Two days in Boston, Massachusetts

New State House. Boston Celtics had just won the NBA championship.After our visit to Mystic Seaport we continued northeast through Connecticut and into Rhode Island, America's smallest state and before we noticed, we were in Massachusetts. Here we stayed on the Interstate all the way to Boston.

We found our pre-booked hotel without any major problems. The hotel, Hyatt Regency, was located in Cambridge, north of the Charles River, and approx. 8 miles from downtown Boston. After settling in the room, we took a taxi to the Boston Common for 13 dollars, which we thought was cheap compared with taxi prices in Denmark. It proved, moreover, later it was still cheaper to ride home from town, because Boston taxis had lower rate than Cambridge taxis, so we could get home for about $ 9.

Boston Common is a public park and it's located right in the center of Boston. From here "The Freedom Trail" leads it's way around Boston. Following the trail is a stroll through history or at least the historic Boston. The trail leads past a number of historic buildings, cemeteries, etc.. The route is marked in the pavement with two rows of red bricks (sometimes replaced by a painted red stripe) so it's easy to follow. In one corner of Boston Common is an information center, and here we bought a leaflet that told of the Freedom Trail.

We started the tour by going uphill from the information center to Beacon Hill and the "new" State House from 1795, and then we just followed the trail from there. Most exciting was in my opinion, Granary Burying Ground. It is an old cemetery, which has been in use since the 1660's Here, among others Benjamin Franklin's parents and his siblings are buried. Moreover, James Otis, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Peter Faneuil, Paul Revere are buried here. All men who had great significance before, during and after the American Revolutionary War.

From the cemetery we went to another cemetery, King's Chapel Burying Ground. It is Boston's oldest graveyard, serving as a burying ground since 1630. The family burial place of John Winthrop, first governor of "Massachusetts Bay Colony" is found here. Among other interesting places we passed was the Old South Meeting Hall. Originally a church the building today serves as a museum. The Old South Meeting Hall was for many years the largest building in town, and it was here about 7,000 colonists, a few disguised as Mohawk indians gathered before the "Boston Tea Party." In a house next to this building Benjamin Franklin was born in 1706, but the house has long since burned down, so today the place is marked with a plaque.

Old South Meeting HouseNext stop was the "Old State House" from 1713, and thus the oldest public building in Boston. Here James Otis made a famous speech against colonial rule in 1761, and from the balcony of this building the American Declaration of Independence was read to the population for the first time on the 18th of July 1776. The building is called "The house where independence was born". Also the Old State House is now a museum. Just below the balcony the Boston Massacre took place in 1770 when British soldiers - strongly provoked and threatened by a crowd - shot into the crowd and killed five Bostonians. The exact place is now marked with a circle of cobblestones.

We continued past Faneuil Hall, with it's marketplace (Quincy Market), and further on to the northern part of Boston, The North End, which today is a typical Italian neighborhood with lots of Italian restaurants. Here we looked at Paul Revere's house, or rather the house he lived in. The house is much older, from 1680 (and thus Boston's oldest building). Paul Revere bought the house in 1770 and moved in along with his wife and the five children he had at the time. Later, he had an additional 11 children - a prolific gentleman of his time (I wonder how he found time to be a revolutionary.). Not far from the house is the Old North Church where Paul Revere, as one of his many jobs was bell ringer. It was here that he had two lantern hoisted in the tower before his famous ride to Lexington.

From the North End we crossed Charlestown Bridge to see the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill, the two points on the Freedom Trail, which are on the other side of river. When we crossed the bridge however, we were overtaken by a thundershower, so we had to hurry across the bridge to find shelter. When the shower had passed, and we could go on, we agreed that we would rather go back to North End and find a place to eat. We chose to eat at The Green Dragon Tavern, which some historians have called "Headquarters of the Revolution". Here they the conspirators from Sons of Liberty, the North End Caucus (with among others John Hancock and Samuel Adams among its members) and the Boston Committee of Correspondence met and made the plans, which later led to the American Revolution. Paul Revere later wrote in his diary: "About 30 people, mostly artisans from North End, had agreed to observe the British soldiers and loyalist movements so that they could predict when they would strike at the Concord. These patriots met at the Green Dragon Tavern." It was after such a meeting at the inn, that Dr. Warren sent Revere on his famous ride to Lexington. In 1788 it was also at this inn that influential inhabitants of the state met and agreed that Massachusetts would ratify the U.S. Constitution. The original building has been torn down along the way so the premises are not from revolutionary times, but it was exciting anyway. From the restaurant we walked around the city a little while, and then took a taxi back to hotel.

The next day we once again took a taxi to Boston Common or rather the next door park, Public Gardens. The consierge at our hotel, had told us  that this park Public Gardens, was much prettier than The Commor, so before the bus trip we went for a walk in the park, and it was actually very nice, with a small lake where you could have a tour on a small boat. After visiting here, we went to the information office in Boston Common and bought a ticket for one of the four different bus tours around Boston.

We walked up the hill to New State House and caught a bus there. The trip was excellent and even if it was a hop on-hop off bus, we just stayed on board for the duration of the trip. We saw some of the places we had seen the day before, but also some new stuff, including Business District, a part of the port, including the location of the Boston Tea Party in 1773. We also crossed the river to Charles Town and saw the USS Constitution or "Old Ironsides", the ship we had missed the day before.

Statue of John Harvard at Harvard UniversityAlong the way we drove past two of Boston's many famous educational institutions, Boston University, south of the river, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), north of the river. The latter is probably the best known, most prestigious and perhaps best technical education center in the world. No less than 15 Nobel laureates have graduated from MIT. Moreover, MIT presently employs eight Nobel Prize winners.

When the bus tour was over, we went shopping for a few items, like a charger for our GPS receiver and we took a closer look at Granary Burying Grounds than time had allowed us the previous day. Then we walked to Faneuil Market, where we had some lunch.

Before we left home, our excellent dentist through many years, Johanne, had told Dorte that when we came to Boston she had to visit Filene's Basement. It would be just her thing. Since I am a little afraid of dentists, and have great respect for Johanna after 25 years of acquaintance, we had to obey, and of course find this place. Unfortunately it proved to be closed! The whole house was closed and was either under demolition or possibly rebuilding, it was not entirely clear, but at least one half of the building was lacking. We therefore had to resign, and in stead we walked back to Boston Common. Here we found a taxi and we drove to Harvard Square in Cambridge.

Here we visited America's oldest university, founded in 1636 when a group of citizens granted £ 400 to build a theological university. £ 200 immediately and 200 pounds, when work was completed! Later John Harvard granted more money for the venture, and in 1638 the university was renamed to Harvard University and that same year, the place where it was built was renamed from Newetowne to Cambridge. We walked around and looked at the buildings for a while. Although it was summer, there were plenty of people, both students and tourists.

After the visit to Harvard, we walked a few miles out to the former Radcliffe College. This used to be an all-female college, in the days when Harvard was just for men. Women were first admitted to Harvard in 1975 and in 1977 Radcliffe officially merged with Harvard. Not until 1999 however, it was completely closed as an independent College. Today, Radcliffe is used as a research center within Harvard, and some of the buildings are used as accommodation for students. At Radcliffe we were virtually alone, so here tourists apparently do not bother to come, and it is quite a walk out there. Among other twe passed on the way out there was the oldest wooden church building in Cambridge, Christchurch from the 1760. When we had seen enough, we went back to one of the major streets, where we managed to find a taxi and we went back to the hotel to rest our tired legs and aching feet. That evening we had dinner at the hotel :-)

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