Boston and Cape Cod…An Unexpected Adventure
As you know, I love to travel and I love writing about the places I have been to almost as much as I do visiting them. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to see many wonderful places and more often than not, I have gone back to them again and again. This year, I had no real desire for any particular place although I do have a love for France and Italy is never never far from my mind either. I take the lead on family holidays but we all sort of agreed that we might go to the south of France (having done Italy for the umpteenth time last year) and I set about the task. Endless internet searches and dozens of phone calls later I had nothing booked and I had left it rather late to secure any of my first choice (all ten of them) accommodations. So, late in fact that all of the hotels, apartments and resorts that I had on my radar were full and availability was non-existent. Being a seasoned online booker, I thought I would have no problems finding the perfect holiday a couple of months in advance of my planned departure date but it was proving difficult and finally had to resign myself to going somewhere I didn’t really want to go to or worse than that, nowhere at all. The latter was not an option.
After exhausting just about every permutation of flights, hotels, packages and everything in between, I happened upon the most unlikely trip for my summer break. I say unlikely in that it wasn’t what I had in mind. The destination however, had been on my bucket list for years. I had secretly planned to visit this place SOMEDAY, I just hadn’t banked on going this summer.
Where did I end up? I know you’re desperate for me to tell you.
Having expected to go to Italy or France (my go-to safe havens of reliability) I ended up in the USA. A happy detour, let me tell you.
Mostly this was down to cost. Virgin Atlantic had just launched a new route from Manchester to Boston and I managed to grab flights and a four night, five-star city hotel package for a very reasonable sum. Compared to some of the prices I was being asked to pay for the Med this year, it was hard to ignore the value of this offer and I just had to do it. Obviously, I was then faced with the dilemma of what I was going to do for the other 10 days – as the flight was based on a 14-night stay. Easy peasy. I was going to be in Massachusetts with a car. Cape Cod didn’t just wink at me, she practically screamed my name and said, “Come and see me!” So, I did. More of the Cape later. Now I need to tell you all about my adventures in Boston.
I came to this city with no idea of what it would be like. I suppose I imagined it to be a bit like New York and expected a bright lights, big city, full-on, in your face metropolis. Wrong.
Boston is a delight with almost an old-world charm, despite the gleaming sky-scrapers that make up the dazzling skyline. Beautiful architecture lines the streets and although there’s a real buzz about the place, it’s still rather atmospheric and never feels overly crowded. Well, at least that’s how I saw it.
We were staying in the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel in the Back Bay area of the city and hand on heart, no kidding, this is without doubt one of the best hotels I have stayed in – in the world. Sheer opulence greets you as you walk through the doors. The reception area exudes glamour and elegance yet very welcoming. You know that feeling when you go to a really fancy hotel and you kind of feel a little awkward or out of place? Not here. Despite the surroundings, I felt quite at home and everyone around me seemed casually dressed. You’d think in this standard of hotel that every guest would be walking around in a dinner suit or a ball gown but it was actually really relaxed. The jet lag and the weariness leaves me immediately and I know I’ve made the right choice. My only regret is that I hadn’t booked more time here and I hadn’t even seen my room yet! (Think of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when she says to Richard Gere’s character “In case I forget to tell you, I had a really nice time tonight”) Well, I was ready to write a Trip Advisor review with five stars before I’d even put my head on the pillow!
So now you know where to stay if you ever visit Boston, let me tell you about some of the great stuff that you can see and do.
I doubt I even scratched the surface of the Boston ‘Must see’ list but I packed in as much as I could in my few days here without exhausting myself or my family. I still wanted to wind down and relax as well – although I knew I had the second leg of my journey for most of that.
First on the list had to be the Boston Tea Party Museum
The fascinating story behind this attraction is significant in changing the course of America’s history. Tastefully produced, hilarious characters re-enact the historical act of defiance which lead up to The American Revolution and eventual independence.
There were a few moments along the way when I almost felt a little embarrassed to be British as the story unfolded but hey, this was a long long time ago and we’re all friends again!
Another trip I knew I would be making on these shores was to Cambridge to visit the world-famous Harvard University. I had my studious teenage son in tow who harbours ambitions to study in the US and I must admit, after seeing Harvard, I’d be the first to encourage him (grades permitting!) What an impressive place this is. They even have their own Police.
Visitors are free to tour the grounds and take in the vibrant atmosphere of this fine college campus. All I could think about was some of the famous names, or rather former US Presidents who make up Harvard’s alumni such John F Kennedy, Franklin D Roosevelt, George W Bush and more recently, Barack Obama. Harvard certainly has plenty to boast about. Even if you don’t have any potential students in the family, just go and see it anyway. It’s beautiful and you can feel the pride of its scholars hanging in the air.
