Tag Archives: North End

A Day in Boston

Two years ago, Chip and I went to Nantucket so he could attend a finance conference. A few weeks ago, we made the trek back to Massachusetts for him to attend once more. I had always hoped we would get to go another time, so I was so excited when Chip was able to sign up for this conference again. The last time we went to Nantucket, we spent a quick night in Boston before leaving for the island in the morning. This time, we knew we wanted more time in Boston since we had so much fun there during our family trip for Alex’s college graduation a couple of years ago. So after an early morning flight out of San Antonio, we got into Boston in the afternoon.

Ready for our flights!

Ready for our flights!

Looking for a place to eat in the Chicago airport... Chip didn't want to eat at a place called Manny's. Ha!

Looking for a place to eat in the Chicago airport… Chip didn’t want to eat at a place called Manny’s. Ha!

Flying into Boston

Flying into Boston

Flying into Boston

Flying into Boston

We took an uber to the Boxer Hotel, dropped off our stuff, and walked to the North End. Y’all. The North End is my waist line’s BFF and worst enemy all at the same time. You can pick any street and find half a dozen delicious Italian restaurants. We knew we wanted to have dinner at Regina Pizzeria, but as we were walking around we decided to try to go to Neptune Oyster for appetizers. We had tried to get into Neptune Oyster the last time we were in Boston, but each time there was a solid three-hour wait. We thought that by showing up at 4:00 on a Thursday afternoon, it would be easier to get a table. Even then, we had a 45-minute wait but we didn’t mind at all.

We decided to walk around while we waited for our table and realized there was an adorable hat store just next door called Salmagundi. Lesson to all other retailers: this is how you do customer service. The staff was incredibly friendly and not pushy at all. We had been in the store for just a couple of minutes, slightly overwhelmed by the amount of hats they had, when one of the girls offered to try a hat out on me (bless her heart, she thought my Lopez melon head was a small. Ha!). After another seven or eight hats, I found a great floppy hat at an awesome price. We walked to a few other stores before making our way back to Neptune Oyster where we were seated shortly thereafter. I can see why people wait for hours for a table here. We each had a great drink, Chip ordered the best lobster roll we’ve ever had, and I ordered some mussels. So. Good.

The view from the North End

The view from the North End

At Salmagundi

At Salmagundi

At Salmagundi

At Salmagundi

So glad we finally got to try Neptune Oyster

So glad we finally got to try Neptune Oyster

They take their seafood seriously at Neptune Oyster

They take their seafood seriously at Neptune Oyster

Dinner, Round 1

Dinner, Round 1

We then walked a couple of blocks over to Regina Pizzeria. After reading some great TripAdvisor reviews (particularly this one), we were really looking forward to some authentic pizza. There was a short line outside the restaurant, which gave us enough time to check Facebook and see that our good friends Jeff and Megan were also in Boston. Talk about an awesome coincidence! We gave them a quick call and made plans to meet up for drinks after dinner. We were soon seated inside and couldn’t get over how authentically Boston this place was. It’s been around since 1926 and I doubt many changes have been made at all inside the restaurant. There were families everywhere, lots of shouting, and a group of retired firefighters just behind us. It was the best! And the pizza was totally worth the hype. Yum.

The original Regina Pizzeria

The original Regina Pizzeria

Dinner, Round Two

Dinner, Round Two

On our walk back to our hotel, we stopped by Mike’s Pastry. It should be illegal to be in Boston and not go to Mike’s Pastry for some cannolis. Be ready though, they only accept cash. Chip and I each picked out a couple of cannolis and ate them at the hotel while we waited for our uber to pick us up and take us to meet up with Jeff and Megan. We had such a great time catching up with them over drinks at City Bar!

So many options...

So many options…

Can someone send us more cannolis?

Can someone send us more cannolis?

Really. Please send us cannolis.

Really. Please send us cannolis.

On the walk back to our hotel

On the walk back to our hotel

Such a fun night with Jeff and Megan!

Such a fun night with Jeff and Megan!

Friday morning, we went to the Thinking Cup for breakfast. It was a different location from the one we went to last time and they seemed to have a larger breakfast menu. Chip had some super fancy oatmeal and I had their version of a breakfast burrito, which was more of a wrap but incredibly delicious. After breakfast, we checked out of our hotel and got a ride to the airport. From there, we caught a bus to Hyannis where we would be taking the ferry to Nantucket. More to come!

