In early July, Deb and I went to Boston to catch the sights and spend some time with friends. Deb hadn’t been to Boston before. I had not really done the tourist thing, so this was a great way to share a new experience with friends that know the area. John and Barbara are foodies too, so we were looking forward to some fantastic grub and good times.
When you go to Boston without a real plan, you grab a map of the Freedom Trail and make your way to catch as much as you can in a short time. Looking back, that worked out pretty well. We stayed at the Hilton Faneuil Hall, which turned out to be a great spot to walk the trail because the hotel in the middle what’s called the North End of Boston.
Before we ventured onto the Trail Saturday morning, John and Barbara drove up from Rhode Island for dinner Friday night at Atlantic Fish Company, a great little seafood place in what’s known as the Back Bay area of Boston. The food was very good and the company was even better. It was just a blink of an eye from when we sat down for dinner and when we were across the street toasting a great evening.
It rained almost all night. Saturday morning, we awoke to a wet, cloudy, cool day, the kind of day that would make a day of walking comfortable as long as the rain would abate. The added bonus is the clouds made for better camera light. John and Barbara drove up again to join on our tour of the Freedom Trail.
We stayed at the Hilton Faneuil Hall, so we had to start our tour at Faneuil Hall, often referred to as “the home of free speech”. This is the place where the Sons of Liberty proclaimed their dissent in response to the Stamp Act, the Sugar Act, and the infamous tea tax that led to the Boston Tea Party. As we entered the great hall on the second floor, we could imagine ourselves back in 1764 as the colonists debated how to respond to Royal oppression at “the Cradle of Liberty” in what would become the United States of America. …OK, maybe that’s just my embellishment.
Starting from Faneuil Hall we followed an actual red line in the side walk heading north on the Freedom Trail. A few blocks north, we came upon the Paul Revere House. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let us take photos in the house but I did take away something interesting. We have all heard about Paul Revere’s famous ride on the nights of April 18-19, 1775. Interestingly, Paul was quite prolific in another way. He and his wife, Sarah had eight kids. After Sarah passed, Paul remarried to Rachel Walker who bore him eight more kids.
Just around the block from the Revere house, we passed by this pastry shop where this huge line of people had formed all the way out to the street. You can see from the pictures how popular this place is. Of course, we had to stop and try out the local fare, traditional Italian cannoli’s. Deb and John had double chocolate cannoli’s. I had some kind of cream filled pastry.
By the way, in case it isn’t obvious from Mike’s Pastries, the north end is a very Italian part of the city of Boston.
We had to stop at the Paul Revere Mall near the Old North Church to manage the monster pastries from Mike’s. You just had to sit down and use both hands. After pastries and pausing for photos in front of the Paul Revere statue, we headed off to the Old North Church, which is the location where the famous “One if by land, and two if by sea” signal is said to have been sent. It is also the oldest standing church in Boston. Inside, we found it fascinating how the pews were arranged in cubes, something apparently common in the times. Of course, on that famed night in 1775, the church sexton hung two lanterns in the steeple of Boston’s highest point signaling that the Royals were marching to Lexington and Concord by sea, which ignited the American Revolution.
From the Old North Church, we stopped at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground notable for being the second oldest burial ground in Boston. The most famous resident of the grounds is Robert Newman, the sexton who hung the lanterns in the Old North Church. It was here at Copp’s Hill where the Royals trained their cannons on Charlestown during the Battle of Bunker Hill. From Copp’s Hill, we looped east along Boston’s Inner Harbor. We walked south along the harbor until we got too cold, yes cold in July, and headed back onto the southern edge of the Freedom Trail.
We picked up the trail just east of the Boston Aquarium at the Old State House. It was at the Old State House where James Otis famously railed against the Writs of Assistance and convinced Massachusetts’ legislature to resist British taxes. Shortly after resisting the taxes, British Redcoats were sent in to dissolve the legislature and occupy Boston to keep the peace. We all know how now that didn’t work out so well.
A street plaque near the Old State House marks the location of famed Boston Massacre but we never found it. I think it is quite ironic that such a significant event in 1770 used for years in speeches at Faneuil Hall and throughout Boston as a means to raise support against Royal oppression possesses such an insignificant memorial. Maybe that’s just my simple view things.
Just south of the State House, we came across the Old Corner Bookstore, which is the oldest commercial building in Boston built in 1718 as an apothecary shop. It became a bookstore in the mid-1800s when Boston was the country’s literacy mecca. From this place, publishers Ticknor and Fields produced the works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., and Louisa May Alcott. It’s been converted to a Chipotle, which reminds me of the Counting Crows song, Big Yellow Taxi… “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”
Just a block away from the bookstore, we ran into the Old South Meeting House where 5,000 angry colonists gathered to protest a tax on Tea. Samuel Adams addressed the crowd in December 1773 and gave a secret signal to destroy 340 crates of tea from the holds of three ships in Boston Harbor. As you can see from my pictures, the meeting house looked a lot like a church. It was but back then, the Puritans that worshiped there called it a meeting house because it was owned not by the church but by the township and used for both town meetings and church services.
From the Old South Meeting House, we made quick business of the last few sites on the trail flying by Old City hall, Massachusetts State House Building, and Boston Common. The last site that caught my attention was Granary Burying Ground. That is the grounds where many of our country’s forefathers are interred. Revolutionaries Samuel Adams, John Hancock, James Otis, Paul Revere, and many more including Benjamin Franklin’s parents are buried in this sacred ground.
Saturday night, John and Barbara made reservations for us all at Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse. Deb and I loved it. Not only was the food terrific but our server really made a difference – not something I often say.
Sunday morning, John found a great diner not far from our hotel. We truly enjoyed visiting with John & Barbara in Boston. We had a terrific time seeing the sites and so much appreciate the guidance from our friends. The weekend slipped away so fast, which is a good measure of how much fun we had with our new friends.
After breakfast, Deb and I walked over to see the Boston Tea Party ships. The downside is that the rain decided to pick up and the temperature dropped. Once we got to the ships museum, we took a few pictures, observed tourists reenacting the tea party, walked through the gift shop and walked back into town where we decided to take a ride over to Harvard.
Once we arrived at Harvard, we found a group on a tour and tagged along for a short while listening in on the tour guide’s insights. We learned that the red brick buildings in the quad where we started was predominantly freshman housing and that most Harvard students live on campus through graduation building a greater sense of community and connection to the school. It must work given the endowment at Harvard is one of the largest among all universities. After our visit, I learned that John Harvard was not “the” founder but rather “A” founder of the school. Of course, I couldn’t visit Harvard without swinging by Harvard Business School.
Sunday night, our concierge recommended Legal Seafood, which was just a short walk from our hotel. When we arrived, the line was so God Awful Long that we almost left. But the hostess offered to put us at the bar in front of the prep station. We said, “Why Not?” What a great decision. We proceeded to have the best meal of the weekend and were served great entertainment at the same time.
The young man that served us was so nice and attentive, even in the face of one of the busiest places we have eaten in years. Sitting at the bar in front of the prep station turned out to be quite entertaining. Observing the prep crew work was like watching a bee hive. It really gave us both an appreciation for how hard their job is to deliver such delicious food.
After dinner, we enjoyed the lighted water fountains. Deb especially enjoyed watching the children and their parents. You see, that was us just yesterday ….it seems.
Monday, after a few business calls, I escorted Deb to the airport and saw her off ending a fabulous weekend. Thanks to John & Barbara for joining us and helping to make such a great time.