Very early Saturday morning, we got up and headed over to the College of the Holy Cross. If you know anything about Gopher hockey history, you’ll understand why this was special torture. I dropped Matt off for his presentation, and headed for the freeway. I had two new states to visit!
I exited just north of the Connecticut border and headed over to state route 169. I wished I had my car instead of the rental, because I’d have had the best time ever on that empty, winding road.
It looked much like I expected of New England: very picturesque and oldtimey. And of course there were a million prep schools.
I made it down to the southern end of Connecticut in surprisingly little time. Having always lived in states that take several hours to traverse, that was an absolute novelty. I headed east to Mystic, and arrived at Mystic Seaport just as it was opening.
I toured a whaling ship first, then wandered around to see the shipyards.
These ladies were working on building miniatures for the town replica. They were extremely amused that I wanted to take their picture, instead of the model’s.
I don’t usually have much interest in attractions that involve docents and historical recreations, but I enjoyed Mystic Seaport quite a bit. I’d love for Matt to go back there with me. I stopped at the store to pick up the requisite souvenirs, then took a spin through the cute little town. I had to cross the Highway 1 bridge, too; I’ve spend plenty of time on that road along other parts of the coast.
From Mystic, I drove back up to the interstate and headed into Rhode Island. State #47!! I only have three left to go: Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. It was torture to know they were so close, too.
I got to Providence with a specific restaurant in mind. After driving around the very confusing downtown for a while and realizing I’d never find it on my own, I pulled over and got out my phone. I’d recently purchased a Motorola Cliq, and was absolutely thrilled with the travel-related features. I switched on GPS, and it led me right to the restaurant. But of course it wasn’t open til 5pm.
I did more touring of the town, but didn’t find anyplace particularly interesting. I decided to head back towards Worcester, since it was after 1pm and Matt was supposed to be done in a couple of hours.
I really loved driving in New England. Everything is so close! And it was Saturday, so there was no traffic! I stopped to see a couple little towns (including Woonsocket, just because I thought it was a funny name), then found my way back to downtown Worcester. I drove around and took a few more pictures, then stopped for gas and a delicious Dunkin’ Donuts grilled cheese. Seriously, fast food should not be that good. It’s usually not.
I had to use GPS again to find Holy Cross (it’s on top of a huge hill, but for some reason that didn’t make it any easier), but made it just before Matt and his coworker emerged from their conference. Here’s a view of Worcester from the college:
We headed back to Boston, this time with Matt driving. We made it there very quickly, dropped his coworker off at the airport, and went to our hotel to check in around 4pm. Conveniently, the least expensive hotel happened to be right on the airport property, and was also the Embassy Suites. SCORE. Our room was fantastic.
There were complicated logistics involved in the whole process, the order of which we kept forgetting: park at the hotel, check in, return the car (the rental place was almost next door), take the rental shuttle to the airport, take the airport shuttle to the T, and take the T into Boston. We were happy to learn that the Embassy Suites shuttle was able to pick us up and drop us off at the T stop, too; we didn’t have to ride the airport shuttle to a terminal.
We were in Boston by 5pm, which was much earlier than I was expecting. We got off the train and went to transfer, but the one that arrived heading to TD Garden was so packed we decided to try walking. It didn’t look far on the map, but you never really know til you’ve done it.
It turned out that it was very close. Everything in Boston seemed to be within easy walking distance. We passed Faneuil Hall on the way:
We passed a bunch of overcrowded, douchey-seeming bars (including Hurricane O’Reilly’s, which we kept referring to as Pedro O’Horny’s) and went around the corner to what turned out to be the very best bar in the neighborhood: The Penalty Box. The few reviews I’d seen mentioned the possibility of stabbing and being afraid of the bikers; it was nothing like that at all. It was just an old dive full of guys who had been going there for 40 years. They weren’t exactly welcoming, but they weren’t hostile either. We loved it.
Around gametime, we herded into the Garden (which is also a giant T stop… confusing) and pushed our way into the packed shop. Matt got a Blake Wheeler (former Gopher, who is also responsible for the greatest goal I’ve ever seen in person) tshirt, and we headed upstairs. We got surprisingly good pizza and beer, then found our seats and got ready for the game.
The Bruins were playing the Buffalo Sabres, which almost meant we got to see former Gopher Thomas Vanek as well. It was so exciting. The Bruins won handily, and Wheeler got an assist.
Oh, and there were Star Wars characters at intermission. Stormtroopers guarded the exit while Darth Vader and Chewbacca rode the zambonis. I have no idea.
After the game, Matt and I headed off in the direction of one of the best bars in Boston, according to Drinkboston.com. We used this as our guide for the whole trip, and it did not lead us astray.
Our first stop was Marliave, hidden in an alley near (what was at that moment) a burning 7-11. The place was maybe 1/3 full at 10:30pm, in keeping with all good bars. The cocktail menu was fantastic, and it was hard to choose. Luckily, we had plenty of time to look; the bartender took his time getting to us. When I asked for a glass of water, he told me he’d try to get one when he had water glasses. They were currently out.
I got about halfway through my cocktail before I became fully miserable over my lack of water. I hadn’t had anything to drink since the beer at the hockey game, and we’d walked quite a bit. I was ready to leave, when they finally rounded one up. But I was so unimpressed with that bartender that we vowed to head out anyway unless we got lucky enough to be served by the other lady there, who was awesome. We wanted to try more of the menu, but not from that guy.
We got lucky, so we stayed for another round. (I appreciated the water refills, too.) While we sat there, a table ordered three long islands. The crabby bartender tried to explain that they would be very different since they didn’t have sour mix (totally understandable at an upscale cocktail bar that makes everything in-house), but they wanted them anyway. We watched as two of the long islands were returned and dumped out shortly thereafter. Haha!
We also discovered that High Life was the PBR of Boston. Every guy with a moustache and scarf there was drinking one. Strange.
Our next stop was the Last Hurrah, inside the Omni Parker House. We immediately fell in love and wanted to stay all night. They had an oldschool bar, with couches and armchairs scattered around the room. We grabbed a couch and examined their very classic menu. Sadly, our plan to stay all night was foiled by our awesome server’s announcement that at shortly past midnight, it was last call. At least we got one round in (a martini and manhattan), and a bowl of warm nuts.
Do you have any idea how much two tipsy people can be excited over a bowl of warm nuts? You might not want to know.
We decided to head next door to a bar called the Beantown Pub, just because the bouncer assured us they were still serving food. We found out shortly after grabbing a table that the kitchen had just closed. Not terribly put off by that announcement, though, we moved up to spots at the bar instead. Any good drinker knows that you should always sit at the bar if possible.
I ended up in a conversation with a guy next to us, who appeared to have been rooted to that bar stool. Grady told us his life story. The details are a little fuzzy, but they involved him living in Maine and going to school in Boston, which meant he stayed in a hotel during the week and then drove home over the weekends. He was pretty entertaining, and we were only slightly weirded out at his continued insistence that we come back to his room to drink with him. I’m pretty sure it was just the fact that drinking there was free, and nothing more creepy, but we of course did not go with him. We settled on shots instead.
Then there was the girl we named ‘Nachos’ because she kept asking us to order her nachos, not understanding the part about the kitchen being closed. And then there the sailors who wandered in and instantly had girls hanging all over them. The Beantown Pub was pretty damn entertaining.
Round about closing time, we all teetered outside and hailed cabs. The stupid T stops running at 1am. Oh, and some girl called us hicks because we got the cab instead of her. That rules.