We weren't sure at first. The trip has been on Alli's agenda for a while, but she's pregnant, which introduces a little variable; there's always the cost of the trip, etc. It's only been a year since H and I made the same trip, except the conference was early April then- and as it turned out, pretty cold. However, big things happened there, as she took some of her first steps at the Seaport hotel and won a special jacket as a result, which she's almost grown into now, and we did need to go back to wear that. Anyway, what did it for me was when I thought back to a trip a few years back, also in April, when the weather was fantastic and I spent my days at the MIT sailing pavilion and on the Charles river sailing a dinghy-- glorious. I romanticized that idea and decided we should come (even if Hamish wasn't going to do any sailing). Oh and also our friends are prolific and there are more babies to meet and being close to Alli is always a good thing.
Anyway, as I'm sure you can guess, we got more of the gross wet cold rainy Boston that made me ready to move away after living there 7 years. But we really didn't let it ruin our parade.
We arrived Monday night after our easy direct flight and just checked into the hotel, ate at the adjoining restaurant, and went on to bed.
But Tuesday morning we got up and made H's day: trolley passes!
Considering the weather was not conducive to walking about, and H loves buses, this was the perfect idea. Hop on/hop off trolley passes so we could ride and see the sights. Bonus: the trolleys were orange! H loved waiting outside the hotel (trolley came right to our hotel) and then excitedly saying "that feh-feen's trolley! it's a orange!" Unfortunately, something with the time change and a little bit late start combined to put her to sleep about 20 minutes in.
I decided it would be better to get off and try to get her to sleep laying down in her stroller than for me to complete the tour while she slept in my arms, but then she tricked me again when she woke up about 5 minutes later. We strolled over to our old church, but couldn't really get in to look around since there was a school in session. We meandered through the Boston common for a while, and finally I decided we'd get back on the trolley. It was just too cold to keep outside long. The weather was generally 40's and 50's, but there was a steady wind most of the time putting the wind chill in the 30's, and we dressed for early Spring temperatures: skin covering and light jackets.
We stayed on the trolley tour for a while and decided to get off at the Prudential center and associated retail mall to find food. After a good meal at Au Bon Pain (boiled eggs for her, sandwich for me, which she proceeded to eat half of, oh and then a muffin, because she saw the muffins), I thought for sure she'd pass out quickly. But she was a fighter. We stopped in the Barnes and Noble and I read a whole shelf of books. The pigeon finally took his bath, knuffle bunny was found, a way was made for ducklings, deep breaths were taken to avoid crying in a bookstore reading that "I'll love you forever" book, etc. I thought I had her ready to go. But of course when I tried to put her in the stroller, "I walk! I do byself!" Ultimately I had to rock her to sleep like a bitty baby, humming rock a bye baby, while pacing outside Barnes and Noble.
But it was kind of worth it. I pulled the old top of the hub "trick"-- you can go to the observation deck at the prudential and pay $16 for the view, and I think it's on level 50. Or you just go to the restaurant in the midday hours on the 52nd floor, sit at a table by the window, and have an overpriced $7 beer. Of which I had 2 while H proceeded to sleep 2.5 hrs in her stroller.
After that, I met a couple of old colleagues for pizza and to meet a new baby. As you can see H had a blast here with the older sister who is only 2 months her junior. They were a fun pair.
Little brother was happy enough to lay back and watch all of the excitement between them. And my phone was dead from the 2.5 hrs of nobody to talk to at the top of the hub, so I didn't actually take any pictures. A taxi ride back to our hotel completed the day.
Wednesday we went back for more trolley! This time we got moving a little faster and headed straight to the New England Aquarium.
We only spent about an hour and a half at the exhibits, but it still felt worth it. They have a fish tank in the center that rises 4 floors and I felt there were places you could stand and look up and into a coral formation and actually momentarily feel similar to the way you do scuba diving.
Of course scuba diving wins big for the ability to then swim up and through that formation, by and with those fish instead of behind glass. But H loved it. The harbor seals (which of course she thought were dogs) were a big hit, as were the penguins. And the penguin stamp on her hand. That may have been the highlight and worth the price of admission. We lunched at the aquarium and then went back to the room for a proper nap.
