Tag Archives: Boston

Staying at The Longwood Inn

During my visit to Boston last week I stayed at The Longwood Inn in Brookline, MA. The Longwood Inn is a 1900s Victorian mansion that has been converted to an inn. It has excellent rates for the area and offers free off street parking for guests. After my experience in Cooperstown this place felt like a palace.

The front of The Longwood Inn.

The inn has a wifi connection available throughout the building and on the deck and patio. Both the brick patio in front of the building and deck on the rear of the building feature cafe style tables.

The back of The Longwood Inn.

I did not take many pictures of the inside of the building–and the ones I have were shot quickly with my phone. The lobby has a nice fireplace and woodwork. It definitely feels like an old mansion.

The lobby of The Longwood Inn.

The dining room in The Longwood Inn.

The kitchen is open to all guests. Everything placed in the refrigerator must be labeled, and dishes that are used must be washed. During my stay the kitchen was very clean, and it was a nice perk to have it available.

The kitchen in The Longwood Inn.

My room was on the third floor. It was small but very comfortable. The quality of the furniture and fixtures was very good, and the room was very clean. The mattress was like a cloud with good lumbar support. The shower had excellent water pressure and the water heated in seconds. Some guests staying on the third floor might not like the narrow staircase, and the fact that guests are expected to transport their own luggage, but I didn’t mind that at all.

My room at The Longwood Inn.

I found the staff to be pleasant. They were helpful and available, yet they gave their guests space. Since I have no problem doing things myself or initiating conversations if I need something, I didn’t mind this at all.

One of the great things about The Longwood Inn is the location. It is a pleasant 1.1 mile walk to Fenway Park. The Arnold Arboretum is a 3.0 mile walk away. The Boston Common (and the start of The Freedom Trail) is a 2.8 mile walk from the inn. There is a Trader Joe’s 0.4 miles from the inn on Beacon Street. Numerous restaurants are within walking distance. I recommend the Corrib Pub if you want a nice drink selection and classic pub food. I noticed that there are bus stops within a couple of blocks of the inn too. The Emerald Necklace is very close to the inn, which offers great trails for walking, running, or biking along the Riverway.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at The Longwood Inn, and I recommend it if you are visiting Boston.

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Boston: Walking the Freedom Trail

During my time in Boston last week I walked downtown to see the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a brick or red paint path laid out through some of the historic parts of Boston, designed as a walking tour. The trail begins at the Boston Common. You can sign up for guided tours or venture out on your own. I downloaded a map of the trail as a pdf for my phone and a free application for my phone that contained a map and information about the sites on the trail (The Freedom Trail Walking Tour).

The Freedom Trail is marked by bricks or red paint.

It was a beautiful summer day to walk the trail.

The State House in Boston is the first stop.

It is fascinating to see all the old buildings and structures. I wandered around the Granary Burying Ground for a while. The number of people buried at the site is not known, for some markers are missing, shared, or were never set up. It is interesting to see the different sizes and levels of extravagance of the markers. John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and Benjamin Franklin’s parents are all buried at this location. They have large markers that have been added well after their deaths. Many of the markers feature a design that looks like a winged skull (it is featured on the stone in the foreground of the picture below). Does anyone know the significance or origin of this design? It was so common; I figure it must have a story or explanation.

The Granary Burying Ground in Boston.

I really like the old buildings standing defiantly in the midst of the larger modern buildings. The Old State House holds its own on Washington Street.

The Old State House in Boston.

Faneuil Hall is called the Cradle of Liberty, for rallies and speeches that it hosted were part of the formation of the United States of America. A statue of Samuel Adams stands in front of the Hall. He looks quite determined.

Samuel Adams in front of Faneuil Hall in Boston.

The weather vane on the roof of Faneuil Hall is a grasshopper.

The grasshopper weather vane on Faneuil Hall.

A marketplace sits beside Faneuil Hall, called the Quincy Market or the Faneuil Hall Marketplace. It was bustling with activity as I walked through it shortly after noon. Street performers mimicked statues, played instruments, juggled, and break danced. Sidewalk vendors sold food and tourist trappings. And the restaurants and shops in the market had bright and engaging outdoor displays and seating areas. Thanks to a tip from my friend Ryan I sought out Durgin-Park, an establishment that notified me they were: “Established Before You Were Born.” I walked in and found a great seat at a small table in its own recessed spot along a wall (for a person who values space, it was a pleasant little refuge to retreat to for lunch in a busy urban environment).

The view from my secluded table in Durgin-Park.

The first Herbert Hoover campaign poster featuring a reflected neon martini glass that you have seen.

Directly behind my head (so close in fact, that my head regularly brushed the frame) was a framed Herbert Hoover campaign poster. When I stood up to view the picture, a neon martini glass sign in the adjacent window cast a glow, resulting in the first Herbert Hoover campaign poster with a superimposed martini glass that I have seen. I suspect it might be the first one you have seen too. Correct me if I am wrong.

I ordered fish and chips, a side of Boston baked beans, and a Sam Adams Summer Ale. Reviews I had read of Durgin-Park were rather critical of the food, but I found it to be rather good. Yes, the prices are a bit high–but not outrageous. And it’s not everyday you get to see a campaign poster for Herbert Hoover.

Lunch at Durgin-Park.

After lunch I served as a photographer in the market for a while. (When I am traveling by myself I often offer to take photos for people. In all my years doing this I have only been turned down two times–I believe once because someone did not want to be in a photo and once because the person thought I was going to steal his camera. During my Cooperstown and Boston vacation I was never turned down when I made the offer, thus I shot many pictures.)

When I got back on the trail I saw the Paul Revere House and the Paul Revere Mall which were both interesting. Close by was the Old North Church, where Paul Revere was a bell ringer. The church was also the location where the signal was displayed to alert Revere to go on his famous ride.

After crossing the Charlestown Bridge I saw the Bunker Hill Monument, which marks the spot of the first major battle of the American Revolution.

The Bunker Hill Monument.

A dashing statue of Colonel William Prescott in front of the Bunker Hill Monument.

I climbed the 294 steps to the top of the monument. The view was a bit disappointing, for the openings were small and the covering glass was cloudy and smudged. Many people were jammed into the small room at the top of the monument, so I only had a short time to look out before starting the descent. I took a few quick pictures, but they did not turn out as well as I had hoped.

A view of Boston from the top of the Bunker Hill Monument.

My next stop was the harbor. I walked through the USS Constitution Museum.

The USS Constitution Museum.

While in the museum–in a section where photography was prohibited–I encountered a working hoist that allowed visitors to haul a fake goat back and forth. I was compelled to covertly take a photo of this goat.

Hoist the goat!

In a dry dock beside the museum sits the USS Cassin Young. It served in World War II and was active until 1960. The ship is managed by the National Park Service and may be toured. I spent some time exploring it. The torpedoes were very cool to see up close.

The USS Cassin Young in dry dock.

Old Ironsides, the USS Constitution, resides in the harbor. To board the ship visitors must go through security screening. I did–it is debatable if it was worth it. The line was long, and the deck of the ship was crowded (which made good photos almost impossible to get while on the ship). Still, it was neat to see the cannons up close. And the bells were very ornate and shiny. I really wanted to climb the mast, but that was strictly prohibited.

The U.S.S. Constitution.

I enjoyed seeing the old parts of Boston. I’m glad that I decided to walk to Freedom Trail–it was well worth it.

I saw many exceptional Hydrangea macrophylla specimens in Boston. Most of them had pink and blue flowers, sometimes a violet color as well. Many times the color of H. macrophylla can be manipulated by changing the pH of the soil (which changes the availability of aluminum). I’m curious if the frequency of multicolored plants in Boston is due to soil conditions or a particular cultivar that is being planted.

A multi-colored hydrangea in Boston.

I also got a kick out of seeing Boston ivy in Boston.


Boston ivy in Boston!

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Visiting the Arnold Arboretum

Last week I visited Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum while I was in Boston. When I first arrived I talked with Kevin, a researcher at the arboretum who is studying hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA). My M.S. research involved HWA, so we spent some time talking about methods and analyses. He showed me some of the hemlocks he is working with and gave me a quick driving tour of the arboretum. We also looked at a hemlock specimen on the grounds that is thought to be a new species, which is currently being called Ulleung hemlock (as far as I know it does not have a scientific name yet). It was fun to talk about research and hemlocks again.

After our conversation I started walking through the arboretum. It contains 265 acres, with winding trails and large open plantings, so I spent many hours traipsing around. Very few plants were in bloom, so I had to imagine what many of the plants would look like in their peak flowering season and in the fall when their leaves changed color.

Hamamelis mollis (Chinese witch-hazel) at the Arnold Arboretum.

I saw some great Hamamelis and Clethra specimens–including Clethra acuminata, a plant I’ve been wanting to see.

In one garden there was a unique azalea. It was flowering when few other shrubs were in bloom, so there were many flying things around it. It looked like a deli counter at noon. I managed to isolate one patron in this picture:

A butterfly visits an azalea.

Clematis hexapetala (six petal clematis) surprised me, I did not realize there were any Clematis species that were not vines. It turns out there are several.

Clematis hexapetala at the Arnold Arboretum.

A weeping European larch caught my eye. It’s the plant equivalent of a Shih Tzu.

A weeping European larch.

When goldenrain trees are in bloom they are striking. Two goldenrain trees were in bloom at the Arnold Arboretum.

Goldenrain trees.

In the middle of the arboretum there stands a little hut; the hut is locked and alarmed. It contains the Lars Anderson bonsai collection, with specimens dating back into the 1700s. I took this picture up against the bars on one side, giving the illusion that I was inside the cage.

Part of the Larz Anderson bonsai collection.

I walked up Hemlock Hill, which was fun. I’ve read about Hemlock Hill, so being there and seeing the plants was great. Chinese hemlocks are being planted in some of the areas where eastern hemlocks have been devastated by HWA.

The path that leads to the top of Hemlock Hill.

The morning was hot and sunny. As the afternoon progressed I noted that clouds were rolling in. In the late afternoon the wind began to pick up, and I decided to head for my car. Soon after I arrived at my car the rain began to fall. I’m glad it only began in the late afternoon–once it started it continued for many hours.

I’d love to visit the Arnold Arboretum again in the future. I’m sure the lilac display must be nothing short of amazing in the spring.

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Fenway Park: Sox and a Monster

On Tuesday I arrived in Boston in the afternoon, checked-in at the Longwood Inn, and walked to Fenway Park. I’ve wanted to see Fenway Park for a long time, so I was very excited to finally walk along Yawkey Way and experience baseball in the 100 year-old ballpark. It was a hot and humid summer night in Boston. I arrived before the gates opened so I waited, people continued to accumulate, until Yawkey Way was a sea of color.

Waiting on Yawkey Way for the gates of Fenway Park to open.

And then the doors were opened, the gates unchained, and the mass of humanity slowly moved into the stadium. I walked around the concourse, looking at the beams and structure of the park–and I couldn’t stop smiling. The first sight of the field inside a ballpark always quickens my pulse. I was struck by how close the Green Monster is to the infield, and how small the park feels inside. My ticket was for grandstand 8, row 2, seat 5.

My seat in the Fenway right field grandstand.

Batting practice was underway on the field. The visiting White Sox were hitting, tonight would be a battle of the Sox. I walked back to the concourse, spent $14 on two Fenway Franks and water, then returned to my seat. I loved that the music being played through the public address system was organ-based.

Watching batting practice from my seat at Fenway.

I noticed that a support beam nearly obscured my view of home plate. Fenway Park is beautiful, full of history, and a treasure–but it is not the best place to view a baseball game. Between support beams and overhanging decks many of the seats offer obstructed views of the field. My view was okay, but the guy seated to my left could almost see the plate around the beam (you can see a bit of his face on the left side of the picture). Well, unfortunately he frequently learned toward me and forward to see around the beam, leaving me the choice of looking at the back of his head or leaning forward to see around him.

My view from grandstand 8, row 2, seat 5.

As someone who values space, the proximity of my neighbors was a bit distressing (take a look at the picture of my seat again, note the thickness of the shared arm rest). For three hours my personal space was invaded. I was nearly constantly being touched by both neighbors, including a moment when one of them placed his hand on my leg instead of the arm rest and I nearly impulsively swatted him (that would have made the next two hours uncomfortable).

But I do not want to give the wrong impression. I enjoyed Fenway Park despite of this.

It was fun to watch the scoreboard operators in the Green Monster.

The scoreboard operators at work. How many humans do you see in this picture?

I did not realize that the base of The Pesky Pole is covered in signatures–I’m assuming those are from fans.

Signatures on The Pesky Pole.

The temperature at game time was announced as 95 °F. During the first several innings of the game the sun was intense, baking the right field side of the stadium. As those of us in the right field side of the stadium faced the wrath (or maybe affection?) of the sun, we could look across and see the left field side ensconced in shade. But I would not have traded my seats for the other side, because I had a great view of the Green Monster all night. The heat made it a lucrative night for beverage vendors, especially those selling lemonade (I would like to see a section by section comparison of the right and left side of the park–I bet the side in the sun purchased more beverages). One interesting note, alcohol is not sold by vendors in the seat, you have to walk to the concourse to get it. It was strange not hearing cries of Cold beer here! during the game. 

It was a good night for beverage vendors.

Kevin Youkilus was making his return to Fenway for the first time as a visitor. He got cheered and a standing ovation during his first at-bat. When he hit a home run over the Monster later in the game he was cheered again.

When the starting Red Sox catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, came to the plate he had some fans in center field. The picture below is of low quality because I did not have a long lens on my camera when I took this picture, so I needed to crop it (the fans were far from me).

Fans hold signs for Jarrod ‘Salty’ Saltalamacchia, the Ks are for Jon Lester.

The Red Sox fell behind, rallied to tie, fell behind again, rallied to make it close, and lost. As part of the late rally Kelly Shoppach hit a home run while pinch hitting for Salty. The fans rejoiced.

Celebration in the stands after Kelly Shoppach hit a home run.

It was a glorious summer night to watch baseball.

Fenway under the lights.

The White Sox won the game 7-5. After it ended I sat in my seat and watched the fans filing out. Eventually I wandered to the top row of the right field grandstand to see what the view looked like from under the overhang. The short answer is very obstructed. You won’t be seeing fly balls or the sky at all if you’re seated there.

The view of the field from the upper row of grandstand 8 at Fenway.

I took pictures for some Red Sox fans at the top of grandstand 8 as the security guards made the rounds and nicely asked us few stragglers in the park to move toward the exits.

Two anonymous Red Sox fans at Fenway Park.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit Fenway in its 100th season. It was great to see a field where Babe Ruth roamed [1]. Just thinking about the players that spent time on this diamond gives me chills. I love baseball.

[1] Babe Ruth also played at Doubleday Field, which I saw earlier in the week, so I saw two ball parks this week that the Sultan of Swat graced in his lifetime. How cool is that?


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