Ever since we dined at Maggiano’s in Boston’s Park Square a few years ago, passengers have been asking when we’d visit there again. So, we planned our February mystery day around a trip to this restaurant. Management there is wonderful to work with; and the food is great, so it was a win-win situation. Saturday, February 25 arrived on the wings of a splendid warming trend that enveloped New England. It had been in the sixties all week, and record temps were predicted for Boston. Believe it or not, the thermometer read 71 degrees that afternoon. We all shed our jackets with glee.
Sixty passengers signed up for the Cabin Fever Mystery Trip this time, and all seemed pleased to learn that we were headed for the New England Aquarium. It’s a destination directly across the street from Quincy Market (where we’ve been dozens of times), but most hadn’t journeyed the few feet to visit before. We arrived ahead of schedule, and were checked in with a minimum of difficulty. The facility is expansive and is built around a Giant Ocean Tank that is the main feature at the aquarium and rises a full four stories. The tank is filled with coral and all manner of fish, shellfish, sea turtles, eels, and plants. A spiral ramp works its way up the full four levels so you can see ocean life at the bottom, middle, and top. We watched divers feed the fish and the sea turtles from the top level. We enjoyed watching them feed the largest green turtle, Myrtle, who is believed to be about ninety years old. And, she loves Romaine lettuce and her favorite – Brussels Sprouts.
Many of us also saw a seal training session, a penguin feeding, tropical fish gallery, a freshwater gallery, and a northern waters gallery. I liked the ray touch gallery where visitors hold their hands in the water and various manta rays rise to brush past your hands. Nice. After about two and a half hours, our coaches picked us up and brought us to Park Square for lunch.
Maggiano’s is quite large with expansive dining rooms on two levels. Dinners and lunches there are served family style with all-you-can-eat portions that are replenished upon request. The dining room we sat in was on the lower level with a full bar. Tables are set with bright white linens, and classical paintings adorn the walls. The atmosphere is perfect for a group looking to pamper itself. Each of our five tables had different favorites…some liked the calamari; others enjoyed the lasagna; but everybody loved the chicken Parmesan…and the cheesecake…well, it’s been forty years since I’ve been able to turn my back to a slice of cheesecake. We all toddled back to the bus after having eaten way more than we should have.
After lunch - my personal favorite. We dropped our passengers off for about an hour and a half between Quincy Market and Haymarket Square. I headed for my favorite Salumeria in the North End with a few others in tow. I got bread and some really nice Sopressata. This store has all sorts of hard-to-find Italian groceries. Chrissy led another group up the other side of Hanover Street to Mike’s Pastry; I think she could find this shop blind-folded. We all came back with dozens of packages.
Next, most of us shopped for budget fruits and vegetables at the Haymarket, a Boston tradition. I got a great buy on lemons, on fresh ginger, cilantro, celery, and red onions. I also got five beautiful Bosch pears for $2. After I did my vegetable shopping, I went down into the basement shop that features Middle East meats, legumes, dried fruit, and breads. They were making Moroccan pancakes on this particular Saturday, and these delicacies were selling as fast as they came off the griddle. They resemble crepes and they are served with butter and honey. I got a loaf of Moroccan bread, still warm from the oven, some dates, and some pistachio pastries. So nice to see the flat bread after our recent visit to Morocco where this bread is served at every meal.
At 4 pm, we boarded out coaches and departed for home, happy, healthy, and a little bit sun-burnt. It felt great!