Long Weekend in Boston

4 Feb

My latest trip was a long weekend in Boston.  Yes, even a city like this, full of history, sites, and activities, is possible to do in a couple of days if you plan it right.  I’ll show you how…

Arrived on a Thursday morning and stayed until Sunday night.  That way I could have 4 full days to explore and enjoy what this city has to offer.

As soon as I landed, I hopped on an Uber to Salem.  Just a one hour drive (with some traffic) and spent the day sightseeing.  Even the rain and cold weather would not stop me from appreciating this cute and picturesque place. It’s full of magic and crafts stores, some cozy restaurants and quite a few museums.

Day 1:  Salem


I started at the House of the Seven Gables.  I love places that transport you to a different time and place.  It is incredible to see how this house is still standing, and in good condition, even after being literally moved from its original location and all the years that have passed.  Hearing the story of the families that lived there and being in all the rooms, including secret passages, is like being inside a book.

The gardens, even in the winter, were beautiful.  Can’t imagine how lovely it must be during Spring and Summer, with all the trees and flowers blooming and the water view.

Of course I had to visit the Witch Museum.  Salem is famous for their witch hunt days…  The Museum, I must admit, is nothing outstanding.  It does give you some history, which you can find in books, and the “exhibition” on the second room is very simple.  Now, the one part I did enjoy was seeing the list of herbs with their medicinal and magical powers, and the history line showing how witchcraft can be interpreted in many different ways and ends with the formula of what caused the witch hunt:  “Fear + Trigger = Scapegoat”.  It then gives the following examples:

Salem 1692:  God/ Devil (Fear) + Dr. Griggs (Trigger) = 150 townspeople found guilty of witchcraft (scapegoat)

Aids Epidemic Outbreak 1980’s: Infection (fear) + HIV Virus/ Aid (Trigger) = gay community (scapegoat)

It also mentioned Hitler…  to me this was a hit of reality when visiting the past.  If anything the museum helps you remember these things in hopes that we don’t keep making the same mistakes.

After that a visit to their burial grounds was a must and, in this rainy gray day, it added a little bit of romanticism and charm to it.  It was beautiful, peaceful, and classic.


Day 2:  Boston!

If you are a beer lover, or starting to enjoy it as I am, Boston is a great place to taste many different styles.

They have many breweries open to the public or by tour.  I opted for a tour:  Boston Brew Tours.  The booking is effortless and the tour guide was knowledgeable, funny and entertaining.

First stop was Samuel Adams – of course this is a must when in Boston.  Formal tour that ends at their tasting room with 3 different beers to try.


Second stop was Downeast – this is a cider brewery.  I was very pleasantly   surprised I liked a couple of the ones I tasted… I usually find them too sweet but these were really good.


Lunch is included in the tour, of course, with beer included.

And, our last stop, and probably my favorite:  Night Shift.  They had a nice variety of beers being offered, including some sours (my favorite).


This tour takes pretty much all day.  Started at 10am and we were back around 4:30pm – 5pm.

This is a great day to buy tickets to a game.  Celtics were playing so, basketball, hotdogs and beers it was to end the second day of this trip.


Day 3:  Sightseeing

No need to wake up super early.  There’s plenty to see but also plenty of time.

Freedom Trail – plan was to do a self-guided tour.  I mean, how hard is it to follow the red bricks but turned the wrong way and got to the end before it even started.  So, decided to do the guided tour and happy I did.  The stories and information the tour guide gives you would not know if doing this on our own.  Tour also takes you to some places off the red brick line giving extra insight on the events that took place.


Tour ends near Quincy Market so, take the time to walk a bit and cross it off your list.


Cheers (the bar) is a must.  Ok, it is not the greatest bar you’ll ever go to but, who doesn’t know the TV Show, the song, the characters…  it’s just a “tourist thing” to do, and great for social media pictures.  Plus they offer the Sam Adams Brick Red (which you can only find in Boston – I was told).  So, go, sit at the bar, enjoy a beer in one of their signature cold pints, and snap some pics just for the fun of it.


