Honeymoon in New England

Brighton to Boston – 9th September

Our check in was pretty efficient, but our seat allocation wasn’t great – the middle 2 of a 4 block. I asked if we could be put on the upgrade list as it was our honeymoon and the lady said she’d make a note of it but that they weren’t looking to upgrade people.

We went through into departures and got some breakfast before heading to the gate. When our cards were checked we’d been allocated some new seats. It wasn’t until we boarded that we realised we’d been upgraded to World Traveller Plus. These seats were great, so much more space. During the flight I started to read the book Cathy and Levi bought me for my birthday – Mrs Dalloway (neither of us had realised that she was a Mrs Richard Dalloway) by Virginia Woolfe.

We treated ourselves to a small bottle of champagne and started our honeymoon in good style.

The flight was pretty good, and we arrived in Boston collected our baggage, cleared customs and caught one of the shuttle buses to the ‘T’ station. We caught the Blue Line and then the Green to Prudential and then walked to the Encore Bed and Breakfast.

The first thing on the agenda was to have a shower – we’d arrived in the middle of a heat wave and it was 29C. Our host Reinhold had thoughtfully left us a half bottle of Korbel Californian Champagne so we sat out on the balcony enjoying the weather, reading about Boston, talking about the wedding and relaxing.

We decided that it was getting close to dinner time and so we consulted the information that was in the room and chose a restaurant to head for. We first went and walked around the Reflecting Pool, part of the Christian Science Centre, looking at all the different buildings and styles that make up that centre. We then just walked along Huntington Ave for a while, looking at what was around until we arrived at Arlington Street.

The restaurant we’d chosen, Grillfish, was between Arlington and Berkley on Columbus Ave and we had a lovely meal there. We both started to flag and so didn’t hang around, just paid the bill, walked back and fell asleep.

In Boston – 10 September

I woke up early – breakfast wasn’t till 9:30 – but spent some time just relaxing before starting the day proper. We went down to the breakfast nook and had a really lovely breakfast and a nice, informative chat with Reinhold.

It was another hot day and so we headed off to explore. Our first stop was the Prudential centre and a visit to the Skywalk – a viewing gallery over Boston. There are some great views and it is getting traditional that we head for the highest possible vantage point.

We headed along Commonwealth Ave, a lovely tree lined road with a series of gardens before entering the Public Garden. There was a crane and a group of workmen all working on moving the George Washington off the granite stand. We watched progress for quite some time before they decided it was lunchtime. We headed off into Boston Common and picked up the Freedom trail.

The Freedom trail is a 2.5 mile walk linking 16 of the historically important sites. It’s really easy to follow as the route is marked by red bricks/red paint. It was a good walk with some interesting sites. We took a short shopping break near the Faneuil Hall to visit Abercrombie and Fitch, and then stopped for some chowder in a bread bowl at Quincy Market. We then headed on and completed the trail although by the time we’d got over the river to Charlestown we were both pretty weary.

We decided to head back to the Encore but decided to stop of at the Prudential shopping mall first – resulting in me buying a new skirt. Then back to the room and time for a much needed shower before heading off to Giacomos – an italian that was recommended by a shopkeeper we’d chatted to earlier. Our food was pretty good, but the service was very harsh and so this spoilt it for us a bit.

So, finally back to the room to relax a little before bedtime.

Boston to North Conway – 11 September

We turned the TV on and watched the coverage of the remembrance services being held at Ground Zero, the Pentagon and Pensylvania. Much of it was very moving stuff.

We went to breakfast and flicked through the papers and spoke to Reinhold about 9.11, our plans for the day and also our thoughts on Giacomos – he also thinks the service is bad. He was also telling us about David’s (our co-host) new play which opens on the 13th – it’s called Bee Luther Hatchee and sounds to be very interesting.

We headed off back to Logan Airport to collect our hire car. Logan airport seemed quiet, and we overheard lots of conversations about where people were this time last year – I remember sitting at my desk in London with the Radio on, being morbidly fascinated and horrified by the events that unfolded. Today we were on the T with our bags and were wished a “safe flight” by one guys on the car. Awareness was high.

We collected our car and started our adventure. We’d decided to head off to New Hampshire and to the White Mountains. The car wasn’t too hard to get to grips with and we made good progress.

We stopped at North Woodstock for some lunch, eating at Peg’s Family Restaurant, a reasonable, simple place. It was raining so we headed off along the beautiful Kancamagus highway through the rain and clouds and into sunshine again. We stopped at a couple of scenic views, and spent some time at the Lower Falls.

We headed into North Conway and started the hunt for a hotel. We looked at the Stonehurst Manor but decided that it was a bit too far out. Then we tried the Oxen Yoke Inn but discovered that the Eastern Slope Inn Resort handles the reservations for it. As we left I managed to scratch the car on a set of unmarked rocks used as a road edge – this was annoying and un-nerving but I guess its why we took CDW insurance. Eventually we decided to check in to the Eastern Slope.

