On our way to Vermont, we had the good fortune to spend 24 hours in Boston. We’d technically been to Boston before but only passing through for breakfast and that short trip wasn’t enough. You guys, Boston is cute.
It’s such a walkable town. It’s got great restaurants. There is free history everywhere. No one keeps their dog on the leash in The Commons. What more can a girl ask for?
We stayed at The Moxy, the fever-dream Marriott chain forever known as “The Fuckin’ Moxy,” but endearingly, a la “the fuckin’ Catalina Wine Mixer.” From live DJs to stuffed animal walls to its suggestive advertising, the Moxy is anything but subtle. It’s here for the Insta crowd. The kind willing to put up with small, concrete rooms in order to score a welcome drink. The kind that appreciates location but not room service. But we’re drawn to Moxy hotels the same way themed poker hands draw in suckers: it’s hard to throw away a Jackson 5 but in the back of your mind, you know you’ll never win with it.
The Boston Moxy is a year old. It opened just in time to get its sea legs and lose them to the pandemic. It’s a tough spot to be in. Thanks to COVID, the hotel wasn’t doing welcome drinks or breakfast—foundational elements for any hipster or cheapskate. Top-tier Marriot guests got credits at the bar but you also have to buy food with any drink, so half of our credits went to buying a can of Pringles I later gave to a homeless man. Not the strongest showing for the hotel whose guests have to share an iron in the hallway.
Outside of the hotel, things were much more cheerful. We were excellently located at the entrance to Boston Common, and the pitch-perfect fall weather meant that we had a whole evening to explore. We started in the park, watching dogs meet up for ha-pee hour and giant squirrels fight said dogs for scraps (I don’t know the word for “feral animal that learns to manipulate humans and their garbage while still being awful, audacious rodents,” but that word is alive and running the Boston parks system). We walked through the park, avoided these Rodents Of Unusual Size, and walked toward the Motherland: The North End.
Boston’s North End is the city’s Little Italy. Our compass pointed there because, carbs, but we accidentally stumbled upon the Freedom Trail, 2.5 miles of colonial historical monuments, cemeteries, and landmarks. The trail starts at Boston Common and heads to the North End and over the course of the trail, we saw the state capitol, Faneuil Hall, and Paul Revere’s house. I was desperately hoping for a National Treasure moment where some stone slid away to reveal a centuries-old secret (honestly, the sign at The King’s Chapel did move) but alas, we remain without our Founding Fathers’ hidden bounty.
We did, however, find those carbs. It was a busy Friday night and we walked the streets, trying to decide which wall-mounted menu to trust. We stumbled into Ristorante Saraceno. It was quiet, cozy, and the wait staff was superb. Plus, sitting at a restaurant! Eating off dishes that you wouldn’t have to clean up later! Restaurants are awesome, man. I miss them. Thanks to our new amici at Ristorante Saraceno, we ate entirely too much eggplant parmesan (and bread and spaghetti) and waddled back toward the hotel.
A quick note on safety. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had to travel to a few places during the pandemic. I come from California, one of the initial lockdown states, and was curious what the local take on COVID-19 would be. Let me tell you: they believe in masks. Everyone wore them, all the time. And I mean everyone. Literally, the skateboard hooligans harassing pedestrians on the sidewalk were wearing masks. Wait staff, Lyft drivers, prospective college kids and their parents, everyone wore masks. It was comfortable and reassuring. It also kept your face warm as the wind whipped through the downtown streets—it was a nice night, but that meant nothing to the gusts running between buildings.
My sister and her husband arrived just after dinner, and we all had cheap beer and cheaper service at Beantown Pub near our hotel. It was nice to be a pub again. Less nice to see they put kalamata olives on their nachos, but that’s the price of freedom, friends. The next morning, we cruised the city looking for breakfast. We tried a few places, including The Friendly Toast but the two-hour wait list was not that friendly. We grabbed food at one of the city’s many (adorable) Tatte cafes and strolled through the park again. We devoured our lamb shakshuka and hot coffee and began the journey north to Stratton. It wasn’t nearly enough time—we were staying in the theater district and didn’t get to see a show!—but it was a great taste of the town. Insert lame “wicked smaht” joke here, but we’ll be back again.