...aka, supporter of the Crown and not the Revolutionists.  The peeps that had this house back then were Tories and the current owners have kept the chimneys white to give everyone a little history lesson.  How nice.  Anyway, back when the British were invading the colonies during our fight for independence, the Tories had the white chimneys to alert the British soldiers that they were supporters of the Crown....this was to keep the Brits from burning down their houses.  Unfortunately, the Revolutionists caught on to their little game and most of those peeps had their houses looted and burned.

Another neat little thing we noticed.  All of the historic homes in Salem and Marblehead had these little plaques.  We just thought it was so cool that the research had been done to show who the home was originally built for and that persons occupation and the year in which it was built.  Really cool.  The first is the plaque on our B&B.



We had a great time in Salem but Saturday afternoon, it was time to start wrapping up our adventure.  We had to drop off our rental car before our flight home on Sunday morning.  So, we decided to drive back to the airport and return it and get a room at the Hilton that is connected to the airport.  Smart move.  Because we had such an early return flight, it was nice to not have to deal with returning the car Sunday morning and then going through security and making our flight on time.  We dropped off the car, the Enterprise shuttle dropped us off at the Hilton, we checked in and then took the T (subway) back to the city for the afternoon and evening.  Of course, first order of business was a snack. 

We headed straight back for this heavenly item.

After our snack, we decided to walk a little more of the Freedom Trail and we ended up back in the Northend.  The Paul Revere House was our destination.  We had passed by earlier in the week, but this time, we decided to take the tour.


After viewing the Paul Revere abode, we decided to take the Harbor Cruise that was included in the price of our city trolley tour.  It was a 45 minute cruise around Boston Harbor.  A neat and different way to view the city.  It was narrarated and we enjoyed just relaxing and enjoying the water.

This was our view of the city from our boat.

After the cruise we started walking around again and noticed people carrying these boxes around.  Hummm.  Well, of course I googled it.  I discovered that Mike's Pastry, located in the Northend, has quite the cannoli business.  Matt had never had a cannoli, so, of course, we had to get a couple!


We waited about 30 minutes to get these beauties.  The line was all the way down the block!
I decided that traditional was the best choice.  One pistacio, one chocolate chip.

We sat down on a bench and enjoyed our cannoli and the view.  The cherry trees had just started to bloom.
And there were tulips everywhere!

Our next thought was supper.  I pulled out the trusty Frommers.  We knew we wanted to eat in the Northend again and I looked under the "Inexpensive" section in that part of town.  This was the first of 3 suggestions.  The Daily Catch.  We decided to do a "walk by" and check it out.  Before we got to the block it was on we could smell the garlic.  Then, we got to the front of the place and there was already a line of 15 people.  Then, we looked in the restaurant and saw that there were only 6 tables.  6.  Maximum capacity, 24 peeps.  And it was a tight squeeze.  We decided to get in line and wait....and wait.  A little over an hour later we made it in and were sat at a table for 6 with 2 other couples that didn't know each other.  So, there were 3 couples that didn't know each other all sitting together.  NEAT!  Of course, we were put in the middle of the table. 

Here are a couple of pics to give you a visual on how tiny this place is.....here is the cook, right behind our table.  We could watch him rolling out pasta, chopping garlic, everything.  It was amazing.
This is a pic of the guy washing dishes, right behind our table.  There were only 3 staffers, cook, dishwasher, waiter.  That's it.

Now, for what we ordered.  The house specialty is calamari.  They do it 3 ways, fried in rings, stuffed with garlic and breadcrumbs and sauteed in white wine and ground up and made into squid meatballs.  We went with the fried....not because we weren't feeling adventurous but because we just really like fried calamari.

Next, came the mussells.  Amazing.  Very simply prepared with butter, wine, garlic and parsley.
The shrimp scampi.