Breakfast at the Thinking Cup

Breakfast at the Thinking Cup

Maine: Part Two

Tuesday was the last day of our vacation on the east coast. We started the day with another amazing breakfast of Eggs Benedict over lobster at the Inn on Carleton. It was so good that it was easily one of my favorite meals of the entire trip. I’m pretty sure I would have stayed an extra day in Portland just to have breakfast at the Inn on Carleton one more time.

Eggs Benedict over lobster

Eggs Benedict over lobster

After breakfast, we finished packing up our things, signed the inn’s guest book and loaded up the car for our eventual trip back to Boston (our flights to get back home would leave from Boston on Wednesday morning). The first stop on our drive was the outlets in Freeport. We quickly checked out a few small gift shops before going to the real destination of our Freeport stop: the L.L. Bean outlet. This outlet was so big that it was actually divided into different stores: one for the actual traditional store, one that was for hunting, and one that was for their home furnishings. It was awesome. My big hope for the day was to get myself a pair of duck boots. Yes, I know they’re not really needed for winters in San Antonio but that doesn’t matter to me. I’ve been pinning different duck boots for months and it was time I had a pair for myself.

Turns out this was harder than I anticipated. After eagerly getting to the women’s shoe section and eye-ing the tan and blue pair I had my heart set on, I was told the smallest women’s size was a 6 and that these shoes tend to run big, so it’s recommended you get a good size and a half smaller than your usual size. News flash: I typically wear a size 5.5. I was still determined to at least try a pair on and after being given a 6 I realized they were indeed far too big… like I would need to wear four or five pairs of thick wool socks to try to get my toe to touch the end of the shoe. As pathetic as it is, I’m proud of myself for not pitching a fit and blaming the universe for this unfairness but instead walked with my head held high to the children’s shoe department. They didn’t have the colors I was looking for, but I still got a pair that I really like and can’t wait to wear (will definitely be packing them for our upcoming San Francisco trip!). Fun fact: the pair I bought is a size 3 in kids. #shortpeopleproblems

Ready to buy some duck boots

Ready to buy some duck boots

Before I realized I wouldn't be getting that tan/blue pair

Before I realized I wouldn’t be getting that tan/blue pair

Bumped to the kids section

Bumped to the kids section

Animal exhibit in the store

Animal exhibit in the store

We bought a few more things at L.L. Bean, including some awesome blueberry jelly that Chip has been eating like a champ ever since we got back. We then went to the L.L. Bean home store for a bit as well as the JCrew outlet before grabbing some lunch to wrap up our time in Freeport.

The rest of the afternoon was spent slowly getting back to Boston while driving through some super cute towns. The best part was when we went to Kennebunkport and spent some time walking along the coast. The wind was strong and the ocean water was chilly. And it was all great.

Enjoying the view in Kennebunkport

Enjoying the view in Kennebunkport

My parents really liked this town

My parents really liked this town

Saint Ann's Church

Saint Ann’s Church

I love Maine's rocky coast

I love Maine’s rocky coast

My mom was the first one to brave the cold water

My mom was the first one to brave the cold water

My parents are pretty funny

My parents are pretty funny

Love this picture of my mom and dad

Love this picture of my mom and dad

Love this guy

Love this guy

Mom taking in the view

Mom taking in the view

Another one of my favorites

Another one of my favorites

We found a crab!

We found a crab!

We also found a few sand dollars

We also found a few sand dollars

Dog paw prints make me happy

Dog paw prints make me happy

After our last stop in Kennebunkport, we finished the drive to Boston and eventually got to our hotel near the airport. Why eventually? That’s because my dad kept missing the exit for our hotel and we had to do some laps on the highway. This meant we got to see Fenway a few more times, but it also meant that we were all pretty hungry and ready for dinner by the time we got to the hotel. We quickly dropped off our bags and then back in the car to head to the North End for one last meal. We called Neptune Oyster to see if we would have better luck this time, but once again they had a super long wait. And like I just mentioned, we were already hungry. A few minutes on TripAdvisor later, I had made us some quick reservations at Trattoria di Monica. This place was pretty crowded when we got there and we realized why we were seated later than our reservation time: the place is tiny. Like the guy sitting behind me would lean back in his seat and his hoodie would be on my back. Not my ideal seating arrangement, but it started to empty out a little bit by the time we ordered our appetizers so thankfully my random moments of claustrophobia didn’t kick in. The food was definitely worth the wait and our meal there was a great way to end our trip.

