Monday, April 30, 2012

My Birthday Weekend in Boston

I had such a great time in Boston! I loved the city as much as I expected I would.

My visit was Saturday, April 14th and my birthday Sunday, April 15th. The Boston Marathon was on Monday, so we saw a lot of runners. It was the first weekend of the season that the famous Swan boats were operating.

After arriving at Logan Airport early Saturday morning, my travel partner J and I quickly dropped off our carryon in the hotel room and then jumped in a cab and headed for the North End, the Little Italy of the city. Lots of Italian restaurants, cafes and shops line two long streets, Hanover and Salem Streets. Naturally, we spent a lot of time here. J and I had coffee (cappuccino for me and caffe macchiato for J) at Caffe Vittoria and then we had pastries/ desserts at Mike's Pastry next door. Next, we strolled the rest of Hanover Street in the sunshine.

Caffe Vittoria

The fudge cupcake at the very popular Mike's Pastry is delicious!

Caffe Vittoria and Mike's Pastry on Hanover Street in the North End.

We stumbled upon the outdoor market at Haymarket in attempt to find a subway or "T" stop to go and meet my college friend F who was driving in to spend the day with us. She actually met us at the Haymarket stop and we proceeded to go on a hop on, hop off trolley tour and were entertained by the tour guide/driver. We took about half the tour in order to hop off near the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The art was personally collected by Isabella. Some of the most notable masterpieces included a self portrait by Rembrandt and Giotto's Christ Child in the Temple. My favorite part of the museum was the building itself. It was modelled after a Venetian palazzo. The architecture decorating the courtyard was stunning. This exotic city was Isabella's favorite destination.

and a Ancient Roman Mosaic in the Middle.

We hopped back on the trolley and finished the route, with another guide. Then, we checked out the indoor/ outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment district called Faneuil Hall Marketplace and enjoyed New England and Boston fare at a famous restaurant called Durgin Park Restaurant there.

We showed F the North End and then the three of us enjoyed amazing gelato at Caffe Vittoria. I loved my cookie dough flavor! I bought my souvenir there, an espresso cup and saucer with the establishment's logo printed on it. Walking past those beautiful Italian restaurants over and over convinced me that I had to dine in one of them!

We found the Irish bar with traditional Irish music, mainly instrumental, during the late afternoon. J had a Guinness which I tried, but I stuck with a light beer. While there, F left us to return home. It was so great to see her!

J and I wandered in and out of shops at Faneuil Hall, checked out the enticing food court inside Quincy Market and watched the street performer in that area-- a guy escaping from a straitjacket hanging upside down this time. We wandered back to our nice Convention Center hotel, the Westin Boston Waterfront, and had drinks and split a delicious appetizer flatbread pizza at one of its restaurants.

The Skyline at Night
Close to Our Hotel

The next morning, on my actual birthday, I opened my birthday gift from J. It was a charm of St. Christopher, Patron Saint of Travel, for my charm bracelet. And it was perfect; he actually ordered it off of my wishlist.

We went back to the North End for a decadent dessert breakfast again. To Mike's Pastry again. You see their string-tied white logo-ed boxes everywhere. And you wonder what they picked up, at least I do! A cannoli or cupcake or something else?? We checked out posted menus along Hanover Street and I decided on a restaurant for lunch.

Next, we took the T to a beautiful mall named the Prudential Center and another upscale mall called Copley Place for some browsing (...and an incident that I won't get into!). At the time, I was receiving many birthday wishes via smartphone. Thank you to everyone!

For lunch, we made our way back to the North End to my chosen restaurant, Dolce Vita Ristorante. Without much of a front to the restaurant, we dined alfresco. Flower window boxes placed over the railings held hyacinths and pansies. Huge paintings with very thickly applied paint decorated the interior. I thoroughly enjoyed my Fettuccine Primavera and the bread basket and glass of red wine.

After wandering around the Faneuil Hall area again a bit, watching the street performers-- a group of guys dancing and flipping over members of the audience, it was time to pick up the carryon and head to the airport. Even though there are many lines, the subway system was fairly easy to figure out.

I love Boston and would like to return. If I had the chance to live there, I would. As close to the North End as possible of course!

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