Sometimes travel is about family, and that is a wonderful thing. This year, Andrew and I decided to join his family in Boston for Thanksgiving and also to celebrate his dad’s birthday. We left on Thanksgiving day out of Atlanta after driving from Birmingham at 3 a.m. We were exhausted, but ready to eat.
Day 1: Thanksgiving
Dinner was hosted at Andrew's aunt’s house. Everything was so good! Being from the South, I wasn’t sure if there would be any major differences in Thanksgiving. This is the first time I’ve spent it with family other than my own. But, everything seemed the same with one exception: they had lasagna. Is that a common Northern thing? As far as I’m concerned, this is something we need to start doing down South. Yum. I hadn’t met most of the people there, so it was just fun to hang out and get to know everyone.
Day 2: Rockport
After some much needed sleep, everyone decided to drive to Rockport, a cute little coastal town. I was excited to see some picturesque New England landscapes since I’ve never had the chance to explore up there before. Rockport reminded me of several small towns in North Carolina, except for instead of in the mountains, it was on the coast. Cute little specialty shops line the streets. Local cafes and restaurants are intermingled. We decide to eat at a place called Blue Lobster Grille. Andrew and I split a lobster roll and some clam chowder. I had to go super stereotypical with at least one meal and this was it. I thought both were delicious, but the clam chowder won. This might also be due to the fact that it was an incredibly cold day. I didn’t realize how windy it would be near the coast, and my skin felt like it was turning into a popsicle. It was still a fun excursion and I loved getting a taste of New England life.
Day 3: Freedom Trail
Me, Andrew, his brother Patrick, and his girlfriend Kaitlin planned this day as Freedom Trail day. Again, never having been to Boston, I wanted to see some historical sites in the city.
We started at the Boston Commons and followed the red line throughout the city all day. Andrew’s aunt ended up giving us a very helpful book on the trail and Andrew played tour guide with the book for most of the day. We decided he needs to get a founding father’s costume and make a career out of it.
Some of my favorite sites on the trail were the graves. We saw the graves of Thomas Jefferson, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, James Otis and the Boston Massacre victims. Also, for literary nerds, we went by King’s Chapel and its cemetery, which is where Nathaniel Hawthorne got his inspiration for The Scarlet Letter. There is a grave for Elizabeth Pain, who is supposedly the real life Hester Prynne. I also heard that the minister is somewhere in the cemetery as well, but I didn’t find that grave. Scandal!
We ate at a place called The Ginger Man. It had a gorgeous wooden bar and a good selection of local beers and nice cocktails. I ended up getting some red wine and a grilled cheese and tomato soup. Both were tasty, but be warned that the tomato soup was incredibly spicy. I like a little spice in my food, so I was alright, but Andrew ended up having to send his back. They were very nice about it, though.
We walked through Faneuil Hall Marketplace. There were a lot of fun places to shop and apparently it’s been the place for buying and trading for a very long time. Most of these places have histories that date back to the 1600s. There is a rareness and an importance to it that really interested me just because there aren’t many places like this in the U.S.
The Old State House was another favorite. This is right next to the site of the Boston Massacre. The Declaration of Independence was read from the balcony of the state house and Boston continues this tradition every year on the 4th of July.
We made it to the Bunker Hill Monument, the last stop on the trail. It’s a huge obelisk on the site of the battle. This is where the famous line, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes” took place.
The trail made me feel appreciative for my country, which is sometimes hard for me to feel. There is so much unrest right now, so it was nice to be reminded of the start of everything.
We ended the day back near the Commons at the Cheers bar. Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, am I right? In all seriousness, I was actually very excited to get a beer at the Cheers bar. It’s a great show.
Days 4-5: SNOW
I’m going to lump these days into one section because a lot of it centered around the same thing: snow. We learned that we were about to be hit with some snow, so we all decided to hunker down together at Andrew’s aunt’s house. We had been staying with his cousin while his mom and brothers stayed at his aunt’s, but since we were there as a family get-together, we didn’t want to end up trapped away from each other. Shout out to all of Andrew’s family for letting us crash at various locations. They were all so, so, so accommodating and fun. Also, Andrew’s cousin Christine has the cutest baby of all time. She dances to Lizzo. A true prodigy.
We decided to have one final outing before hunkering down and drove into the Back Bay to walk around and shop. There are so many cool shops on Newbury street. I got some gourmet chocolate, tried on some Allbirds, and even found a Harry Potter shop! We also ate a Ramen restaurant. Andrew and I split a vegetable curry. Perfect amount of spice for the cold weather.
By the time we made it back, the snow had started. I am terrified of snow. During the rare times it happens here, the city totally shuts down. We just don’t have the resources to handle it. None of our cars are made for that. We have like one snowblower for the whole city. It just doesn’t work. So, I was anxious about the snow even though it’s a totally different thing in the North.
I was worrying for nothing! Snow up there is beautiful and fun. It’s that light, powdery texture that we don’t get here. The city is ready to clear the roads. People know how to drive and have the right tires to do so. I surprised myself with how much I was out there. I really don’t handle cold well at all, but I dressed almost exactly like Ralphie from A Christmas Story, and I was fine. We even helped shovel snow! It was a cool experience, but I wouldn’t want to do it all the time.
I admire you New Englanders. Also, if you ever want a good tourism gimmick, start selling snow shoveling as an immersive New England experience. Unsuspecting dumb dumbs like me will eat that up.
Besides the snow, we had a lot of family time inside. Andrew’s aunt gave us all the food we could ever want. She is really the sweetest. I had such a great time with everyone, and I was just really thankful that I had the chance to make this trip.
I hope everyone else has a great Thanksgiving, too! Feel free to share what you did with family or friends!