Week 10: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties

Hello from Boston where I am tackling item #49 on my bucket list, sightseeing in Boston! Well, actually by the time you are reading this I will be back home in Michigan. Mike and I were in Boston for a long weekend so he could attend a conference of some of the nations’ top Invisalign providers. I got the better end of this deal because while he was pow-wowing, I was out exploring Boston. Well, actually I was “in” exploring Boston. Because of unseasonably high temperatures prompting heat advisories, I decided it might be an excellent day to visit the New England Aquarium and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts topped off by a shopping trip to the Prudential Center. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Actually, we rolled into town on Thursday, and due to a flight delay made a bee-line for our dinner reservation at the Top Of The Hub, luggage and all. The restaurant is located in the Prudential Center on the 52nd floor. Thankfully they were more than accommodating in storing our luggage for us. Apparently this must not be too uncommon. We were fortunate enough to have 7:45 dinner reservations and a window seat to Mother Natures’ finest floor show. This was a perfect way to start our trip because we began with a daylight aerial view of the surrounding area and ended by watching the sun fade below the horizon, changing the city into a dazzling array of twinkling lights. I was somewhat concerned that the view may be the big draw, but that was misplaced as we both agreed our meals were spectacular. I enjoyed Lobster ravioli and Mike had a tuna steak. We topped off the meal with Boston Creme Pie of course, which really helped cement my fan status of Boston. Come for the delightful accent of the citizens and stay for the lobster and Boston Creme Pie!

Mike with the yummy Boston Creme Pie.
Our night time view of the city. It was memorable watching the sky go from dusk to darkness.

Friday, we had much of the day together and decided to explore the beautiful Public Gardens and Newbury street, which we had noticed on our Uber ride back to the hotel the night before. We stayed in Waltham at the Westin which was about a 25 minute Uber ride to downtown, as that is where the conference was being held. I understand that many people stay in the suburbs and opt to Uber in because of the high prices of the downtown hotels.

Public Garden, adorned with statues and it also boasted a small pond with swan boats (if you like that sort of thing.)

We visited their public library. I love seeing libraries in major cities as it reveals so much about the values and intellect of it’s citizens. This library looked much like a museum. It boasted murals by John Singer Sargent, and was engraved with the names of famous authors throughout history, both on the inside and outside of the building. A library is a bit like my personal church, I approach them with reverence and awe, and this particular library deserved both.

If you look carefully you can make out the names of famous authors engraved on edifice of the building.
What an awesome place to study and read!

We wandered up and down Newbury, stopping for lunch at a little sidewalk cafe, MET Back Bay. I had to have a Lobster roll, because, well, we were in Boston! It was yummy but definitely a bit overpriced for the lobster to roll ratio. ($32). We did enjoy sitting on the sidewalk (well a few steps down from the sidewalk, which seemed to be a thing here in Boston) and people watching while sipping our cocktails, which were the best! Mike had a watermelon margarita, and I had a coconut mojito and both were amazing.We did a little shopping at the Prudential Center then headed back so he could make cocktails and dinner with his colleagues.

Lobster roll, sweet potato fries, watermelon margarita and a coconut mojito, well done Boston!

Saturday, Mike was in conference and I did some exploring. I understand they have an awesome Science Center but I opted to go a different way. Both the New England Aquarium and the Fine Arts Museum are world-class. I highly recommend a visit. I was lucky to stumble on to the Toulouse Latrec exhibit, which I enjoyed. The museum also had a Jackson Pollock installation and an extensive collection of John Singer Sargent, an artist I was only slightly familiar with. I left there a big fan of his work.

Jackson Pollock installation.

I ended up eating at the museum’s dining room as opposed to the aquarium and that was a wise decision. I enjoyed a wonderful vegetable tart. The aquarium had the regular fare you would expect, nothing exceptional. You ordered at a counter and found a seat. The museum however had several different dining options, from family friendly to a little more elegant. I ate at the New American Cafe which had table service and a delightfully unexpected menu, offering both wine and craft beer.

