Exploring Beautiful Boston: Wicked Fun at Fenway Park

As part of our week-long adventure in New England, we only actually planned to stay in Boston a couple of days. Naturally we wanted to experience as much of this historic, beautiful city as we could while we were there. The Freedom Trail. The Harbor. Quincy Market. Boston Common.  Fortunately we managed to hit each of those places and a few more, and we had an absolute ball. A ball. Boston’s such a cool spot. Great vibe, great people, and the list of to-do stuff there is endless.

So we made the tourist rounds, ate some great food, drank plenty of Guinness (which fellow Texan Kinky Friedman affectionately calls “the beer that kept the Irish from taking over the world”) and did a fair amount of exploring from our base camp, a shabby apartment we rented in Southie.

But of all the places we wanted to go and all the things we wanted to see in Boston, there was one in particular that excited us more than any other. The place they call “the cathedral of Boston.”

Wicked Good Times at Fenway

We’re big baseball fans as most of you know. We love our Texas Rangers. So it was no coincidence that our visit to Beantown just so happened to fall smack in the middle of a three-game series between the Rangers and Red Sox at Fenway.  And we were gonna make one of those games, by golly. Come hell or high water.

Knowing that Fenway tickets were sometimes tough to come by, we made sure to plan early. We bought our tickets – four of ‘em – as soon as they went on sale way back in February. And we’ve been guarding them like million-dollar lottery tickets ever since. So no surprise that when game day arrived a couple of weeks ago we could barely contain ourselves.

We wanted to soak up as much of the Fenway experience as possible, so we spent several hours in and around the park before the game. And of course we took our cameras along. 🙂

We had a phenomenal time at Fenway, despite the fact that the night we were there the Rangers played like absolute chumps and got hammered by the Sox 9 to 2. So the game itself didn’t go exactly as we hoped, but we still enjoyed the experience and stayed around long enough to sing “Sweet Caroline” with everybody in the eighth inning before making our exit.

Again, this was our first-ever visit to Fenway and we did a fair amount of research on-line beforehand to try and make the absolute best of the few hours we’d have to spend there. There’s no amount of research you can do that can adequately describe the experience, or fully prepare you for your own visit, but every little bit helps. So here’s our list of five things to note, things to do, and things to remember for you trip to the cathedral of Boston:

IMG_0976-LargeThe Fenway tour is a must. Seriously. We rarely take the time to do organized, group tours of any sort – but this is Fenway, for Pete’s sake. You don’t have to be a baseball lover to appreciate the history and the charm of the place. Again, we did some research ahead of time about tours of the park, and that’s where we discovered the “batting practice” tour. And in all honesty, our video made the BP tour look a lot better than it really was. Sure, we did get to go down on the field and we did get to field fly balls out on the Green Monster – which was wicked awesome – but that was about it. It is the most popular tour they offer, and the day we went the tour group was HUGE. Literally hundreds of people. They herded us all into the park (which alone took ten minutes because of the size of the crowd) and down on the field for maybe five minutes. Then we were herded into the stands for a brief history lesson (which we couldn’t hear over the crowd and the music playing over the stadium’s loudspeakers) and finally onto the Monster for the last 15-20 minutes to watch the batters. Then they abruptly and in not-too-friendly fashion tell you to get your butt out. As tours go, it was actually pretty awful. Worse yet, it’s more expensive than the other tours, at $20 per person.  BUT – and hold on here – we’ve gotta say we’d still recommend it. Yeah. Crazy, we know. But here’s the deal: with the BP tour, you simply have to understand what it is you’re really paying for. Certainly not the “tour” of Fenway that you might have in mind, but rather the opportunity to sit on the Monster and hopefully catch a home run ball. That’s the draw – and to us – yes, that was very cool. Made an otherwise frustrating experience all worthwhile. But if you’re interested in actually seeing and learning more about Fenway, we understand that the other regular tours (which run on the hour) are a much better, much more visitor-friendly option. Smaller groups. Cheaper prices. More in-depth information. And you get to see more of the park itself. Catch is, you don’t get to catch balls on the Monstah during batting practice. So take your pick. And if you do decide to go the BP route, get to the ticket office at the park early (like before noon). Tickets are sold on the day of the game only, and they go fast.

