Subject: Our trip to Boston
Hi Ziners, A quick report on our five days in Boston. We went down for the Marathon but the whole weekend turned into a sports fan's dream with the Red Sox/Yankees match-up and the Bruins/Canadiens final games. A hockey highlight was watching a contingent of Montrealers walking around Quincy Market in their Habs jerseys being good-naturedly jeered by the Boston fans. All in good fun.

We stayed in a private residence next to the Prudential Centre for $125/night. This type of stay is not for everyone but our host was gracious, we had a huge bedroom (shared the bathroom with the host), our host made tea for us every morning (we could have had breakfast but we don't generally eat breakfast) and the location was perfect. Hotels book up months in advance of the Patriot's Day weekend so be forewarned.

Food highlights: Aside from joining 100,000+ others on the streets to watch the runners come into the Finish in blazing sunshine, the highlight had to be our GTG with Tom and Jan. Tom has posted his view (watching the pick-up scene at he bar) but I'd have to add that meeting two Ziners in their hometown was a great way to start off the mini-holiday. Though Stephanie's was packed, it is emblematic of the Newbury Street scene. Food was great, conversation even better. Dan and I now know that it's possible to cross Brazil in a Range Rover and live to tell the tale - which Tom told so well.

Dinner on Saturday night was with fellow Toronto runners at Fenner's Steak House. The steak was tender and cooked exactly as requested, the service attentive but not cloying and the baked potatoes the largest I've seen in some time. Must be from Idaho. Everything in the U.S. is bigger - portions, wine glasses, desserts and hospitality.

Dinner on Sunday night, after the Marathon crowd had dissipated, was at Piatini on Newbury. This was our third visit to the restaurant and again we were not disappointed. Only quibble was the restaurant ran out of bread because they had served so many customers that day. The manager sent one of the staff out to Shaw's grocery to buy more but the staffer was not seen again. Our theory was that he had to travel miles to get around the Marathon barricades that blocked all the streets.

Lunch on Monday was at Soncie, again on Newbury. Dan's asparagus/egg/pecorini salad and my yellow tomato/mozarella/arugula sandwich were perfect accompaniments to our wine on a warm and sunny day, sitting at a window table watching the lunchtime crowd wander by.

Other highlights: We spent a few hours at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts viewing the Gauguin exhibit. Despite the crowd, we were able to linger before paintings and sculptures as we wished. We rented the audio tour recorders - world expertise at your fingertips for $6.00.

We also spent a few hours in the Aquarium, marvelling again at the variety of sealife from around the world. My favourite, as with most visitors, is the penguin exhibit.

The Mapparium and the Mary Baker Eddy exhibit at the First Church of Christ, Scientist are fascinating. We've been to Boston many times but have never stopped here. So, a new experience for us.

The Boston subway is probably the weirdest one I've ever travelled. On Marathon day, there were pushers, just like the Tokyo subway, ensuring that the cars became sardine cans as passengers were shoved in. We also took the subway to the airport because (a) we had the time and (b) we were tired of spending money. As it turned out, we didn't spend any. We got on at the Prudential station where passengers pay the trolley driver but he didn't want to take our tokens. Transferred to the Blue Line to the airport and onto the bus. Total travel time was 50 minutes and a savings of $30.00 over cab fare.

A couple of Boston notes: If, as a traveller, you don't like crowds then Boston during Marathon weekend is not the place to be. However, if as a traveller you like to be in a town that is celebrating, go to Boston on this busy weekend. A word of advice too: reserve for dinner otherwise you will find yourself buying bread and cheese at a grocery store because the restaurants are packed.

Restaurants on Boylston, Newbury and in the Quincy Market will not allow customers to sit on the patio for a beverage only. They require that you eat. I don't know if this is only on the Patriot's Day Weekend or generally so but it can be a pain for travellers who just want to sit a while and take a load off our tired feet. Lucy, Toronto