Boston, Plymouth, and Cape Cod—Summer 2019

My wife and I were blessed to have the opportunity to travel to Boston this past week. We left early last Thursday, July 25. I sat by a man on the plane who lived in New Hampshire. He gave me some helpful advice on some places that we should check out. We had a short layover in D.C. at Reagan National Airport and ate at Smashburger.

Once we got in Boston, we took a cab to our hotel at Club Quarters on Devonshire. The room was small, but it was located within walking distance of the Freedom Trail and other sites of interest so it worked well for us. The staff was nice, but our television kept changing channels and turning off on its own. We weren’t in our room much, so it wasn’t a big deal. The view was obstructed by a building across the street. Other than coffee and fruit, the hotel didn’t provide breakfast in the mornings.

After we got settled, we walked to the Old South Meeting House where Ben Franklin was baptized. Outside, a vendor sold touristy things, and we bought a hat and some shirts. Then we made our way to Beacon Hill, saw the Massachusetts State House, and ate dinner at Cheers. The food was surprisingly good, and there were a lot of interesting items related to the show.

Next, we made our way to the Boston Public Garden and Boston Common. The gardens were beautiful. We finished up the night at the Quincy Market and Long Wharf. We got some ice cream at the market, sat down by the water, and watched the yachts on the water. As we sat on the bench, we could hear the riotous crowds at an outside bar.

On Friday, we took the T to Fenway Park for a tour of the stadium. The subway system in Boston has 4 color-coded lines. The Green one takes you to Fenway. We got off on the Kenmore exit and walked around a corner and across the bridge and Fenway was right there. We walked around the stadium and took pictures, and then we took a tour of Fenway Park that we had scheduled beforehand. It started in the team store across the street and then went into the stadium and through the stands. We got to go on the Green Wall and in the press box. Along the way our guide gave an interesting history of the park and the team. The tour ended in a museum within the stadium.

We then ate a quick bite for breakfast and got back on the subway and headed to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. We had prescheduled this tour online as well. We started out in a replica of the Old South Meeting House where a couple of colonial figures spoke with us, including Samuel Adams. The actors stayed in character and made us laugh. We then headed to a replica of the ship Eleanor. We were allowed to tour the ship and throw fake tea overboard. Another costumed actor told us about what exactly happened that night.

We then headed onto the dock and looked around for a few minutes before being led through the multi-media museum. The experience ended with a trip upstairs to Abigail’s Tea Room where you could have various kinds of tea and dessert. We tried Young Hyson Green Tea, a favorite of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and tried some Boston Cream Pie as we sat on the balcony, which overlooked Fort Point Channel.

We went back to the hotel for a few hours to rest until the Red Sox-Yankees game later that night. We took the T to Fenway again. We got some pizza and a hot dog inside the stadium for dinner and then made our way to our seats. We sat out in the corner of right field. The seats were the old wood and iron chairs. The sun was shining on us for the first few innings so it was pretty hot. The Red Sox hit multiple home runs over the Green Wall and basically dominated the Yankees the whole game. The T was crowded after the game, so we got back to the hotel late.

On Saturday morning we headed to the Boston Common to take a tour of the Freedom Trail. We had bought tickets beforehand online, but we left them at the hotel so we had to buy them again. Looking back, we should have just done a self-guided tour. We were disappointed that our tour guide spent nearly 45 minutes in the Boston Common slamming the Puritans and talking about glaciers. That’s only a slight exaggeration.

There are plenty of maps and books available around town for the Freedom Trail. These allow you to take the trail yourself–not to mention the red brick line in the sidewalk throughout downtown that delineates the trail for you. I would recommend setting aside most of the day for the Freedom Trail. We started about 9:30 a.m. and finished around 5:00 p.m. You have to cross the Charlestown Bridge to reach the last two stops–the USS Constitution and the Bunker Hill Monument. We walked across the bridge to get to Charlestown. The Bunker Hill Monument has 295 steps, so if you want to go up it, be prepared for a strenuous circular climb. My two favorite stops on the trail were probably the Old North Church and the USS Constitution.

We ate lunch at an Italian restaurant around the corner from Paul Revere’s house, and for dinner we ate at the Hard Rock Cafe. We took the T after dinner to Harvard. We both were a little underwhelmed and thought the campus rather plain. We went in a local bookstore to look around, and I got some good ice cream at JP Licks. We then got back on the T and headed back to the hotel.