standThe people were fantastic. Well, the people outside of a few running the tours anyway. As loyal Rangers fans we’re sure to wear our jerseys and represent our team everywhere we go. And sometimes it’s made for uncomfortable situations (the Rangers-White Sox game in Chicago comes to mind). Snide comments. Dirty looks. Those sorts of things. And to be fair, some of that has to be expected when you’re on someone else’s home turf. But the fans and the folks around Fenway were nothing less than stellar. Super friendly, super cool and quick with a smile. Like the guys in the video at concession stand number three. Or the security guard out in right field. We asked permission to go into a reserved area to shoot some video, and he not only accommodated us (despite our Rangers attire), we struck up a great chat with him about all things Fenway. And the local fans sitting around us in the stands. Friendly people, all the way around. Everybody’s experience is different, we know. But ours was beyond pleasant. Nice to see in this day and age.

IPhone-August-2012-143-LargeThe ballpark is old (obviously). And cramped. We sat in section 25, several rows above the third base line. It’s mostly true that there’s not a bad seat in the house, but be warned that there are those seats (like Nik’s) where your view of home plate and the batter are completely blocked by one of the many steel poles supporting the upper levels. And the seats themselves are old, wooden, cramped and not so comfortable (the seats we had anyway). They didn’t bother us so much – because the park is 100 years old after all – but if you go expecting the clear views and the comfy seats of today’s newer parks you might be in for a shock, depending on where you sit. Just sayin’.

 The Italian sausage. Just say yes. We’re baseball purists for the most part, which means our dinner at the ballpark almost always consists of a steaming hot dog, salty peanuts and cold beer. But as soon as we laid eyes (and noses) on those Italian sausages they were cookin’ up at stand number three we had to have one. And yes, they were dee-lish. Totally worth breaking from tradition. Get one.

Don’t be afraid to drive. We know, we know. We’re all supposed to promote the use public transportation when available – and besides, everyone says you don’t need a car in Boston to begin with, right? They say the subway (called the “T”) is all you need to get from point A to point B. And why drive when there are a couple of T stops literally within a couple of short blocks of Fenway? Well, here’s why we did: the place we rented in Southie was a steamy, sweat-inducing mile-long walk to the nearest T station. We know this because we walked it the early morning we went down to Fenway to get our BP tour tickets. From there, it was another 45 minutes one way, riding two different (very crowded) subway lines before we finally got to the Fenway stop. We bought our tour tickets, turned around, and went right back. We didn’t dilly-dally. And

IPhone-August-2012-135-Largestill, all told, walking and taking the subway it took us two and a half hours to get from Southie to Fenway and back. And we were hot, tired, and pretty frustrated with the whole thing to be honest. So when it was time to head back to Fenway that afternoon, we figured we’d try to drive it instead. And we’re glad we did.  It only took us 15 minutes to drive to Fenway – the same time it took us to walk to the nearest T station – and we found a parking spot three blocks from the park with no problem at all. (This was Monday afternoon by the way, about 3:00 p.m.) Parking was steep at $35 for the day, but we would have spent $20 taking the subway. So we didn’t mind paying a bit more for the convenience. And when we left the game in the 8th inning, we found our car right away and drove away without a hint of a traffic problem. Again, everyone’s experiences differ… but for us, driving to the game turned out to be the way to go.

So that’s it! Well, those are the highlights anyway. There’s a lot more about our experience at Fenway that we could write about but we’re droning on too much as it is. So tell you what – if you’re planning a trip to Fenway and have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave a comment and/or drop us a line. And we’ll be happy to share our thoughts and suggestions!

Suffice it to say that a visit to Fenway is a must for any baseball fan. Just go. Even once. Just do it. You’ll be glad you did and the memory will stay with you forever.

Cheers y’all!  And go Rangers!

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2 Comments

  1. Glad you loved Fenway. It is awesome!! Go Red Sox! : – )

  2. Pingback: Pre-Trip Essentials – Finding Our Favourite Boston Travel Blogs | Shallots and Chalets

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