Last weekend my father and I drove up to Boston to see my mom. I’ll always jump at the chance to visit Boston, a place I have come to regard as my adopted city. I’m not sure if I’ve ever fully explained it on this blog, but my mother works in Boston during the week and has an apartment in the South End. She usually comes home on weekends but she’ll occasionally stay put if she has a friend visiting the Boston area (as was the case). She decided to stay at her “bachelorette pad” in Boston last weekend so my dad, my dog, and I got up early on Saturday and drove up.
Instead of taking in the sights of Boston this time around, my mother suggested we drive up to a town in the Boston suburbs called Newburyport. One of my mom’s colleagues is from there and had mentioned to her several times she should go and visit. Once the Boston Gay Pride Parade finally ended (causing much hilarity and confusion when my father and I arrived in Boston and attempted to look for parking) and the parade revelers had dispersed, we finally set out for Newburyport.
The town of Newburyport, about forty minutes north of Boston, is located at the mouth of the Merrimack River which in turns empties out into the Atlantic Ocean. I’m from a coastal town too so it was almost like being right back at home. One of the first things we did was check out the waterfront along the boardwalk. The first picture shows the sculpture of an anchor–I was saddened to discover it is actually a memorial. It commemorates some sort of accident that happened out at sea in 2007 in which several residents of Newburyport lost their lives.
Like many coastal communities of the era, Newburyport’s economy heavily relied on the fishing and trade industries, turning the city into an important commercial center. It was also an important base for privateers, men with privately owned ships who attacked foreign ships during wartime. If you want to learn more about the town’s maritime history, there is even a museum you can visit, the Custom House Maritime Museum. It was already closed by the time we got there but it would have been fun to check out.
From the boardwalk, we then wandered over to the Oldies Marketplace, which seems to be a kind of Newburyport institution. I wasn’t able to find much about the history of the store or the building, but this place is amazing. It is a giant red barn (or at least, that is what it looks like to me from the outside) jam-packed with antiques and objects of every kind: furniture, jewelry, toys, rugs, clothing, books, old maps, baseball gloves, an entire section devoted to teacups… the list goes on. I was so overwhelmed by the amount of stuff crammed into the building and you should have seen the way my eyes widened when I discovered the book section. I could have spent hours just in the book section. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am a VORACIOUS bookworm–to the point that teachers used to yell at me in elementary school to stop secretly reading during math and science class and my mom had to lecture me about reading during lunch/recess and that it wasn’t nice of me to ignore my friends.
After the smorgasbord of antique overload, we leisurely strolled our way through the streets of Newburyport, enjoying the gorgeous weather and the town’s red-brick buildings and sidewalks. This means that my mother and I peeked in several shops while my father waited outside with the dog, much to his great annoyance. I’m not entirely sure about this, but according to the Newburyport guidebook in 1811 there was a devastating fire that nearly destroyed all of the downtown. It seems that the brick sidewalks were installed after this fire to minimize the impact any future fires could incur–again I’m not 100% sure about this but it does make sense.
Walking through these streets made me realize how much I consider myself a New Englander at heart, despite the fact I am from New York (which is a mid-Atlantic state). Whenever I thought of home when I was living in Spain, I envisioned the small, sleepy coastal towns of New England, not the shiny tall skyscrapers of Manhattan.
We thought it would be funny to have my mother pretending to look in because of the store’s name.
Really good chocolate here! I should know, I tasted some.
I even exclaimed to my mom, “Even the freaking Starbucks is quaint!”
After dinner at a restaurant, we walked back down to the riverfront one last time, just in time to see the drawbridge lift up and let this tall sailboat through. I hadn’t even been aware that bridge was a drawbridge the first time I saw it.
Yet another back shot of my parents.
If you are ever in the Boston area and are looking for things to do outside of Boston, I highly recommend a visit to this quaint little town. There are amazing restaurants, the shopping is fantastic, and there is just so much going on here–there were so many people out and about while we were there. I’m hoping to go back sometime this summer one weekend–I really want to go check out the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge (a nature sanctuary) on nearby Plum Island.