That’s me mimicking the accent…get it?
Let me tell you about my time in Boston…
I went to visit my friend Alex, with whom I’ve been friends since high school. We also did lots of community theatre together, the pinnacle of which was our production of “1776” in 2002. It was really good. We’ve been pals a long time and I was glad to see him and his wife Sandy, in Boston.
I arrived late Tuesday afternoon and that night we went to a pub to play trivia. They play fairly regularly and it was a lot of fun. It was a different trivia format than I’m used to and it required more strategy than other games I’ve played. Highlights of our game were that I knew Greg Kinnear was the first Talk Soup Host on E!, that the largest cattle farm is in Australia, and that Albert Finney was the original Scrooge and Daddy Warbucks. Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I ended up talking myself out of that last answer and we put down someone else. Darn it Albert Finney!!
Wednesday was Freedom Trail day. The Freedom Trail walks you past all the big ticket historical sites in Boston. (Interesting side note is that Alex said he had a conversation with someone doing research on the original Freedom Trail – over time certain businesses have lobbied for the trail to go by their front door.) I love the Freedom Trail. I love self paced walking tours, I really love walking as a method of transportation. I love to look at stuff and people and store windows and menus hanging outside restaurants. I have been to Boston four times and each time I have walked the Freedom Trail. I embrace tourism.
The trail takes you past several cemetaries and I was more interested in those on this trip. I really wanted to see the gravestones of Paul Revere and Sam Adams and other historic figures. And I did. The old cemetaries are so full of history and stories. I liked walking through them. I also loved the North End, which is Boston’s Italian neighborhood. Sadly I never got the chance to eat in that neighborhood. I’ll be back just for a Boston eating tour, as I never got a lobster either. I did get a cupcake in the North End and just stared at all the other amazing pastries in the shops. The Charlestowne neighborhood that bordered Bunker Hill was also really beautiful. It was full of charming brick row houses and I think I would like to live there.
After we completed the complete trail, we stopped at a grocery store to pick up some groceries for dinner. I convinced him to let me make he and Sandy dinner. I thought it was a nice offer as a guest, Alex couldn’t believe he lost that argument. Cooking is what I’m good at – this is what I do!! I made Chicken Saltimbocca and my spinach orzo. Yum. Seriously, if you’re looking for a simple and impressive dish – I can’t recommend this one enough.
Thursday we took a trip to Plymouth Rock. I don’t know what kind of history class I attended or textbook I read to led me to believe that Plymouth Rock was some kind of giant rock outcropping or cliff that the Mayflower landed upon, was tied to, and that the pilgrims stepped off onto – but I did. I can’t begin to describe my shock and disappointment at what it actually is. It’s like this – have you ever been to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower in Italy? Pisa is a tourist trap, if that tower weren’t leaning, no one would go there. Once you’re there, you take pictures with the tower, pretend to hold it up, buy a souvenier replica of the tower and then you leave. Plymouth Rock is America’s Pisa. It’s a boulder the size of my coffee table that has been dropped and concreted back together, sitting under a portico. It was just so underwhelming. I hate to dis on our country’s first landmark and all…but there you have it. We also visited the Mayflower II which was a replica of the original ship and that was cool. It was also full of costumed people pretending they were the original voyagers and I do love some themes and costumes. Plymouth redeemed itself with the best Turkey Sandwich I’ve ever eaten. (So good I even capitalized it – see that!?) Sadly, I do not remember the name of the cafe. Sad for you – it had turkey, a slice of stuffing, some cranberry chutney – it was Thanksgiving on a roll. A yummy, crusty, delicious roll.
Thursday night we saw a play called “Reckless”. A new kind of Christmas fable. It was dark and absurd and really funny at times. The lead actress is remarkably talented. It was great to see a straight play, instead of all the musicals that I see more regularly. Afterwards there was a bar next door where we got a drink. This was a neighborhood of Boston I had never seen before, called the South End. Another neighborhood I loved! I really see a future for myself in Boston, don’t I? A number of neighborhoods I loved, fresh seafood, and the chance to live out all of my Ally McBeal fantasies!
Friday was Harvard. When I was 18 and first visited Alex, I thought it would be fun to buy a Harvard Crew Team shirt and wear it back at my school and tell people my boyfriend went to Harvard. I didn’t buy the shirt that time. Don’t remember why not. I would not forget the shirt this time. Although, it sounds a little ridiculous at 30…so I bought a women’s Harvard Crew shirt and plan on telling people that I went to Harvard. =) Much more mature, yes? Harvard is just so beautiful to me. You can feel the history and the importance and the pretentiousness. The halls of the music building that we walked through had crown molding and wainscoating…my Illinois state school did not have any of that. I felt like speaking in hushed tones while on the campus. I can’t really explain what I felt looking at the kids who are students there – jealous? Inferior? sad for them and their student loans? wonder if they felt pressure to be amazing because they go to Harvard? do they appreciate it? do they take it for granted? what do they want to be?
Friday night was my last night in town and Alex and his friend Al and I went out to dinner (Sandy had a rehearsal). We went to dinner at Sportello, which means “counter” in Italian. The restaurant was very white and bright and set up with two U shaped counters that everyone sat at. It was inventive and new. The food was delicious – an Italian cheese fondue and risotto with quail were what I had. If I ever go back, I would get what Al had, which was a light and fluffy gnocchi with a cream sauce that wasn’t overly heavy or salty. It was a great dish. Afterwards we walked downstairs to a bar called Drink, owned by the same woman who owns Sportello. Drink is ultra-hip. Dim, amber light and old, clear scotch bottles filled with water along the back. There are about 6 drinks on the menu and a small selection of bottled beer, everything else is custom “designed” by the bartenders. You have a conversation with them about what you like to drink, what flavors you like and they concoct something for you. It was pretty groovy. I had a gingerbeer drink and then a grapefruit and champagne cocktail. Both delicious. Watching them mix drinks was the best part – the bartenders are so exact and they don’t pour to get you drunk, they pour so you enjoy your drink.
I headed back to St. Louis Saturday morning. I had a long layover in Philadelphia and had my first official cheesesteak. It was sooo bad for me, but soooo good.
And there you have it – a very successful vacation. If you’d like to read Alex’s version of this trip - go here. A nice counterpoint.