This is the final installment of my travel blog (for now) and I'll be writing to you about our time in Boston and New Hampshire :)
We went to Boston to visit my brother, so our main objective was spending time with him, obviously, but we still got a lot of sightseeing done so never fear, I have some recommendations and advice.
We took a train from New York to Boston, so that was a lot cheaper and less hassle than flying and it was only about 4 or 5 hours so in my opinion, it's definitely not worth a flight. Just make sure that you're quick to get on the train because it filled up SUPER fast and we couldn't even get seats together, so be very speedy.
So we arrived at about 5 or 6pm and got to our AirBnB. Boston's public transport is not quite as convenient as places like London and New York, so we used a lot of Ubers to get around, but because central Boston isn't that big, it was never very expensive. We did use the trains in the mornings usually to get into central Boston (we stayed in Somerville which is fairly close but not in the central part), and the Charlie cards (transport cards) are free and pretty easy to load up with money, so using a combination of trains and Uber is a great way to get around.
On our first full day in Boston, we headed out to walk the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a walk that takes you through all the historic sites in central Boston, and we followed our trusty Lonely Planet guide to inform us about the history of all the stops. There are some notice boards on the trail that give some information, but if you want a more thorough history lesson, I would recommend getting some kind of guide.
So anyway the trail starts in the Boston Common, which is a park area in the city center. Here's a lil fountain that we passed.
I won't go through all the stops on the tour with you because I'd be here for the next 10 years, so I'll just put some photos below and we'll move right along. The basic gist of the tour is that it's taking you through all the early American history - their struggle for independence, the war, etc. So here are some of the stops, in the order we saw them.
So while it is a bit of a walk, it does take you through the best tourist attractions of Boston pretty efficiently, so definitely something I would recommend doing (and it's free, so bonus!).
That night we met up with my brother and his girlfriend for dinner at a Southern BBQ restaurant which was SO DELICIOUS! If you happen to find yourself in such an establishment, you have to get some American biscuits. They're more like scones that Australian biscuits, but they're kinda savoury and we had some incredible butter or something with them and it was so good. You have to try them.
After dinner we went to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox play the Blue Jays which was really cool - I'm not into sports at all, but it's kinda something you just have to do when in Boston. Make sure you grab tickets pretty well in advance because they can be a little tricky to get a hold of.
I may not have really understood the game I was watching, but it was still really entertaining and people get very into it. We ended up leaving way before it ended - we left after the 9th innings, but that was a wise decision because the game didn't finish until 1am after 19 innings! Crazy, but definitely a fun thing to do if you can.
On our second day in Boston we went to see a historical tour of the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. This was kind of corny but in a really fun way - the tour guides dress up in costume and take you through the ships and museum as if you are the people taking part in the Tea Party, but if you just join in and get into it, it's actually really fun and a great way of learning about the history. If you don't know what the Boston Tea Party is, you can find out when you go and visit ;) or just google it...
That afternoon we ended up doing some shopping and then had dinner in the Italian Quarter - the North end is what it's officially called I think. Similar to Little Italy in New York, there's heaps of Italian restaurants all in the same area, so pick any of them and you're pretty much guaranteed a delicious dinner.
We then went to Mike's Pastry, which is a famous cannoli place in Boston. I'd never had cannolis before, but I'm not a massive fan of ricotta so I didn't rate them that much, but if you are a cannoli connoisseur, then you should for sure check them out.
We thought it would be nice to hire out some bikes and cycle around the river on our third day in Boston, and we were right - it was nice. This was a pretty cheap and fun way of seeing Boston without having to walk (I'm all about avoiding walking) and the bikes they gave us were super cute and vintagey, so I was happy.
We went around a pretty large section of the Charles River and ended up in the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) area of Boston, so we decided to check out the MIT museum, where they have a bunch of robots and AI which was super interesting. It's not a massive museum and wasn't that expensive, and they have some interactive science exhibits which were pretty fun to play with, so if you're into that kind of thing it's a cool place to visit. Here's one of the robots:
After that we went out for dinner at this cool outdoor Mexican restaurant called Naco Taco (it was so delicious) followed by some famous ice cream place - it was pretty average ice cream to be honest, not bad just not amazing!
We went on a tour of Harvard with my brother on this day - the official Harvard tours weren't operating so we ended up doing a one of the 'Harvahd' tours, which are unofficial tours that are run by students of Harvard. I really enjoyed the tour, we didn't get to go into any of the buildings but we got to see the campus and learn a lot about campus life from a student there, and hear lots of funny traditions etc. So I would recommend this tour over the official tour - you can find them in the Harvard Square.
My brother did manage to get us into the Harry Elkins Widener Library which is a pretty famous old building and was built in honour of its' namesake after he died in the Titanic sinking.
After that we had a look around the Harvard Business school, which is on the other side of the river and not included in the tour - it's just a nice section of campus to see.
We then went to dinner at a tapas-style restaurant called Sarma, and it was amazing. So many delicious things to choose from and it has a really cool vibe - although we did book a month in advance, so if you're keen to try it make sure you book well ahead of your trip.
This was our last full day in Boston and we started the day by exploring the Boston Common and public gardens. It was a beautiful day and it's a lovely place to visit if you're keen for a nice stroll in a central garden.
If you're like me and think that squirrels are incredibly adorable then you will love parks in America and England, because they are EVERYWHERE! I'm also very proud of this photo I got - one has an acorn in it's mouth!! Amazing (feel free to leave a comment about how incredible my photography is, I really wouldn't mind :P).
