the sacred cod

old grave marker, bostonHere’s to dear old Boston, The home of the bean and the cod, Where Lowells speak only to Cabots, And Cabots speak only to God.

Other than what I learned in elementary school a long time ago, I don’t know that much about Boston.  A lot of famous people did interesting things here, apparently, and changed the world.  So, here I am, in the middle of a very cold February, taking a holiday in the cradle of liberty.  Or, I should say Liberty; they take these things seriously here.

I arrived early evening yesterday after a hectic day getting ready to travel.   It was made more hectic by all the damn snow laying around my house.  So the first thing I noticed when I got here is that there is no snow.  My hotel is nice; it’s not where I originally planned to stay, but my original plan was to be here three days ago.   A blizzard changed all that and although I was able to reschedule my flight my original hotel couldn’t move my reservation.  But I found this place instead and I’m very pleased with it.  As a bonus it has a pseudo-English pub attached to it.  The food isn’t very pub-ish but the beer selection is great.  So after getting settled in, having dinner and a few beers, I did a little sight-seeing planning and then passed out from exhaustion.

This morning I headed out with a vague idea of wandering the Freedom Trail.  This is a two-and-a-half mile or so trail the pretty much hits all the highlights of Boston’s Revolutionary history.  My hotel is about four blocks from Faneuil Hall, which is smack in the middle of the Trail.  So I decided to pick it up there and do the southern leg of it and Beacon Hill today and do the northern part tomorrow.  I set out, laden with camera gear and guidebook in hand…and promptly got lost.

I am not a terribly itinerary-oriented person.  I remember once watching some friends planning a short trip to Europe for a wedding and being just aghast at the rigidity of their schedule.  I’d rather just wander around looking at whatever interests me.  I don’t commonly make lists of Things I Must See, although I usually do have some idea of why I’m visiting in the first place so that I basically wander from interesting place A to historical place B with numerous detours to see random places C, D, and &c.  I call this the Shiny Things approach to sightseeing.  It means I meander a lot and I’m not efficient and I see some of the same things twice and some things not at all.   Getting lost is not terribly alarming but it does explain why it took me seven hours to do half of the Freedom Trail and Beacon Hill.

Once I realized I was not heading toward Faneuil Hall I kept going until I reached what I thought was the Charles River (it wasn’t).  Then I turned toward where I thought the Beacon Hill area should be (it wasn’t).  Then I saw a giant milk bottle.  Well, that certainly looked interesting so I headed over that way.   It turned out to the be the Children’s Museum which meant that my unerring sense of direction had put me on the opposite side of Boston from where I wanted to be.   I crossed over the Fort Point Channel and wandered around a bit and then crossed back by the Old Northern Avenue Bridge, an impressively rickety collection of rusting iron girders.   Somehow I missed the Boston Tea Party marker entirely, although I must have walked right by it (but in my defense there is a lot of construction down that way; it’s confusing).  Eventually I wandered the right direction and found Fanueil Hall.

In the best American tradition Faneuil Hall combines soul-stirring political rhetoric with commerce.  The bottom floor has served as a marketplace since the place was built in 1742 and it still serves that purpose today, offering to travelers such must-have items as Boston Tea Party tea cups, lobster-themed doodads, and fudge (because no tourist attraction is complete without fudge).  The upstairs meeting hall became Boston’s original town hall.  By the mid 1760’s local orators were steaming about various taxes and it was here that Samuel Adams decried the Boston Massacre and the citizens of Boston voted to prevent the British from offloading tea.  It’s a simple place, calm and quiet, small and not at all fancy.   But it is not too hard to close your eyes and hear the impassioned words of someone stirred to righteous fury by Parliament’s trespass on his liberty.

From the Hall I followed the trail south to the Old State House and the site of the Boston Massacre and from there to the Old South Meeting House.  King’s Chapel was closed for services but its burying ground was open.  I will walk miles out of my way to see an old cemetery and the oldest ones in Boston are all along the Freedom Trail.  I wandered among the old slate stones and took some pictures and then walked past Boston’s old City Hall (now a fancy restaurant and offices) and the site of the first public school in America.  From there it was on to another cemetery, the Granary Burying Grounds, a larger and more extensive cemetery than King’s Chapel.  Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock are buried here.

And now I will take a break.  It’s time for a beer!

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~ by gun street girl on February 14, 2010.

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