Ten thousand feet below, the long sweeping arc of Cape Cod reached out into the Atlantic Ocean. We were commencing our approach into Boston's Logan International Airport at the start of a three-week holiday to New England.
Before travelling north to the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont however, we had planned a couple of days in Boston itself. As the airport shuttle bus slowly made its way through the rush hour traffic I was glad that I had not picked up a hire car immediately on arrival, it would not have been a good idea after a long day travelling.
Boston is an interesting city. It has a lot of history centred on the struggle for American Independence--the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill and so on. It is also quite a compact city and is readily explored on foot. The Freedom Trail, a marked walking route links the main historical sights. Alternatively, take one of the several Trolley Tours covering most of the city's major attractions, which enable you to hop on and off all day long. Besides providing an excellent commentary, the drivers are also accomplished comedians. At one point our driver entertained us with a song and dance routine complete with straw boater, banjo and cane, while waiting at the traffic lights in the centre of the city! The drivers waiting behind us were quite amused too!
The shopping is excellent, from the exclusive establishments in Newbury Street to the bargain basement of Filenes department store and the tourist boutiques of Faneuil Hall and Quincey market.
Eating out is another pleasure with a wide variety of excellent restaurants, many featuring the best clam chowder in the world. All too soon it was time to leave Boston and head north on Interstate 93 to rural New England in its autumn glory. It is difficult to pick the peak time for the autumn foliage, but generally the last week in September and the first week in October should be pretty reliable. Because of the influx of "leaf peepers" at this time it is essential to reserve accommodation in advance and book early. Waiting at the airport on our return we spoke to an English couple who had decided to take pot-luck on accommodation. As a result they had had a miserable holiday spending a great deal of time looking for somewhere to spend the night and often having to accept some very dubious establishments.
We had decided to rent a house for a week in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and another house for a week in the Green Mountains of Vermont. This we arranged with the help of Hallmark Travel who have an excellent range of brochures of homes to rent and car hire. Both our homes were first class--large and very well appointed with every piece of domestic equipment imaginable--except egg cups, which the Americans do not seem to use! Our first house even had a snooker room and about two bathrooms each, or was it more? Both homes were beautifully situated, particularly the one in Vermont. This was a large and very superior log cabin set in its own sixty acres of woodland high up on a hill with spectacular views of the surrounding Green Mountains. It was called Manitook, which means the country of the gods. It was aptly named.
There was no shortage of things to do and see in the surrounding area. First and foremost we enjoyed the incredible colours of the autumn foliage--the scarlet of the red maples, the deep orange of the sugar maples and the yellows and browns of the birches and oaks. The hillsides were like patchwork quilts of different colours, contrasting magically with the bright blue sky above. With innumerable streams, waterfalls and lakes this is a superb area for walking and picnicking, or for the less energetic just cruising around in the car. The villages are equally attractive with their tree lined streets, neat white boarded colonial style homes and always the icing sugar churches. The area abounds with antique shops, art galleries and specialist food stores selling homemade cheeses and preserves, maple syrup and home-smoked bacon. Incidentally, Vermont is the home of Ben and Jerry's luxury ice cream. It was all a serious threat to the waistline! The final waistline disaster occurred with the discovery of Polly's Pancake Parlour where you can sample wholewheat, buckwheat, cornmeal and oatmeal-buttermilk pancakes with real maple syrup and a few slices of streaky bacon on top. What a way to go!
There is no doubt this is a very attractive holiday area. The scenery is magnificent--there is plenty to see and do and the people are extremely friendly and hospitable. Permeating it all is the strong association with England. Nearly every town or village has a similar name to one in England, presumably reflecting the fact that the first settlers came from that town or village in the mother country.
We really only scratched the surface of New England in one short visit. For example we did not visit any of the coastal areas of Maine, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard or Rhode Island, nor did we explore other large areas of the other New England states. There is no question in my mind--we must return.
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No, I'm not a Travel Guru, but I have loved travelling since I was five years old, and more than love travel... I love to share my experiences... and show you our Wonderful World through my eyes!