• Category Archives Uncategorized
  • Boston or Bust

    (I have abbreviated names of friends in this post for their privacy)

    A friend, K, and I planned a girl’s weekend in Boston, visiting some other friends of ours.  The forecast for our travel day, on the day before, was for a lot of rain, some snow, and much wind in the Boston area.  Not unexpected New England weather, this time of year, but not something I was sure I wanted to drive through.  In the end, the forecast kept improving a little and we decided not to change plans as rescheduling would have been difficult.  The drive proved much nicer than we hoped.  New Jersey, New York State, and Connecticut were all sunny and mild.  The bad weather hit right around the Massachusetts border, but never got too bad during our drive. We also had mixed weather and damp chill most of our Boston stay and of course a gorgeous day to drive home.  Despite the gloom we had a wonderful visit seeing the sunny faces of our friends and enjoying visits, adventures and lots of good food.

    Our good food started on our journey Northward.  As always in my travel mode, a slight De Tour was called for.  If you read my former posts you will recall one of my new favorite eateries is a small vegan cafe in Ridgefield Connecticut, Botanika Cafe.  Being only about 20 minutes out of our way it was a no brainer.  Getting there also got us off the main roads and on to some pretty Connecticut scenic byways.  My travel partner, K,  was not a fan of the food, as she likes her food very plain.  The lovely folks at the cafe did not understand  that, but K. had brought snacks and I wound up with bonus leftovers for later.  My meal of course was just what I needed to refuel for the rest of the drive.

     I went to college in Boston, so many years ago, and always love being back.  I have to say, as we rode on the public transit system, I kept thinking back to the times we used to give up our seat to older persons, and now we are those people. We stayed with L, one of  my college roomates and a friend since. Her hospitality on many trips over the years is always lovely.  Her current cats, are not so hospitable to company.  One of her cats we never saw – she hid throughout our visit.  The other graced us with only a few small tidbits of her presence.  L cooked a wonderful dinner for us and then needed to be part of an on-line class she was taking.  That left K & I to warm up and relax with some books and even some old TV shows that I hadn’t seen in a while.  

    With Boston being a terrible place to drive and worse place to park, we walked down the street to the commuter rail to take us into the city in the morning.  We got into town earlier than the meeting time we had planned with our other friend, M, who unfortunately is unable to get out and about at this time.  Since K  said she last visited Boston more than 40 years ago I wanted to show her some of the sights.  We walked from the train station to the Boston Common and I pointed out various places. 

    I took her to see the statutes dedicated to “Make Way for Ducklings“.  As a teacher of young children she really appreciated it.  As it was one of my children’s favorite books, I messaged them to see who could name the ducklings.  A lively interaction insured, with them suggesting “Dasher, Dancer, Prancer,” etc., “One Duck, Two Duck, Red Duck…” you get the idea.  Another funny thought was they were all called duck except the last one who is goose.  None of them remembered Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack.  I thought that was amusing because my oldest who used to recite them was the one who taught me they were alphabetical.

    We then headed to our friend M’s house, stopping to pick up lunch.  She recommended  South End Pita   in her neighborhood.  It was delicious Mediterranean food.  They were very accommodating on substitutions and made me a sampler platter with baba ganoush instead of the tabouli.  Again I was left with leftovers, it was so filling.  Everyone else enjoyed their choices as well.  We visited M and did a lot of petting of her much more people-friendly cat.  We spent the afternoon in catching up and good conversation.  Then took the train back to L’s house.  

    Since we all had leftovers for dinner, we decided to eat those and follow it up with a trip to the nearby J.P. Licks,  which had dairy free and regular ice cream.  It wasn’t as good as some other dairy free ice creams but the chocolate was especially good.  We took the ice cream back to L’s house to eat.  I, as always, traveled with games and I spent the evening teaching L & K Quixx.  I forgot the learning curve on it but after some time they got the hang and we played a couple of rounds.

    The next morning we decided on a T (trolley) trip into town so we could take K to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market.  We walked around there, looking at the various booths, but we discovered a lot of the smaller cute shops had been replaced by chain stores.  Next, we took a stroll through the North End, Italian neighborhood.  This put K in the mood for a meatball sandwich for lunch.  After looking at several menus we asked about a place to find a good meatball sandwich at an Italian deli and were told, that that’s not really an Italian dish.  We head back to Faneuil Hall,  where meatballs on a roll were served along with almost any other type of food you can think of.  After I discovered that FoMu, a totally vegan ice cream shop, had a stall there, I got a small lunch of veggie tacos and saved lot of room for dessert.  Unlike the dairy free ice cream the day before theirs was amazing!  I had Earl grey with gluten free shortbread and could have eaten a pint instead of the two delicious scoops I had.  I didn’t get another chance to eat their ice cream on this trip but went home and ordered their cookbook for plant based ice creams so I can make some at home.

