Our flight from San Francisco to Boston was long, but thank God it was direct and over fast. The last thing you want to do when you get off a flight, however, is have to spend hours at a car rental store.
Carrentals.co.uk again had provided us with a wonderful vehicle for the next week. This has become one of my favourite places to search for a hire car around the world. As we hire cars regularly in many different places, I love how it acts as an aggregator for all the different car companies and gives you the best price. It even gives you insurance options online, which are generally better than what is offered directly from the car company.
Anyway, we got off our flight and took the shuttle to Dollar rent-a-car. When we arrived we faced some problems with me being the driver and my husband using his credit card for payment. My wallet had gone missing in our travels, I know not where and so I don’t have a credit card at the moment. Apparently the primary driver had to pay. Never having had this problem with any other company the man we were dealing with tried several ways to get around the ridiculous rules. In the end he gave us a free additional driver so I could drive, but my husband was still the primary driver because it was his card.
After this fluffing around we proceeded to pay for the prepaid fuel and our credit card was declined. I could feel my heart in my throat hoping I wasn’t about to see an American-TV-style drama where they cut the card in front of your eyes as you cry. Our credit card is always paid off so we knew it wasn’t a funds-related issue. The car company had no telephone to lend us to make a phone call to the credit card company and no wifi for us to connect to. Overall they were actually quite unhelpful in this department. My husband finally managed to use his 4G phone to make a Skype call and contact our credit card company in Australia.
Turns out because of the last 2 weeks we used the card from San Francisco to Seattle and now to Boston they had put a security hold on it. I hate that! If they are really concerned can’t they just call and ask? Grrrrrr. Anyway after a 5-minute phone call the hold was removed and the card went through fine and we finally were on our way.
We had our choice of vehicle and decided on a SUV for the room and trunk space. Finally after all the mucking around we were on the road. Our first stop in Boston was straight to our dear friend’s house that we met in Belize.
You might remember Mike & Emily from our Lamanai post in Belize. They were vacationing in Belize earlier this year and we spent 3 days with them and their similarly aged boys. During that time they invited us to their home in Boston and here we were.
We had no idea what to expect, and least of all was a magnificent 200-year-old home in a scenic tree-shaded suburb near the beach. Mike & Emily were amazingly gracious and hospitable hosts to us welcoming us with open arms as if their home was our home.
Emily cooked blueberry pancakes for the kids in the morning in the shape of Mickey Mouse ears, apparently a common thing in Maine, but very novel for our kids. We had home cooked dinners and enjoyed it so much as 2 weeks on the road wasn’t conducive to eating a lot of vegetables and warm, home-cooked meals.
Our stay with them was memorable in every way and we simply adore this family. You just know sometimes when you met people you can click with them and this is what they were like.
During our stay with them Emily was our personal tour guide. On Saturday we adventured onto the Ride the Ducks Tour to get a feel for Boston. It was not as enjoyable as its Seattle counterpart and, I, personally found the driver sarcastic and boring. Since I gave my feedback to them they have quite proactively sought out the staff member to chat to him and offered me a refund. So despite the subpar tour guide, the other service was exceptional. There are a large number of ducks in their fleet so I’m sure there are some good guides as well.
After our tour we visited Quincy Market for lunch. This interesting market has a large food court with nearly every cuisine imaginable lined in row enticing you to sample the flavours. It almost felt like the choices were endless. I settled on Chicken Teriyaki while the kids had some famous pizza and Josh devoured Indian. Coming to the end of our time in the US we decided to try a red velvet whoopee pie and renowned Boston cream pie for the first time. I was not a fan of either, Josh, of course, happily wolfed down both.
After this we headed back home for some nap and play time. The kids enjoyed the backyard sprinkler, drawing, reading, etc. Emily and I managed to leave the kids with the boys for a bit and headed to Marshalls, an American outlet store, where I shopped my little heart out. Scoring huge bargains on cute kids clothes and shoes. Love that store!
Finally the kids were in bed and us adults ended our night talking way into the morning. It was like we had known these guys for years, not 3 days 4 months ago.
Beautiful Sunday we decided to head to the beach. We walked there and let the kids play and swim before heading back home for a nap and rest time. Seems Josh and I were slightly exhausted as well and fell quickly to sleep with them.
When we woke everyone was excited to spend our final night out and we were taken to the well-known witchy town of Salem. There we had an amazing meal at Red Lulu Cocina & Tequila Bar. The best thing about this place was the freebies. First they served an astounding vodka grapefruit over liquid nitrogen, so the whole bowl was overflowing with white smoke.
Then there were corn chips with tasty dips and the finale – the best way the kids and I have ever finished a meal was with a giant cone of neon pink fairy floss.
After dinner our hosts kindly took us to the beautiful Marblehead Point to watch the sunset. We finished the evening talking long into the night again.
Emily told us a story of a little girl in her son’s class who had been diagnosed with cancer just last month. Riley is 6 years old. The medical bills are extreme in the US and the family is reaching out for help. If you have been affected by cancer or find the news of a little 6 year old with cancer unbearable, please consider visiting their site to make a donation. If you are in the Boston area a carnival is taking place on August 25 at Beverly High School with all proceeds going to Riley’s medical expenses.
On Monday we were due to depart. Emily and I got to squeeze in a shopping trip one last time while the boys took the kids out to a playground on the beach.
When we arrived back we said our sad farewells and departed Boston, but more importantly, our awesome friends. Back in our carerentals.co.uk car rental we settled in for our next trip, driving straight through to Pittsfield, Massachusetts. We look forward to returning to beautiful Boston in the future, with its rich history and heritage, fine food, and surprisingly delightful beaches.