Day 2: "Ah! Look Out the Window!"
GET UP! GET UP! GET UP! I’m rarely able to sleep in when I’m visiting with Dave, but he’s the complete opposite. He swears it’s because he enjoys relaxing with me, but I think it’s because he’s not forced to wake up at 4AM to get ready for work. I find myself waking him up because one; I’m excited to hang out with him (we only get to see each other once a month) and two; it’s adventure time!
After poking and pushing him to roll out of bed I rushed out of the covers to slide open the curtains of our hotel room. Prior to driving over I read that the weather was meant to be lovely, so we planned a whole lot of walking.
BUT CUE THE HORROR MUSIC! I was greeted by dancing, white confetti. Grr.
After grumbling about the weather we both agreed we were going to suck it up and go about our original plans. We only had one full day in Massachusetts and we wanted to make the most of it. There’s so much history just within the city, so we planned to soak in all the information we could about Boston and Cambridge.
FREEDOM TRAILING: A friend suggested doing the Freedom Trail, though he was basing it off a time when things were blooming and you could comfortably wear a T-shirt. I saw it was pretty expensive to march with some Revolutionary War re-enactor, so I ended up downloading a phone app called, “The Freedom Trail.” For $5 you could go at your own pace and have all the information at your fingertips. The map draws up the trail and navigates you towards several pin-drops, each stop being a blast from the past. When you reach your destination all you do is press the little red bubble and PACHOW information to read and small videos to watch.
Even if you were to get lost using the GPS just check out the sidewalks, they’ve been lined with colors to keep you on the right path. Essentially, you wouldn't need the to app to navigate, you just need it to read up on the history of the places you walked to. For those who don’t like hearing themselves talk as much as I do, there’s an option to zone out on your earphones and listen to some British folks blabbing on about bayonets. There are even recordings of guns being fired in the background to get you in the right mood.
COFFEE BREAKS: After bundling up we strolled out of the lobby. The wind slapped my cheeks and pinched my nose. I was happy I brought some winter clothing with me, but I was definitely going to complain most of the day about the cold. I suggested that after three landmarks, we should branch off to a coffee shop to warm up. This gave us a moment to defrost and catch up with each other in person. I truly enjoy the intimacy of sitting across a table with him, sipping my drink, and reminiscing in stories from our pasts to reliving moments we’ve shared so far with each other.
THINKING CUP: This shop appeared to be the buzz of the city for coffee. It followed the trendy aesthetics that you see in a lot of “hipster” shops with bearded cashiers and flannel wearing baristas. That’s not to downplay the quality of the place, but I’m always pretty skeptical at first. Sometimes places looks better than what they serve. It took some determination to find a seat and when we did sit down I found myself having to get a napkin and brush off the crumbs from the previous person. I really wanted a seat closest to the window, so from my overzealousness I beat the support staff that wipes everything down. There's a variety of food and coffee options. Dave fancied himself a Salmon salad. Not sure how his sat with him, but I scoffed down a breakfast burrito. I wouldn’t say mind-blowing, but my cappuccino hit the spot. We spent about an hour relaxing and planning our next handful of stops before the next coffee break. (Grandview, 165 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02111) (Open 7 – 11 most days)
DAVIDS TEA Oh the lovely things I have to say about David’s Tea! And no, it’s not because it’s my boyfriend’s name, though we had to take a cliché shot of him under the sign. Who wouldn’t? Simple entertainment.
When we walked in we were greeted by smiles and bustling employees. We were welcomed as tourists and were directed to their counter top where we could shove our noses into plastic cups stuffed with loose-leaf tea and their unique aromas. Dave and I are big tea drinkers. We were really excited about the options and had trouble landing on a flavor. I caved into a Chai tea flavor and Dave was won over by a tea that had popcorn in it. The lady who was helping us took us to the side and let us press our own tea. Totally digging the interactive sales pitch. Didn’t buy it, but I’m sure others would have caved into to her enthusiasm and bubbliness of the product. It was a nifty set up, but she got us another way, since we ended up walking out with boxes of tea. Guess they won us over at the end.
BOVA'S BAKERY: Not to dis Mike’s Pastry, but if you’re wanting to avoid the lines and get some pretty spot on traditional Italian treats, head over to Bova’s Bakery where the line is half as long and the desserts are twice as good.