Our cute seat neighbors ordered the same appetizers as us.  But they also ordered 3 entrees.  It was fun to watch them all come out!  First was the black pasta...made with squid ink.  Yummy!  I had squid ink pasta our first night in Boston.
This was the sauteed cod with fresh breadcrumbs.  It looked sooooo good!
They also ordered the swordfish.  I missed getting a pic of that dish.  Oh, well.  It was so funny to watch all of their dishes keep coming out!  The waiter just stacked them all on top of each other.
Speaking of our seatmates....we had the best time chatting with them.  I couldn't not sit that close to someone and not chat a bit;)  Their names are Omar and Zdenka.  Omar is a film maker and Zdenka writes fiction.  Check out her blog, tampagirl.wordpress.com  Its a really fun read!  I wish we had a pic of all of us crammed in that tiny space!!!
So, that great meal concluded our amazing trip to New England.  We saw a lot, did a lot, but not too much.  Matt and I have a great travel pace and really enjoy exploring together.  I am so thankful that we had this time to be together and to remember that WE are important!  Our relationship with God and with each other are the foundation of our marriage and its very important that we take the time to focus on each other and our relationship. 

I'll sign off with one of the prayers that was read by family and friends at our wedding.
"Give them wisdom and devotion in the ordering of their common life, that each  may to be to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a companion in joy. Amen"
-Book of Common Prayer, according to the use of The Episcopal Church


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Great Escape, part 2

Ok, part 2 of our trip.  After eating pizza for lunch on Wednesday, we had to decide what to do for the rest of the day.  We knew that we wanted to go see a Red Sox game and it started at 7:10pm, so we had a few hours to kill before we needed to be at Fenway.  We decided that in the meantime, we would head in that direction and spend some in Cambridge.  So, after about a 15 minute subway ride, we were walking around in Harvard Square.  It was a gorgeous day.
I found it interesting that there were ropes around all of the grassy areas.  I wonder why?
There were some students and professors building a wigwam.  Of course we wondered what that was all about.  So, we read that little plaque near their "construction zone" and saw that they were building it to honor the 360th anniversary of the 1650 Harvard Charter that dedicated Harvard, "to the education of English and Indian youth of this country in knowledge."

So, after walking around the University for a while, we walked a couple of streets and did a little shopping.  After our little jaunt in Cambridge, we hopped back on the subway and rode to Back Bay, home of the world-famous Filene's Basement.  I have experienced Filene's before in NYC.  The store in Boston is the flagship and I had to go have a look-see.  I liked what I saw.  I made 1 little purchase and we were on our way again.  Destination: Fenway Park

Now, Matt and I aren't really sports peeps.  Well, we like football.  But not just any football.....we only like SEC football.  We don't follow any professional teams....at all.  Now, Matt may watch the last few minutes of the Final Four or the World Series, Olympic Events and other major sporting events like these, but only because men are just "supposed to know" those scores and who won and all those details.  I digress....I have never been to a Major League game before and Matt had only been to a couple of Braves games.  And, since we were in Boston and we are all about new experiences, we knew we HAD to go to Fenway Park and see a Red Sox game.  Its just part of the Boston experience!  

I must say, coming from non-sports peeps (SEC football excluded), this was one exciting ordeal!  We had done a little research and knew that we needed to arrive at the park about an hour before the game.  So, we get there and go straight to the ticket sales/will call box office.  Matt had read on the Sox website that they have an inexpensive block of tickets for around $25.  That's what we wanted to spend because, well, since we aren't baseball fanatics, we just thought we would go to the game, eat our hotdog, drink a beer and leave, just so we could say we went to Fenway and be done with it.  We quickly found out that our price of admission was going to be MUCH higher.  Around $52 each.  The ticket sales guy said that they were great seats and that this was a great price for those seats.  We didn't believe him:(  

Until, we got to our seats....
 
Ummm, we were right behind home plate.  Only 2 sections above it....we had prime seats.  How did that happen?
Well, we found out a little later, from our kind seat neighbors, that each visiting team is given a block of tickets.  If the players don't use reserve them by 2pm of game day then they are released at a VERY reasonable price.  So, we were sitting in the comp section for visiting teams family and friends.  Very cool.  It was really cool when right across and two row down from our seats I noticed something winking at me.....I realized it was a big ole' diamond ring...I don't think it was a CZ.....then I noticed that the gal whose hand it was resting on was extremely jittery.  Her knees were bouncing up and down so fast that I thought she was going to take off!  Then, she started covering her face with her hands and using lots of dramatic hand gestures.  Then, I noticed the hair....it was big and blond....the face, cute but not pretty.  Bingo-she was the wife of the Texas Rangers' pitcher.  I wish I had taken a pic!

