Wed 3 Jul - Boston, MA

Hot and humid overnight. No air conditioning in our hostel so open window and fans are needed, but it took into early morning before the room cooled down. Hans woke up with the sun around 5am, the light was great so here are a couple of pics from our window on the 7th floor of 40 Berkley hostel.



This image reminded Hans of the opening scene from Lost in Translation...

We started off by enjoying a free cooked breakfast in the basement, and then had a bit more downtime in the room before hitting the Boston streets just after 9am. Some concreting had taken place just outside the hostel and Di points out where somebody had stepped right down into the concrete. Well, to the person's defense, there was no signage or anything to restrict access to that section of the street.

This is a sweet small triangular park just up Berkeley Street called Isabella Street Park after one of the side streets. Hey, somebody is loitering in there...

We wander back into Boston Common as the sign says, it's been there since 1634 apparently making it the oldest park in the US.

This is Park Street station in the northeast corner of Boston Common. The station is apparently the oldest station in the US. This is also where we are supposed to meet our guide for the Freedom Trail by Free Tours by Foot, the same mob we did walking tours with in New Orleans (1) and New York City (4).
The adjacent map shows in red the Freedom Trail. Brian, our guide, will only cover a small section of the trail.

And let us introduce to you, Brian, our walking tour leader and a real character. Brian is holding up a rebellious flag which depicts the different states at the time of pre revolution and for them to have any fighting chance (pardon the pun) of kicking out the English, they must join forces and fight together for a common purpose.

The statue of Mary Dyer outside the Massachusetts State Capitol building was held in high regard by Brian. Mary was a Puritan, then a Quaker. You may call her a feminist in modern terms as she upset puritans by advocating that women's souls were worth as much as men before God. That view, of course, did not go down very well with authority at the time, mid 1600s, and when she was given an ultimatum to leave Boston or face the gallows, she did not budge and was therefore hanged.

We move on to Granary Burying Ground and Brian is still holding court. He loves this place and as extremely animated. We don't think we've ever had a guide talk this fast before.
This graveyard is famous for having 3 co-signers of the Declaration of Independence buried here.

Almost the most famous man of his time was Samuel Adams..."the mouth of the revolution" or you could call him "the stirrer".

This photo is taken to show that there is a pub just opposite Granary Burying Ground. Why you may ask? Well, it is included to graphically represent a somewhat tacky joke by Brian; "This is the only place where you can have a cold Samuel Adams opposite a cold Samuel Adams...".

Brian returned again and again to the Boston Massacre of 1770. A total of 5 people were killed by the British as the soldiers panicked and started firing into a crowd of people. 9 soldiers were tried and 7 acquitted due to the great defence of John Adams (cousin of Samuel Adams).

Question - as unfortunate as the event was - does killing 5 people constitute a massacre? This was Brian's point...

In comparison, the Boston marathon bombing some months ago killed 3 people (no, we haven't seen a memorial or commemoration for that... At least not yet).

A tombstone for the 5 victims.

It is interesting how they built up right next to Granary Burying Ground. You can sit in that meeting room to the right and look right out over old gravestones. Must be weird.

Fox News also has facilities just across from the Granary Burying Ground and they were doing a piece while we were there. Clearly Brian knew the reporter as they were cracking jokes together and Brian was playing up in front of the camera.

We move on and pass this famous hotel, the Omni Parker House. Famous for several reasons. It is the oldest continuously run hotel in one single spot in the US. This is also where John F Kennedy proposed to a certain Jacqueline Bouvier. And in the kitchen worked Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X at some stage (although not together).

Across the street from the hotel is a plaque noting the place for the oldest public school in the US. It is no longer there, but some thought and invention has gone into the artwork here (a hopscotch).

We move on to the Old South Meeting House where public protest meetings, revolutionary plotting and scheming took place. From here the Sons of the Revolution left for the Boston Tea Party (ie: "offloading tea" ...into the Harbour... this was done in protest of "taxation without representation is tyranny").

Old State House, where the Declaration of Independance was first read. On the 200th anniversary Queen Elizabeth II spoke to the former British subjects. Ironic.

Right in front of the Old State House above is a memorial for that Boston Massacre as it was just here that it took place.

On top of Faneuil Hall, there is a grasshopper. Not a cockroach as Brian told us that a young child during an earlier tour had suggested. Apparently this grasshopper has a time capsule inside.

New City Hall is not nearly as nice as... - you guessed it - it was built in the 60s. As Brian said, the best thing about the new city hall is that... it was built in the 60s. Brutalism if there ever was any.

The tour was excellent but full on keeping up with Brian's rapid fire. We finished around 12.30pm and went for lunch at Chipotle Mexicsn Grill that we had passed on the way.

After lunch, Di felt like going back to the hostel for a break. The heat (31 degrees) makes it tough for wandering in the middle of the day but Hans decided to continue walking - loosely following the Freedom Trail and at the end, he racked up another almost 10km as follows.

Outside Faneuil Hall, the owner of this scooter is in trouble...

