Surviving Boston in the polar vortex!

After a lovely 10 days in Vermont, we went on our way South to discover Boston and New York. Our first stop was Boston for 2 days where we would be staying at the Liberty Hotel near Charles Bridge. G kindly drove us to the Dartmouth Coach station in Lebanon during a lull in the snow. We bought our $30 ticket each and were on our way in very bad driving conditions. On the two and a half hour journey we drove past a number of diagonally formed snow trucks driving away the snow; we also drove past a number of cars that had lost control and had all safely veered off the road. But for us, apart from the delay and low visibility, the journey went without a hitch.

Arriving in South Station in Boston it was a $10 cab (+ the first of many of J’s confused rants about tipping) ride to the Liberty Hotel (see following blog post), where we were greeted with a glass of sparkling wine and some comfy chairs. The news bulletin in the cab was saying that the Mayor of Boston had ordered 3000 snow clearing vehicles into operation, there was a snowfall, temperature and windchill warning, there was a risk of frostbite to exposed skin in 15 mins and the Mayor was urging everyone to stay at home except for necessary outings. Clearly Gabby’s shopping urges and my curiosity fit into that category!

So at 3 o’clock out we went for a walk around town to Gabby’s Mall (the Mall she would go kill time in before her previous flights home – the only place in Boston she knew!). It was cold but beautiful and the snow was more charming than hazardous, even so, mission no1 was to find a sports’ shop to find a pair of Yaktrax for Gabby’s wellies as she had helpfully forget hers in Dublin. We didn’t have any luck finding those but even so we got to walk down picturesque Charles Street at the foot of Beacon’s Hill, where its quintessential streets lined with Brown Brick terraced houses had us involuntarily practising our Boston accent. Thankfully no one else was around to hear us fail and again, thankfully nobody was around again to hear Gabby sing “where everybody knows your name” outside the Cheers pub.

Soon we were to realise why no one actually knew our name: it was because Bostonians had all heeded the Mayor’s advice and, consequently, every cute coffee shop, every useful winter clothes shop and every designer store, had closed early.

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I wasn’t spared shopping entirely as with the sun set the wind and snow picked up and 40 mins away from the hotel the closest shelter was the Mall. Cue a pre-shop to decide what to actually shop for in New York! We resolved to nip into the bar of one of the numerous hotels on our way back for a warming pit stop coffee. We made it a little more than across the street when the open fire of the Fairmont Hotel lobby bar lured us in from the now dangerous wind (if you’re wondering how the coffee was, our first waiter didn’t know what a cappuccino is…). We studied the map for a fun way back and wrapped up.

It was a cold way back to the hotel but walking down fairy-lit Commonwealth Avenue, Boston Public Gardens’ frozen ponds, Boston Common, the gold domed state capital building and east Beacon Hill in the falling snow was exactly what we like doing. Plus there was the occasional jig, snow angel and hill to keep us warm. We also featured in about 4 live weather reports, walking behind reporters informing viewers that “it is very quiet in Boston’s streets tonight, with most people heeding the Mayor’s advice but there are a couple of people going about their business, braving the cold and freezing wind”. Just taking my gloved hand out of my pocket to take photos numbed the index finger until we were back in the hotel!

It’s lucky that we both prefer to be too cold than too hot (listening Grandad’s maxim: there no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes and reasoning that you can always put layers on to keep warm but if your hot and shadeless it’s game over) but over the course of operation explore US 2014 this preference would be severely tested. Nothing quite like having a lovely hotel to recover, especially one with two open restaurants when the rest of Boston had given up on the evening.

Scampo, one of the 20 best Italian restaurants in America, complete with celebrity chef and recommended by friends, guide books and concierge seemed like a great end to the day. I don’t want to revisit this meal here. I’ll let these photos and my TripAdvisor review here to the talking, suffice to say that after a day of subzero Boston ganderflanking and no lunch, I DIDN’T FINISH MY PLATE!

Have you ever seen a worse looking plate of food?….
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Great company though….

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