A Travellerspoint blog

Boston bound (part 2)

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With some lovely pastries, coffee and chocolate milk in our bellies, we wandered down to the subway to head out towards a well known American Brewery, Samuel Adams. Samuel Adams, the man, is very well known throughout the USA as a member of the Boston Tea Party, signer of the Declaration of Independence and also as a Governor of the Commonwealth. We saw and heard many interesting things about Samuel Adams and the American Revolution whilst in Boston so we celebrated with a brewery tour in his honour. The walk from the train station to the brewery was full of interesting sights of suburbia including the interesting shape of some of the houses and some bloke called David.

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The Brewery is not a large brewery, nor does it supply large quantities of beer for the mass market, but it is the original brewery and it also is the main site for trialling and testing new brews. Oh, and free tours with beer tasting! After a late night at the baseball the previous night, Carys was less than enthusiastic but before she nodded off, she did try smelling some of the different varieties of hops. Her response? "Yuck!"

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We left the brewery with some additional glassware and returned to the city to find something to eat off our shortlist. What better place to eat than the oldest restaurant in America? We joined plenty of historical, famous and not so famous diners at the Union Oyster House and although we weren't famous enough to make the engraved list, plenty of others did. The food was very nice and there were plenty of historical artefacts to look at throughout the restaurant. Very close to the Union Oyster House was the oldest tavern in America, The Bell in Hand Tavern, and the striking New England Holocaust Memorial. To me, the most striking aspect of the memorial is that the 6 towers represent the gas furnaces of each of the 6 camps, with each tower inscribed with hundreds of seven digit numbers of victims, with a flickering light and constant steam to highlight them.

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Next up we wandered down to the harbour to visit the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. Not only could you view replicas of the original ships, but you were invited to participate in reenactments of events of the American Revolution in 1773. It was one of the best multi-sensory museums I've ever visited and the samples of tea from the time of the Revolution were also very interesting.

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Our last stop before bed was to a fun fondue restaurant for dinner. It's not all about cheese and chocolate anymore!

On our last morning before flying home, we hopped back onto the train and headed out towards the Bunker Hill Monument, the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution. The hill is located in a very pretty and leafy suburb with wonderful views of the surrounding areas. It was a beautiful Autumn/Fall day and a great day to be out in the sun.

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We couldn't end our trip without another walk through Boston Common and stopping for another ride on the carousel for Carys. Each time she rode, she chose a different animal. I think her favourite was either the dragon horse or a cat with a fish in its mouth. She also loved throwing the Autumn leaves in the air and running through them!

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Farewell Boston, we had a fantastic time and we wish we had more time to explore you!

Posted by dinige 12:01 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Boston bound (part 1)

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After nearly 2 weeks with us, we bade a sad farewell to Uncle Jason, Aunty Megan, Sibella and Mitchell and Aunty Serena who met us in Port St Joe. The cousins all had a fantastic time together and LOVED playing in the pool together almost every day! We were also delighted though to see Nanny Wendy and Poppy John again and also super happy that they were coming home with us for a few days. We had plenty to show them after nearly 7 months away!

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We arrived home and repacked for an exciting weekend in Boston, Massachusetts. On the short walk to our accommodation, it became very clear that Boston was a mix of the historical and new and it was shaping up to be a very interesting stay. We stayed at a lovely historical hotel called the Boston Park Plaza, right across from the famous Boston Common. We enjoyed walking around the Common and Carys loved the carousel, Frog Pond and park. Whilst we were walking around, we found a bar that some of you might remember, the Cheers Bar. Although not actually called the Cheers Bar (it is called the Bull and Finch), it was the original inspiration for the tv show called Cheers. We didn't have time to drop in on this visit as conveniently, the bar was located right next to the tourist trolley stop that we then got on.

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Julie F, I thought of you when I saw this lady!
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After a 6am flight, the trolley was a welcome respite from walking and gave Carys a great opportunity to have a nap. The trolley tour was a fully narrated, hop on hop off bus which allowed us to see much of the city and decide where we wanted to go next. We usually try to do some sort of trolley tour at most of the places we visit so we know what we are looking at and so we can also see a lot in a short period of time. One of the main reasons we decided to visit Boston is to watch a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park. On this occasion, the Red Sox were playing the New York Yankees. Even if you aren't a big baseball fan, hopefully you would have heard of the two most famous baseball teams! Our trolley tour took us right past Fenway Park and we were able to get a great view of the outside of the stadium before the game later that night.

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We took the train to Fenway and just as we got off, the heavens opened. We waited for the rain to pass before continuing on foot to the ball ground and thankfully, the rain didn't return. One of the first things we saw once we arrived at the ground was a balloon artist and he asked Carys what she would like. She shocked him by asking for Dora (naturally!) and surprisingly, he delivered and we had one very happy little girl!

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The atmosphere at Fenway was generally, happy and cosy except when Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees stepped up to the plate. The whole place erupted in deafening and resounding 'boos' in response the the doping scandal that he was embroiled in at the time. It was actually quite funny to see fans from both teams united in their condemnation of his extremely poor sportsmanship. That said, our seats were very good for Fenway where ticket prices are known to be very expensive and hard to get hold of for popular games. The final score was 8-4 to the Red Sox, we returned to our hotel and so ended our first day in Boston.

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Posted by dinige 18:26 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Airboats, more family and a wedding

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On the morning after our Disney adventure, we visited Boggy Creek Airboats because what visit to Florida is complete without a ride on an airboat through a swamp? The head waters for the well known Florida Everglades actually start in Orlando and Boggy Creek is the original airboat company in Central Florida. Being only a short drive from the main theme parks, it was a great opportunity for a last minute run around before we made the long 6 hour drive to our next destination, Port St Joe on the Florida Panhandle.