After that we headed up to Beacon Hill, which is just a fancy suburb in Boston - some founding father settled here first but then moved out when all the plebs came along etc, I don't know. Anyway, there's some beautiful (and expensive) architecture in the streets but it's very hilly so if you're not keen to walk up and down a few hills then maybe skip this bit.
This is also where my love of clam chowder began - we went to some pub (sorry I don't remember what it's called) for lunch and my brother made us try it and it was actually awesome - so make sure you give it a go! Lobster is gross though.
After lunch we headed to the JFK Memorial Library, which I thought would be kinda boring but actually was very interesting. It's really well set out - lots of presidential promotional material from the time, lots of videos and short documentaries which I like because reading a bunch of signs can be super boring. Definitely a cool thing to do if you're interested in the history of his life and presidency etc - but it does take a while to get to and you do have to pay entry so if you're not that keen on history, it's probably not for you.
For dinner we headed to the Beehive which is a really cool little jazz club and restaurant. We were seated downstairs near the stage, which was a little loud but the music was great so it wasn't a problem. The food was DELICIOUS (I feel like I say that about everywhere but there was just a lot of really great food!) and if you're vegan/vego then there were heaps of options.
We left Boston in the morning in our hire car - oh my gosh driving out of Boston and trying to navigate the tunnels is hectic because the GPS drops out all the time so make sure you screenshot your route or something if you're going to do this, because it was pretty stressful.
But after we got out of the city, it was a lovely drive. We were heading for the White Mountains in New Hampshire, and staying in a place called Franconia. We decided to make a road trip out of it and so we stopped off it a few places including Marblehead, Salem and Portsmouth. We then finished the day in Portland (in Maine - there's a few of them) and stayed overnight there. The highlight of Portland was a vegetarian asian-inspired restaurant called the Green Elephant. It was so good, and I'm a sworn meat-lover, so that's really saying something. We had some of the best dumplings I have ever had, so if you're ever in Portland (Maine) get some food there - you're welcome in advance.
This is Portsmouth by the way, and it is the most picturesque little town :)
We spent the morning having a look around Portland but to be honest there's not heaps to see, at least not that we could find. It's a super cute town, but not too many tourist attractions.
After that we drove the rest of the way to Franconia.
We stayed in an adorable motel called the Hillwinds Lodge, which is a pretty basic motel but it's next to a cute little river and the scenery is stunning. Also the owners are so lovely and funny and super helpful with advice on things to do around the White Mountains.
We didn't do anything really the first day - just settled into the motel and then went and got dinner in Littleton, which is ironically bigger than Franconia.
We only had a few days in the White Mountains, but apart from hiking there weren't too many other things to do, so we started with one of the big tourist attractions which is the Mount Washington Cog Railway. My dad geeked out about the railway because it's some special type of train that can go directly up a steep mountain instead of zig-zagging around. It was pretty cool and it certainly saved my legs the walk up the mountain, so I was not complaining.
It was super incredibly windy at the top, which wasn't surprising as Mount Washington is known for its' awful weather, but at least it wasn't raining or snowing, so the view was pretty darn good.
Here's us at the top, looking more than a little windswept.
We then went and saw some natural pools just off the side of the road (bit of a random stop but it was nice). American national parks have this weird thing about you not being able to swim in any of the natural pools which is SO MEAN because they look so beautiful.
After that we went on a little hike (I say little, but when you're climbing up pretty steeply it seems really long) up Mount Perimegusset where I met many cute dogs who were on their way down (with their owners, not just roaming free - but imagine how amazing that would be?!) and it was a pretty nice walk overall.
Here's a lil selfie of me at the top.
I'm not gonna lie, this was not my favourite day of the trip. Largely because we went on a SEVEN HOUR HIKE, and I'm not even exaggerating (it was actually a bit longer because we had to get back to the car after the official walk finished). We started by taking an aerial tramway (cable car type thing) to the top of Mount Cannon from which we preceded to walk up and down some very steep and rocky paths for the rest of the day. I don't even wanna talk about it anymore.
However, there was a nice view near-ish the end at a place called Lonesome Lake (it wasn't that lonesome, don't worry). If you do want to see this beautiful view for yourself there are many other, much shorter and more pleasant walks you could do.
This was a muuuuuch nicer day. We went and explored the Franconia Notch State Park and saw the Flume Gorge which is a very pretty gorge, and there's a one or two mile hike that takes you through all the nicest bits.
After that we went to Echo Lake Beach and had a look around, before doing ANOTHER hike up Artist's Bluff and Bald Mountain.
This was our last day in America, but our flight didn't leave until 2AM the next day so we had all day to explore. We decided to do another road trip back to Boston (where our flights left from) and we stopped at a few cool places. The best stop was at the Canterbury Shaker Village. The Shakers were a religious group (Christian-ish but not really) who believed in communal living, celibacy, and that the second coming of Jesus had already happened and it was their job to create Heaven on earth. They picked a pretty nice spot for it - unfortunately I didn't take any pictures there (what the heck Carolyn) but I did vlog it so if you want to see some snippets, check out the vlog below (cheeky plug right there). Anyway, they were amazing craftspeople, and their furniture is world-renowned so they didn't do too badly for themselves - you know, until their group died out. But what do you expect when you live in celibacy? :P
After that we finished the drive back to Boston, and spent a few hours in the airport before getting on our flight.
And that pretty much sums up our time in Boston and New Hampshire. It was a lovely way to end our trip and if you want to see it in more detail, check out the vlog below. If you've been to any of these places, leave me a comment - I'd love to know :)