Take a walk through the park, enjoy the view and the squirrels.  There are some street vendors, and during the winter the Christmas lights are a beautiful sight.

Boston Tea Party was the last spot for the day.  If you are lucky (or plan right) you might get to see when they do the reenactment.  We missed it by 1 day.  Still it was fun to do. The tour is interactive, some even have a line or two to say during the “town’s meeting”.  you get to go on board the ship, throw the tea, take picture and tour the rest of the ship.  Very informative and a good way to refresh those history classes.

Now, here you can either got to Harvard or MIT campus, and enjoy more sightseeing but, I had dinner plans so left that for the next day.

After dinner, I went to the Hawthorne bar.  Located at The Commonwealth Hotel.  Don’t be turned off by it being a “basement” bar,  it is very stylish, romantic, and very popular.  Great seating area for dates, there are some high tables, bar seating, etc.  Servers come to you, drinks are strong and they have a good selection of craft drinks as well as wines, plus full bar.  Ambiance is everything here.  It’s one I will keep recommending to everyone visiting Boston and one I keep hoping I get the chance to visit again soon.


Last Day:  Brunch and… What did we miss?

Sunday is Brunch day, and it’s the most important meal of the weekend.  :p

The bartenders at the hotel (The Charlesmark Hotel – good place to stay!) recommended Stephanie’s on Newbury.  They don’t have unlimited mimosas but they have a great “make your own” Bloody Mary card, where you get to pick all the ingredients you want in yours and the end product is amazing (I mean, you created it, of course it is!).  Service was great and food, delicious!


With that I was ready to face the day and went to see the Harvard campus.  Started at the Museum of Natural History and spent some time walking the grounds and looking around.


Since my flight was at night, I still had time to see more of Boston so, I went to Tub Of The Hub.  Bar/ Restaurant on the 52nd floor of the Prudential building.  Advice, skip it!  Just get off on the 50th floor and pay the ticket for the observatory deck.  You’ll get better pictures here, are not rushed to finish your meal or drink for others to sit, plus it’s less expensive than what you’ll spend in the restaurant.

Some more walking around, taking pictures of some of the amazing churches and architecture these offer, and before I knew it, my trip had come to an end and time to head back to the airport.


Like I said, Boston is a city with a lot to see and do.  I’m sure there’s much I still have yet to experience but in a long weekend I was able to do ALL this and thought I share with you in hopes to help you plan your visit to this great city.

Hope you have as much fun as I did.  Bon Voyage!

 

This is life… 2016

31 Dec

This is life… it kicks us down and then helps us get back up. There’s ups and there’s downs.

This year was a bit tough for me. I lost people I cared about, I’ve felt alone, I’ve felt what seemed like inconsolable sadness, I’ve been heartbroken. 

To lose someone you love is one of the hardest things this life can throw at you. Yes, it’s part of life but you are never prepared. I still feel very deeply the loss of those I don’t have with me anymore. My tears may not come as often and uncontrollable as when they left but, they are missed, and it always hurts.

The loneliness, thankfully, was temporary, and probably even “mental”. Sometimes we close ourselves in our feelings so tight that we isolate ourselves and dwell in it more than we should, but at that moment, that feeling is so real, and so wrenching, it’s painful. 

Heartbreak is out of your hands, really. You go into things/ situations hoping for the best, hoping they last but it not always works out that way.  Sometimes loss is not physical, and these hurt just as much. But, as I said, life also helps you back up, and it’s always good to see things in a “glass half full” kind of way. So, maybe that heartbreak wasn’t the end of it, maybe it’s a needed break and life gives you a second chance, to reconnect, try again, or start something completely new. It always finds a way to help mend your heart.