Our driver Chad had been with the company for over 10 years and provided some interesting commentary. It wasn't until after we left the dock however, that he mentioned that it was alligator hunting season and the majority of the larger gators would hear the boats coming and hide. He tried his hardest to find some wildlife for us and was reasonably successful but after 3 full on days at Disney with thousands of people, the lack of wildlife was not a problem!

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It was all too much for Carys!
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Spot the gator (hint, it's a baby one!)
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As you can see by the map at the top of this post, we had a long drive to get to Port St Joe, the venue for the wedding of Aidan and Meg. Unlike on the map above, we did not have hover boats or planes available and we had to drive back up towards Jacksonville, past the capital of Florida (Tallahassee) and back down towards the coast. I previously mentioned the drive is about 6 hours but for me with a newly toilet trained toddler, it took closer to 8 hours! One of the first things we did once we arrived at our wonderful house, the Captain Morgan (sorry, there was no rum on arrival), was to stock up at the supermarket. In this part of the Panhandle, the main grocery chain is Piggly Wiggly, an historic chain and America's first true self service grocery store. Naturally, we picked up a few souvenirs!

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Back to the reason of our trip North, Aidan and Meg. We all separated off for the bachelor and bachelorette (hen's) parties where the boys went fishing and the girls travelled to Panama City (about an hour or so away) for dinner and dancing. We did not stay for the whole evening and we returned not long after dinner but the return journey was very interesting. We were warned by numerous roadsigns that deer were prevalent in the area. I have no photos but between the four of us in the car, we counted over 100 deer on or near the road which made for a slow trip home!

Wedding day arrived and as the boys arrived at our house to get ready, the girls decamped to the brides' family house. The weather was warm and very humid but still a lovely day. As cameras were not invited to the wedding and camera died early on during the reception, some of the following photos are courtesy of Kim Stone Photography. We are very happy and proud to welcome Megan and her family to our family and we had a wonderful time catching up with everyone!

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Mr Aidan and Mrs Megan Francis!
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The Rowan, Francis and Mossop family :)
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Posted by dinige 15:33 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Family visitors and Disney World. Yay!! (part 3)

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On the third day of our Disney adventure, we again visited a water park before a theme park and this time it was Typhoon Lagoon.

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This park also had a wave pool but the smaller child slides were inside and just to the side of the wave pool. Whenever the 'typhoon' blew through and the waters became stormy, the waves swirled around the bottom of the kids slides and would wash the kids around. It was actually really funny to watch! They all had a fantastic time and loved when the waves started.

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Typhoon Lagoon also had a lazy river and another tube ride and this time, Carys was really excited to try it. She loved it!

Hollywood Studios was our next stop after lunch. There aren't as many rides at this park as some of the others but this one is more about experiences. The first section of HS is designed to be like old Hollywood and the golden era of moviemaking. Once you walk past this section, you can't miss a massive Mickey wizard hat. As we later found out, there is a huge character dance party every afternoon underneath the hat where a large number of Disney characters come up to dance with big and little kids of all ages. They were pretty good at busting out some great dance moves!

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We found some other huge characters throughout the park as well. The Star Wars area was pretty exciting for us and if you are a child of a certain age, you can even join the Jedi training school where to graduate, you have to best Darth Vader himself in a lightsaber duel!

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Carys finally fell asleep late in the afternoon and the others took the opportunity to explore some of the more exciting rides. I believe the Aerosmith roller coaster and the Hollywood Tower drop were both pretty fun as well. Whilst Carys slept, I took the opportunity to sit in the shade for an Indiana Jones stunt show. I had to cover her ears for some of the explosions but when she woke up we rejoined the rest of the family to head back to the character dance party. We left Hollywood Studios a little earlier than the previous parks as we were leaving early the next day. We decided against trying to squash the forth Disney park into half a day the next day then travel for several hours to our next destination, so we ended our Disney visit to go home and pack. We loved visiting Disney as a family and I hope the kids always remember visiting the 'happiest place on Earth' with their cousins.

Posted by dinige 12:29 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Family visitors and Disney World. Yay!! (part 2)

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The next morning we visited the first of the two Disney water parks, Blizzard Beach. It is very similar to Wet N Wild on the Gold Coast but it has a blizzard and snow theme.

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The kids enjoyed the lazy river and tube rides the best and the wave pool was also a big hit! Carys was a little unsure of some of the more exciting rides so we stayed around the toddler pools for much of the morning. We played in the sand over lunch before heading off to our next Disney park, Epcot before the afternoon rains started. In Florida during the warmer months, there are almost daily afternoon storms. All public and community pools close as soon as thunder is heard until 30 minutes after the last thunderclap is heard. Central Florida is reportedly the lightning capital of the USA and holds the record for the highest recorded number of lightning related fatalities.

Epcot is separated into two distinct sections: Future World and World Showcase. Future World features science and future based exhibits and rides like a space shuttle simulator, Captain EO in 3D featuring Michael Jackson, a Finding Nemo ride and aquarium and more. The Word Showcase is a series of 11 foreign country pavilions showcasing their culture and cuisine. Because we only had a few hours at Epcot, we weren't able to visit all of the pavilions on our first visit but Sibella and Mitchell were recruited to become undercover agents to help Phineas and Ferb in an interactive mystery quest. We visited the Canadian and United Kingdom pavilions as part of the quest and left the rest of Epcot for another day.

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It's really hard to get a decent photo of the three kids together. See what we had to work with? We love these crazy kidlets!!
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Guess who?
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We found Nemo and had a chat with Crush,
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and Tigger and Pooh!
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As with all things Disney, Mickey is everywhere!
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Farewell Epcot, until we meet again :)
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Posted by dinige 14:29 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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