Here is a pic of us beside our seats at the game.  It was taken by the Japanese tourists sitting in front of us....they were confused by the camera.  They didn't understand that they had to look into the view finder...its not like a digital camera, they just didn't get it.  I'm just glad our heads made it into this one.
 
And here we are again with a background view of the Big Green Monster.  I had no idea what that even was...

Our concession stand supper...



We had a great night at Fenway.  We left the game at the bottom of the 7th, right after the whole stadium sang, "Take me out to the ballgame".  It was great fun:)  I loved my first experience at a Major League game and it was really neat to go to the oldest Major League park in the country.  Did you know that on the day that Fenway Park was opened that the Titanic sank?  The announcement on the sinking of Titanic was the first broadcast announcement at Fenway.

The next day was Thursday and we were leaving the city and headed north to Maine.  I had made us a rental car reservation a couple of months before, so, we had to go back to the airport to pick it up.  It couldn't have been an easier process.  One thing that made it so easy is that 1. there is a subway stop at the airport, 2. there are FREE shuttles that pick you up 24 hours a day at any terminal and take you to that subway stop.  The shuttles will also pick you up 24 hours a day at the subway stop and take you to any terminal for your return flight...Very conveinent.  So, we hopped back on the subway and rode it to the airport stop, hopped on a shuttle to get to a terminal and then waiting for a rental car shuttle to pick us up and take us to the Enterprise lot at the airport.  The whole process, subway ride to arriving at the lot, took less than 30 minutes.  It was GREAT!

So, we hopped in our rental car, plugged in our GPS, pulled out our map and headed out!  BTW, yes, you read that right....my husband uses a GPS and a map.  He likes the technology of the GPS....but the true purpose of the GPS, in our household, is a little game called, "let's see if Matt can beat the GPS".  It gets exhausting.  First, he reads the map and decides which route we are taking and studies this throroughly on the map.  Then, he folds the map in such a way that its easy for him to reference periodically in the car.  Then, he plugs in our destination on the GPS.  Then, he puts in the accent he wants....he really wanted  to listen to a New England accent but that wasn't an option.  And so our journey begins.  We head north, but not in the direction that the GPS would like us to travel.  This begins a little competition between the GPS and my husband.  It drives me a little crazy but I secretly think its really cute how he wants to outsmart the GPS. 

Our first destination was Freeport, Maine.  Home of LL Bean.  Our goal was to see the flagship (and only) store and to eat lobster for lunch while looking at nice scenery.  We saw the store, it was massive.  I was able to pick up 3 of my staple 3/4 length sleeve cotton shirts.  Matt bought a new jacket.  It was neat to browse around in there for a while.  Then, it was time for lunch.  We wanted to go to the Haraseeket Lunch and Lobster.  We drove there and then discovered that it doesn't open until the "season" begins...in May.  Talk about disappointed!  So, we whipped out the trusty guide book (Frommers) and decided on the Jameson Tavern.  Its known as the "birthplace" of Maine.  And, technically, it is because in 1820, papers were signed there that legally seperated Maine from Massachusetts.  We were going to eat in the Tap Room but since it was such a lovely day, we decided to eat outside.  It was so nice!  I had the lobster stew and it was some kind of wonderful!  Matt had the rueben because he loves a rueben.  And, he said it was a good rueben but wishes he had gotten the lobster stew:)  I let him have some of mine because I'm a sweet wife.

After lunch, we got back in the car and drove to Portland which is Maine's largest city.  It didn't seem that large to us.  But, it was a great city.  Lots of small town charm with big city appeal.  One thing that stuck out was that there wasn't a chain or big box retail establishment ANYWHERE close to downtown.  We thought it was very cool.  Its a city of small businesses and they have set it up so that they can survive and thrive.  We drove around and got a good feel for the city, checked into our room and then headed to the waterfront.  There were tons of restaurants, pubs, shops, etc.  We went to a pub called "Gritty's", had a couple of local beers and decided what to do for supper.  We knew we wanted lobster and not fancy lobster.  We wanted to go to a place that just felt "local".  Well, we asked out waitress at the pub where she would go under those circumstances.  She reccomended J's Oyster House.  We walked to J's.  We walked in, sat ourselves and waited.  After about 10 minutes, the waitress came over.  She was running all 10 tables by herself.  I kind of felt bad for her, so we made it easy.  We ordered our beers and lobster all at once.  She liked us right away. 