On Sunday morning we went to Tremont Temple Baptist Church, the first integrated church in America. The man I sat by on the plane had mentioned going to this church, and I had seen some good things online about it. The interior was beautiful, and we enjoyed singing the old hymns. The pastor gave a Biblically-sound sermon on Hebrews 3:1-6–Consider Jesus, Glorify Jesus, and Hold Fast to Jesus.

After church we took the T to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. A free shuttle bus took us from the subway stop to the library. The modern-looking building is set by the water, and we spent a few minutes walking the grounds and enjoying the waterfront views before going inside. The museum tour starts with a video of Kennedy’s military and political career leading up to his presidency. You can go through the museum in less than 2 hours. After we finished, we went to the cafe and got some clam chowder and blueberry pie. It was my first time to eat clam chowder. It was too fishy for me. It tasted like potato soup with a fishy aftertaste. The gift shop had some interesting things and was worth the look.

After exploring the grounds some more, we then took the shuttle back to the T and arrived back in downtown Boston. We ate at The Replica Cheers in Quincy Market. We ordered the nachos as an appetizer, which were some of the best we’ve ever had. I got the chili in a bread bowl, and my wife got the hamburger. We then just kind of strolled around downtown Boston. We toured the Old State House, the site of the Boston Massacre and the public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Then we went back to the Boston Common and Boston Public Garden and relaxed. We saw quite a large crowd in the Boston Common watching an outdoor performance of a Shakespeare play. As it got dark, we headed back to the hotel.

On Monday morning, we made our way to the Enterprise Rental Car in Downtown Center. It was hard to find because it was on the ninth floor of a parking garage, which was under construction. The attendant was very nice, though, and he set us up with a black Nissan Rogue. Returning the car was somewhat difficult as we had to navigate the one-way streets to find the entrance into the parking garage, find somewhere to park the car since the Enterprise area was full, and then walk back to our hotel late at night.

Once we received the car, we drove to the town of Plymouth. It was a beautiful, serene oasis. The people were so friendly as we walked along the shore. After being in the frenetic atmosphere of Boston, it was like a breath of fresh air being in Plymouth. I felt so relaxed. We saw Plymouth Rock and then went into some shops and bought a few items. There were some great prices at Pilgrim’s Corner on jackets, hats, and t-shirts.

We made our way back to Plimouth Plantation (we had gone there first, but it wasn’t open yet so we decided to go to Plymouth Rock; and yes the two are spelled differently). We walked through the Wampanoag homesite, the craft center, and the 17th-century English Village. The village offered a beautiful view of the sea below. There were actors in the houses who answered our questions as if they were actual Pilgrims. We talked to them about bathing and swimming. The Pilgrims did not swim in the ocean or submerge themselves in water because they thought it would upset their bodily humors. We finished our tour of the Plimouth Plantation with a quick walk-thru of the exhibits inside and the gift shop.

Around lunchtime, we drove to Cape Cod. In order to get to the cape, we had to drive across a bridge which traverses a canal. So the cape is technically separated from the mainland. We hadn’t really planned out specifically where we wanted to go on the cape. We found a Chick-Fil-A and ate lunch. After that, we decided to go to a beach. I had looked online earlier for the best beaches on Cape Cod, and since we were fairly close to Seagull Beach, we headed there. On the way, we came across some downed power lines which were blowing in the breeze. We could see smoke and sparks, so we turned around. We decided to go to Coast Guard Beach instead. After a little bit of a drive, we arrived at the parking lot for Coast Guard Beach. We had to pay $20 to park and then take a shuttle to the beach. The beach was crowded, but I walked down the beach just a little ways and there were far fewer people. We walked into the water and enjoyed the refreshing waves. As we sat on the beach, we were harassed by biting horse flies. The ocean view was pretty, but the crowds and flies kept it from being relaxing.

After about an hour or so on the beach, we took the shuttle back to our car and drove to Provincetown. I thought the drive would be more scenic, but we couldn’t see much of the ocean until we neared the end of the cape. Provincetown was very picturesque and beautiful, but, in my mind, was marred by the fact that it seemed to be an LGBT headquarters. Gay pride flags were ubiquitous–the Pilgrim Monument even had a flagpole next to it with a rainbow flag underneath the American flag. The gift shop sold gay pride merchandise, and the museum mixed a gay exhibit in with those of the Pilgrims. Interestingly, they had a Somerset Bible opened to Romans 1. I wondered if I was the only one who saw the irony. It was “Family Week”, and sadly we saw kids walking around town at the same time as some kind of gay parade. The town itself was quaint, and we would have stayed longer, but I felt increasingly uneasy about all of the homosexual displays. Provincetown is definitely not a place for kids.