They're a family-owned bakeshop and have been opened since 1932. I have never had a cannoli up until this point, mainly because I couldn’t justify buying a piece of dough stuffed with icing, but holy...cannoli (yeah, I went there)! Bakeries are going to have to work for it because my mouth was dancing and my heart was skipping.
This little shop is hard to walk around in. They had snacks, on snacks, on snacks. There were so many treats I swear they were placing them on peoples’ shoulders while they were waiting in line. They go by quick, so get your elbows ready and warm up your voice so you can shout for your order. These folks were friendly and I couldn’t help but giggle every time someone spoke; the Boston accent was strong. I kept mimicking them in the shop. Of course Dave pinched me every time I did. What was also pretty kick-ass about the shop is that it runs 24 HOURS A DAY PEOPLE. Who wouldn’t want a Florentine Cannoli at 3am? (134 Salem St, Boston, MA 02113)(Open 24 hours a day)
CAFFE LIL ITALY: This was a very quick put stop. There's nothing too impressive to highlight about Caffe Lil Italy, but mainly because we ran in quickly to get out from the snow. I chose a seat by the window while my partner in crime ordered some drinks. From a distance service was friendly. I would say it looks like your typical little Italian coffee shop, with Italian opera singers faintly played in the background. I think by now I started feeling off from the amount of caffeine we were having versus the amount of food we were having. (178 Salem St, Boston, MA 02113) (Open from 0700-1700 – Everyday)
LUNCH: You’ll have to excuse my loss of memory at this point because I do know we sat for pizza, but I can’t remember where! I know of some places we were hoping to get in but the line was horrendous. Regina’s Pizzeria literally had a wrap around line and as much as I love pizza, it just wasn’t worth the wait. Maybe if it wasn’t snowing outside and I wasn't dying of hunger pangs, I would have trucked it out. Supposedly they're top notch. Since we pulled into a sports bar and ordered a pie, visit this link that the BostonGlobe put together about some of the top pizza places in the Boston area.
DINNER at SORELLINA: It was my turn to pick dinner this time around; I wanted to treat him. I continued the Italian craze after the pizza shop, bakery, and cafes we visited throughout the day. I fell upon Sorellina on Open Table. If you're not familiar with Open Table it is similar to Yelp. You have access to reviews about the place you'd like to eat, but it's meant to be an opportunity to reserve your seats online. Even if it says it's all booked online, I highly suggest calling in to make sure because sometimes restaurants put a cap on how many people can make online reservations so they have enough room for those walking in. The perks with booking online outside from being convenient is Open Table gives you points for each table you reserve and sometimes it counts towards a discount off of your meal.
This restaurant takes on a modern, Italian spin. The decor is simple, but of high quality. There is a dress code required that you can review on their website. The low-lighting makes a great intimate ambiance for whomever you're dining with and the tables are far apart enough that you don't feel as though you're overlapping the couple next to you. We had a wonderful waiter. I wish I knew his name, but he treated us well and gave Dave and I plenty of space to enjoy our evening together.
We had another three course meal where we shared an appetizer, had separate entrees, and enjoyed two different desserts. Everything melted in my mouth, even the entree. All the flavors were rich and portrayed Italian flavors at its finest. These aren't meant to be authentic Italian meals, but modern spins on those favors and dishes. I honestly think they nailed it and the wine list is phenomenal. If you're tight for money, I highly suggest planning for your dinners at least! I believe it's worth spending money on good food. Remember, you're not just paying for the meal itself, but the service, ambiance, and overall experience with whom you're dining with. Coincidentally, I found business cards for Ostra, the seafood restaurant we dined at the night before, at the front of their hostess stand. I guess they got a thing for each other. (1 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02116)
TAXI: After being one of the last ones dining (yes, we were one of those people), we scurried out the door to hail a taxi and head out to a bar that was within walking distance of our hotel. It was harder hailing a taxi in Boston than NYC for sure. They don't come around as frequently and there aren't good places to jump in at. Two drivers were yelling at us and we decided to get in a cab marked "Cambridge." As Dave was accepting the deal given by the driver I was hearing from the other cabby that he's "NOT ALLOWED TO BE HERE!" Little but alarming but it didn't make sense either. We just both assumed it was because he wanted the business, but we put the two and two together after we got in the car and realized that this driver was over his location boundaries. He also thought he would be cute and loop around and "get lost" but Dave watched how he was routing us on his phone and called the guy out. We also didn't tip him for crap, let alone pay for the extra mileage he decided to add on. Gah, oh well, we learned and will be more mindful next time around!