Boston skyline from our hotel

Boston skyline from our hotel

With my mom before dinner

With my mom before dinner

Dinner at Trattoria di Monica

Dinner at Trattoria di Monica

Yum

Yum

One last stop at Mike's Pastry

One last stop at Mike’s Pastry

We all flew out Wednesday morning and I have to admit, it took me a couple of days to be content with “regular” food. After eating so many declisious meals in Boston and Maine, I was a little disappointed with our dinner options here. Thankfully I’ve gotten over this (one bowl of queso was really all I needed), but if anyone wants to fly me out to the North End for a special dinner, you are more than welcome to!

And mom, thanks for planning such a great trip!

Boston: Part 1

My brother has been a Red Sox fan most of his life. I still don’t totally understand why, it’s not like we have family from Boston or had ever visited the city while we were growing up. I’m pretty sure it’s all based on Nomar Garciaparra – he was one of Alex’s first favorite baseball players and a shortstop on the Red Sox when we were kids, which means he in turn liked the rest of the team (right, Alex?). Random side note: I think my brother kind of looks like Nomar:

Twinsies?

Don’t you see the similarities? Anyway, that was a tangent…

While when my brother was an undergrad at Creighton, my parents had promised him a family trip to Boston to see the Red Sox play at Fenway once he graduated. I’m not sure if Alex realized my parents were serious about this, so it was fun to see him open his graduation gifts this past May, which included a Red Sox bucket filled with a little stuffed animal of the Green Monster mascot, a Sam Adams beer glass (their brewery is in Boston), and copies of our tickets to see the Red Sox play the New York Yankees. If you know my family, you know we are pretty intense Yankee-haters, so I  was definitely more than excited about this part of our trip!

Back after Creighton graduation

After Creighton graduation

This Boston trip was the first long vacation Chip and I had had all year. Yes, we did go to Nantucket earlier in the summer, but that was technically a work trip for Chip and I spent the days working from our cute little bed and breakfast after our weekend spent exploring and eating our way through the island. Having known about this trip to Boston for the last five or so months, we were really excited for this time with my family.

The five of us all flew in to Boston a couple of weeks ago. We actually had the same connecting flight from Nashville as my parents, so we got to hang out with them in the airport while our flight was delayed a couple of hours. While my mom and I spent time catching up at our gate, Chip and my dad walked around the airport and did some exploring. It wasn’t too long after they left us that they texted me these pictures:

The village clown?

The village clown?

That's my husband

That’s my husband

I’m glad they didn’t get kicked out of the airport.

We finally got on our flight a couple of hours later and we were off to Boston! My brother was able to get a direct flight from Denver, so he stuck around the Logan airport and watched the first quarter of the Patriots game while waiting for the rest of us to get in. Once the four of us finally landed we all took a cab to the hotel, quickly checked in, and then walked across the street to Beantown Pub to watch the Patriots game with some locals. It was awesome. The place was pretty packed and we enjoyed hearing one particularly loud fan bang his fists on the bar and yell “THAT’S HOW WE DO BUSINESS” after every good play the Patriots made. Quality entertainment, let me tell you. Side note: I’m pretty sure my brother’s favorite part about our hotel was being across the street from this pub so he went there every night. Way to take in the local culture, bud.

Watching the Patriots game at Beantown Pub

Watching the Patriots game at Beantown Pub

Friday was a fun, full day. While my parents took a cab to Fenway to get us all some tickets for the Red Sox batting practice tour in the afternoon, Alex, Chip and I walked over to Thinking Cup for some breakfast. I took a page out of my mom’s book and found this place on TripAdvisor (if you know my mom, you know she books her trips based solely on what she reads on TA). My parents soon joined us and after breakfast we walked back to our hotel to grab a few things and then took the subway to get to Sam Adams Brewery.

