Boston-a-thon… Bidding adieu.

salem_tree

Time that drags is ample time to commit to El Bloggo!

And here we are, with the 3rd and final installment of the Boston Road Trip Extraordinaire.  That Saturday was supposed to be spent waking up leisurely, having breakfast, and heading to the nearby Mashpee Commons Mall to visit Cupcake Charlies and grab a dozen (YES – certain allowances are made for dessert!), before heading to Salem, Massachusetts, for the Bewitched After Dark walking tour.

We had just finished our leftover Halal Guys for breakfast when hubby plugged the address of the tour into his phone. Alas, it was 2.5 hours away, not 1 hour like I had thought (I was referencing the point from Boston to Salem, and we were situated 1 hour away from Boston as it was).

It was already 10:30 am, so we hauled asses to the Red Van and, after grabbing the requisite Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (it doesn’t come CLOSE to Timmy’s, in my opinion), sped off towards Salem. We arrived at nearly 1:00 pm on the dot, at the door of the Bewitched store, where we met our tour guide.

If you’re looking for spooky stories and haunted houses, this is not your tour! Though not scary by any means, it was fascinating and informative.  We started off viewing houses in which murders had occurred, and then walked through a graveyard where victims of the Salem Witch Trials were buried.  Sadly, the majority of women died because of false accusations.  I won’t ruin the experience with too many details, but I think it’s a fascinating look back in history and highly recommend it.  Also, there’s a tree that apparently gets struck by lightning every few decades.  Exciting!

Salem is a beautiful town. We smelled some heavenly food and longed to stay a while longer to dine, but were to head immediately to Fenway Park for our 2nd tour of the day.  We zip back onto the road and towards the big city of Boston, park, and get all excited for the tour, until….

…we see the sign that says…

Tours are fully booked today. Please come back tomorrow morning.  We try instead to find something good to eat near Fenway, and end up walking for an hour unsuccessfully.  Bo-ring and unexciting food options (not to mention the surplus of green- and scantily-clad youth in celebration of St. Patty’s Day which was also that weekend)!  Instead, we drive nearby in search of P.F. Chang’s, which is located inside the Prudential Building in (downtown?) Boston.  After discovering the 1+hour wait time for both P.F. Chang’s and the Cheesecake factory, we settle for pizza and other food-court delicacies, Crumbs cupcakes, and frozen yogurt/ smoothies instead.

And it all worked out, because the next day we were up bright and early, one of the first groups in line to get tickets, to behold the wonders of ‘ole Fenway and its rich, deeply-rooted history.

I loved Boston. I will be back.  And next time, I won’t be leaving without a lobster dinner (or three)!

Concrete Junglists

imageWith cheesy pasta up to her elbows, eyes fixated on the Robots Blu-Ray playing in front of her, I steal another moment for part two of our Boston Road Extravaganza: NYC!

This was my 3rd time in the Big Apple, and I can say I’ve experienced the city in 3 of 4 seasons, fall being the only exclusion. My first experience was in the heat of late April, and I can say it was my least favourite time due to the warm garbage smells and abundance of Splinter-sized rats running the city. I’m Canadian.. I’m all for recycling.. and I guess it was a bit of a shock to not find the same resources in such a large city. My second visit was in the dead of winter, and I found it the most beautiful and exciting time of the year. Again, I’m Calgarian, so I guess I’m going to favour any sights of sparkling white snow. I’m a helpless romantic, what can I say? (Fine, that might be a lie.)

Back to the present day and our enormously fun family road trip. We had awoken at 7ish in order to hit the road at 8 am. After smoothing over a small hiccup with the front desk (they didn’t have our reservation properly on file due to some computer malfunction), off we were on the road again. It was a painless 4-hour drive, and noon by the time we arrived. Thanks to Kate’s handy pre-planning, we were able to find parking for the day, even saving upwards of $30 due to the coupon she printed out beforehand. I don’t know if it’s every parking lot that does this, but twice when I’d been, an attendant had taken our keys and parked the vehicle for us. All parked, kids snugly tucked into their strollers, peepee breaks accomplished, we are famished, and head towards the famous Shake Shack for some grub. It would’ve been cool had the lineups not been monstrously long :(. Mind you, it was Friday at lunch hour, so this wasn’t much of a surprise. Instead, we turn back the other way, excited to try the Guy Fieri restaurant, Guy’s, which we’d passed along the way.

It was fairly empty, a little strange for such a big-name personality in a metropolitan city, but perhaps I know why. We had some of the snottiest hosts/servers I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting on vacation, even worse than the rude waiters at the Chinese restaurant in Paris. I had sensed we were being frowned upon the moment we walked in and had parked our strollers on the lower level. Our waiter was cold and unsmiling, looking annoyed about our small children, and even having an irritated reaction when one of us asked for a takeout container to bring the meal home. All was not lost, however, because the food was very tasty. I had a shrimp po’ boy sandwich with chicken noodle soup to start, with others having the pulled pork and/or beef au jus sandwiches and rosemary quarter chicken. They were mainly on the lunch menu and not pricey at all – in between $10-15 per entree if I were to remember correctly. Tummies happy and ready to put the nasty experience behind us, we head to Times Square: the gigantic Toys ‘R Us, Footlocker, the Disney store. The NBA store where I picked up a Celtics t-shirt (of course) and a freezable NBA mug that looks like a basketball, which John thinks is so ugly and I am super fond of. Lol. We visit the skating rink at Rockefeller Center, GAP, another sports store, and Uniqlo, and by this time it’s dark outside. Before we head Mashpee-ward, we stop by for some Halal Guys, the famously delicious chicken and rice with their fantastic hot and white sauce. Oh dear. I wanted to enjoy it in the comfort of our kitchen, so I held off on eating mine the entire 4-hour ride home, running in to put it on a plate and devour it in comfort. And for breakfast the next day. Some could not wait, devoured it in the van, and slept peacefully the rest of the ride home. Cannot blame them. The remainder of us stayed awake, telling ghost stories and getting ready for the next day’s adventures, including the Bewitched After Dark tour in Salem, Massachusetts. Exciting!

