Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Port of Call: Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is one of our favorite ports of call. We boated here for three years and had many unforgettable adventures. We loved the boating lifestyle so much we quit our jobs and moved to a bigger boat to cruise full time, and now, we've been cruising/living on the boat for the last sixteen years! You know what they say - time flies when you're having fun!
View of Boston from Marina Bay, our last station
We've been back to Boston many times since then, albeit not by boat. This week, we happily played tour guides to a friend and her sisters who were visiting from Paris. It gave us the opportunity to explore and rediscover our old stomping grounds. The notorious Big Dig megaproject of the 90s had moved the Central Artery (main highway in the heart of the city) underground. With the new space, the city of Boston created an urban park with gardens and walkways connecting many neighborhoods.

So, come along with us as we walked the Rose Kennedy Greenway from Chinatown to Faneuil Hall, stopping to admire artworks and various attractions along the way.

Monkee See by Sante Fe artist Don Kennell in honor of the year of the Monkey 
Farmer's market and 
food truck
The Dewey Square farmer's market near South Station is opened Tuesdays and Thursdays from May to November.
Tour guide in action at Harborwalk (Boston Tea Party ship in the background)
Continuing on Atlantic Avenue, we veered off to Harborwalk (behind the InterContinental Hotel) to catch a glimpse of the Boston Tea Party ships and museum, where reenactment of dumping tea into the waters can be sometimes be seen.
Best place for a lobster roll
Checking out the seafood at James Hook + Co
Yummy lobster roll
We couldn't resist checking out the seafood at James Hook. Too bad we already had dim sum in Chinatown earlier:-(! We had enjoyed a delicious lobster roll the last time we stopped here.

Bronze sculptures "Circle of Animals/Zodiac" by renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei
At the Rings Fountain, we encountered the Circle of Animals/Zodiac exhibit by Ai Weiwei, undoubtedly the most famous contemporary artist in China.The story behind the zodiac heads is quite intriguing. The original zodiac heads were designed by the Italian Jesuit Giuseppe Castiglione, who served in the Qing Court in the 18th century. They had adorned a water clock-fountain in the Old Summer Palace (YuanMingYuan) before they were looted by European soldiers who ransacked and burned down the palace during the Opium War of 1860. Of the seven zodiac heads that are known to have survived the pillage, five have been repatriated back to China, while ownership of the remaining two is still being contested.
Heading towards Boston Harbor Hotel at Rowes Wharf
Boston Harbor Hotel
See Boston by land and water via a duck tour (Boston Custom House in the background)
Faneuil Hall, a marketplace and meeting hall since 1743
The Great Hall, where town meeting members discussed issues of the day
Prosperity in Boston resulted in the expansion of  Faneuil Hall - Quincy Market was constructed in 1842
Interested in playing chess outdoors?
Travel and Leisure rated Faneuil Hall Marketplace as the number 8 most-visited tourist attractions in America. Whether it is food, shopping or entertainment, you can find it all here at Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. And get a dose of some American history at the same time.
We followed the Freedom Trail back to Chinatown (Old State House on left)
The Granary Burying Ground, where famous patriots like Paul Revere, John Hancock and Sam Adams were buried
The Massachusetts State House, facing the Boston Common
Boston skyline seen from the Boston Common (a park in downtown)
Hope you've enjoyed our tour! This incredible city has so much more to offer. As one of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston has history and culture to please any discerning visitor. A harbor cruise to nearby islands, Cape Cod or whale watch is highly recommended. While in the Boston area, don't forget to feast on seafood - raw oysters, clam chowda, steamers, fried clams, scallops, and the quintessential lobster and lobster roll.

What's your favorite port of call?

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Horsing around Assateague Island National Seashore, Berlin, Maryland


Wild horses roam freely on Assateague Island National Seashore
Since we moved south fifteen years ago, we've made many road trips back to Boston. Each trip was always fun and memorable, but last summer's was truly unforgettable. Our trip coincided with the Brimfield Antique Festival, one of the largest and perhaps the best fleamarkets in the northeast, a must-visit if you're a flea fan. We met up with several college friends at the Sand Sculpture Festival in Revere Beach and the Folk Festival in Lowell. We took day trips to the north shore (Gloucester and Rockport), ate at our favorite seafood place on Cape Cod, and explored many neighborhood parks.

On our return trip, traffic slowed to a crawl in New York City; it took us an hour to drive 4 miles to get to the George Washington Bridge! We were to meet family for a reunion at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and traffic there was snarled up as well. August is prime time for the beach and there is only one way in. We were stuck.
entrance to Rehoboth Beach (we made it, at long last!)
Sand castle competition at Rehoboth Beach
Known as our "nation's summer capital," Rehoboth Beach offers clean beaches and a mile-long boardwalk lined with old fashioned entertainment (Whac-a-mole, anyone?), shops (ice cream with 150 flavors) and restaurants. The place always transports me back to the good ole days, when times were slower and much simpler. You can hang out on the boardwalk or beach past midnight since the beach doesn't close until one in the morning. Just remember to bring plenty of quarters for parking!
Whac-A-Mole at Funland
mile-long boardwalk at dusk one May
Still, getting stuck in traffic trying to get from one place to another is not my idea of summer fun. Did I mention that Delaware is a tax free state, and shopping at the outlet malls is the other big attraction? So as the week wore on, we were starting to feel worn out. And stressed out.

Luckily, there is the amazing Assateague Island National Seashore nearby.
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Assateague Island Visitor Center. 
At the visitor center
It's our refuge from the hustle and bustle. Clamming, crabbing, paddle boarding, kayaking and wildlife viewing are some popular activities here. Or you can swim, surf and even camp overnight on the beach. Whether exploring by car or by foot, you're bound to encounter the wild horses that call Assateague home. We were awed by their majestic beauty.

South Ocean Beach
Wild horses taking a nap
Taking a break
If you're looking for a place to have a family vacation or reunion, choose this area. We had 16 members ranging in age from 6 to 73, and everyone loved it - beaching, shopping, crabbing, fishing and eating crabs and myriad seafood.

If you go, know that Assateague State Park and Assateague Island National Seashore are two different parks. The former is $6 a person (for out of state residents) while the latter is $20/vehicle for a 7 day pass . Check their respective websites for up-to-date information.

Did you have a fun and memorable summer?

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