A quick segue before I get on with reliving the first day of our trip to Boston... whilst researching a potential title for my Boston blog posts (I always like to use titles of songs about that place), I came across this one called I'm Shipping Up To Boston by Dropkick Murphys. I'd never heard of it and when I looked up the lyrics it wasn't familiar then either (although the lyrics are amusing). So I played it on YouTube. Sure isn't it only the song they play at Belfast Giants games that makes everyone go a bit mental?! Brilliant! I always wondered what that song was and now I've discovered it by accident. Amazeballs! Except judging from the 24 million plus hits the video currently has, I may be the only person on that planet who didn't know it. In fact even my fourteen year old brother knew it. Hmmmm. Oh well!
So, back to Boston (that's another song by the way!)...
We stepped off the train in Back Bay Station and my first thought (beyond "man these bags are heavy!") was that I liked the look of the strange double-decker train across from us. I've seen double-decker trains before but this one had a big purple 'T' on it, which I figured meant it was part of Boston's rapid transit system. How fancy!
Eventually we wrestled our luggage up to the lobby of the station and then contemplated our next move. We'd planned to just jump in a taxi to our hotel (the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge) but after considering the public transport options, we bought ourselves a Charlie Ticket and decided to brave the subway.
I'll be honest, the Boston subway system isn't quite as straight-forward as New York's subway system for a newcomer. We knew we wanted the green line and that we wanted to go to Lechmere. However we watched a few green ones come through the station (they're more like trolley cars than subway trains) but according to our map they didn't seem to be going in the right direction for our hotel. They also seemed to be filling up pretty quickly! Eventually, just as I was getting all verklempt, one rumbled into the station with "Lechmere" on the front, so we jumped aboard with all our bags, probably making ourselves deeply unpopular with our fellow travellers.
At Lechmere we disembarked and tried to figure out the best way to the hotel. By this point we were grumpy and tired and I was in no mood to put up with the Yorkshireman's attempts to save us some time and energy by finding a shortcut. Nope, Google Maps had said this was the fastest way to walk from the station to the hotel, so that's the way we were walking damn it!
As we rounded the corner past the CambridgeSide Galleria mall, we caught sight of our hotel just across the road. Just in time, because I was in pain and tired and grumpy and about to have a big strop right there and then outside P.F. Chang’s Chinese restaurant. We checked in to the Royal Sonesta quickly enough and went off to explore our room on the 5th floor.
We'd paid extra for a river view room but to be honest, half of the view was obstructed by the walls of the hotel and the remainder was pretty unremarkable.
We had not paid extra for the huge rumbling air conditioning unit on the ground outside our window though. Its dulcet tones (24/7) really did add something to the experience, but I'm not sure it was anything positive. I would have asked for a different room but we were tired, in a hurry and didn't anticipate spending much time in our room anyway.
There were some good things about this hotel but there were some bad things too. It was fine but it was by far my least favourite hotel of our whole trip. We'd clearly been spoiled by all the suites we'd been staying at because I found the room quite small. It was also very warm (the air conditioning didn't seem to work, which was ironic given the huge, white, growling machine outside our window, the noise of which also meant we couldn't keep our window open) and there was an unnecessarily complicated control pad for operating the lights in the room. Whatever happened to good old fashioned switches?
There were also crazy movement sensors on the floor, so if you got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you ended up blinded by a strange blue light. All very odd. On the plus side the bed was comfortable and the spa (one of the main reasons we went with the Sonesta in the end) was pretty good. But more on that later. At this point, we were in a bit of a rush.
You see we had tickets to go to another (yes, yet another) ice hockey game at TD Garden that night. We were going to be away fans for the first time, as the NY Rangers took on the Boston Bruins on their home turf. I was excited and nervous but also pretty hungry - the train picnic had been nice but not filling.
So we decided to have dinner at The Cheesecake Factory across from our hotel. I have to say it was pretty good actually for a chain, and reasonable with it. There was plenty of choice on the menu too. In the end I went for a combo of Chicken Madeira and Steak Diane - the steak had the edge but they were both yummy. We didn't have time for cheesecake though, as we had to get to TD Garden for the 7pm face-off.
After dinner, we made our way back to Lechmere and the green line and made our way back to North Station. We eventually found our way into the arena ("Follow those Bruins!") and tried to figure out how to get to our seats.
As the Yorkshireman bought a programme, I got into a tussle with the Bruins' mascot, Blades the bear, as he flicked my NY Rangers scarf in disdain. I retorted that yeah, I was a Rangers fan, cos we were awesome and gave back as much 'tude as I was being given. The bear had a go at the Yorkshireman too but we weren't going to be that easily rattled! It's all cool because I can now legitimately tell people that on my holiday to America I'd been attacked by a bear!
After fending off the bear, acquiring our requisite beer and finding our seats, we settled in for the game.
It was a great game… if you were a Rangers fan. The Bruins fans just looked more and more depressed as time went on. The final score was 3-0 to the Rangers (woooooo!).
At the end of the game we took a few gloating photos of each other in front of the scoreboard with our Rangers paraphernalia on display and got heckled by some of the noisier Bruins fans who had been behind us. Their argument was that whilst we had won this game, they had won the Stanley Cup last year. Fair point but that was then and this was now. The dispute was only resolved when one of the Bruins fans insisted on being in one of my smug Rangers fan photos doing a "thumbs down" pose in the foreground. For the sake of getting out of there alive it was a deal! It makes me smile every time I look at it now.
Next it was yet another long wait for an elevator down to ground level again (seriously USA arenas, sort it out!) but this time we had company, as a pair of star-crossed lovers (one a Rangers fan, one a Bruins fan) were spending their valentine’s evening waiting with their Bruins fan friends for the elevator too. We had some great banter until we reached the lobby and went our separate ways.
We headed back to the green line, back to Lechmere and back to our hotel, making a short detour via the Cheesecake Factory for some, well, guess… The Yorkshireman went for a slice of Craig's Crazy Carrot Cake cheesecake and I went for Dulce de Leche Caramel. We consumed them on our comfortable bed, watching The Daily Show and Colbert Report on the big HD TV before going to bed, tired from our day's travelling and gleeful from our hockey win and late night sugar rush.
It had only been a few hours but New York already seemed so very far away, and the end of our trip was looming ever closer.