When you feel alone, turn to your family and friends. They, in my case, and I’m sure in many of yours, are a blessing and always there to support you at all times. When I see how loving an amazing my circle is, I have to really think, why and how did I ever feel that way? Thanks to them is that I am able to say that feeling was just temporary.

And, as is a law of life, with death comes life. Not that the ones who come can ever replace the ones we’ve lost but, the birth of my niece was definitely a reason to dry the tears and smile and celebrate. Her smile lights up any room, and any nostalgic thought that may cross our minds. 

Yes, life throws some punches… As you can see 2015 was no exception but, it did come with a lot of great moments as well, lots of laughter, new and old friends, love, beautiful memories, new and unforgettable experiences, and my amazing family, and for all these I am so grateful.

So, as we ring in the new year:

* take time to remember those no longer with us

* thank those who are and remain with you through thick and thin

* let go of any grudges, and open yourself to forgive, and apologize as well 

* think of last year and learn from it, work to make yourself better

* live each day, enjoy it. Don’t waste it on the past, or what’s yet to come

* be grateful, and hope for the best. 

Again, the “glass is always half full”, we just have to adjust our view.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2016!

  

A wedding…  From a big sisters eyes

1 Dec

As an older sibling, I assume we all feel this, we are very protective of our younger brothers and/or sisters.We’ve seen them grow and have so many memories of them that makes us feel like they are ours and hard to “share” them.

The idea of them falling in love and “leaving the nest” is a little scary and sad because you are used to having them around, and there’s a concern of losing them to that new person and family.

In my case, my brother and sisters are my best friends, confidants, shoulder to lean on, and source of happiness and laughter, so yes, that concern has always been there for every one of them. You would think that with one already married this feeling would be less but, no, it’s still there for each of them. Weather you show it or not, you care and protect them in every way possible.

This past month my “baby” brother got married. A lot of emotions were flowing though me that day… 

I have always been so proud of him, the responsible and caring boy, of the man he’s become, and the wonderful husband and father I know he will be.

Even though he’s all grown up, and a lot taller than me, he will always be “mi hermanito” and nostalgia came over me. Yes, I shed some tears thinking of all the memories I have of him, from his birth all the way to him telling us he had found “the one”.   

But the thing I felt most was love and happiness. Happy that he found such an amazing person to share his life with, and a wonderful addition to our family. The concern I talk about above was never there with her, instead she became my friend and now (officially) my sister.   And love, because that’s what they’ve shown each other since they met, what they both have shown us, and what each family feels for them and each other.

This truly was a beautiful day.

What I wrote when my sister got married, I’ll say it again… I did not lose a brother, I gained a wonderful sister and, with her, a loving extended family, and many wonderful moments and memories to come.

So, not only are my siblings my best friends, they are also a reason to keep believing in love, and that there is someone out there who makes you happy, and moves you to take the courageous step of sharing the rest of your life with them. May theirs be a lovely “happily ever after”.

  

 

Heart vs Brain

11 Nov

We do all sorts of things to ourselves in this life… 

We scare ourselves by watching scary movies, skydiving, rollercoaster, etc.

We go through pain and invest long hours to look and feel better by plastic surgery, laser, hair & nail appointments. 

We submit our head and heart to war when liking or falling for someone that (usually the brain knows) is not right for us.

We go into that “relationship” knowing that it’s meant to break or die but still we are stubborn and “cautiously” give it a try.  We say we’ve prepared ourselves for the outcome, that we know it’s not forever, but in reality we are never prepared for the end.

You see, while you are with someone you create an attachment, feelings grow stronger, and that cautiousness fades. You become comfortable with that person, they make you happy, and you believe the relationship is possible. But the brain keeps saying “be careful!” while the heart keeps being hopeful, and there starts the war.