We went for an explore of the town and found quite a few interesting looking shops and eateries before returning to our room and watching some of the news coverage.

We couldn’t decide where to eat and the Lonely Planet wasn’t much help as it just listed places rather than commenting on them. After a look around we went for Horsefeathers which was a good, if very filling, choice. We attempted a starter between us and a main course each but couldn’t finish them. My Lobster Pot Pie was very nice indeed. We had a couple of pints of Tuckerman’s Pale Ale each, a local Washington Valley beer, which was really tasty.

In and Around New Hampshire – 12th September

We got up and had breakfast at a small coffee shop on the hotel complex. Then on with our adventure.

Our first stop was the Echo Lake State Park. We followed the road up to Cathedral ledge and had a walk around at the top, looking down over the valley. We drove down to the lake with the roof down which was really refreshing. We had a look around the lake but it was a bit too cold to linger so we returned to the car.

We then headed off to the Attitash ski area as there is a luge ride but we were too late in the season to play during the week although it still operates on a weekend.

So, we headed off to Crawford Notch State Park as it has a system of short trails. We drove to the Willey house site and picked up an information sheet about the walks. The Arethusa Falls walk sounded lovely, but after doing a short bit of it we turned back as we weren’t properly prepared for a 2 hour walk. Instead we decided to do the Ripley Falls trail. This follows the Appalachian trail for 0.25 mile or so before diverting towards the falls. The falls were beautiful and the area was really peaceful.

We headed back to the car and drove back to the Visitor’s Centre in search of some lunch. One of the day’s specials was Veggie Chilli so we had a good warmingbowl each.

We headed on again and pulled in at the viewpoint overlooking Bretton Woods. This is the hotel where President Roosevelt brought the world leaders in July 1944 to discuss the world economy. It has a wonderful situation with Mount Washington behind it.

We headed off on the base road to the Cog Railway station to look at the trains, the tracks and the mountain. The trip takes 3 hours (there and back), and the temperature at the summit was estimated at 30F. We weren’t prepared for such cold and so gave it a miss.

Instead we headed to the Wildcat mountain ski area and took the gondola skyride to the top. It was around 40F at the summit (approx 3,900 feet) and so was a bit more manageable. We stood on the Observation deck and got some pretty spectacular views.

Enough of being in the outdoors – so we headed back into North Conway and did a spot of light shopping before going back to the hotel room.

After some time relaxing we headed down to “Flatbread Company” an organic pizza place attached to the hotel. The toppings were unusual and the one we shared was very enjoyable. And another pint of Tuckermans Ale each as well – lovely.

North Conway to Camden – 13th September

We had breakfast in the Frontside Grind again before heading off on our way.

The mission for today was shopping and so we headed to Freeport – home of Outlet Shopping. We expected a set of concrete malls but it’s really nicely laid out. For lunch we’d just bought a Lobster Roll each which was a bit dissapointing as it wasn’t very filling. However this gave us a perfect opportunity to try a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. We opted for the 1.5 scoop and it was huge!

After our successful shopping experiences we headed off to Camden. It was a good job we’d pre-booked as a lot of the nicer looking hotels were showing “No Vacancy” signs.

We checked in to the Hartsone Inn and did a bit of unpacking and had a rest. We headed out for an explore of Camden and found somewhere to eat. It wasn’t the greatest place but it was pleasant enough.

In and around Camden – 14th September

We had our first breakfast at the Hartstone Inn and we were impressed. Lovely food, beautifully presented. On the strength of that we decided to see if they had any availability for dinner either today or tomorrow. Unfortunately not.

We thought that giving sea kayaking a try would be fun, and it’s something that the Lonely Planet mentions for Camden, and so Rich started calling around the various operators – no one was running any trips, so that idea was out.

Instead we drove to the Camden Hills State Park, paid our admission and parked. We decided to follow our host’s advice and walk up to Ocean Lookout (near the top of Mt Megunticook). There were quite a lot of people also doing this trail and so it wasn’t as peaceful as our walk on Thursday. However, the view was pretty impressive looking down over Camden and the areas around. We decided that having got so far we’d continue to the top of Mt Megunticook and followed the well-marked, fairly easy going trail. We retraced our steps back to Ocean Lookout and then took a different, tougher and quieter route down. A very pleasant way to spend a few hours.

We drove on to Lincolnville beach and stopped for a picnic lunch. The beach store provided us with good, filling subs which we sat on a bench to eat.

