Japan in Boston, Review, Sightseeing, Travel

Finding Japan in Boston: Japanese Garden at the Museum of Fine Arts

We’ve visited several places in Boston inspired by France, Italy, and Venice, but today we’re going to find inspiration from a country in a completely different continent – Japan!

While it’s easy to find European-inspiration in Boston, it’s more difficult to locate places that have the unique architecture and serene and peaceful surroundings that Japan is known for.

However, I found a place where visitors to Boston can escape to when they want a reprieve from the hurried nature of the city.

Japanese Garden at Museum of Fine Arts

Best of all, no admission ticket is needed, so it’s free! That’s right, you can potentially visit every day that it’s open if you want. However, it does close at the beginning of fall and reopens in the spring.

Luckily, we’re here when it’s open. Let’s go see it!

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Restaurants, Review, Travel

Review: Best places to get lobster in Boston

One of my favorite foods is lobster, and living in New England luckily means lobster is available pretty much year-round. However, all lobster places are not created equal. Since lobster is ubiquitous in Boston, there are numerous places to choose from, but where’s the best place in Boston to get lobster? I’m here to help!

To me, there are two options for eating lobster at restaurants: the “fast food” option and the sit-down restaurant option. Here’s my opinion on the best lobster for both! For standardization, I’m basing my opinions on their lobster rolls since they are quintessentially Boston.

Barking Crab Lobster Boston

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Restaurants, Review, Travel

Best happy hour oysters deal in Boston

Just like lobster, oysters in Boston seem ubiquitous. When you can find them at many seafood restaurants and steakhouses, it’s difficult to know where to start when you want some delicious, fresh oysters, especially when you have a budget.

The best place to start looking? Boston’s Happy Hour specials. Walking around Boston after 5:00pm on a weekday is the ideal place to spot excellent Happy Hour Deals.

It just so happened that when my friend and I met up for dinner at Liquid Art House, there was a sign advertising $1 oysters at Smith & Wollensky, which was right across the street. It sounded too good to pass up so we decided to start off dinner with this fantastic oyster deal!

Smith & Wollensky Best Oysters Deal Boston

Smith & Wollensky in Back Bay is hard to miss, as to me it looks like it’s a castle straight out of the UK (well, a mini castle). As someone who loves the UK, the architecture immediately spoke to me.

I’ve had steak here during Restaurant Week a few years ago, and I still think nothing beats Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse for steaks. However, after our $1 oyster deal here, I have to say that nothing beats them for their Happy Hour oyster deal!

Smith & Wollensky Best Oysters Deal Boston
Image from Smith & Wollensky

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Sightseeing, Travel

Marseille to Aix-en-Provence, France

You can’t go to Marseille without also visiting Aix-en-Provence! Contrary to the previous cities I mentioned, Le Havre in France and Vigo, Spain, I had definitely heard of Aix-en-Provence. Therefore, I had very high expectations! Did Aix-en-Provence meet my expectations? Let’s find out!

Aix-en-Provence France
A beautiful area in Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence was our second stop on my Grand European Cruise. Well, it was technically the third stop of the tour, starting with Milan, but this was the second stop after boarding the ship.

After Milan, and then Marseille, I think this tour could have been renamed “the most beautiful cities in Europe tour”. Every stop so far seemed like I jumped right into a fairy-tale village.

I love these signs telling more about the history of the city. I couldn’t read them, but I liked that they looked very detailed!

Aix-en-Provence France

Luckily I could read the dates, so the signs gave me some idea of just how historic Aix-en-Provence is.

Aix-en-Provence France

After wandering around we stumbled upon this very beautiful and charming area. The fountain seemed to dominate the whole area – it was definitely a focal point!

Aix-en-Provence France

I’ve seem many gorgeous fountains in Paris, but this one was just uniquely photogenic. It seemed to always be in motion (probably because it was pretty windy this day)! Continue reading “Marseille to Aix-en-Provence, France”

Sightseeing, Travel

Discovering Marseille, France

One of the first stops on our Grand European Cruise was the beautiful city of Marseille.

What do I think of when I hear the word Marseille? Well, this photo kind of encapsulates everything I imagined it would be! It also turned out to be much more!

Marseille France

Leaving the port, we’re greeted by the French flag almost immediately. We actually had to postpone docking here by a day since the weather was terrible and the waters were too rough to dock.