    K & I headed back to M’s house for another visit and to help her with some chores, though the visit was a little shorter as the commuter rails to get back only run every two hours on weekends.  That night L & K and I found a Vietnamese / Thai restaurant, Noodle Barn, in the town of Jamaica Plain.   The food was tasty and the service very attentive.  I was able to get a “fresh roll” with tofu, but in making it gluten free and vegan, it was mostly noodles and a little lackluster.  The Pho soup was a lot better.  The fried rice dishes that the others had looked really good and they enjoyed them.

    That night’s game, Qwirkle, was easier to teach and learn, and we enjoyed another night of playing, company and conversation.  

    On my last visit to Boston I really enjoyed visiting SoWa. These old converted warehouses have art galleries and working art studios with a huge variety of styles and mediums.  On Sunday mornings, first Fridays, and other special events, a selection of the studios open so you can view the work and talk to the artists.  In the Summer there is also an outdoor farm and craft market on Sundays. 

    It winds up SoWa is very close to where M. lives and we were able to visit again this trip.  When L. drove us down to explore for a few hours she was able to park right on M’s street.  One of the first open galleries we encountered was a weaving studio, with a half dozen full sized looms, worked on by a number of artists.  One took the time to explain about the process their work, how they try to limit waste on the different products and more.  Before we left I went back and bought this lovely hand woven dish towel which I was assured would hold up though years of washings.  Besides that we saw all kinds of paintings, photographs, wire sculptures and more.  So glad we visited.  In the basement was a vintage market which could have taken up another hour.  

    After SoWa, L left to go home and K and I got to M’s for a late lunch which we ordered from Flour Bakery and Cafe.  The food was fresh and creative.  I had their Winter Citrus Bowl and I’ve never had anything quite like it.  We visited for a few hours until we had to catch the train back again to L’s.   From there we decided on Brookline for a pizza dinner at Otto.  They had lots of gluten / dairy free options for me with all kinds of toppings.  This was a great ending to our visit which would end early the next morning.

    As I mentioned before, the day we drove back was the nicest weather of the trip, so we hoped to stop near the water.  We decided on the coastal route anyway going back.  Our first stop was in Providence, Rhode Island.  It was not for the weather but for the food.  There is a new complex there, near the river, know as Plant City.  They have a small market and several eateries and all plant based. I found it when searching for our favorite vegan cheese that is sold in very limited places.  Dare cheese (we always buy the roasted garlic, though some day we’ll try some others if we can find them) doesn’t last us long and it’s certainly not inexpensive, but with another trip upcoming I bought two.  I picked up another item or two.  The bigger resturants weren’t open that early in the day, so that will mean going back, but the downstairs had both take out items, a coffee bar and a number of sandwich options.  I got a mushroom sandwich on a gluten free bun to pack for a picnic later.  

    Then we traveled on, driving through Mystic and some of Groton but the going was slow and we didn’t find a nice place to stop near the water.  I taught K some of my navigating tricks and she found us a small wildlife area in New Saybrook where we could eat our lunch overlooking birds on their nest and some beautiful scenery.  Refreshed, we set a course toward home.  

    This was also the day of the solar eclipse.  About 2:30 we noticed the sky being more overcast for about an hour.  The only other unusual thing we saw before the sun came back out completely were deer along the road, grazing in two places.  Usually deer don’t come out into dusk along the roadways.  

    We had to make one more ice cream stop. I mean – it WAS a vacation – however short.  With some research K found that one of her hangouts from her grad school days, Thomas Sweets, makes their own vegan ice cream.  So to New Brunswick we went.  Their dairy free ice cream is not only good, but all their dairy free flavors are gluten free including the Oreo cookies and cream.  What a treat!   They also have a chocolate shop next door which had a decent selection of dairy and gluten free treats.  I bought a bar that I have yet to try.

    Finally back at home, where Steve had prepared a nice dinner for me.  Glad to be home but even more glad to be leaving again in a few days with Steve on our next adventure. 

    We listened to a lot of Spotify playlists on our journey.  On the way home, an old favorite came on from my Broadway list.  When I was giving a final speech to my youth group, back in high school, I quoted from the song “Corner of the Sky” from Pippin.  Listening to those words again, as I face new crossroads in my life, the words resonated again.

    Rivers belong where they can ramble
    Eagles belong where they can fly
    I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free
    Gotta find my corner of the sky

    So many men seem destined
    To settle for something small
    But I won’t rest until I know I’ll have it all
    So don’t ask where I’m going
    Just listen when I’m gone
    And far away you’ll hear me singing softly to the dawn.

    You don’t want to hear me singing, believe me,  but you will hear more of my adventures if you stay tuned.