My destination of choice for winter break  

Posted by inkstainedhands in , , , , ,

The two most popular winter break destinations among my friends are Florida and Israel, where it is warm and the sun is shining and coats and scarves and boots are unnecessary. They sound like pretty logical destinations during the cold winters that are typical of New York, and especially during this one, when we've had 3 snowfalls within the course of a single month.

As most of my friends must have realized by now, I'm not the type of person to do something typical. Nor do I get as excited about sunny, hot days as others do (which has earned me a reputation as a bit of a vampire). So I thought it would be a good idea to go to Boston with my friend. And it was -- until we almost got snowed in there. As soon as I returned from Boston, I decided that staying in Brooklyn wasn't a way to spend one's winter break, so I impulsively planned another little getaway to Philadelphia, which is one of my favorite cities in America (after Manhattan, of course). I managed to get back to NY before the third snowfall of the season.

I never really needed to use public transportation anywhere other than in New York, and I was pleasantly surprised and rather charmed by Boston's public transportation system, which we used throughout our trip to get to wherever we wanted to go.

Boston is a beautiful old city with such an important history. My friend and I went to see some of the historic sites, such as the site of the Boston Massacre, the Old State House, and the Old South Meeting House, which played an important role in the Boston Tea Party. The colonists who started the Boston Tea Party met inside this house. There is also a sign inside the meeting room that indicates where President Washington once stood.

We wandered around the Faneuil marketplace and found some lovely outdoor sculptures randomly standing or sitting on park benches. We then went to see the New England Holocaust Memorial, which is made of a few tall glass towers. It was quite sobering to walk through them and read the quotes printed inside. The memorial was right near an old-looking street with cobblestones, so we walked around since we had some extra time.

We also visited Harvard, which was beautiful, but somehow not as grand as we had imagined it to be. Although perhaps that might be because we were expecting something like Hogwarts, haha.

At some point, we found ourselves on the trolley with extra time on our hands, so we impulsively stopped by Boston Common and wandered around the theater district. We also went to the Skyline Observatory on the 50th floor of the Prudential Center to see all of Boston spread out beneath us, and we watched the sunset from there and then also got to see Boston all lit up at night.

And of course, no trip is ever complete in my mind without a visit to an art museum -- and ok, I admit it, the main reason I wanted to go to Boston was because I heard it had a great art museum -- so the last day of the Boston trip was dedicated to art, art, art. Boston's Museum of Fine Arts was wonderful and had a beautiful collection of American art. Seeing Childe Hassam's painting of Boston Common was especially delightful considering we had just been there the day before. What I loved about the museum was that there were many paintings of Boston and its history, which were fascinating to see. The museum also had a large collection of Renoir and Monet paintings, and of course, the necessary Degas and Rodin sculptures, which always make me smile.

After the Museum of Fine Arts, I walked to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which looks like a regular old unimpressive building from the outside but has an interior that is gorgeous beyond words. It has an indoor courtyard where I felt I could sit for hours, just dreaming and drawing and writing. And since they had a strict no-photography policy, I did find it necessary to do some sketching. It is simply breathtakingly beautiful and if anyone ever goes to Boston, this is a must-see. Seriously. Aside from the Museum of Fine Arts, it was my favorite thing about Boston. They are currently building a new wing, which should open in 2012, and if I ever return to Boston, this will be the first thing on my list of places to see. (And in my adoration for the courtyard, I neglected to mention that it also has a fine collection of art and antiques and furnished rooms.)

Although I originally planned to stay in Boston through Wednesday, Megabus sent me an email saying that my bus had been canceled due to the upcoming snowstorm. I got this email when I came back from the museums, at nearly 7 PM. Uh oh. Well, by 8 PM I was on a Chinatown bus to NY, with the help of my amazing hostess who rushed me to the bus station just in time. I don't think I ever packed all my things so quickly as I did then in order to make it in time.

I returned to NY in the middle of the snowstorm, when the roads were already filling up with snow. And that was my traveling adventure for my 2011 winter break. Or so I thought, until I was browsing the Megabus site and saw that I could get free tickets to Philadelphia for the following week. It was very, very, very tempting, since I love Philadelphia very much and have already been there 4 times in the past. And of course, it has a major art museum. Can you tell where this is headed? ;] At first, I thought that it would just have to remain a dream for now because I had only just returned to NY. But then I figured -- why not? I still had a week and a half of vacation left, and it was free, and why not enjoy myself? I quickly began working on making it a reality.

And so, this past Tuesday, I found myself on a bus to Philadelphia with another one of my friends. I was a bit overexcited about the prospect of being in Philly again, which even the drowsy side effects of Dramamine couldn't extinguish. I am glad my friend put up with it. :]

Since I have already been to Philadelphia 4 times and plan to return there a few times in the future, there wasn't much pressure to see everything during this trip. So we made it short and sweet and just focused on the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which was amazing and beautiful and included me taking a picture with Marc Chagall's self-portrait. <3

I want to return to Philadelphia again in the near future and go to the Museum of Art again as well as a few other places I haven't seen yet. Actually, if possible, I would like to make trips to Philadelphia a yearly ritual. :] Who's up for being my travel buddy?

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011 at Saturday, January 22, 2011 and is filed under , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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