It’s hard to imagine that now when the sky is a clear, brilliant blue and the waters are so calm there are barely any waves.

Marseille France

Marseille France

The streets were pretty and clean, and of course there’s an opera house at the end of this random street!

Marseille France

Our main goal was seeing the basilica called Notre-Dame de la Garde at the city’s highest point. Continue reading “Discovering Marseille, France”

Sightseeing, Travel

Discovering Vigo, Spain

Another lesser known city we visited on our Grand European Cruise was Vigo, Spain. I know the main reason we stopped at a few of these cities is that they have ports so we can dock the ship, but I was surprisingly enchanted by them! I also know that these were cities that I most likely would never have known about or visited if it wasn’t for this cruise.

Vigo Spain Vigo Spain

What I really liked about this port was that it allowed the ship to literally dock right by the city, and we didn’t have to take any shuttles or do extensive walking just to find civilization.

The main shopping center was right across the ship, and the historic part of Vigo, Old Town, was a short walk away!

 Vigo Spain

Right away, we encountered the first beautiful piece of architecture, the Concatedral de Santa María, or Church of Santa María.

Vigo Spain church

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France in Boston, Paris in Boston, Review, Sightseeing, Travel

Boston’s Jardin des Plantes: James P. Kelleher Rose Garden

Paris is a magical place full of fairy-tale, too beautiful to believe gardens, such as Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, Parc Monceau, Jardin du Luxembourg and Jardin des Plantes. Since I no longer live in England and am unable to take last minute trips to Paris on the Eurostar, I’ve been trying to identify their equivalent gardens in Boston. So far, I think I’ve found some good Boston substitutions for Jardin du Luxembourg and Parc Monceau.

Today we’ll visit another one of my Paris park substitutions in Boston, this time for the Jardin des Plantes!

Boston Rose Garden

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Le Havre France Park
Review, Sightseeing, Travel

Discovering Le Havre, France

When I went on my Grand European Cruise, I knew we would be stopping in some places that I wouldn’t have chosen to visit if I was planning a trip on my own, but only because I didn’t know they existed!

This ended up being a great aspect to joining a cruise since we got a chance to visit non-touristy cities in Europe and see how people live in their everyday lives (and they DO eat beautifully decorated pastries even if there aren’t many tourists to attract)! Plus, I discovered that I absolutely love one of the cities we visited, Óbidos, Portugal!

However, today is all about Le Havre, France.

Le Havre France Park

While we didn’t have to go through customs when arriving in France from Spain, we did have to exit this area once the ship docked.

I’m glad we did, otherwise I wouldn’t have seen this sign, which shows that Le Havre is a World Heritage Site. Very impressive!

Le Havre Customs

One of the first places I saw was this charming square with a museum and lovely cone-shaped trees. Not a bad start first impression of Le Havre!

Le Havre France

Since this is France, I should have expected to see many patisseries and shops selling macarons and exquisite pastries!

Le Havre France Patisserie

Le Havre France Patisserie

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Culture, Italy in Boston, Review, Sightseeing, Travel, Venice in Boston

Finding Venice in Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum at night

I recently wrote about the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum during the daytime, but for me, it’s even more beautiful and magical at night!

Boston Isabella Gardner Museum Courtyard at Night

I went on a Thursday evening, as it’s open until 9:00 pm on this day, and I initially didn’t think I would like the courtyard at night.

Since the entire top of the courtyard is covered in glass, during the day everything is bright and sunny, and it feels like you’re outdoors.

However, even with dim lights in the evening, somehow the courtyard was illuminated just perfectly.

Boston Isabella Gardner Museum Courtyard at Night

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Culture, Italy in Boston, Review, Sightseeing, Travel, Venice in Boston

Finding Venice in Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Where’s the best place in Boston to visit when you need a quick escape to Venice? Why the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum of course!

You get to roam around a a building inspired by the grand palazzos in Venice and also view its beautiful interior courtyard. 

She personally collected and sourced her art collection and architecture (for example, the columns, windows, doorways) from her many travels to Italy and around the world.

The museum also followed Isabella Stewart Gardner’s request and kept all the art, furniture, decorations, and set-up exactly as she intended.

As a result, not only do you get to “travel” to another country, you also get to do a bit of time-traveling!

Boston Isabella Gardner Museum Courtyard

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