Vegetable tart. I’m a fan.

What the aquarium lacked in culinary delights it made up for in an extensive display of both the unusual and the endangered. They did a fabulous job of enlightening their visitors as to the impact of global warming on these animals and what measures we as individuals could take to reduce our carbon footprint (paper straws, reusable water bottles, etc) For instance, penguins feed in cold water, as global warming affects their feeding grounds, the penguins must swim farther out to get food. They feed their young by regurgitating their meal upon their return. With penguins having to swim farther away, many times the meal has already been digested by the time they return, leaving nothing left to feed their chick. This is endangering the penguin population. This is just one of the examples they provided. The aquarium boasts a large center tank which has a ramp going up four stories culminating at the turtle exhibit at the top of the tank. One highpoint was watching as scuba divers entered the center tank and hand fed the fish. The stingrays were pesky fellows, rubbing right up against the divers, basically begging for food like a dog might. It was a remarkable thing to watch! I ended my day with a little shopping at the Prudential Center, which holds not only Top Of The Hub and an observation tower but a mall. Much to my delight Mike decided to skip out of the dinner with his colleagues and joined me for a stroll down Newbury street where we settled on dinner at Joe’s, a blessedly air-conditioned establishment that was able to seat us after a short wait. I enjoyed chicken piccata and Mike had the special, blackened mahi mahi. Both accompanied by the requisite glass of Riesling for me and a cocktail for Mike. Our meals were very good.

The New England Aquarium. Notice the queue for tickets is empty. The line was relocated inside due to heat advisories. It was a good day to be inside!
Diver feeding the fish.

Sunday, we were up early for breakfast and had the hotel store our luggage. We took an Lyft out to the start of the Freedom Trail, which sounds easier than it was. After a mishap with the Lyft App and a change of driver, we finally made it to our destination. We enjoyed watching history come alive, visiting important historical sites that played vital roles in our American history, such as the old South Meeting House, the site of the tax protest that ended with the uprising known as the Boston Tea Party or the Old State House which held the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Boston. What struck me the most was the numerous locations which served as public forums, and the very strong emphasis on freedom of speech, even unpopular speech. The focus was on the right to speak, even if you didn’t care for what is being said. Our founding fathers recognized the importance of that from the start both, for free speech and freedom of the press. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “Our liberty depends on freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

The second stop on the Freedom Trail: The State House. The dome is coated in 23 karat gold. My only question is why 23 karats? Couldn’t they spring for that extra karat. “24 karats? Too much, we can’t do it.”

We also saw the site of the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s house and the graves of Paul Revere, Sam Adams and several other well and lesser known Patriots. Seeing these historical figures come alive for me was the best part. They were actual people, not the mythical Gods we revered from the pages of our elementary history books. They were brave people that took risks, and I can’t help but wonder what I would have done. Which side would I have taken, Loyalist or Patriot? I like to think I would have been among the Patriots but of course, who can ever know?

Statue of Paul Revere in the foreground. In the background is the Old North Church. The steeple of this church is the sight where the lanterns were hung from the famous “one if by land and two if by sea.”
Paul Revere’s tombstone.

We also made a quick pitstop to check out the Harvard Campus, an event we also shared in Mike’s office’s Instagram story.

Harvard’s library is unfortunately not open to the public.

As this post is rather long, I am not going to overly detail my other bucket list items this week. I will mention that I used cilantro from my herb garden to garnish a big batch of white bean chicken chili. The only other accomplishment I wish to share is my 700 day streak in Duolingo. I am waiting until I reach the 2 year mark at 730 days, to celebrate. Finally, if all goes well, I should be ready to share our bathroom remodel before & after next week.

Signing off for now with these wise words from Benjamin Franklin: “Our Constitution only guarantees you the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”

So get on out there and pursue your own brand of happiness! See you next week.

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