On the subject of naps, H was a super traveler and is all grown up. First off, I don't know if we've mentioned that we have tried her on pallets on a couple of trips, so we can move beyond the pack and play, and she's taken to it great. Well at a church retreat last weekend and on this trip, we got one hotel room with 2 double beds. We let H choose her bed at the beginning, and there was not a single request that she sleep in our bed. She slept fantastically in her big girl bed byself, only waking up to say "I need water". Once supplied, she'd lay right back down and fall back to sleep.
We also made good use of our iPhone apps and set one up as a baby monitor so we didn't need to go to bed at 7:30 when she did. We'd just go down to the lobby and hang out or grab a drink together. And later, when we returned to the room, despite the noise as we were getting ready and in to bed, she did not wake up enough to protest. Oh also, we forced H to make a decision before we left home: "we only have room for one of your bed friends. We will leave 2 of them behind so they have company. You choose which one to take." She chose meow, and monkey and lamb stayed behind. We talked about them a little, prayed for them at bedtimes, but there was never any sign of distress that only one could come. awesome child.
After nap time was complete Wednesday, we headed back out on the trolley and completed the tour.
We only got off once to go visit the make way for ducklings statues. H greeted each one individually, but my phone ran out of storage before she was finished (and she started at least calling them something ending with 'ack'):
On the tour, H got to see the tea party ship, old ironsides, Fenway, the TD bank garden, MIT, the Charles river, the old north church, Faneuil Hall, and more. However, again, the weather was gross, and at the end of the day, we decided to just get back to the hotel and meet Alli for dinner at the same hotel-adjoining Irish pub.
Thursday H and I laid pretty low. We made one morning trip over to the convention center hosting Alli's conference and paraded H about for her colleagues. A woman working at the World Trade Center (conference location) decided to give her a gift just for being cute, a little polka-dotted red bear that she proudly carried and requested at future naps and bedtimes.
We also found plenty of entertainment at the hotel. We made a daily routine of a trip downstairs to the starbucks to get her a big yogurt parfait, daddy's coffee, and mommy's tea. As you can imagine, she charmed people the whole way. We were also pretty high up in our hotel with a good view of the Logan airport, so we'd eat our morning yogurt and spot the planes together: "that fe-feen's plane, falling down, the landing, right there, on in the ground" with much pointing. Oh and sometimes I wrapped her in her blanket and called her a bug, she liked that:
After nap time, we took one more trolley ride just to get to our included harbor cruise! We rode for about 45 minutes out on the water, and while we were out, the clouds parted, the sun revealed itself, and the romanticized Boston peeked out.
Alli met us after the cruise and her conference were complete, and we all rode the subway together to meet several good friends for dinner. More new babies, we got one table for 8 adults and 7 children. 2 of the moms are pregnant, so next time we get together, the parents will be outnumbered. Luckily Bertucci's gave us a long table at a far end of the restaurant and nobody else seemed too distressed by the antics. Fantastically, a couple of these friends live very nearby and invited us all back for coffee and cookies. They have a play room where we sent the little ones and the adults actually had conversation. I understand H made her own cookies upstairs in the play kitchen while we ate the real ones downstairs. We didn't share with the kidlets- they got free ice cream at the restaurant! Our hosts were also very kind and drove us all the way back across town to our hotel to save us the $50 cab fare. As a bonus, we went through some tunnels on the way back, officially putting the cherry on the top of the means of conveyance used on the trip: the stroller, a van (in the tunnel), a bus (to and from airport, also tunnels), the orange trolley, the train (subway, in a tunnel!), the boat, and the planes.
Luckily, Friday our flight was at 1 p.m., so we again had a lazy morning with our starbucks and plane spotting before we said goodbye to Boston again. FYI: this was H's 3rd trip to Boston, and she was not even born in this country. Then H, in typical fashion, slept most of the trip home and was a delightful traveling companion. Sadly, this was very likely her last free flight :-(
At least we'll have someone else to ride free in the near future?