My sister Regina and I always spend a day together for our birthdays. Since mine is in July, the options are better for play. Hers is in January, and the best options — those involving sun and warmth — also involve substantial planning and cost. So, this year, she decided she wanted just to go to the New England Aquarium in Boston. We could drive, take a bus or a train. Turns out the weather was going to be unpredictable…typical for New England winters…so we opted for the Concord Lines bus ride; staying home just wasn’t an option. The first thing I learned is that these drivers are pretty awesome. They tackled snow on the way down and freezing rain on the way back, as well as those notorious Boston drivers, with great aplomb and safety. I’ve ridden Concord many, many times, but never in these conditions. Two thumbs up, I say!
We planned on walking once we got to Boston but looked into taking the T anyway, thinking the ride might be a little longer, but we’d stay warm and dry. The second thing I learned is that T staff are very helpful. We got good advice from a T employee who could’ve just sold us tickets and sent us on our way. We’re walkers, and as I said, the snow was no big whoop, so we walked the 1/2 mile or so from South Station to the aquarium instead of using an hour of our day taking the T alternative. Boston is really quite lovely in the snow. The sidewalks were being cleared before us as we traveled, and it was really a good walk.
We arrived at the aquarium to learn that although the staff was present in force, the public wasn’t. The third thing I learned was that a snowy day is a great day to spend at the aquarium. Instead of using the low traffic as an excuse to slough off, the aquarium staff were twice as attentive to those of us who did come in. We saw a turtle get a kidney biopsy and had our own staff telling us the details; got one-on-one info on sea dragons; and heard a more detailed than usual discussion from the divers who maintain the huge central tank and its residents at the aquarium. Also, there was no fighting to see exhibits. It was just great. To be clear, it’s SNOWY days that are good at the aquarium. The staff told us that RAINY days are exactly the opposite.
We capped our day with dinner in the North End at a restaurant called G’Vanni’s. It’s a small dining room — maybe 50 seats. The fourth thing I learned is that, if you are the only guests in a restaurant in the North End, the service level is beyond description. We talked with the host (Gianni) and our waitress (Sherry) the whole time, with the exception of the time we were actually eating. It was a wonderful experience, and the food was wonderful. For those with gluten intolerance, G’Vanni’s has a gluten free pasta option available. Regina and I both had the gluten free linguini. It was really quite good with the fra diavolo sauce we both chose.
By the time we left G’Vanni’s, it was dark and the weather had deteriorated to my least favorite of the winter options — freezing rain. We walked back to South Station with umbrellas daring the wind to invert them and all the crossing areas flooded with water. The last thing I learned about our day in snowy Boston is to be certain your footwear is waterPROOF and not just water RESISTANT!
In sum, folks in New England know from winter weather. Don’t let a little thing like wintery weather keep you from spending your day as you planned. I’m here to tell you it’s worth the effort to go ahead with it. Just plan your clothing and footwear appropriately and carry an umbrella…just in case.
Photo Credit: Rene S