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Brief Trip to Boston Massachusetts

Tuesday June 30,through Thursday July 2, 2015



Intro

We take a lot of major trips - travel great distances and spend a week or so. But we found that we like brief trips also - when we find a cheap airfare and hotel, go for a couple days without having to make big plans for work and activities.

Boston is one of those brief trips. But we made a mistake. We left early on Tuesday morning and expected to return on Thursday night. But we discovered (too late) that our return tickets were for 6:15 AM Thursday, not 6:15 PM, so this was a really brief trip.

Getting There - June 30

Travel - usual American Airlines flights from Austin to Dallas and on to Boston. The Boston MBTA ("T") does reach the airport, but our hotel recommended we take the Back Bay Logan Express bus from the airport. Buy your ticket ($5 each) on the bus, credit card only - no cash. It runs every 20 minutes, has good facilities for luggage, and dropped us about a block from our hotel.

Hotel - Hotel 140 is a boutique hotel at 140 Clarendon Street in central Boston, located in the historic YWCA building (the first YWCA ever anywhere). I asked the hotel clerk "When will the YWCA signs come down?" "Never... it is a historic landmark, so the signs stay." That answer was later expanded by a kind note from the YWCA that it is a mixed use building with the Hotel 140, the Lyric Stage theater, apartment units, Viga café, and the YWCA Boston offices. She goes on to say "Today we are known as the YW and have a modern mission of empowering women and eliminating racism in the Boston area. We are celebrating our 150th anniversary in 2016, and are quite active in the city to this day." Now the wise guy in me has to ask, if they are now the "YW" when will the "CA" part of the sign come down? (Don't write to me about that - it was a joke)


Unfortunately the rooms are as small as the typical YWCA dorm. Our double room didn't have a king or queen size bed - we are not even sure it was a full size double bed, and one side had to be against the wall to be able to get to the other side. The shower was so small it was a challenge for a tall guy to bend over to wash his feet. But other than size, the facility was excellent - modern TV, small refrigerator, etc. And the staff was among the best of any hotel anywhere. The bargain cost wasn't much of a bargain - comparable to what we paid for a botique hotel on the Left Bank of Paris, similar to what we paid for a spacious room near Times Square New York a few weeks ago. So how do you prioritize space against convenient location, outstanding staff, and reasonable (but not great) price?

Tuesday June 30

We spent the afternoon savoring the beautiful spring weather, walking the Boston Common and Public Garden and surrounding area; we were only briefly tempted by the Freedom Trail (marked by a path of red bricks in the sidewalks) that guides you through Beacon Hill, the North End, and Charleston historic sites. We have previously done the walk (and parts of it multiple times) but if you haven't already walked the Freedom Trail, it is a "must do.


Food

We "never" go out to eat when we are home, so we splurge when we are traveling. Dinner was at the Grill 23 - a classic (Mahogany and Brass) setting with outstanding food and service. Since we had left home at 5:30 am this was not to be a late night.

Wednesday July 1

The weather forecast had threatened rain, so we carried our umbrellas. The weather was, in fact, nice so we chose to walk to the Museum of Fine Arts.

If ever there was an argument for membership in your local museum, this is it. We are members ("partners") of the Dallas Museum of Art, which offers reciprocal privileges at many other museums. The line to buy admission tickets ($25 each) was as long as an airport security line, but with our reciprocal card we went to the member line (no waiting) and were given free tickets.

When we were leaving, note the line to buy tickets extended outside the museum... down the entry steps. Not only was the savings in time great, but it only takes a few of these reciprocal visits to pay for our entire museum membership in Dallas.

The feature exhibit was Japanese prints by Hokusai, famous for the "Great Wave" over a small boat, dwarfing Mt. Fuji in the background. The collection was extensive and impressive. This picture (or another from the series) can be seen on the banner in the front of the museum.

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I didn't realize how special this exhibit should have been until after we were home. We have one of his prints in our home.

Certainly not from the Edo period (mid 1800s), this humorous bench carries on the theme, made from plywood, cut and painted to look wave torn.

Jenny also enjoyed this picture of people putting on a roof; throwing bundles of shingles up, as we have done too often, but without Mt. Fuji in the background.

There is a wonderful sense of humor in this museum. Like this picture of a little girl intimidated by a large sculpture.

But the painting above is hanging in the gallery with the sculptures that appeared in the painting. The lady in black in the painting would have been looking in the direction where this painting is hanging.

As part of an exhibit on signs, this neon sign expresses the rules of the museum - for example okay to use cameras but not flash. I did not dance or sing.

Some of their visitor benches were classic, such as this bench by Sam Maloof, available for use.

Or this pair of chairs by Nakashima, the other is currently in use.

Or this less comfortable but more characteristic bench by Nakashima. Are they really for sitting?

A few of the benches were.... well... don't surprise me with one for Christmas!

Their furniture exhibit was a pleasure to a woodworker like me. Rather than boring everyone, if you are interested in more furniture, there is a separate page with about a dozen more pictures.

Not far from the museum is this colorful building, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, or as it is commonly known, "Mass Art." Thanks to my friends at the YW for helping identify it.

Between the museum and the hotel is the "Mother Church of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston." With the help of Google, I hope I got the name right. Rather than saying the church is surrounded by a moat, they call it a reflecting pool.

Food

Remember the S&H Green Stamps whose popularity peaked in the 1960s? Stamps given by merchants to promote customer loyalty, exchanged for "gifts?" Okay, so there are not many of us left that remember stamps in the 1960s. But at the turn of the century (1900, not 2000) the popular "Trading stamps" were "Legal Stamps." And in 1904 a grocery store, Legal Cash Market opened near Boston, taking it's name from the Legal Stamps it gave customers. In 1950 the owner's son opened a fish market, Legal Seafood, adjacent to the grocery store. And in 1968 the Fish Market started an adjacent restaurant. It is now a New England chain of seafood restaurants, still using the Legal Seafood name, considered by many to be the best seafood restaurant wherever (in the world?)

So that is a long way to say we had a great meal at Legal Seafood, and that the name has nothing to do with the judicial status of the owners or the product.

Thursday July 2

See the description of our screw-up at the beginning of this page. Our flight home from Boston departed at 6:15 (am, not pm) - boarding at 5:45 AM, and the Bus doesn't start running until 5, so we took a taxi to the airport. With Tip and Tolls, about $27.

We got an upgrade on the flight, so ate on the plane, and were back home well before noon.


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