Boston was never on my radar. I mean, if you know me, you know I love city travel and seafood, so I have no idea why it never made it to my top places to visit but luckily enough, I was invited to see the Pre-Broadway Run of my favorite movie, Moulin Rouge, in the oldest theatre in Boston, Emerson Colonial Theatre. Tickets were purchased in the spring and plans began to formulate.
One of my favorite pastimes is planning vacations so I made a Pinterest board for both Salem and Boston, then asked my friends for 3-4 places where they wanted to go. After researching thoroughly on librarian think tank websites and people who have visited prior, I established our itinerary and even though I knew we wouldn’t stick to it thoroughly, it’s nice to have a plan. After the itinerary was created, I mapped it out on Google with help from my husband. I will do this from now on for any trip-it was simple and saved me loads of time when looking at transportation. He also scored us Charlie Cards in the mail which leads me to the first tip: use public transit as often as possible. We paid $21.25 for a week long use of the T, Boston’s subway system. We also hopped on a train to Salem which I will get to later, for only $7.50. This beats Uber and Lyft prices any day. In total, we probably spent over $35.oo each on the subway (which is well over the price of the week pass) and we were there for four days. We did not hop on a bus, but they were all included with the Charlie Card, as was a ferry. Sidenote: It’s called a Charlie Card because legend has it some schmuck called Charlie did not have the nickel it took to get off the subway when it was first established so he just rode and rode the train throughout the city.
Another tip: stay outside of the city for a better deal, but if you can afford it, stay at The Liberty. It is absolutely stunning and near the Museum of Science, where we did a duck tour (I’ll discuss later), plus it’s close to two different T stations. We stayed in Somerville. Near Legoland. I would definitely stay there again. It’s close to a T, and also had two fabulous non-touristy locations that all tourists in the city line up for: Mike’s Pastry and Legal Seafood. Since we were four stops from the original locations, we never had to wait. In fact, we went to Mike’s for cannoli, twice.
We arrived quickly in Boston and found the free shuttle to the T station (look for Blue or Silver lines) then waited for our Chicago friend to arrive, tapped our Charlie cards after loading them with the affordable week pass, and we were on our way to Somerville to (hopefully) check in early to our hotel. Our room wasn’t ready at 10am, but they held our bags and we went to the shopping center nearby for supplies. At 11am we got the call and checked into our room, then promptly walked to Legal on The Mystic for lunch. Tip: Get the expensive lunch to save money. We splurged at Legal with two types of Lobster Rolls, a Haddock Sandwich, an appetizer of clam dip, and crab cakes. I preferred the Connecticut Lobster Roll since it’s warm with butter although the traditional cold mayo was delicious. Since it was lunch we opted for water because we learned there was no happy hour in Massachusettes-anywhere! Bars and Restaurants can have a drink of the month but no happy hour. We spent a good deal on lunch, in fact, this was probably our most expensive meal, but we had just arrived and the sea was calling.
After lunch it was nap time. We had a show to see at 8pm and that was the reason for the trip so we snuggled in and enjoyed a siesta. After a rejuvenating nap, we began the primping and pre-party for the musical. We must have sang our way through the entire Moulin Rouge soundtrack and two bottles of wine! It was decided that we would go early to meet the star of the show, so once we were ready, off we went to the T.
Now I am not sharing how to meet the star because then everyone would know, but if you ask me in a message, I’ll fill you in. Once we found the theatre we patiently awaited for the star to show, and he was pretty late (7:15 for an 8pm show) but also pretty, goddamn pretty, so it was worth it. Off to The Tam we went for a pre-theatre drink at the coolest dive bar (I thought) in Boston for a super cheap drink (like $6-half of what most places charge), and then we waited in a line that wrapped around an entire block to see the most spectacular musical I have ever watched (and I have seen quite a few). When we walked in, I knew this was going to be a magical performance. I did not care what the reviewer’s had written-all I cared about was the ginormous blue elephant and MOULIN ROUGE heart shaped stage. It was breath taking.
I will see Moulin Rouge again in NY-it was that amazing. I loved the set, costumes, new music additions, and even the acting. Not everything was as expected, but it was visually stunning. My favorite scene had a new song that started as Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, mixed with the White Stripes, Seven Nation Army (one of my karaoke go-to’s), then climaxed with Brittany’s, Toxic. I was grinning and leaning forward in my seat the entire show-it was captivating.
After the show we found the best dumpling spot in Chinatown for pork fried dumplings, chicken dumpling, scallion pancakes, and Sapporo beer. No saki this time-I learned that lesson the hard way years ago. After dumplings we headed back to The Tam to meet our friend since the other close spot, Jacob Wirth, had closed due to a fire. As we approached The Tam it seemed edgier now-not like that dive we had fallen in love with hours before. The bouncer said, “We done here.” What does that mean, you ask? Well, we did too. And didn’t get an answer. He repeated himself. “Like are you at capacity?” I inquired. No response. So odd. It was 12:30am. Apparently places in Massachusetts close at 1am on weekdays unless they pay a hefty fee to get a license to stay open until 2am. Our other friend showed up and he was floored also. We hemmed and hawed about where to go and if we wanted to walk or Uber, and finally decided on a dance club. I don’t know who decided this but it was definitely not our first choice. We are not really dancers or club kids, but ay, when in Boston, do Boston.
We arrived at Storyville and it was hopping. Us girls got in line, but the boys said to wait so we stood there aloof. Apparently it was a $20 cover-and only one another hour. At this point we are thinking, ok, we just spent a lot of money to watch people dance and sing on stage who are professionals-we don’t want to spend anything to see a bunch of drunks twerking to God’s Plan. So we expressed our opinions and impatiently waited for some guy named Jeff. He finally came up and met us a half hour later, and we were in. For free. Walking down the stairwell felt like Fight Club meets Gatsby with the recent film’s soundtrack. There were VIP tables with bottles of Hennessy and Cristal in those really nice hotel ice bucket things. I was smitten with the people watching. Once at the bar we ordered drinks and then hit the dance floor. Well, not really, it took awhile to get us going, but we tried to represent Flint. The music turned to 90s rap and I finally felt at home. Then this older, shorter version of Jackie Chan came up to me and said, “We dance. No contact. We both married. See?” and showed me his wedding ring. He started free styling and street dancing and I was out. The lights came on and it was closing time.
Our night didn’t end there. We had to hit up a convenience (not party) store for bandaids due to ailing feet and then an after party at a very barren apartment/dorm. We finally hit the sheets close to 4am and as everyone was telling me good night, I was already asleep. It was a great first day in Boston. Bonus- I only spent $20 since it was my birthday.
If you go: The Theatre District and Chinatown are really close and in a super cool area just outside Boston Common. Hit all three in one day for the best experience. Also there is a CVS nearby if your sandals break. Be sure to get to The Tam by midnight because, “We Done Here,” translates to you are not getting in no matter how cute you are. It is totally worth it though with super nice bartenders-just one really nasty bouncer.
Next up: Day Two