Now, so far, so highbrow but I’m going to change the tempo slightly here. Who remembers the hit TV show Cheers? My Friday nights were spent glued to the television waiting on the next episode in the life of Woody, Sam, Carla, Diane and who could forget barflies Norm and Cliff? If you go to Boston, you must visit Cheers pub. Sure, it’s nothing like the set of the tv show once you get inside but the exterior boasts the famous sign that used to grace our screens at the start of each programme. It’s packed with tourists and cheesy as it comes but I loved the thrill of being there and I had a fine lunch of fish and chips washed down with a lovely beer!
I could fill another few pages on Boston but it’s time for me to take you on the road as we head to the coast and the beauty that awaits in Cape Cod.
Driving from the heart of Boston to the Cape took just under two hours but the traffic, we were told, can be far worse, especially at weekends. We were lucky and the roads were trouble free. By late afternoon we were dusting off the city cobwebs and dipping our toes in the refreshing waters of Cape Cod. The Cape extends into the Atlantic Ocean from the south-eastern corner of Massachusetts and is one of the prettiest shores I’ve ever seen. With over 500 miles of unspoilt coastline, you’re bound to find a nice beach in Cape Cod to spend a day or two on.
Our favourite spot was on Breakwater Beach, just along from our lodgings at Brewster’s luxurious Ocean Edge Resort.
Beach life is certainly a big part of why people come to Cape Cod but there’s still plenty to do away from the sea and sand. There are some stunning little towns dotted around, all with that quaint, New England charm that welcomes you like an old friend. We visited Chatham and Hyannis and both were utterly delightful.
Hyannis was my favourite and this was a surprise as I was only going there to get the ferry elsewhere and was expecting nothing more than a serviceable port. Wrong again.
The town of Hyannis has a bustling main street with bars and shops and a lovely little museum dedicated to former president John F Kennedy. The Hyannis JFK museum takes you on a short but comprehensive tour of his family life, his presidency and his untimely death. There are wonderful pictures of him and wife Jackie with their children, spending time in Hyannis, on the water with his boat and also on Martha’s Vineyard – the island that I was desperate to visit and the sole reason for coming to Hyannis.
Ferries are readily available from the pretty little port and you can visit either Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard daily.
We set sail for the Vineyard on a Hy-Line ferry and the hour-long journey across to the island was simply a joy.
For those of you of a certain vintage, you’ll remember the 70s-blockbuster movie, Jaws. It was set here on Martha’s Vineyard. I was told by the tour guide that the waters were pretty safe but I didn’t bother taking a dip and stayed on dry land. I have a long memory! This is another must do trip if you find yourself holidaying on Cape Cod.
The pretty little hamlet of Edgartown is the perfect spot for a nice leisurely lunch and some souvenir shopping. The Vineyard has also played host to a few famous faces and has been popular with US presidents in the past too.
So, by visiting Martha’s Vineyard I had managed another tick on the bucket list, however, it wasn’t the highlight of the trip and I came away feeling slightly deflated, having built up the image of the island in my head and expected a paradise beyond my wildest dreams. It was nice and I’m glad I went but it wasn’t the fairytale utopia I had imagined.
Our last day on the cape was looming and how were we going to spend our time? I had enjoyed Hyannis so much that we came here for our final hours in this beautiful place.
It was time well spent. The memory of sitting watching the boats in the charming port as the water glistened in the late afternoon sun will stay with me forever, or at least until I can go back.
Sometimes it pays to keep an open mind when booking holidays. I used to be really set in my ways and I know what I like but now and again, take a risk, take a chance and go somewhere that you might not have thought of. My late booking led to the happiest of surprises and I’ve fallen in love with this neck of the wood. I can only imagine how beautiful she will look once summer melts away to welcome in the next season. I might just try and go back in the Fall and see New England at her very best.
Deborah’s Travel Facts:
- We flew with Virgin Atlantic from Manchester to Boston – top class!
- We stayed in The Fairmont Copley Plaza, Boston.
- Our hire car was part of the package with Virgin Holidays – ask for one when booking flights.
- In Cape Cod we stayed in the Ocean Edge Resort and Spa in the lovely little town of Brewster. A fantastic resort for all the family. I booked this via www.booking.com but you can book direct too. Keep checking both for the best available rates.
I love travel. I’ve been fascinated by other countries and cultures since my first foreign trip in 1985 and I’ve had serious wanderlust ever since.I also love to write about where I’ve been and tripsology lets me indulge that passion. I’m thrilled to be a regular contributor and editor. When I’m not writing I also run my own PR and publicity company.