The Hunt for Delicious Seafood (and Beer) in New England

As shared in my previous blog, the first half of our Boston trip was not exactly smooth.  That included no seafood for me, which made me very cranky.  However we still had another 5 days to spend in the area, and our next stop was to my husband’s best friend’s house.

Tony’s childhood friend, Brian, and his wife, Sam, live in Newburyport, Massachusettes.  Their home is one of the cutest I have ever seen, looking like it belongs in a home decor magazine.  Each room showcases a bit of New England flavor, from the nautical curtains to the posters of cities in Maine.

Arriving at their home was an extra special occasion, as their daughter was born only 3 weeks before Matilda.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect if we had planned it.  It was adorable to watch these future best friends interact with each other.  It was even better to see the two new dads and lifelong besties in action with their baby girls.

Besties for life

Da Bears

Our time with Brian and Sam was wonderful and relaxing.  We finally had the opportunity to do some of the things we had attempted with my family.  This included eating oysters and lobster, and drinking quality New England beer.   It also included doing some Halloween-type things given the proximity to the holiday.

On Friday night, we hit up two different seafood restaurants.  We started off at Sea Level Oyster Bar for the delicious oysters.  I seriously ate about 12 on my own.  It had been such a long time since I’d enjoyed quality oysters and I relished every briny, tangy slurp.  I wanted to keep ordering more but Tony quickly reminded me of the price tag so I slowed down.

seafood

seafood

After our oysters, we drove to New Hampshire for dinner.  That is one thing I always find so cool about New England – you drive for 20 minutes and you’re in another state.

We were introduced to Petey’s, a divey-looking seaside restaurant.  The decor and look of the restaurant almost gave it more credibility in terms of the food we were about to eat.  It was right by the sea, and the outlet focused more on the quality of food than the decoration.  It’s exactly the type of place you know will satisfy your taste buds.

seafood

seafood

seafood

LAAAAAABSTAAAAAA – Finally!!!

Tony ordered a stuffed lobster and I ordered the “lazy man” lobster (no shell).  I was trying to feed Matilda while enjoying the food.  It was just as amazing as I had hoped.  We coupled the dinner with pumpkin beers (cinnamon rim even!) and went to bed that night with full and happy bellies.

Saturday was our last full day before flying back to Zurich, and we took the opportunity to really celebrate Halloween.  We started off at a pumpkin patch where we captured the most adorable photos of the baby girls with pumpkins.  There were also fresh and warm cinnamon sugar donuts to be tried, and I almost passed out from the delicious taste.

We then drove to Salem, the city best known for the witch trials in the late 1600s.  The Salem Witch trials have a lot of controversy and intrigue attached to them.  Salem as a city itself had a spooky sense about it, with magic stores, fortune tellers, and stores dedicated to witchy-ness on every street.

I made a stop over to the cemetery and saw headstones dating back to the early 1700s.  The cemetery also had a section bricked off and dedicated to those that were hanged in the witch trials.  Everything about it felt eerie.

Part of the memorial for those killed in the witch trials

Salem also hosts a small and delicious brewery called Notch Brewing.  The bar is held in an old warehouse garage, and the beers are all German or Czech inspired.  It was surprisingly child-friendly, but they made sure to post plenty of signs about “no running” or “minding your children”.  I guess it’s a good thing Matilda can’t walk.

Matilda knows the value of a good bar

We ended up leaving Boston extremely happy and satisfied.  We spent time with my family and great friends, and enjoyed some delicious seafood and beer.  I hope our next visit to New England is sooner rather than later.

 

 

National Lampoon’s Boston Vacation

When my father suggested a Scarpaci family vacation, we jumped at the opportunity.  Our last vacation together was 10 years earlier in Cancun.  Back then there were no husbands, no babies.  Our only requirement was to pick a city with direct flights from Zurich.  With that in mind, it didn’t take my family long to narrow it down to Boston.

The planning leading up to the trip was very exciting.  We rented a gorgeous home in the North End for us to stay in together.  A calendar of events was planned, including walking the Freedom Trail, eating at Union Oyster House, and touring Fenway Park.  I couldn’t wait for all of us to be together.

Our first clue things might go wrong was when my mother was alerted that the rental house was sold.  This meant it was no longer available to us.  With only two months before the trip, she scrambled to secure another location.  We lucked out with one in Brookline, but it caused unecessary stress.

