I am once again making the pledge to myself (and to you, teaming masses) to blog more regularly. To that end, this is what we did on our summer vacation (part 1)

Last Wednesday we flew from Chicago to Providence, Rhode Island, primarily because I’ve always wanted to visit the city that is my Alma Mater’s namesake, but also because we got a good price on air fare. The plan for the trip was to drive up to Boston for a two night stay in whatever 3.5 star hotel Hotwire chose for us, the drive through Massachussettes, seeing the sites, only to arrive at another hotel d’Hotwire in Stamford, CT, where we would depart each of three mornings, via train, to New York City. The last day of our trip was to be sent driving through Connecticut, seeing coastal towns and houses we will never be able to afford, en route to Providence for our return flight.

Here are the highlights of Boston.

We picked up our rental car at the aiport, a Mitsubishi Eclipse, which has a tremendous combination of features. First it is incredibly low to the ground, making th process of getting into it the equivalent of sitting down into an old, fold-out lawn chair whose plastic seat-defining straps have been fatigued by countless years of being abused sat-in by your morbidly obese uncle to the point where they sag to within an inch of the ground. It also has a ceiling that is just slightly too low for a man of six feet and two inches. The proximity of the roof to my head had the same effect as rubbing a balloon against my head. The Eclipse is, however, aptly named. The car itself blocks out almost all point of visual sensory input. There are mirrors in all the normal places, but there are other parts of the car that have been strategically placed to make all of these mirrors useless, unless you want to see the spoiler.

We drove to Quincy, MA to see the museum and birthplaces of both John Adams and John Quincy Adams. This was great. The town of Quincy is small and quaintly New England and the museum was fantastic. The guide was knowledgeable and articulate and because the houses remained in the family and were the homes for 4 generations of Adams’s until the 1920’s roughly 75% of the artifacts in the house are original, not just to the period, but to the family themselves. For fans of U.S. History I can’t recommend this highly enough.

We proceeded to Boston, where we drove around in great looping, honking circles. I took my GPS with me and was using it, but Boston was laid out on a dare and irrascible pranksters from one or more of the local universities have stolen a number of the street signs. Even with my GPS we had tremendous difficulty finding our way to a seafood resaurant. We ate with Japanese business men to our right, expense count in full effect, and a middle aged couple to our right whose Salmon was undercooked. They mentioned this and then spent the next 30 minutes waiting for new food to be brought to them. They were pretty hot on the deal, and it seemed to me that they still had to pay a bill at the end of the meal. That doesn’t sound like to good a deal for them, then.

We ended the day by checking into our hotel. We pulled into the garage, noting the prices posted, $10 for eight hours, $2 for each additional hour, $40 for over 24 hours, $25 for hotel guests. We walked up to the front desk and were met by the least pleasant front desk worker I’ve ever encountered. We were told that we were in a twin suite (two twin beds). They had some ‘splainin’ to do.

This is apparently one of the downsides to third party booking. Not much to be done, but Ms. Rude Latvia 2008 more or less told us to suck on it and like it. She then informed us that we would be charged $25 for the garage.

I pointed out that this is not what the sign says. If we parked there over night, for roughly 10 hours and then drove around for the day, according to their sign this should only cost us $14. My attempts at logic and reading were roundly defeated by her attempts at rudeness and quoting the policy. We were told we could choose to go find parking somewhere else (her tone suggested we should look up our own asses for these parking spaces. In her defense, we were more likely to find it there than on any street nearby). The manager came out and backed up her dogmatic stance. His point was that this had always been the policy and they had just put up some new signs. Possibly the signs are to blame.

Not wanting to get into a shouting match in the hotel lobby I agreed that possibly their written notices of their price structure were in fact incorrect and I should be held to their screw job policies. We went to bed, my wallet lighter and my ass slightly sore.

As we were unwinding for the night, I turned on the news to see just how much of the city had been burned down/looted the previous night when the Celtics (who Laura insists on calling the Kel-tics) won the NBA championship. It was at this point that I learned that the celebratory parade was scheduled for  Thursday, the only day we were going to spend in Boston, and that the parade would be going from the Garden, past Boston Common and down to somewhere else. The map below will show you the route.

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The only thing we were going to do in Boston was to walk the Freedom Trail, which begins at Boston Common. Celtics fans or not, we were going to be right in the middle of the parade route, with no hope of avoiding it.

We decided to embrace it.

For all my lack of interest in a Celtics championship, the parade was a lot of fun. The city was truly taken by the whole affair. There was a dentist’s office overlooking the parade route. He stopped his procedure as the parade went by.

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The parade ended. We walked. We ate. We walked some more. I have now been to Boston. I was not overly impressed. I’m glad I went. I doubt I’ll return.

Cambridge is nice. More later.

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