As Easter Sunday quickly approaches, I’d like to take a moment to give thanks for great friends, happiness, and our safe return. In 4 days I can finally enjoy meat again… It’s been a long 36 days!

Beantown post is next!

Trip Trippin’ Part IV – Bonjour Bon Bons

Wellll let me say that our transition from the Beauvais airport to the Port Maillot Metro station was not a difficult one – Mommy walks really fast so we beat the lines to get the bus tickets and were on the next available bus before those lines got ridiculously long.  THEN came the stress I’ll call the Paris Metro Stroller Haul.  It’s not that difficult to get around the subway system, rather just like Rome, accessibility is another issue.  There are faster and more efficient elevators, but they’re not on every floor in every station (at least not the ones we’ve been in).  Thus, we again began the juggling act of Dani, backpacks, carry-ons, stroller, and the like up and down many flights of stairs.  This time with less sleep than ever.  One of the exits was strange, because you had to insert your luggage and stroller through a hole in the bottom left of the partition before going through the small turnstile yourself.  This took some strategic planning but we managed somehow without having to stuff Dani or our own butts through the hole 🙂

After tons of sweat and passing through many a urine-stank-soaked elevator, we arrived at our hotel 1.5 hours early, so we went to a Chinese restaurant across the street for lunch and to kill some time.  That was a big mistake.  Snobbiest waiters ever, who had these “get out of my way” looks about them when Dani got up to walk around.  They seemed annoyed that we weren’t speaking French, and took forever to deliver our ultra-chintzed, child-sized portions that ended up costing 20 Euros, or $28 HARD-EARNED CANADIAN DOLLARS!  For LUNCH!  Man, I’d have a shitload of fried tentacles, chicken’s feet, scramp rolls, tripe, siu mai, etc. etc. back home (Tremendous or Perfect, take your pic.  HOLLA!) for that much.  Now, I never, ever, get homesick.  But one thing I’ve been missing here (okay, two) are Timmy’s and FOOD.  GOSH all we ate in Rome was pizza and all we’ve been eating here is sandwiches and crepes.  We’d like to branch out into the smaller neighbourhoods and experience more of the local tastes, but when working with a child’s schedule and temperament, we’re lucky to sit and grab a bite at all!  That goes for shopping as well.  We barely bought a thing in Rome and we haven’t hit the department stores or any of the shops on the Champs Elysees (not like I’m able to fork out hundreds of Euros as it is).

I start to miss Rome when I see how SOME (not ALL) people look irritated when they see Dani running around.  Others think it is cute and will smile and wave at her, but that’s rarer than the former.  Also, it seems like no one waits in line, rather just rushes in and out of whatever lineup, doorway, subway train, etc. like it’s every man for himself.  In Rome, your children are LOVED.  Most people of all ages stop and smile and chat to your child, and there isn’t one time that a seat wasn’t offered on the subway because we were pushing a stroller or carrying her.  I have yet to see that here, although most of our servers and the shop keepers have been very nice.  Perhaps we’re just picking up the vibes of irritated locals during busy tourist season 🙂

On day 1, after we finally checked into the hotel, we took a nice long nap, were out the door by 10:00 pm, and hit the city.  We visited the Louvre, Palais Royale, and even the local carnival for some crepes and churros.  Photo ops along the way were inevitable.  The next day we slept in, made it in time for our Seine city bus tour (as you can guess, we got lost, LOL – prepare for PLENTY of getting lost whenever you’re in a foreign land), went to the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower, to Leon de Bruxelles for some dinner on the Champs Elysees, and then back to the Seine for our evening cruise.  We had booked this tour (which includes the bus tour/Eiffel Tower visit/Seine River cruise) through Viator.  Our Disneyland (which is where we went today) tickets were booked through the same supplier.  Let me exercise some caution.  When you order online, you’ll be emailed a voucher with a barcode.  Do NOT mistake this for your ticket.  We were lucky to find out in time that you need to go to Information and exchange the vouchers for actual tickets before you can join the excursion.  I’ve seen some people turned away and have to re-enter really long lines for this reason.  Also, don’t mistake your printed RECEIPT for a voucher, either.  Mommy had a dum-dum moment and for that, we had to return to our hotel after already getting to Disneyland.  Dani had a nice nap in between this fun little setback and the lines had disappeared when we got back, so it all worked out in the end.  Heh.  Heh.

I’ll stop blabbering away now.  Tomorrow we will spend our last day in the red light district (woo-hoo!), visiting the Sacre Coeur- my favourite, and what I find to be the most beautiful place in Paris- and the department stores Galeries Lafayettes and Printemps for some shopping, if we can get there in time.  All in all, Paris is beautiful as always.  We’ll be very sad to leave tomorrow night.

Pics are below.

Au revoir for now.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage