The US states of Massachusetts and Maine were too far north to consider visiting on Bandit. Tempting as it was to head through the Cape Cod Canal and explore these much touted sailing grounds we were well aware it was a one way street – we had to come back down! And with a Pacific crossing on the agenda next year we figured we have enough miles to do. Friends had raved about the Massachusetts capital city of Boston so, as we were at nearby Newport, we opted to leave Bandit safely at anchor and go by bus for the day.
There were two options – a) direct, high speed, luxury, air-con bus at $108 and b) uncomfortable, slow local bus to Providence then crowded commuter train at $30. It was a no brainer – we’re budget (ie cheapskate) cruisers after all – so the slow bus it was. It did take us the scenic way through gently rolling countryside and gorgeous towns, albeit 90 minutes slower than the direct bus! Boston was buzzing which is to be expected given the greater Boston area is home to more than 30 universities and colleges (including Ivy League Harvard). We never knew it was such a beautiful city with stunning buildings, leafy green parks and an overwhelming friendly vibe.
After a fortifying coffee in the financial centre we headed to Boston Common, a wonderful leafy green oasis in the heart of the city complete with ponds, fountains, merry go rounds and food carts. We wandered through it to the adjacent public gardens which were equally as delightful and all immaculately landscaped, planted and maintained. It was a great place to sit and eat our picnic lunch. We were lucky to visit on a sunny day but locals were quick to tell us how brutal the winters can be with snow, rain and bitterly cold winds.
The upmarket shopping area of Back Bay was once a tidal flat but today is a thriving and trendy neighbourhood. Dozens of beautiful brownstones have been converted into trendy boutiques, smart galleries and inviting cafes and bars. The streets are all planted with trees and most shops and houses have gorgeous gardens.
It was in Boylston St in Back Bay that the bombers struck during this year’s Boston Marathon and there is a moving memorial at the local church. Ribbons overflow from a basket and people are encouraged to take one, write a message and tie it to the fence – a haunting tribute. Neighbouring Beacon Hill is Boston’s affluent inner city area with lovely Louisburg Square “the” address in Boston central.
Boston’s waterfront area, like so many around the world, has been transformed into an attractive playground. Boardwalks and bridges link the vast area which is filling up with outdoor cafes and museums including the Boston Tea Party Museum and various old trading ships.
Our only regret about Boston was we didn’t have more time there. We walked and walked and walked and covered as much as we could. We arrived back in Newport very late and, as we’d forgotten to take a torch, we had to dodge the police boat to get back to Bandit, zipping under dark wharves and hiding behind boats! Fines for such misdemeanours sting and luckily we managed to escape detection. Needless to say, Baby Bandit is now sporting a fixed light.