Unfortunately when those are at war, you are not at peace, and if you are not at peace, the “relationship” suffers, we suffer. We hurt, we cry, we miss the other person… So why put ourselves through it? Because we’re human, and it’s human nature to want to be with someone, to feel loved and needed, because there’s the attraction and (sometimes, if you’re lucky) amazing chemistry. Because it is wonderful to feel like you mean the world to someone, and feel like they need you and want you. Because we’re stubborn and think we can be the one to change that outcome. 

We do this probably more than once in our lives… so, are we masochists? Ha! Maybe… but I’d like to think we’re hopeful instead. That we keep believing that there is one that will “change”, one that will want us and love us enough to stop the battle between the heart and the brain. Those should work together, not be at war. The brain is too rational, and the heart too emotional. I read once (and we may feel like) “sometimes the heart sees what the eyes can’t”. As true as this may be, the balance between them two is what we need. 

I know it’s easier said than done but, hopefully we all find where the two meet soon, and stop suffering the effects of that war.

  

 

Paddle Boarding

13 Oct

Water has never been my favorite thing… balance has never been my forte… but in my attempt to “face my fears” and try “new things” I signed up for a Paddle Boarding tour this past Saturday. 

One of my good friends planned this. After I complained, and gave her a hard time for making me wake up super early, and making me be in the water (two of my favorite things in the world – extreme sarcasm here) on my actual birthday, I realized this would be a great idea.

Start the day trying something new and surrounded by friends. So, like I said, I signed up, paid, and there was not turning back.

6am, alarm goes off… Even though I was extremely sleepy (celebrations kept me up until 3am) I was not regretting it. I was actually really excited (and yes, a little nervous). 45 minutes later we arrived to the meeting place (planned by South Florida Paddle Inc) and we could not have asked for a more perfect day. High Tide, calm water, not too hot, it was beautiful!

 
After a short talk from our tour guide we were in the water ready to head out and enjoy our paddle tour.

I thought I would sit to start but being on your knees is pretty easy and comfortable. During the tour you may see dolphins, manatees, turtles, flying fish, birds… All going at your own pace and enjoying the open water, and peaceful environment. It is a small workout but it’s so relaxing being there that you hardly feel it.

I didn’t get to see manatees but I did see a dolphin swimming away and flying fish (that for some reason I think are funny). :p

I would love to go again and see manatees, that would have really made my day.

Eventually I stood up, which is a big accomplishment for me, and felt even more excited about having tried this.

  
If you fall the tour guide and your friends are there to help, and you get a refreshing splash. Get back up and try again. 

In the end it doesn’t matter if you sit, go on your knees or stand, the whole point of this is to enjoy the view, and unplug from the “real world”. 

I’m happy I’m pushing myself to do more things that, in the past, I would have immediately said no to without even thinking about it.

It’s made me happier, my is world bigger, get to do more things with my family and friends, and helps me build my confidence to do more.

Hope you open yourself to new experiences too, and enjoy life!

  

ToroVerde

8 Sep

As I’ve said before…  Yes, I’ve done skydiving but, still afraid of heights.

Just as that one time that I jumped off a plane, I pushed myself, to leave my fear behind and decided to go ziplining.

I was with my sister in PR, and out of nowhere I said “I think I want to do ziplining”. She looked at me in disbelief, but immediately started making plans with her friend, I think part of it was her wanting to do it too and, part of it, acting quickly before I lost my “courage”. Still she kept looking at me, wondering if I’d really do it. She paid, and said, “there’s no turning back…” with a smile and concern at the same time.

We drove the 2.5 – 3 hours it took for us to get to Orocovis. Lots of up curvy roads, no signs… thank God for smart phones and GPS! We did not get lost at all. First of all, the view is amazing from up here. Take a moment before or after you do the lines to enjoy it.  
  
