Our East Coast Adventure: Boston

Last Wednesday, Sarah and I woke up at 4:00am PST to catch our first of two flights to New York City. When we decided to go on this trip, we set out to save costs wherever possible (obviously) – and that started with our flight. While it would’ve been easier to fly into Boston, train all the way down to DC and fly home from there, it also would’ve added hundreds of dollars to our total costs. Instead, we opted to fly in and out of New York City, and after redeeming some WestJet dollars + using a $99 companion flight, it only cost us $250 CAD/each (all taxes in).

day-1-new-york-city-flatiron
The Flatiron Building

As soon as we got there, we dropped our bags off at our hotel and walked 20 blocks down to Union Square to meet Shannon for dinner. We filled up on Mexican food then took Sarah into the Strand. If you’re planning a trip to NYC anytime soon, and you love books, the Strand is a must-see. The 18 miles of books will suck you in, and the little odds and ends for sale (like this magnet below) will make you laugh. It’s one of the only stores in which I’ve seriously considered breaking the shopping ban. (The girls can vouch that I did not.)

Yep.
Yep.

Sarah and I grabbed ice cream on our way back to the hotel, which ended up being the first of many, many desserts. We passed out early and set our alarms, as we had to get up at 6:00am EST (3:00am PST, eek!) to catch the Amtrak to Boston…

The Empire State Building
The Empire State Building

It’s a 4-hour train ride between NYC and Boston – and most of the track ran alongside the ocean. The train was fully wired with Wi-Fi, so we both used the time to tackle some work and plan out the first few days of our trip.

Somewhere between NYC and Boston.
Somewhere between NYC and Boston.

When we got there, we walked up from South Station and were pleasantly surprised to discover that our hotel (Omni Parker House, booked via Hotwire) was centrally located next to Old City Hall, almost kitty-corner to Boston Common.

Old City Hall in Boston
Old City Hall in Boston

We were also around the corner from Sam LaGrassa’s, which is a family-run sandwich shop that’s been open since 1968. I demolished this sandwich and could’ve gone back every day for another. (Seriously, I’m practically drooling just looking at this picture again.)

The Pastrami + Corned Beef Combo Sandwich at Sam LaGrassa's
The Pastrami + Corned Beef Combo Sandwich at Sam LaGrassa’s

From there, we ventured out on foot to see the city. Altogether, we walked ~10 miles that day. Here are a few of the highlights for me. First, we overheard a tour guide tell people that there was over $300,000 worth of 23K gold on the roof of Massachusetts State House. True story? Wikipedia says it is so!

Massachusetts State House
Massachusetts State House

From there, we stumbled across the Memorial Day flag display in Boston Common, where nearly 37,000 American flags were planted to honour Massachusetts’ fallen heroes from the Civil War to present day; that was a sight I won’t soon forget.

37,000 Flags Out for Memorial Day
37,000 Flags Out for Memorial Day

Boston Public Garden was beautiful and I’m so glad we took the time to walk through it. Truthfully, it reminded me of Beacon Hill Park in Victoria (my hometown), especially when we saw people feeding the ducks. I’m also just a sucker for weeping willows.

Boston Public Garden
Boston Public Garden

When we exited the park, we found ourselves at the entrance of Commonwealth Avenue Mall, which is a mile-long path of trees, grass, park benches and statues. We walked the entire length of it, then down a few blocks to the waterfront, which we walked alongside back to the city. (My one regret is that we forgot the public library was close by, so we missed seeing that. Next time, Boston.)

Commonwealth Avenue Mall

The one thing neither of us could get over was how clean the streets of Boston were. Sure, we may have first noticed this in Beacon Hill (a quintessential Boston neighbourhood) but it seemed to be true everywhere we went. (I will admit, though, that we tripped on the uneven brick a few times.)

Streets of Beacon Hill
Streets of Beacon Hill

We grabbed an afternoon coffee, walked past Boston Common again and over to Fanheuil Hall Marketplace (too busy/touristy for my liking). We did some people-watching there, though, then skipped over to the North End.

Near Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park
Near Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park

And thank goodness for Jeffrey, who told us to pop into Mike’s Pastry. We grabbed one cannoli each + a Boston cream puff to share. Oh… my… goodness, that was heaven in a few bites. (They’re apparently 600 calories each, but who’s counting? Not me.)

Espresso Cannoli from Mike's Pastry
Espresso Cannoli from Mike’s Pastry

On our way back to the hotel, we walked a little bit of the Freedom Trail and really took our time going through the Holocaust Memorial. It didn’t seem right to take any pictures of it (although we saw many people taking selfies there… ick) but it was both beautiful and haunting. A must-see, for sure.

Later that night, we caught the green line out to Brookline (about 30 minutes one-way), so I could finally check out a workshop at the Society of Grownups . I’ve been following what they’re doing for months, so it was great to meet one of their financial planners and get a feel for what they really do.

Society of Grownups
Society of Grownups

The Society of Grownups is a place that’s dedicated to fostering financial literacy for adults. When you first walk into the space, it looks like a coffee shop/workspace. But there’s also a small boardroom where classes and events are held, most of which are taught by financial planners. We sat in on a class that helped students understand more about their student loans and how to pay them off, and gave them to a space to ask all their unanswered questions. It wasn’t a subject matter that we needed to know about, necessarily, but I’m still glad we got to sit in on it. (Why don’t we have this in Canada yet?)

Society of Grownups
Society of Grownups

After class, we walked another mile down the road to OTTO Pizza. We had fantastic service and the pizza was delicious (as you can see). I would highly recommend that location to anyone who is in the area and in the mood for a good thin crust pizza.

OTTO Pizza
OTTO Pizza

The next morning, we caught the red line and spent the day in Cambridge. Our first (and longest) stop was at Harvard University, which was swarming with grounds workers who were preparing for the 364th commencement that is taking place this week.