We climbed up the Pilgrim Monument, which didn’t have as many steps as the Bunker Hill Monument and also had ramps. It was still quite a climb, though. It was very windy at top, but there were beautiful views of both the town and the ocean. Sailboats and yachts dominated the shoreline.

Interestingly, the Pilgrims landed first at Provincetown before they sailed onto Plymouth. They also signed the Mayflower Compact aboard the ship just off the coast of Provincetown. It’s easy to assume that they landed first at Plymouth. I had known that they had anchored at Provincetown, but it wasn’t until my wife said something that I learned that they had gone ashore there too.

We left Provincetown and were planning on heading back to Boston, when my wife mentioned that she wanted to see a lighthouse since that is one of the things Cape Cod is known for. We looked up the closest one, and providentially it just happened to be Highland Light. I say providentially because Highland Light is the oldest lighthouse on Cape Cod and it was authorized by George Washington. It also had one of the most beautiful ocean views atop a cliff that I have ever seen. The lighthouse was set back from the water because it had been moved, but you could walk behind the lighthouse to the cliff overlooking the ocean. It was around 7:30 p.m. on Monday evening. I looked out at the ocean and saw a lone sailboat. It was so peaceful and serene. I found myself wanting to stay out there for a long while, bit we were quickly losing daylight and still had a two-hour drive ahead of us to get back to Boston, and we still had to eat dinner and get gas before we returned the rental car.

We stopped at Savory Pizza Grill on the way back for dinner. The food was excellent. They also had an ice cream shop attached to the restaurant, but we were in a hurry and full from the pizza, so we opted out of dessert. We drove back to Boston in the dark, hitting some construction on the Interstate. It was a late night, but we had gotten to see so much on our last full day in Massachusetts.

To sum up my thoughts on the trip–we had a wonderful time. There’s so much to see within Boston itself. Boston is a clean, walkable city. The people we talked to were friendly and helpful. When I think of Boston, I think of 3 H’s–history, honking, and homelessness. Obviously, with the Freedom Trail, there is so much history in the town. So if you love early American history, Boston is a must-see. One of the first things I noticed when we got to downtown Boston was all the honking. There were a lot of impatient drivers. And then sadly, we saw a lot of homelessness, especially in Boston Common and in the T. We ran across a lot of panhandlers, but I guess that is typical with any major metropolis.

I think I enjoyed Plymouth and Cape Cod even more than Boston. It was nice to get out of the city and enjoy a slower, quieter pace with spectacular ocean views. I think it would be nice to go back to Plymouth and stay at a bed and breakfast for a few days.

Early Tuesday morning we headed to the airport to go home. We were supposed to take an UBER, but they cancelled on us at the last minute. So we took an interesting cab ride. The cab driver was a veteran who was interested in history and politics. We had a great conversation. He said he listened to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and liked President Trump. He, not surprisingly, also talked about how he didn’t like UBER because of how they were putting him out of business. He probably got a kick out of my story about how they had cancelled our ride that morning.

We landed in Charlotte and were supposed to have about a two-hour layover, but then we got a surprise. We were bumped from our flight because it was overbooked. The only other flight to OKC wasn’t until 8:40 p.m., so we spent nearly ten hours sitting in the airport. It was a long and stressful day, but we did meet several interesting people. One woman was moving to Florida. Another lady had just come back from Montreal and had been whale-watching. And then I had an encouraging conversation with a lady who had just gotten back from a mission trip to Haiti. She said that she had led a woman to the Lord in the airport that day.

Our flight home offered beautiful views of the sunset and nighttime city views. I had never flown at night before, and it was a different experience from flying during the day.

I’m thankful to God that He blessed us with a wonderful vacation and got us home safely. I would recommend Boston to all those interested in history or baseball. And I would recommend Cape Cod to those who love beautiful ocean views. And isn’t that everyone? The only caveat I would add is that Provincetown, while beautiful, is not a place for kids.

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