The only thing left in the Guide book for the area was Fort Knox so we headed off there. Bizarre place, really strange. For starters they were having a medieval demonstration – remember that the fort wasn’t built until 1869 – which seemed a little odd. Then we got lost inside the inner section, there were few signs, little information, no maps (apart from the one we got on entry) and no signs on how to exit. We weren’t the only ones having difficulty as there were lots of people wandering around looking confused. Finally we escaped and headed off before we got trapped again.

We drove back to Camden and to the hotel. We had a look through the menus in the binder downstairs and found a nice looking restaurant. After some time spent relaxing we showered and got smartened up and headed to Cork in Bay View Road. We didn’t expect to get a table but we were fortunate that some people had just left. The food was wonderful, and the portion sizes were just right for us. Rich choose herb crusted lamb for his main course, whilst I had the Lobster and mushroom casserole. We shared them both and they were both great, the best food we’ve had on this trip. The service was great, really understated, and the wine (a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc) was a good choice. All in all a great way to celebrate our one week anniversary.

In and around Camden and Acadia national park – 15th September

Another great breakfast and different to yesterday. Today was lemon poppy cake with blueberry sauce and yoghurt followed by blueberry waffle with maple syrup accompanied by fruit and a couple of rashers of bacon. Lovely.

And when we got back to our room after breakfast it had been “done” – impressive.

Despite the weather forecast we decided to head to the Acadia national park – the only national park in New England. We head off along Highways 1 and 3 until we get to Bar Harbor stopping only at the Thompson Island Information Centre to pick up some kayak and cycle leaflets. We drive into Cottage St, Bar Habor and found the Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop. They had quite a good selection of bikes for rent, as well as items to buy – Rich bought a rain jacket (which proved to be a wise purchase). We hired 2 recreation bikes, 2 helmets and a bike lock. No sooner had we collected them than the rain started, and it was heavy.

We waited in the bike hire shop until the rain calmed and cycled off in search of lunch. We ate sandwiches at the Whales tale and monitored the rain. It calmed down and cleared up so we cycled off to the harbour (not purposely but never mind). We cycled into the park and soon got onto the Carriage paths. We took the route around Eagle lake and were around half way round when it started to rain again. We continued cycling and were soon soaked!

Rather than exploring any more we headed back to the bike shop. Fortunately they had a toilet space we could use to changs into dry clothing. The bikes themselves seemed to be really well maintained.

We drove back to Camden and had warm showers. The bathroom has a warm air heater so we used it as a drying room for our gear – this worked really well.

It was still pouring with rain so we decided to eat at the Frogwater cafe – 2 doors away. The food was simple but filling and just what was needed. We tried another couple of Microbrews – Andrews Porter and Andrews Pale – both of which were good to drink.

Camden to Vermont – 16th September

Another lovely breakfast, again beautifully presented. We packed our bags, and took them out through the rain to the car. We settled up with our hosts and told them that we’d decided to head to Vermont. We were given the
“Select Registry” hotel guide book to help us find somewhere good – a quick glance showed us that it featured lots of lovely hotels.

We start our long drive in the rain. The map we’ve been using seems to be a little out of date as road numbers have changed. We stopped at a large pharmacy and got a better one. The roads in some places are poorly maintained and we had a couple of “road work”s to negotiate through – in both cases the top surface had been removed leaving heavily pitted gravel and mud.

Our next stop was at the tourist information at Rumford – we were speaking to the lady who runs it and it appear that she’s English and so was another local lady so we talk about places in the UK for a while. We get some lunch supplies in the petrol station over the road and also call “The Inn at Round Barn Farm” from the new guide book. They have space for us and will give us a choice of rooms when we arrive.

We continue our LONG drive leaving Maine, passing through New Hampshire and finally arriving in Vermont. We arrive at the Inn and have a guided tour of the inn and the round barn. We have a choice of about 5 rooms, all of them arelovely. Eventually we choose the Sherman room and unpack.

We have a cup of tea and some hors d’ouvres from downstairs and sit by the pond for a while. We then have a game of pool in the games room – and remember why we don’t play very often (we’re not very good and a game lasts far too long).

I decide to make use of the facilities in the room and enjoy the steam room, then a shower – very relaxing.

The Inn doesn’t serve dinner, and there isn’t anything walkable so we head off to “John Egan’s big world” and have a good dinner. We come back to the hotel and call the innkeeper to see if we can get a beer to finish the evening off – she doesn’t know where they are kept.

In and around Vermont – 17th September

We had a good breakfast (3 course!), watched a chipmunk outside, and headed back to our room. This was still being cleaned and so we went for a walk around the grounds which was most pleasant.

We decided to head off to Burlington, with the thought of kayaking. Burlington seems to be a lovely city. We walked around and found an Old Navy store – a store we’d spent some time in in San Francisco. After a look around the shops we walked to the edge of Lake Champlain – a huge body of water. The nearby kayak rental places are only open at weekends now. Only when driving out of Burlington did we see an open one.