Once inside, they give you a waiver, you sign your life away. My sister’s friend read it, the part I remember her saying is “basically you can’t complaint or sue period, even if 3 months after this you’re still having issues, pains, nightmare or trauma… nothing. I could only LOL, I mean, if I’m going ahead with these types of activities, the phrase “ignorance is bliss” always comes to mind. The less I know the less paranoid I get. So, I signed, I got my number and waited to get harnessed.
Once you have all your equipment, they send you off a trail, where after 5 minutes (if it takes you longer “you got lost or are going to slow” their words, not mine) you will find your first line. Yes, I got nervous, and my sister gave me that disbelief look again but I stood my ground and stepped on the platform. Not defying her look but my fear. I can do this, I thought, especially when right in front of us was a 96 year old man, ready to jump off that platform. Courage don’t fail me now, I thought… Would be very embarrassing to back down now.
My turn, hands shaking a little, and listening real close to the instructions. Down that first line I went and the feeling was incredible! This was a short one so, great way to start and ease your way to the next 7 that await.  
  
The guys working the lines are really cool. They make you feel comfortable and safe. They make fun of you (nicely) if they see you nervous, helping you laugh and forget your fear. Plus, just like one of them said “none complain if they fall”… Ha! Ha! Very funny! Not!
Line after line, they kept getting longer and harder to control. The wind started getting strong against us so, the challenge of getting to the end of each one, without having to pull yourself, was tougher but we were up for it and succeeded in most of them. On the ones that we got stuck, we still felt safe, and just pulled ourselves to the end. This is a workout! but, if you get too tired or can’t make it, one of the guys will come get you and help.
  
Towards the 8th and last line, there’s a steep path you need to go up. Some, might have to skip this (due to health or physical impediments), and get off on the 6th line, but my sister and I went together and almost simultaneously did our last line. Funny thing, we both got stuck on this one. Even after the strenuous effort of working against the wind and pulling ourselves to the platform, we both were smiling and so happy we had this experience together.
At the end we went back to where we started, to the restaurant upstairs. The service here is a little slow but friendly, and food is delicious. Plus, again, the view is priceless.

This is, without a doubt, a must do in Puerto Rico.
  

Gamble

11 Aug

Have you ever noticed how love and relationships are like gambling…Some play just for the fun of it, others go “all in”, some just simply stay away afraid of losing, and others are addicted and/ or obsessed.

Then there are the ones who know what they’re doing, study the table, know what they have to go in with, and know when to fold and call it a day, or when to play that winning hand.

This last one I think is hard. 

Casinos play with money, relationships play with hearts. I think we can all agree the later is more important and, sometimes, harder to fix.

The ones who are just players, never really get anything out of it. At least not what’s important, in my opinion, the real connection with someone. These people just go from “table” to “table” without any commitment, or real interest. They are just killing time, enjoying that one moment and go.

The ones who go “all in”, without thinking, risk the most. These, most probably, turn into the obsessive ones. Just when you think you have dealt your last card, you think you’ve found another one that can save you, and another one, until you realize you are all out and without anything to show for it. Only a broken heart and disappointment. 

The ones who stay away, will be lonely, and still their hearts will be hurt because we all need to connect with others, and we all want love and companionship.

Again the last one is the hardest… I think to get to that level you probably must go through a couple of the others, to know yourself, what you want and can tolerate, what is a good or bad “hand”/ Relationship. To go into the next one with open eyes, open heart, with the right amount of cautiousness, or to realize you have been dealt the winning one.

In all scenarios you risk something of yourself. It’s up to you how much, and how you deal with it afterwards. 

Now, there’s one more thing to consider when gambling… Luck. For some reason there are times when this just happens to be on our side and nothing can go wrong.  Just like when you meet someone, if you’re lucky that is “the one”, or you think they are. When you feel like luck is on your side, smile, grab it, and enjoy it. Hopefully the “luck” will last, maybe even forever.

Some win, some lose but, it’s like they say “the bigger the risk, the grater the reward”.

Don’t be afraid, play your hand, and again, until you get what you want. 

Do it responsibly, and yes, you may act cautiously but, open yourself to the experience, gamble a little, I’m sure we’ll all win something at the end.

  

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