10 April 2013

Make Way for Ducklings

Boston Common
A few months ago, I concocted this crazy, wild plan to see Frightened Rabbit in Boston and Providence with Jeri Smith-Ready - she who is responsible for all of my Frightened Rabbit obsessiveness. Well, she's at least responsible for introducing me to the band; their music is what's turned me into such an obsessed (in a totally good way, of course) fan. The concerts were on back to back nights and Boston and Providence were only an hour away by train so it wasn't any big deal. Right?


Until I started turning this into a real vacation.  All these years of going up to Cape Cod, I've never actually played tourist in Boston and I wanted to do that. Plus, being so close to the Cape, I had to make time to go there and visit my beach, my favorite potter, get cranberry walnut pancakes, etc. Before I knew it, this had turned into a week long adventure, which - though very expensive - was totally and completely worth it.


Make Way for Ducklings
I arrived in Boston mid-afternoon. I was so tired after getting up at 4am to make my flight that I really wanted to lie down and take a nap, but knew if I slept right then (3pm) I wouldn't be able to sleep that night. So I went out exploring.

Boston Common was just a block away and it was a gorgeous New England spring day so I went for a walk, along with just about everyone else. Beautiful park and HUGE. It's like a little oasis in the middle of the city. There is a sculpture dedicated to Robert McCloskey in Boston Common. The ducks were all dressed up for Easter. :)

Ended up walking through the park and around the Beacon Hill neighborhood, which had some absolutely gorgeous architecture. It was just as I imagined Boston to look. If I ever moved to Boston (which would only be if I won the lottery) I'd want to live there (winning the lottery would be the only way I could afford to do that).

Then, in what would turn out to not be a very wise decision (I say this because I paid on Sunday for having walked so much on Saturday), I walked down to Back Bay.


Sunday (another gorgeous New England spring day: sunny, mid-50s with a light wind) I walked The Freedom Trail. (Note: If you're thinking about exploring The Freedom Trail, I highly recommend buying a trolley tour ticket. I did not do this and consequently, could barely move Monday morning because my feet and legs were so sore from all the walking. 2.5 miles doesn't seem so bad, but that's just from Boston Common to Bunker Hill - then you have to get back - all the while traipsing over brick and cobblestone streets.  For the record, it is REALLY easy to follow the trail - it's marked by a red brick line on the sidewalks and there are signs everywhere, which is also part of the reason I didn't think I needed a trolley tour.) It was Easter Sunday so I had no expectations that any of the sites would be open, but to my surprise they all were, except for the Massachusetts State House.

I started my tour in the morning at Boston Common so when I got to Park Street Church and King's Chapel, church services were still going on so I wasn't able to go inside. But how amazing is it that a church built in 1688 is still being used for services?

I spent an inordinate amount of time wandering around Granary Burying Ground. I love old cemeteries anyway ... add in the fact that Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and Mother Goose are buried there? Love.
Old Corner Bookstore
King's Chapel Burying Ground was just as fascinating, even without all of the famous people buried there. So incongruous to be walking around an old graveyard with modern buildings built up right next to them. A strange juxtaposition of old and new that somehow works, while at the same time makes me sad.Right next to King's Chapel is the Boston Latin School, a/k/a Old City Hall, which apparently also houses Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Seemed strange to me, but then the Old Corner Bookstore is now a Chipotle. Heartbreaking.

Old South Meeting House

In the Old South Meeting House, I met Brian, who was in town from Miami for a law school interview. We talked for a little while exploring the Meeting House and were going to be tour buddies, but he'd started his tour at the other end so we were going in opposite directions. Sad face. It would have been cool to have someone to walk around with.

Old State House

Onward to the Old State House, just outside of which is the site of the Boston Massacre. But what's also cool? Is that inside the museum is a display with a small vial of actual tea from the Boston Tea Party, that was in someone's boot afterwards.

And then there's this really awesome spiral staircase.

Next was the Paul Revere House.  I wish I could've taken photos inside, but photos weren't allowed. So here's the outside:

Paul Revere House

From there it was off to Old North Church, walking through Boston's version of Little Italy along the way. I kept seeing people with this little blue & white boxes tied with string from Mike's Pastry. Turns out that Mike's Pastry is a fairly well-known pastry shop in the North End specializing in cannolis. I decided to stop on my way back to the hotel. I'm not a huge fan of cannolis, but the one I got was delicious!

Old North Church
Old North Church was amazing. I wish I'd been able to take an actual tour, but didn't have the time. Again, something for next time. Besides, this way I can get another cannoli from Mike's Pastry. :)

Copp's Hill Burying Ground was next. I didn't spend as much time there as in the other two cemeteries because by this point, I. Was. TIRED.

USS Constitution
The next two stops on the Freedom Trail are Bunker Hill and the USS Constitution. I went to the USS Constitution first hoping that I would get there in time to tour it. I did not. Still, it was pretty cool even from the outside.
Bunker Hill Monument
Another long-ish walk through the Bunker Hill neighborhood (another architecturally cool neighborhood, but I didn't take pictures this time) to get to the Bunker Hill Monument. I opted NOT to climb up to the top. For one, my feet were killing me. For two, it was a wrought iron circular staircase with 294 steps. For three, I have a fear of heights. So yeah, that wasn't happening.

By this point I was practically dead on my feet and I still had to get back to the hotel 2.5 miles away. Even though I was almost dead on my feet, I stopped at Mike's Pastry and got a chocolate chip cannoli (recommended by the guy who took my order), and was almost back to Faneuil Hall when I decided I needed real food. I took a chance and went into The Green Dragon. Turns out this was the tavern where the plans for the British invasion of Lexington and Concorde were overheard. Also they have a wonderful vodka lemonade made with fresh cranberries. Delicious!

With food in my stomach I felt like I could tackle the longish walk back to the hotel. I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me to take the T ... I blame it on being so tired and unused to public transportation.

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