Decaf mocha to go along with my breakfast

Decaf mocha to go along with my breakfast

My parents at breakfast

My parents at breakfast

My dad is really clever

My dad is really clever

Walking back to our hotel

Walking back to our hotel

My brother is a 22-year old college graduate, so he’s a big fan of beer (yes, I just stereotyped there, but he’s my brother so it’s okay). Chip had let my mom know that the Sam Adams Brewery is in Boston, so it was a must-go-to tour for us (afterall, this trip was to celebrate Alex graduating). The brewery is tucked away in a neighborhood and kind of comes up out of nowhere once you walk a few blocks from the subway station. We had a great time on their tour (which is free!) and I’m pretty sure I tripled my beer knowledge during our time there.

Alex and my parents at the brewery

Alex and my parents at the brewery

Checking out all the Sam Adams beer

Checking out all the Sam Adams beer

My dad with the poster of the brewmaster

My dad with the poster of the brewmaster

With the buckets of hops, one of the four ingredients to beer

With the buckets of hops, one of the four ingredients to beer

Another beer ingredient: malted barley

Another beer ingredient: malted barley

Second part of the tour: sampling three different kinds of Sam Adams

Second part of the tour: sampling three different kinds of Sam Adams

The most amount of beer I've ever seen my mom have

The most amount of beer I’ve ever seen my mom have

Enjoying the free tastings

Enjoying the free tastings

Cheers, dad

Cheers, dad

After Sam Adams Brewery, we took the subway over to the Prudential Center for a duck tour. I know that sounds weird. But it was great. These tours use a giant truck/bus that can also go in the water, which meant we got to drive/cruise through the Charles River. Our tour guide Airtime was hilarious and made Boston history sound pretty awesome. It was the perfect balance of history information (how did I not know that John Adams and Sam Adams were cousins?) and random city facts.

Ready for the duck tour

Ready for the duck tour

The building with all of the scaffolding is where the early Bostonians met before the Boston Tea Party

The building with all of the scaffolding is where the early Bostonians met before the Boston Tea Party

View from the tour

View from the tour

Chip volunteered to drive while we were out on the river

Chip volunteered to drive while we were out on the river

Our tour guide, Airtime

Our tour guide, Airtime

With Chip, the temporary duck tour driver

With Chip, the temporary duck tour driver

Another duck tour cruising by

Another duck tour cruising by

Loved all of the old buildings in Boston

Loved all of the old buildings in Boston

After the duck tour, we went back to relax for a little bit at the hotel before the Red Sox batting practice tour which started at 4:00. In hindsight, it may have been better (and safer…) for us to go directly to Fenway after the duck tour, but we thought we had plenty of time. We had been told that it would be super easy to catch a cab from outside our hotel and we had already seen lots go by during our 16 hours in Boston. But now that we needed cab, we couldn’t find an empty one. All of the ones that drove by were taken. We were starting to worry that we would be late for the tour and weren’t sure how long it would take before we found an empty cab. Before we knew it, mama bear sprung into action. This was a trip for her little bear cub to see the Red Sox and we were not going to miss this tour of the ballpark. While Chip walked down a side street to look for a cab, my dad, brother, and I stayed on one corner when I saw mom suddenly power walk down the street. This is what happened next:

Me: “Um, dad, mom is about half a block away…. not sure where she’s going…”

Dad: (looking around) “Hey, do you know where your mom went?”

Me: “Yes, I just told you she’s half a block away. And now I can’t see her.”

Chip: “Is that Yadira jumping into the street?”

Dad: “What the #$&% is she doing??”

And then we saw my mom’s head bob into a cab a couple of lanes away (which means she darted into the street… way to set an example!), and as she drove up to the rest of us staring in surprise at this behavior, she leaned out the window waving triumphantly. We all jumped in and hit the road about 10ish minutes behind schedule. While Chip, Alex, my mom, and I were all piled in the backseat, my dad got the front and started talking to the cab driver. We were soon teased by our driver for wanting to go to batting practice so badly and informed that those sports teams really know how to take money from people (little did he know these tours are actually free, you just need tickets to reserve a spot). He and my dad started talking football and we found out he’s a Cowboys fan who would love to see Tony Romo get traded. While him and my dad kept chatting it up, I could feel my mom burning lasers with her eyes into their heads, urging them to drive faster so we could get to the tour on time. I promise this isn’t an exaggeration, Alex and I have felt this laser eye burn before and it’s serious business. We finally got to Fenway a little after 4:00, when we had been told to be there around 3:45.