This is Cheers Mark II (a replica). Looked popular, but not for us. Behind Fanueil Hall, there are 3 old market buildings and yes, it was all very touristy. Hans saw an ice cream parlor where a small ice cream cost $6.50. In your dreams...

Down by Boston Harbor, Hans found out why Provincetown out at Cape Cod was such as touristy place (we were there around 1 month ago). Direct fast ferry. And it looked popular too. People with a lot of luggage, but then again, it is 4th July, Independance Day, tomorrow.

Hans loitered around the waterside for a while, but it was not very interesting and very touristy, so he continued north following the Freedom Trail which is marked all the way on the ground. There was this little block just south of Hanover Street of old pubs and taverns and oyster bars that looked very popular.

Apparently, the plotters and schemers of the American revolution drank at this waterhole. Or so the sign to the far left said.

Now, cutting through Boston is Greenway. It all used to be a freeway above ground, obviously built in an era when aesthetics were not high on the agenda. All credit to Boston, they put the freeway underground while making a long continuous green parkland at the surface, only with streets cut across between blocks.

This is an example of Greenway and how it looks today. It is called North End Park and north of here is the area known as North Side.

A large chunk of North Side is a "Little Italy", much larger and more interesting than its namesake in NYC. Some places, like the area in the photo below, looked very Mediterranean.

The Freedom Trail here passes Paul Revere's house. Hans didn't go in as there was a fee to do so, but this is how it looked from the street.

This is called St Leonard's Peace Garden. Note the decorations on the building to the left of middle, a flowery theme, but it is not real. Hans was not sure about the reason for it as he could see no sign. Perhaps it is a temporary awning during some reconstruction work.

This statue was found in the Peace Garden.

This area is called Paul Revere Mall and no prize for guessing who the man on the horse is.

The far end of Paul Revere Mall had a sad memorial of badges or shields.

Yes, these shields may or may not have belonged to the perished soldiers, it wasn't clear, but one has to assume that they do.

Hans continues past the second oldest graveyard in Boston called Copp's Hill Burying Ground and then ends up down at Charles River and the Charlestown Bridge. The Freedom Trail continues across the bridge into Charlestown but Hans walks down underneath the bridge instead. Work is in progress for a walkway along the river where the underpass had just has been completed, but that was as far as you could walk at present.

Hans turns around and wanders south again, looking for a gelato place given that he was in a "Little Italy". He found one and indulged in a chocolate and pistachio gelato while admiring the Italian tea towels on the wall. It did remind him of our favourite Italian hole in the wall in Manly, Il Gondelere, which has one of these depicting the wine regions of Italy. Ahh... Penne Al Salmone... one of very few things Hans misses from home.

On the way back, Hans takes a slightly different and northern route through the Boston Common and in the Public Park, he finds this slightly off beat piece of art. Apparently, the ducks were dedicated to a local identity who cared very much for the ducks in the park. Of course, these ducks were very popular with small kids.

Hans arrives back at 40 Berkley hostel and found Di relaxing in the air con in the lobby. Di had already had a very cool shower and Hans was soon to follow.

At night, we were planning to go to the Boston Pops, pre Independance Day celebrations along Charles River just straight north from where we are staying. However, Di was carrying a backpack and given the extra attention on public events in Boston after the marathon bombings, no backpacks were allowed. No exceptions. So, no Boston Pops tonight for us, but it is repeated tomorrow night. This is how it looked like before walking the gauntlet of policemen and security personnel.

Even the side streets were blocked off with big trucks should somebody attempt to get through with bad intentions and using a vehicle.

Well, we wander around for a while before finding a tavern on Cambridge Street. Hans asked for the bartender for what good IPA he had. He said that I will show you before walking away and pouring up Hans a Lagunista IPA. Good call. Hans already knew and liked it - so easy choice to have a second one.

Di has a Gritty's cider, but prefers Magners.

We shared a nachos plate for dinner, then left, taking Joy Street up through Beacon Hill. We stumbled onto the back of the Massachusetts State Capitol building. Red lantern... Interesting... Especially with some of the building being named after General Hooker...

Hans took a few dusk pictures from Beacon Hill but most did not turn out very well. This one is OK, but perhaps not so interesting...

We wandered back through Boston Common yet again and the Public Park and on the other side in Boylston Street along Arlington Street Church we saw this...

... Memorials to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings and messages of fighting and coming back. Lots of Boston Strong.

We asked a police officer whether it was here that the bombings took place, but he thought that it was further along around 531 Boylston Street. So, we wandered there, but there was no sign or indication that we reached the right place. We will need to research further...

This is the Gallery at the Natural History Museum at dusk (9pm here).

We wandered the short distance back to our motel, having covered at least 5kms in our wandering. We took it easy in the lobby with the air con for a while longer as the room is hot from the day's heat. Some blogging and then it is good night for Hans. Di stays and tries to snooze on a couch in the lobby until 11.45pm.

A little bit cooler weather would be nice...but tomorrow is predicted to be hotter.


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