When it comes to getting the best deals on international flights, there’s a good chance that the cheap airfare will require a long layover. That was the case when I booked a trip to Saint Lucia, but rather than roughing it out at Logan airport in Boston, I decided to create another mini trip to see New England, a region I had never visited before.
The original outbound flight that I purchased was DTW > BOS > ATL > UVF. The flight I chose was significantly cheaper than the others and the catch was not only having to board three different planes, but I also had to stay overnight in Boston. The flight that I booked put me in Boston at 9:30 pm with a 6 am flight to Atlanta, which was an awkward time that would have forced this broke traveler to undoubtedly sleep in the airport, using my LL Bean extra large tote as a pillow.
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The first thing I needed to do was extend the time of my layover in New England to make it worthwhile. Using the perks of my platinum medallion status with Delta, I took the first flight out of Detroit to Boston as a free standby passenger, putting me on the ground around 9:30 am and thereby extending my layover by 12 hours.
Next, I booked a rental car. I usually use Hotwire to book my cars as I find they have the best pricing, but Boston’s airport has high rental car taxes, so do not expect a $25 midsize car here. After my two hour flight to Boston and a switch of modes of transportation from plane to car, I planned my loose New England itinerary. The only plan I made was to drive about two hours north into Maine, and when I say plan I mean me looking at things to do in southern Maine, based on a quick “top ten things to do in Maine” search on my iPhone.
My inner nerd lead me straight to Yarmouth, Maine to visit Eartha, the world’s largest rotating globe. It was very impressive and I loved every second of it. The added bonus is that there is a great map shop right next to it. I picked up a few goodies including a full-sized map of Uganda.
Next up was lunch. Again, I didn’t have a plan so I asked the nice man in the map store for ideas and hopped on Yelp. My original quest was to find the best lobster roll in Portland, but based on his recommendation, I opted to go to a smaller city and ended up in Kennebunkport. If you have never heard of this city, which I definitely had not, it is the vacation city of the Bush family. They have a very large compound in the downtown area and the Cape Pier Chowder House, where I had my very first Maine lobster roll counts Jeb Bush as a patron. It was a really wonderful afternoon spent sitting on the pier of the restaurant, eating a lobster roll and crab cake and chatting with a nice couple from Rhode Island that happened to be in town for a week-long vacation. Maine is a very peaceful place with beautiful scenery.
I do not recall seeing a single black person in Maine, but I also felt very welcomed everywhere I went. It seems that life in Maine is quite relaxed and everyone is very easy going. The locals never stray far from home. I talked to some young men (in their early 20s) about life in Maine and whether or not they ever make it to Boston, a short two-hour drive away, and they said they rarely made it that far, sharing how a trip to Boston would be a big to-do. I found their love for Maine to be charming.
Following lunch in Maine, I made the short 45-minute drive to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. I was completely exhausted from the flight, road trip and lack of sleep from late night packing, so I took a 30-minute nap in the car. After that brief refresher, I made my way to the beach and took in the New Hampshire coastline during a walk on the sand. Hampton Beach was beautiful and charming in a way that only the Northeast knows how to be. I spent about an hour and a half just relaxing and appreciating stillness midst these whirlwind travel days. I watched the sunset before I headed back down to Boston for dinner and drinks with a fellow Travel Noire fan, Modupe.
Once I reached Boston and met up with Modupe, we had dinner and drinks at the Abbey, a bustling watering hole in Boston’s Brookline neighborhood. We sipped cocktails, the Pineapple Jalapeño Margarita is a must-try, and ate delicious small plates and appetizers. We finished our drinks a bit after midnight, giving me just enough time to snag two hours of sleep before having to wake up to be at the airport at 4 am.
New England can be off-the-beaten-path, but it is definitely worth exploring. A layover in Boston is a great way to get a taste, but I intend to return and spend more time exploring the beautiful, quiet states of the Northeast.