Ah, if only it were that much fun. Seriously though, research trips are a huge part of my behind the scenes prep for books. It’s one thing for me to read about locations and describe what I read in my books, it’s an entirely different matter for me to visit the locations and gain firsthand insider knowledge. I made a decision several years back that I would do my all to visit locations I was setting stories in rather than rely on solely on book/net research. The cost was a factor, but in the end I decided it was worth it to assure the info in my stories is as accurate as possible. Thus, my hectic travel schedule began. Of course, my partner in crime, Michelle Pillow, joined me on this fun and excited trip. Boston will never be the same again.
To kick off the season I went to Boston. My upcoming release The Bet (under the pen name Kennedy Kovit) has Boston tidbits sprinkled throughout it and it was important I understood the area better. I also have Boston featured in several other WIPs (works in progress) so I took a ton of notes and pictures to help remember everything I learned.
Quincy Market was by far my favorite part of downtown Boston. I loved how it filled with various street artists—everything from guys who play buckets and create great songs to living statues that blow kisses as you give them a tip. So much fun to be had there. Great people, great good, great fun.
I took a walking tour of the Freedom Trail and learned a great deal about the history of the area. Many myths I’d had about the history were dispelled. So glad I did that even though my feet were covered in blisters by the time the day was out. Thank you Lessons on Liberty tour group.
Salem was a different story. I’d had such high hopes for it. I’d really assumed it would be a Mecca for me. That I’d get there and never want to leave. Not the case. It was a tourist trap. Everything is “witch” this and witch that. But, you play heck finding places to eat there so anyone looking to start up a great business in Salem should consider a family restaurant. Heck, name it witch something and you’re “in”. Just saying.
The return train to Boston was late so we waited in a rather no frills stop that smelled a touch like urine. I tried not to breathe too deep so that is all I have to say on that.
The Boston hotel I was in was the Millennium-Bostonian. I’d read good things about it and it had good ratings so I selected it. Unbeknownst to me my room had ants. I found out the last day there as I’m grabbing things from my suitcase only to find tiny (I mean iddy biddy) ants crawling in my things. I swear to God I had ants in my undies. It’s not like I sprinkle sugar on my clothes so I was not pleased. They were also in my kids things and in the end we found them in my husband’s as well. They were making a nice little home in the baseboard area of the room near where the . So not fun to deal with when you have to leave the hotel at noon to catch a cruise ship. Sadly, the hotel did NOT offer to launder my clothing until nearly 10 am when they said “my things should most likely” be back by noon. Maybe shortly after. Mind you, I’d brought this to their attention very early in the morning and the first and ONLY thing I asked for was that my clothing be laundered. They dragged their feet and then their maybe promise of my clothes being done didn’t cut it. They took $100 off the bill and when a bill is pushing $700 that is sort of insulting. They then offered (how generous of them) to reimburse me up to $100 of the cleaning bill for having Carnival Cruise Line launder my clothing if I provide them with an invoice from Carnival. I washed half our things in the self-service on the ship when we arrived and forked out $40 for that and then gave up because spending my entire day running back and forth to a laundry room while I’m on “vacation” blows. So I sent the rest to be laundered by the ship (another $45 there). Who knows if the hotel will actually hold true and reimburse me the $45. Personally, I think they should give me back the $85 but short of photographing myself putting quarters in the machine ($3 dollars’ worth to wash and $3 to dry) there is no invoice for that. The entire ordeal set a bad tone for the trip and took me a lot of time to get cleaned up. Since the Millennium-Bostonian plugs themselves as a luxury hotel they really should advertise they have luxury ants too go with it.
Enough of the gross.
The cruise portion of the trip was great (aside from having to launder five people’s clothing). As usual Carnival did an amazing job keeping the ship and the staterooms spotless. Perhaps the hotel should consult them for tips. The intermarry was lacking slightly but I think it was due to the fact it was cooler weather so not as many on deck activities could be planned. Loved talking with the crew and interviewing them. They are always so helpful and their tips really help to flavor up the Pleasure Cruise series. Can’t learn enough. Really.
First stop was St. John (New Brunswick). The loyalist cemetery was very beautiful and eerie. Some really interesting history in the tiny town. Had an unofficial tour guide there in the form of an elderly man who was local and looking for conversation. Hey, I’m a talker. It worked out great.
Next stop was Halifax (Nova Scotia). This was full of history and info. So much to learn and soak in. Glad I took a lot of notes. I’d be lost without them. The Citadel there was my favorite. We had such great guides helping us out. And they have a Cougar Bar. Hand to the Gods. LOL
I’m home now. Rewashed all my clothes again just to be sure I didn’t bring home any “luxury” ants. LOL.