After about 15 minutes she brought us 2 of these...
Pic quality not that great because I took it with my camera phone.  That small bowl of murkey stuff is actually warm clam broth.  Apparently, you have to give your steamers a bath before you can eat them because they are a little gritty.
It was heavenly.  I had never had steamers (clams) before and they were pretty good.  But, of course, the lobster took center stage.

After our supper we wanted a little bite of something sweet and we drove by this building and after reading the name, I told Matt to turn around because that restaurant was written up in Gourmet Magazine and had been on Food Network. 
Becky's Diner
So, we decided to give it a try for dessert.  I have always been intrigued by the Whoopie Pie.  The chocolate cake part looks so yummy but I have never known what kind of filling that white stuff really was.....I imagined a marshmellowy goodness ooozing out of the sides.  Not the case with this Whoopie Pie.  The cake part was ok, it needed salt.  But, the filling just wasn't appealing...to me at least.  It was more like a buttercream.  Not what I had in mind, but, it was still ok.  Here is a pic. 

The Whoopie Pie


After our dessert, we headed back to our room and settled in for the night.  Friday morning we left before breakfast was served at our Bed and Breakfast because we were headed to a private lake in Wakefield, New Hampshire.  Why New Hampshire you ask?  Well, Matt's family has some hunting friends that live in Topsfield, Massachusetts but they have a lake place in New Hampshire.  And my goodness, its quite a place!  Jack and his lovely wife Ann graciously hosted us for breakfast Friday morning.  Now, Jack is quite the cook, at least that is the word from all the menfolk down at the hunting camp.  I have been hearing this rumor for years about these crepes that Jack whips up and cooks in a cast iron skillet.  Well, guess what we had for breakfast....that's right, homemade crepes.  And they were some kinda' wonderful.

Nice shot, honey.
There were lots of fillings to choose from...I had a hard time deciding because I couldn't choose between sweet or savory.  I decided on both.  I filled mine with a piece of bacon and then topped it with a little maple syrup.  Amazing! 

Here is a pic of the amazing view from their house.  I wish we had more pics but it seems that Matt was more concerned with photographing Jack's game room and workshop than of the beautiful scenery;)
Jack and Ann have a beautiful place and we look forward to returning!!! 

After breakfast, we headed back to Massachusetts to see a few more sights.  Our first stop was in Lexington.  For all of you history buffs out there, you will know that on April 19, 1775, the first shots of the American Revolution were fired.  Minute Man National Historical Park was our destination.


Pretty neat stuff.  The park has a great visitor center with some nice exhibits and a film.  It was nice to see where the actual combative "fight" for our Independence began.  Just a few miles from Lexington is the town of Concord.  Now, I think most of you know that I'm a reader.  Its not just a hobby, its a passion.  I have been really excited about coming to Concord because one of my favorite authors was from Concord and is buried there as well.  Louisa May Alcott's most famous novel, Little Women, is based loosely on her and her sisters' lives growing up in Orchard House, located in Concord.
 
My pics of the house didn't turn out:(  I think I was having a flash issue.
But, I was there and that's what mattered to me....I just wanted to see what inspired the novel.

After Orchard House, we went down the road to...


Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.  A little morbid?  Yes, but still very interesting.  After walking around the cemetery, we started walking up the little hill and we saw a sign for "Authors Ridge". 


So, we kept climbing up the hill until we saw these....




You can't see this one very well but its Ralph Waldo Emerson.

All the Transcendentalists resting together.  It was nice.

After Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, we drove to downtown Concord and walked around, window shopped and ate a snack.  Then, it was time to hit the road again.  On to Salem!

We checked into our great little Bed and Breakfast, the Amelia Peyson House.
 

After checking in, we drove around Salem and got our bearings and then drove back to the B&B and parked the car and took off walking. 
We ended up at the Salem BeerWorks and sampled some local brew.  They even had some that had blueberries floating in it! Then, we met up with a couple more of Matt's hunting buddies that were kind enough to drive over from Topsfield and eat supper with us.  I don't have any pics but it was a fun night!  We ate supper at Capt's on the waterfront.  Matt and I of course had lobster....again.  And beer, lots of beer.

I will hopefully finish up with part 3 tomorrow!  I have had a Bubba that doesn't feel so great:(  But, I know that with some TLC, he will be feeling better in no time.