Our next stop was at the Ben and Jerry‘s ice cream factory near Waterbury. Here you can buy ice cream (obvious really!) and take a tour of the factory. We bought tour tickets and then spent a little time looking at the gift shop before the cowbell rang for our tour, We started with a short film about the history, then a view over the factory, and finally a taste of a couple of flavours. We weren’t quite ice-creamed out yet and so had a full size one each. Just as we were about to leave we caught sight of an interesting sign – the “flavour graveyard”. Here there are headstones to flavours that didn’t stand the test of time.

We decided to take a drive into Stowe, but didn’t stop as there seemed to be a huge traffic jam.

We drove back along the VT 100, a very scenic road and decided to drive down into the mountain area as we thought we should see the Green Mountains as well as the White Mountains. Our drive took longer than we’d expected and our plan of spending some time at the Inn vanished.

We got back to the Inn and decided to investigate the swimming pool – but it was dark by now, and the lighting wasn’t very good, and there were no towels, so we gave up.

We had a rummage through the menus and decided to go to “The Spotted Cow” for dinner. This is the closest eatery and had an interesting menu. They had space for us and we had an okay meal – the dishes were all a bit too fussy really, too many different flavours – but it was a pretty expensive dinner.

After last nights failure to get beer at the Inn after dinner we’d picked up a couple of bottles at a Supermarket during our earlier drive around – so we drank them before retiring.

Vermont to Provincetown – 18th September

We decided to go for a swim before breakfast and so got our swimmers and towels and headed down to the barn. We pulled the covers back and Rich set off, it took me a while to get in (the water felt a bit chilly). I swam a couple of lengths when I saw something green and bloated in front of me, a dead frog. That was too much and we both got out. The pool had dead insects in it, which didn’t seem so bad, but a dead frog. Yeuch!

We went to breakfast and had some more good food. Then back to the room for a steam and a shower before packing up and heading off. We stopped off pretty soon at a farm and country shop that we’d spotted yesterday, all to take photos of pumpkins!

Today was to be another long drive, although mostly on Interstates. We stopped for lunch in Manchester, and ate at LaLa’s Hungarian Pastry which was a real good feed before driving on. We hit quite a lot of traffic around Boston which slowed us down quite a bit.

We arrived in Provincetown shortly before it got dark and checked into “the Carriage House Hotel” which is a lovely place (apart from the shower in our room which is a bit damp). We unpacked, had showers and took it easy for a while before heading off in search of food. Our host suggested “Napi‘s” and once we’d checked out the menu we agreed. We wandered off, found Napi’s, drank Margeritas and I had my first whole lobster experience of New England – complete with apron, napkin and towelette – which was great if a bit messy.

In Provincetown – 19th September

We went downstairs for our “help yourself breakfast” there were lots of different items to choose from.

We decided to go for a walk around the town and found some really interesting looking houseware/garden shops. As we wandered into one Kayak outfitters we were asked if we wanted to go for a paddle, and that they’d offer us a 2 hour rental rather than a 4 hour rental if we’d prefer (they were having a quiet day and figured that some rental was better than none). We said we’d think about it and continued with our shopping. Our plan had been to hire bikes and cycle along the coastal trail but as we’d tried to find kayaks and failed a few times on this holiday, we decided that this is what we should do. So, after a quick change of clothes we headed off to Off The Coast Kayak. They gave us some instruction, a map and a watch (so we knew when our 2 hours was up). We paddled out and over to long point, near the lighthouse where we stopped on the sand for a few moments. Then headed back. We arrived back a few minutes early and got changed into our spare clothes (which we were glad to have as we both had really soggy bums).

We headed back to the Carriage House and had showers to get rid of that sea smell. We then opened up the half bottle of champagne that we’d bought earlier and spent a bit of time just relaxing.

We headed out to dinner via the front desk and got a couple of recommendations of places to try. We looked at the menu and headed off to try The Mews which turned out to be a pretty good place with nice food, nice wine and a lovely view out into the harbour.

We ve just got

We’ve just got back from New England. Photos and report later, but for now I’d just like to make a nomination for Worst E-commerce Web Site Ever. The winner is… Boston Duck Tours. They give you lots of warnings about not using your back button. OK, fair enough, but when you do make a mistake you’re dumped to a page that has no links on it: you’re trapped, because you’re not allowed to use your back button. And the mistake I made? Not selecting a “state” when trying to order tickets from the UK (there’s no “outside US” option in the list of US states). I couldn’t fake a US address because the address has to match the credit card number. So there I was, suck on a “you must enter a state” error page, after all ready entering my credit card number. Bah. And they charge you $2 extra for booking online.

No, we didn’t take their tour. Yes, I’ve told them about their web site, but they didn’t bother to reply.

Sorry… I’ll try not to rant in future. Must think calm, happy thoughts.