Putting on the Ritz, No, the TAJ !

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Three Awesome Days in Boston

Earlier this summer, my husband Pat and I had a unique experience, for us anyway…

Pat’s son, my stepson Alex, was engaged to Kat and the wedding was planned for a rooftop in Boston! Alex and Kat are both very capable, accomplished young adults, both Harvard graduates and ready for what comes next. This event would be a three-day adventure for us. Summer in Boston can be pretty hot but its Boston, so what! Although only a few hours away, Boston is like a world away for us. Such a different environment … We went down on a Friday and arrived early afternoon, accepting a ride with Pat’s sisters Mary-Ellen and Katie.

The TAJ

We were taken to the door of our hotel, The TAJ Boston, right across the street from Boston Gardens; one of my favorite places in that city. The TAJ Hotel, on the corner of Newbury and Arlington Streets,  formerly, until 20017, the Ritz Carlton in a former life, hence the title of this blog. The luxury hotel was built in 1927 and originally conceived as a luxury apartment building. Before construction progressed very far, it was re-conceived as a 300 room luxury hotel. It was the highest building, at 18 stories,  in the area at that time. Today, it is an elegant hotel with an old-world feel. There are liveried staff and a lot of gracious appointments.

Lobby at the TAJ, looking out

Entering the hotel, you are faced with a set of wide marble steps. The lobby is spacious and welcoming. But like all real estate, I think the thing that is most striking and unique here is: Location, Location, Location!

View from the Roof

The rooms overlook the Boston Public Gardens and many nearby buildings of interesting  old and new  architecture. The view from the enclosed rooftop event space is stunning, spanning a large portion of Boston’s landscape. Anyway, we had a marvelous three-day adventure and here are a few of the highlights!

Sculpture Inspired by the Endearing Children’s Story Make Way for Ducklings

A Bit About the Ducklings’ Author, Robert McCluskey

The Real Things!

On Friday, we checked in and set out on foot into the nearly 100 degree heat before we could decide otherwise. We explored the Boston Gardens and Common and re-acquainted ourselves with monuments and features, like the swan boats, Frog Pond and Robert McClosky’s Make Way for Ducklings sculpture.

Cheers ! And Nobody Knew Our Names!

We had a light lunch at Cheers on Beacon Street and delved into nearby neighborhoods to check out various historic features and architecture of interest.

Elevators in the Hotel Lobby

Lobby Stairs to Street                                   Vintage Hotel Post Box

We returned to the hotel to shower and change for the rehearsal dinner at nearby Joe’s American Bar and Grill. It was a short walk there and we mingled with the Friday working crowd, as jobs in the district let out.

Katie, Pat, I and Mary-Ellen at Joe’s American Bar and Grill

This occasion was a great time to get re-acquainted with folks we hadn’t seen in a long time and to meet others for the first time. The food was delicious and the ambiance was very comfortable. Our tables overlooked the food prep area and it was very entertaining to watch the synchronized choreography of chefs, assistants and wait staff. Eventually, the evening came to a close and we were surprised at the lateness of the hour! It was a few blocks walk back to The TAJ and the air had cooled to a comfortable temperature. It was tempting, but probably not prudent in the city, to keep walking for a while longer in the city late at night.

Saturday morning we were up early and our plan was to walk the Freedom Trail. The temperature was already in the 80s and we wanted to get ahead of the worst of the predicted heat. With waters and camera packed, we headed out. We have taken this route in bits and pieces in the past, but never in any sequential or methodical order. We attempted to do so this day. This is technically a route of under 3 miles but being who we are, it wasn’t long before we deviated off the trail at several points to explore something else of interest in the vicinity.

We kept coming back though to reconnect with the red-painted bricks of the history trail as we didn’t want to miss anything. I have to say, seeing Boston this way, really did feel like history was brought to life; to actually walk where so many significant events took place in the early days of our country and easily imagine how history happened. I say easily because so many of the sites are so relatively unchanged over the past 3-4 centuries. I cannot imagine there are many other places in America that have such a rich collection of architecture and artifacts, as well as the supporting history, to still experience, as Boston does today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Freedom Trail

The Boston Common, the Massachusetts State House, The Granary and King’s Chapel Burying Grounds, The Old Corner Bookstore and the Old State House, The Boston Massacre Site and Faneuil Hall (and the adjoining Market Place), Paul Revere’s House, the Old North Church, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground and The U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides) and the Naval Yard there, and so many more sites kept us busy all day.

Workings to the Locks System on the Way to Charleston

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also visited some places of interest like the Irish-in-America monument which resonated personally for us both.

We had a nice outdoor lunch at Ned Devine’s Pub in Quincy Market Place, followed by ice cream nearby. In all, we tallied nearly 10 miles, much of it on cobbled pavement. What an interesting day and it was only just beginning! We returned to The TAJ and prepared for the evening wedding, which was after all; the main reason we were in Boston in the first place.

For some reason, I find odd signs and various utility covers interesting. I took a few photos of them along the way…

The Wedding Venue

Alex and Kat Cut the Cake

Mary-Ellen, Alex, Katie, Pat and Liam

Oh, Oh !

The rooftop venue where the wedding was held had a spectacular view of the city. At this time of day, the sun was low in the sky and streetlights were beginning to sparkle in the distance. The large black and white squares of the floor echoed the huge panoramic window panes. Topiary balls hung from the ceiling and small white lights added to the sense of a fairyland up here. The ceremony itself was very personal and quite elegant. The participants all seemed to glow with happiness and love for the celebrated couple. Congratulations Alex and Kat! What a way to start life together.

The following morning, we had a little time before we left and as the Public Gardens was just across the street, we headed over. A chilling shrieking pierced the otherwise relatively still morning air. It soon proved to be an immature red-tailed hawk in a nearby tree that was being waited on frequently by a very vigilant and attendant mother hawk. I was able to track them as I walked down some side streets that had architecture that attracted me. At one point, the hawks had moved to the steeple of an old church I passed. I found a very interesting castle-like structure that I could tell had some age to it by the upper windows and some other features. It seemed very out-of-place in a busy Boston intersection. A bit of research proved it to be a former military training and housing facility built in the 1890s, turned present-day eating establishment.

The Castle

And on that note, it was time to catch a ride home with my son and his wife who had small children of their own, who’s shrieking we could not hear but they probably could imagine! Good Bye Boston. Congratulations Alex and Kat! It’s been an awesome adventure for us, I hope it is for you too!

Proud Dad and Step Mom

The TAJ from Boston Gardens

 

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