Summer is off to a good start as my family went to New England just after the spring semester ended. We left on the 22nd and came back this afternoon. New England is truly a place like no other.
Days 1 and 2
Our vacation began with an evening flight to Boston. I had heard that red-eye flights are brutal and wasn't looking forward to this. But contrary to the expectations, the flight wasn't all that bad.
The flight itself was actually quite pleasant. One great thing about jetBlue is the unlimited snacks and drinks. I also got to watch The Transporter and Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets on the plane. Transporter had over-the-top action; I didn't know Jason Statham was a martial arts expert.
The plane landed in Boston early in the morning. Fatigue started setting in as we picked up our rental car at the airport. I guess we were too excited to notice it earlier. Having had little rest, my parents and I took a nap in the car before going to downtown Boston. Our day began with a stroll on the historic Freedom Trail. This was pretty fun, although Mom is still recovering from a foot surgery and couldn't do much walking.
The final stop of the day was Bar Harbor. Given that Maine is famous for its lobsters, my family went to a local seafood restaurant for dinner after checking into our hotel. The lobsters were indeed delicious, especially with the melted butter. Dessert consisted of freshly baked blueberry pie. The meal was easily the best part of the trip.
Dad took us to Acadia National Park in the morning. While natural places are uncommon in New England, the scenery in Acadia was beautiful and made for some excellent pictures. It's too bad we didn't get to spend much time on the trails. I certainly hope to revisit Acadia in the future.
The three of us arrived in Quebec City in the afternoon. Though a Canadian province, Quebec felt like a part of France as the majority of the locals speak French. The signs were in French as well. However, the language barrier wasn't too much of a problem as people generally understood our questions and vice versa.
About 260 km southwest of Quebec City was Montreal. We explored the downtown before doing grocery shopping in the evening. The local snacks looked tasty but weren't cheap at all. I really regret not buying some. :-(
One thing I noticed is that people in Quebec seem somewhat outlandish. For example, many Quebecers like to stand on the streets while waiting for the crosswalk light to turn green - which is also unsafe. I'm glad we didn't run into any jerks or anything. As a matter of fact, one guy was kind enough to point us in the right direction after we got stuck in a cul-de-sac!
Back in our hotel room, I watched EuroTrip before going to bed. EuroTrip is one of those movies that are dumb and hilarious at the same time. I definitely got some good laughs.
It was time to leave Canada and head all the way to Hartford. Upon clearing customs, my parents and I checked out the duty-free shop near the border. I bought some chocolate maple creme cookies as the price wasn't too high. They were a bit sweet for my taste but not too bad otherwise. Dad made a brief stop in nearby Champlain so we could get pictures. The waters of Lake Champlain were beautiful.
The scenery in Vermont was amazing too. Of note is that every rest area in the state had free coffee. That made our drive very worthwhile. Speaking of which, my father had at least five cups of Joe - though not without leaving a donation each time. Let's just say we also had to make numerous restroom stops. :P
I saw a cozy-looking restaurant later in the evening and suggested eating here; my parents agreed as it was already past dinner time. The fish and pasta turned out to be really good. This was another memorable experience.
It was around 11:45 p.m. when we finally arrived in Hartford. All of us were pretty tired and went to bed shortly after checking into the hotel.
Yale University awaited us in the morning. I didn't apply to this school, but Dad wanted a look at the campus. The place was quite nice despite its aged appearance.
The next stop was a seafood restaurant called U.S.S. Chowder Pot for lunch. I was tempted by the ads and figured we had to eat here. One thing we ordered was Rhode Island clam chowder. Unlike its traditional counterpart, this version is made with a clear broth. Though I prefer the regular type, trying new foods is always exciting. Oh yeah, and the Maryland crab cakes were delicious.
The not-so-fun part is that we blew a tire on a sharp rock upon leaving New Haven. Because this happened in a rural area, AAA took two hours to arrive and tow us to the nearest auto shop. The good news is that the insurance covered everything. Having to pay for the repairs would have certainly ruined our vacation.
Our final destination of the day was Provincetown, located on Cape Cod. A notable stop along the way was the Cape Cod Potato Chips headquarters in Hyannis. The factory tour was fascinating; I was impressed with how such a small company could be one of the biggest suppliers of potato chips in the nation. We had some free samples and also bought a few bags before leaving. Yum!
Having enjoyed the lobsters in Bar Harbor so much, Dad decided to buy two more at a roadside seafood stand. They weren't as good this time because there was no drawn butter and the meat was too tough. Other than that, the lobsters weren't too bad.
The rest of the day was uneventful as Provincetown itself didn't have many attractions. It was good to get some well-deserved rest, especially after three long days of driving!
The breakfast at Best Western totally sucked. The food consisted mostly of pastries and orange juice; there were no fruits, bread or anything else. I wouldn't even actually call it a breakfast at all. That stuff couldn't possibly be healthy either.
Of note is that Cape Cod had a creepy atmosphere. There is a lot of fog, not to mention that Route 6A is lined with cemeteries. The experience was reminiscent of horror movies set in small towns.
The three of us arrived in Plymouth in the afternoon. This was where the Mayflower landed in America almost 400 years ago. The town was well-preserved despite its age. The famous Plymouth Rock is said to be where the Pilgrims got off the ship. However, there was trash all over the place. Those people ought to be very ashamed of themselves.
Back in Boston, my parents and I went to the Faneuil Hall Marketplace before checking into our hotel. This one was much nicer than the Best Western in Provincetown. Well, aside from being right next to a morgue.
Dad wanted to visit MIT and Harvard University in the morning. The MIT campus was really cool and definitely had that geeky feel. The Harvard campus wasn't too shabby either.
We explored downtown Boston again before heading to the airport to return the car and catch the flight back to San Francisco. I got to watch Descent and Garfield: The Movie on the plane. The flight was uneventful otherwise, although we got home fairly early due to the time zone difference.
New England is a fascinating place, especially with its rich history and famous seafood. On the subject of which, the lobster dinner in Bar Harbor was my favorite part of the vacation. Of course, the rest of the trip was great too.
The biggest downside is that my mother just had a foot surgery not too long ago. Considering that she couldn't walk far, much of the time was spent in the car. Dad did all of the driving and was totally exhausted. That said, this was an incredible adventure that we'll remember for years to come.
Currently listening to: "Dragostea Din Tei" by O-Zone
Historical note: Pictures from the trip are available here.