This is the third Christmas Chip and I have spent together as a married couple. We’re still slowly creating our own holiday traditions, but my favorite one is collecting new ornaments throughout the year. Whenever we go on a trip together, we try to always buy an ornament to take home with us. Over the first two years of our marriage, we collected ornaments in Italy on our honeymoon, an ornament from when we saw The Lion King and The Nutcracker at The Majestic here in town, our first trip to Fredericksburg. This year we were able to add a few more ornaments from our different trips. While decorating our tree the other weekend, it was fun checking out each ornament and getting to reflect on what this year has brought us. We hope that someday our tree will have only these types of ornaments that will always remind us how we’ve been blessed and all the different adventures we’ve had together.
After a very full Friday in Boston, Saturday had just one focus: the Red Sox game. We took it easy in the morning and just had breakfast at the hotel before heading over to Fenway a couple of hours before the game started. Thankfully our journey to Fenway was much less eventful than it was on Friday. Instead of taking (or in mom’s case jumping into) a cab, we used the subway system to get to the game, which was pretty easy since all we had to do was follow the mass of red and blue shirts around us. We couldn’t have asked for better weather for a September baseball game in Boston. It was pretty sunny out and just cool enough to merit buying a Red Sox jacket in the team store. After taking the subway, we spent some time experiencing all of the activity outside the stadium.
I loved Fenway for many reasons. I loved that since this is a smaller, old ballpark, it feels intimate. As much as I enjoyed going to Diamondback games at Chase Field growing up, that place is huge and feels huge. There’s something really great about smaller stadiums (this was something I also liked about Wrigley Field). There’s also a diehard love for the Red Sox that’s unlike anything I’ve seen at any other ballpark. We got into the stadium early and were allowed to hang out in the first few rows for a while, which was lots of fun for us. There were some cute kids on the field for some pre-game event and it was so funny hearing their parents tell the kids to touch the dirt and steal a few blades of grass for them.
Another thing I loved about Fenway is how special they make everything. There are no gimmicks or things done just for show. I feel like the Red Sox organization knows they have unique fans who seriously love the team and they won’t accept anything cheesy or forced. I didn’t expect for a baseball game to get me emotional, but I got choked up twice before the game started. One was when they brought an older man on his wheelchair out to the field and shared his story: he was a lifelong Red Sox fan and hadn’t missed a game on TV with his wife in 60something years. His wife recently passed away and after his family wrote to the Red Sox to try to get him out there for a game and they flew him out to Boston right away. So sweet. Another really special moment was when they brought out two sisters that had been affected by the bombings at the Boston Marathon this past year. They were at the race cheering for some loved ones and were near the finish line when the blasts went off. For one of these sisters, that meant the loss of her legs. But they got through this ordeal together, and walked out on to the field where they each through out two strikes for the first pitch. I had the chills the entire time and was so amazed by their story and strength.
Ever since my parents bought the tickets for this game, I had been looking forward to the 8th inning. It’s a Fenway tradition to have everyone stand and sing “Sweet Caroline” during this part of the game and I couldn’t wait to experience this with my brother. It definitely lived up to my expectations and completed my bucket list item of going to a game at Fenway.
Fun fact: we were sitting right in front of the family of the Yankees pitcher introduced at the end of the song. His mom was so excited to see him pitch and was a lot of fun to listen to.
The Red Sox won the game, which made the day that much better (I really love cheering against the Yankees). After the game, we stuck around the ballpark for a little longer before heading out. Now, Chip hadn’t been feeling that great over the last couple of days, and by the time the game was over he was ready for some stronger cold medicine. We wanted to go to a CVS Minute Clinic to get him a quick appointment to see if he needed antibiotics to really get better, but by the time we got to one that was still open, they had already closed (a bit before their official close time, I might add). Instead, we had to settle with getting a new variety of cold medicine and hope they would get the job done (they didn’t, but more on that in my next post).
Once we finally got Chip some new medicine to try out, we were all getting pretty hungry which in my case often means a smidge cranky (sorry to my family on that…). We took a cab to the downtown area and quickly found a restaurant that didn’t have a wait for the five of us. After dinner we all walked back to the hotel about a mile away. I then spent some time at Beantown Pub with my dad and Alex, which was a lot of fun to have time together over (another) beer. Stay tuned for one more post on Boston and our time in Maine!
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:
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!