Our flight from Zurich was uneventful, and when we arrived to the house my parents were already there.  We had a great reunion with Matilda, with lots of cuddles and kisses.  My siblings arrived later that evening, and we spent the next day catching up on sleep and stories.

boston

Grandpa

boston

Uncle Ton

boston

Grandma

Sunday was the day of anniversary celebrations.  My parents had recently hit their 40th year together, and we surprised them at my Uncle’s home in Warwick, Rhode Island with food, a photographer and presents.  The day was perfect and beautiful, and our very talented photographer, Corey Favino, captured some incredibly special moments of our family.

boston

Unfortunately, that is where the good times ended and the National Lampoon style events began.

Monday’s schedule included walking the Freedom Trail and dinner at an Italian restaurant in the North End.  However, Sunday night, my nephew, mother, and brother’s girlfriend all woke up vomiting.  Most of us were none the wiser until the next day, but the sickness quickly made its way through the entire household.  By Sunday night, even Matilda was pooping herself so bad that it was coming out of her diaper.  Thank goodness there were 4 bathrooms in the house otherwise I don’t know what we would’ve done.  Needless to say the Freedom Trail and Italian dinner were cancelled.

On Tuesday, some of the family members were still sick, so about 2/3 of us felt well enough to attend the Fenway Park tour my mother had booked in advance.  As we walked to the park, we began to feel the effects of Hurricane Jose, who was making his way up the East Coast.  Winds and rain started off slow, but picked up speed and strength throughout the park tour.  By the time the tour ended, we were soaked, and the walk back didn’t help.

boston

Fog in the background which turned into rain

boston

Inside the park where it was dry

boston

Tuesday evening, we had reservations at Union Oyster House.  Opened in 1826, this is the oldest restaurant in America.  We went our separate ways the next day, so while the restaurant is touristy, it was a great place to end our trip together.  Given the size of our party and 2 babies, our reservation was made months in advance, and yet upon being taken to our table, they tried to split us up.  It kicked off a poor experience from the beginning as we forced our way into a small table just so we could sit together.  We didn’t eat much or stay long and before we knew it, the night was over.

We said our good-byes the next morning, laughing at the mishaps but also disappointed the trip hadn’t gone more smoothly.  All things considered, though, the most important thing is that we were together, and we arrived and departed safely.  Even through the crappy parts, we had fun, and thankfully we will be together again at Christmas.  I am sure we will spend plenty of time discussing our National Lampoon vacation.  🙂

For Tony and I, however, the vacation did not end there.  Next up, I’ll share how we finally got to indulge in lobsters and oysters, and how Matilda finally met her best friend.

Visiting Porto, Portugal

After my Saudi Arabia trip, I had a day and a half back in Zurich before I was on a plane again. This time it was for pleasure – Tony, Matilda and I were flying to Porto, Portugal for my boss’ wedding.

I had visited Lisbon a few years earlier and loved it, so I was really looking forward to this trip. Porto is just as cute and quaint and hilly. However, there were less tourists than in Lisbon which made it easier to navigate.

Also like Lisbon, tile covered many of the buildings. This is one of my favorite things about Portugal in general – this colorful tile is so incredibly unique to the area and even more lovely to gaze at.  It can make any old building an instant masterpiece.

porto

Porto is also the city of Port wine. Unfortunately for me, though, I hate Port wine. Back in high school, I worked part time at a country club and I remember watching all of the rich people drinking Port wine with their dessert. I was often situated as the “dessert girl” or “official ice cream scooper”, so that, plus Port, always brings back memories of cold and sticky hands (from the ice cream).  And honestly, the taste of Port is far too sweet for my palate.

porto

A few of the must-see sights in Porto include:

Livraria Lello

This book shop, founded in 1881, inspired JK Rowling’s design of Hogwarts.  When she was teaching English in Porto, she spent a lot of time here.

porto

porto

porto

porto

 

Sao Bento Railway Station

The station boasts gorgeous tiled scenary throughout the main entrance and is a must see in Porto.

porto

porto

porto

porto

 

Dom Luis I Bridge

The bridge is double decker and crosses over the Douro River.  The top is meant for walking and the tram, and the bottom is meant for cars.  There are stunning views of the river’s edge when driving through it.

porto

porto

Anyway, aside from the beauty of Porto which we enjoyed, we also had an incredible wedding to attend. Matilda was the most beautiful guest of all in her cute white dress. Tony and I also used it as an opportunity to take our annual anniversary photos – 7 years! – which of course featured Matilda.

porto

The wedding included a mini-Fado concert by the very popular Cristina Branco. She. Was. Amazing. The voice on this woman was unlike anything I’d ever heard in person before. She was so incredibly talented, and we spotified her music for the rest of the trip.

porto

The wedding ended with delicious red velvet cake and laterns released into the sky.  Tony and I were so incredibly thankful for this opportunity to visit Porto.  We celebrated love and all of the gifts life has to offer.

Next up is Boston, and it’s quite a douzy of a trip….