We told our cab driver we needed to be dropped off at Gate D, and he took us to Gate E. We didn’t think this was a problem and assumed that D would be right next to it and started walking forward. Gate D was not next. We asked one of the guys stationed at Gate E if he could let us in, and he rudely told us no and that we would have to go around the stadium. We were following my mom’s powerwalk down the sidewalk looking for Gate D, when all of a sudden, she starts jogging and then running. That’s right. My mom (and then the rest of us as we followed) literally ran all the way around Fenway to finally get to Gate D. She’s a momma bear, folks. If anything, we got a nice look at the ballpark while jogging around the entire place. Hooray for some unanticipated cardio.

The one picture I got outside of Fenway before we started running like fools

The one picture I got outside of Fenway before we started running like fools

We finally got to Gate D and were able to get into the ballpark. Talk about a giant sigh of relief. We were able to join the rest of the group just as they were making their way down to the field for pictures. Perfect timing.

Running around Fenway was totally worth it for this picture

Running around Fenway was totally worth it for this picture

View from the field

View from the field

After a fairly sunny morning, the afternoon had turned pretty drizzly. It started to rain a little as we got off the field, so we sat in some covered seats while our tour guide gave us some history on the ballpark. The rain eventually stopped, so we were able to go check out Fenway’s claim to fame: the Green Monster. Never in my life did I ever think I would sit at the Green Monster, and it was so cool taking in the view with my family up there. I knew it was on my bucket list to see the Red Sox play the Yankees at Fenway, but sitting on the Green Monster made me realize that had been a subconscious item on the list as well.

The newer seats at Fenway. The blue seats in the back have been around for generations.

The newer seats at Fenway. The blue seats in the back have been around for generations.

Overlooking the field

Overlooking the field

The Green Monster

The Green Monster

The field from the Green Monster

The field from the Green Monster

Fenway

Fenway

Enjoying our seats on the Green Monster

Enjoying our seats on the Green Monster

The five of us

The five of us

Love this ballpark

Love this ballpark

As our tour guide talked to us about the Green Monster, it started to rain again. And by rain, I mean pour. We all quickly left our seats to go back into the covered area. One benefit to the rain is that we were able to get more history from our tour guide since he was hoping to buy some time against mother nature, but in the end, the rain won. Batting practice was cancelled, but we still loved getting to explore Fenway and we were excited to be back on Saturday for the game.

Rainy afternoon

Rainy afternoon

Waiting for the rain to go away

Waiting for the rain to go away

One happy guy

One happy guy

After lingering around Fenway as long as we could until the tour guides kindly (and repeatedly) asked us to leave, we went back to the hotel to rest a bit before dinner. Now one of the reasons why I love traveling so much is because of my love for food and new restaurants. Whenever we have a trip coming up, I will spend hours and hours on TripAdvisor and blogs to find the best places to go to. I offered to help my mom with this portion of the trip and found some pretty great places for us to try out (let me tell you, there are tons of great restaurants in Boston, it was pretty difficult to narrow the list down to the number of nights we would be in the city). One place I found on a couple of blogs was Mamma Maria in the North End, so we made reservations there for Friday night. It. was. amazing. I can’t remember what I ordered since we ate so much during this trip, but I remember it was delicious and I ate like a fat kid.

Loved the North End

Loved the North End

Mamma Maria

Mamma Maria

Alex at dinner

Alex at dinner

With Chip at dinner

With Chip at dinner

We had seen a couple of bakeries on our walk to Mamma Maria from our hotel, so we decided to not order dessert and instead check out one of these other places. As we were walking back, we saw a huge crazy line outside of Mike’s Pastry. We have one rule of thumb when looking at new places to eat: if there are a lot of people there, then it must be good (it’s not a brilliant rule but one that we stick to). We got in line and soon realized what all the hype was about. They have amazing cannolis. I had one covered in chocolate and it was incredible. With that we ended our busy Friday in Boston!

Waiting in line

Waiting in line

Waiting for cannolis

Waiting for cannolis

With my hermano

With my hermano

Warning: the chocolate covered cannoli is a little messy

Warning: the chocolate covered cannoli is a little messy