John & Brenda's Excellent Tour travel blog

Nantasket Beach from our hotel room balcony

The Boston skyline from the ferry catamaran

Ready for our Harbor tour

USS Constitution with Bunker Hill monument in the distance

Swan Boat cruising in Boston Common lake

In front of a TV icon

Paul Revere's House

June 20

For the first time in weeks, we awoke to heavy rain in the morning. It's not a pleasant task to load up the luggage in the rain with no cover in the parking area, but we got it done. Our destination for the day was the Boston area via Rhode Island. Because it would be a short drive overall, we chose to drive Route 1 most of the way. Route 1 is actually older in history than Route 66 as the first major north/south highway (New England to Florida) but undeservedly does not have the romantic panache ascribed to Route 66. We found t to be scenic and a relatively convenient alternative to the interstate.

Driving into Rhode Island, we headed for Newport, the purported yachting capital of the world, if not the universe. That, of course, has diminished somewhat due to the American inability to win back the America's Cup. I bet they wish the founders had not put in a rule that succeeding races would be held in the winner's country. Newport turned out to be very congested with traffic, pedestrians, narrow streets and lack of parking along with a rainy drizzle, so we struck out once more for Route 1.

Brenda's research of our newly acquired New England hotel coupon book turned up a listing south of Boston that sounded interesting. It had our essential amenities listed as well as an attractive price for Boston area ($79 per night). The description actually sounded too good to be true, being right on the Nantasket Beach with ocean-view balconies, fire places and close proximity to a ferry shuttle to downtown Boston Harbor (here it is pronounced "Bastan Habbuh").

Remembering that "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is" we took the 25 km side trip toward the hotel with increasing trepidation. The drive was pleasant enough as it wound through incredibly attractive neighbourhoods of older homes on large, attractively landscaped lots. We turned the last corner into the town of Hull and onto a long narrow spit of land that is Nantasket Beach.

The hotel was situated right in the middle of the spit and looked like an expanded Cape Cod cottage. Having recently experienced a lot of "no room at the inn", I had little confidence as I walked up to the reception desk. To our surprise and delight, not only did they have a room for us at the coupon rate, but also they could give it to us for 3 nights running. We unloaded and found our room to be even better than we expected. Our third floor balcony looked out on the beach and ocean in one direction and toward the Boston Harbor in the other.

We settled in and while Brenda went to have a workout in the world-class fitness center, I explored the neighbourhood and found a nearby outdoor bar called Barefoot Bob's. With the sound of waves crashing on the beach just across the road, I enjoyed the company of a friendly local couple at the bar. John and Donna were retired like us and had taken a motorcycle tour of Vancouver Island several years ago.

Needless to say we felt a major score in our new temporary home. I was even more impressed when I found the best-discounted on-line rate was $215 per night.

June 21

For our first full day in the Boston area we planned ferry ride to Boston Harbor from nearby Quincy (pronounced "Quinzy"). The concierge at the hotel told me the ferry was easy to find; "just follow the signs". The bottom line was that we couldn't find the ferry depot because the signs were too tiny and posted in areas where you better be looking at the road and not signs. As it was, we asked a guy who pulled up beside us at a stop light and he said, "Just follow me!" He took us right to the ferry and drove of with a toot of his horn and a friendly wave. Brenda speculated he had driven out of his way to bring us there; just one more nice person you meet on the road.

We bought a return ticket to Boston Harbor and 10 minutes later launched in a fast and breezy catamaran for the scenic 35 minute cruise. The ferry landed at Long Wharf, a popular tourist destination. Trolley tours left right from the Wharf and we bought tickets that included a Harbor tour/cruise by boat. We chose to take the boat segment first and had an informative tour that took us by Logan Airport, the historic docks (Boston Tea Party, etc.) and the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides). The flight path of jets taking off from Logan, as they launched virtually straight up toward the city high-rises and then made a sharp left-hand turn to avoid the buildings, amazed Brenda.

The boat tour allowed the option of getting off at the USS Constitution for a guided tour of the ship, which we declined in favour of returning to board the Trolley Tour. We were looking for a lunch spot at one of the scheduled stops and, after passing several likely spots, opted to look for the "Cheers" bar, near Boston Common. Having taken off in the general direction given by our trolley driver, we soon found that we were quite a ways in the wrong direction. Brenda checked our inaccurate map and we asked a passing businessman for directions that got us back on track.

In our backtracking, we stopped at the Rattlesnake Grill for a nice lunch at a table situated next to the sidewalk at an open window. After lunch, we strolled into Boston Common, where we once more were impressed at the job American cities do in building and maintaining their historical parks. We finally located the Cheers bar and, after a few photos and a quick tour inside, left to find our "hop-on" Trolley stop.

The last half of our Trolley tour was thoroughly spoiled by 3 loud American women who deemed their trivial conversation more important than the driver's narration of the history through which we were passing. Departing the Trolley at the end of the route, we decided to take the short walk to the Paul Revere house. His house had been saved from destruction in the early 1900's and has been maintained in near original state with many original furniture items and utensils on display. An historical fact we did not know was that Revere was a minor historical figure until Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote his poem "Paul Revere's Ride" and brought him into national prominence.

By now, I was "toured out" and asked Brenda to join me on the return ferry ride. She was kind enough to respect my advanced years and we struck out for Long Wharf and the ferry dock. We caught the 4:40 ferry and were once more zooming across the Harbor in our catamaran. Our new routine (OK, 2 nights in a row equals a routine) saw Brenda head for the gym and me to the bar, where I continued to meet and interview locals. This time, it was two single (one widowed, one divorced) in their 60's who flooded me with ideas for places and things to see while we were here.

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