Harvard's 364th Commencement is May 28, 2015
Harvard’s 364th Commencement is May 28, 2015

My favourite building was Massachusetts Hall, which I later read is the oldest surviving building at Harvard and the second oldest academic building in the United States. (And here I just thought it was beautiful.)

Massachusetts Hall
Massachusetts Hall

We ate more ice cream in Harvard Yard (big surprise).

Harvard Yard
Harvard Yard

Rubbed John Harvard’s shoe for good luck.

Statue of John Harvard
Statue of John Harvard

And then we picked up one final dessert and brought it over to the Frugalwoods‘ house. Mr. and Mrs. FW treated us to a home-cooked meal (which is always nice, but especially when you’re travelling) and we spent the whole night chatting about our blogs, the differences between our two countries, our plans for the future… and, of course, about Frugal Hound. It was so nice to finally put faces to their names, and to spend an entire evening laughing with new friends. Thank you again, Mr. and Mrs. FW! :)

Frugal Hound
Frugal Hound

The next morning, we grabbed a quick bite, then packed our bags and headed down to South Station where we took the Amtrak back to NYC. I’m so grateful to everyone who suggested various activities and restaurants in Boston. We had a blast, and it was a great start to this 10-day adventure!

I’ll fill you in on our weekend in NYC, on Wednesday. As you’re reading this, we’re probably driving (yep, road trip time!) down to Philadelphia… xo

  • Awesome! Great pics. I love Boston so much and I cannot wait to go back!
    Enjoy the rest of your trip!! :D

  • Sounds like a great trip! Looking forward to a recap of your Philly trip, I’m heading there with friends in a few weeks!!

  • I haven’t been to Boston in about 13 years (went on a band trip – yup, awesome I know…) but I’d love to go and enjoy it as an adult who can wander around on their own :) Enjoy the rest of your trip… I’m so glad you got to Harvard. I love beautiful campuses.

    • We went to Princeton on Monday, too, and it was even more beautiful! Will share pics on Friday. :)

  • It was so wonderful to have you two over! We loved meeting you and could’ve chatted all night! So glad to hear you enjoyed Boston so much–it really is a lovely city. Frugal Hound reports that she greatly enjoyed the ear rubs as well :).

  • Wow, what a trip! Love the pics, looks like an awesome time. Really interested in the Society of Grownups concept and yes, why don’t we have that here? That sandwich and cannoli look delish…cannoli’s are one of the few things I break my dairy/allergy ban for. Tastes yummy but feels icky later…oh well!

    • Oh, I hear you. I’ve eaten way too much dairy this trip, and Sarah and I are both feeling it. But it’s all been worth it! (Will just need to detox when we get home, lol.)

  • I’ve never been out to the east coast (in Canada or the US), so it is so much fun to read about and see pictures from your trip. Making me add more places to the list of places to go… Looking forward to hearing about more of your trip. Have fun!

  • This looks fantastic, Cait!! Boston is one of those cities on my list. I lived in Pennsylvania for quite some time in my youth (hope you enjoy Philadelphia!), and the East Coast is so incredibly rich with history. I haven’t been back since 2003, so seeing your time incredibly well-spent there is definitely initiating the travel bug to get back there! The Strand is definitely another one of those bucket list places I’ve been wanting to go to, I’m so glad you mentioned it! Also – what amazing food you’ve been enjoying, I’m glad you included those pictures as well!

    • Cool! Where did you live, when you were out this way!? We’ve been making a few pit stops here and there, now that we have a car. And don’t you worry… there are more good food pics to come! ;)

  • Welcome to the East Coast! Looks like you had a great time on your trip and all the food you tried looks amazing (especially the Sandwich). The Strand is an awesome store, was cool to see that you visited it. It’s funny how NYC is so grid-y – especially in Manhattan. And then you go to Boston which has the windy old streets it’s own charm and style.

    • Yea, I hadn’t thought about that, but Boston is definitely NOT on a grid haha. It was still easy enough to navigate! Kinda reminded me of Victoria, for that reason.

  • Looove Boston. We have a lot of family in MA so get to go kinda frequently, one of my favorite cities ever! Next time you’re there make sure you get to Quincy Market and the aquarium!

    • We were outside Quincy Market but didn’t go in. What’s inside that we missed!? And I’m not a huge fan of aquariums but I’m sure it’s awesome. :)

  • So glad you’re having fun. Eat more desserts– you’re walking it all off. You deserve the adventure. Love you fiercely!

  • Very cool to hear that you visited the Society of Grownups. I’ve been following them since they first launched, even though I live in St. Louis. They first caught my eye because they’re a great content marketing initiative by Mass Mutual but I love what they’re doing, as well.

    • Yea, I actually didn’t realize it was a Mass Mutual initiative (at first) but it doesn’t really change my opinion of it. The content in their classes is totally impartial and they aren’t just trying to sell products or anything… it’d be amazing to see something like this in all cities, one day!

  • Looks like you’re having an amazing trip, Cait! The food pictures are definitely making me hungry. Speaking of delicious sandwiches, have you ever been to Railtown Café?? I am not normally a sandwich girl, but the ones there are killer. Next time I have a flex day let’s go for lunch! :D They are only open M-F.

    Also, totally agree with the ick about people taking selfies at the memorial. Why!?

    • I haven’t been, no, but my friend Kasey keeps telling me about it! I’ll come down during the week sometime. :)

  • No need to count calories when you’re doing that much walking on holiday! Glad Boston was good to you. Enjoy the rest of your time on the east coast!

  • Ooh, I have to check out the Strand next time we go to NYC. The photos of Boston look amazing. Glad you had good weather to walk around. It really is a city to see on foot.

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