Ride the T. Boston is not a car city, though you'll see lots of cars rolling through it. As people kept reiterating to me my entire time there, it's a walking city, and it's not especially friendly to commuters. Parking fees are high. Tolls are common. And just finding a place to park can be an ordeal in itself.
How to get around it? When you book your hotel, find out how close it is to the T (the subway system). Learn where your stop is. The subway is much easier to negotiate than the bus lines, and it's going to get you around most of the area you're going to be touring.
Oh, and make things easier on yourself. Purchase a Charlie Card. These reusable plastic cards store value, and they're much less likely to get eaten in a machine. Trust me -- I have experience on this. Besides, there's a discount for those who use the card rather than the ticket. If you're going to be traveling away from where you're staying a good bit, charge your card up -- maybe, $20 or more. If you're staying close by, $10 should do it.
Just remember -- if you're starting out on a bus, you're going to need correct change. Don't be afraid to ask an MBTA worker for assistance if you need it. And be courteous to your fellow travelers.
It's dry up there. Here in the South, we like to gripe about the weather. It's always humid, except on the three or four days each year when we get a bit of an ice storm. ALWAYS humid.
Well, it's not humid everywhere.
New England has very dry air in the winter, and you're going to need to keep yourself protected. First off -- lip balm. Your lips will chap, dry out, and try to run away from you. Cover them religiously (you too, men).
Take care of your feet. If you are in a walking city, chances are -- oh, I don't know -- you'll walk more. A lot more. We're not talking a few blocks more -- we're talking a few miles more. Lots of miles.
So, what to do? Bring extra shoes and change them out. Keep your feet dry. If it's cold, wear more than one pair of socks. And moisturize your feet with a good lotion -- believe me, this makes a big difference.
Pace yourself. While you might look at "walking city" and think everything is close by, it's deceptively not. Your tour maps may show popular attractions as being mere inches away, but those inches can be miles or more. Plan accordingly. Do things in one area of the city at a time. This will save you money on the T and a lot of beating pavement. For instance, tour Paul Revere's House and visit Faneuil Hall and the Haymarket on one day, and South End's Arts community and shopping another. Beacon Hill is nowhere near the JFK Library. When you make out your itinerary, be sure to include travel time -- which means, give yourself 20 minutes for places you walk to and 30 minutes (at least) for a short T ride. Anything can happen -- the trains can go down, construction on your route, even crazy folks who want to buy you coffee. You never know.
But on the other hand, you're not going to have quite the availability of official tourist folks to help guide you through, unless you're on one of the tours or at one of the big historical sites.
Not to worry. Everywhere I went, there were people to speak with who were helpful and kind. Regular joes gave me suggestions on good places to visit and eat, and advice on where to go and not go.
If you do find yourself lost in Boston, there are lots of folks that can help you out. Keep the phone number to your hotel in your cell phone -- call the concierge for advice. For that matter, duck into any hotel while on foot to ask for concierge assistance -- this is what they are there for.
The best things in life are free. There are a lot of attractions I could have gone to see that would take a lot of money out of my pocket. But some of the best things were the ones I didn't have to pay for.
The Freedom Trail Walking Tour is one of those. While some of the stops may charge admission, you can pick up a map at one of several "newspaper" boxes along the route, or get one from your concierge. It's a great way to trace back history.
website for more information.
Manchester's airport is easy to access and has one of the easiest TSA runthroughs you'll find. The concourse is well thought out, and you're not going to find too much trouble there.