A Travellerspoint blog

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Arrival and Day One

We travelled from New York to Boston by Megabus. It was a trip that started all wrong. We tried to travel there on the 7 line. We did not realise that the 7 line left from a different part of our usual station. We got lost trying to find a new separate station that did not exist. Then we got on the wrong train and had to change lines. We made the bus with about five minutes to spare. Unlike our non-existent bus to Philadelphia, this bus turned up and departed on time.

The journey took us through New York State and Connecticut, but it was not a very interesting route. The scenery was largely all the same - trees. We passed by only one large town. We arrived in Boston about an hour later than expected due to traffic, but this was not a big problem for us as we were in no particular hurry.

When we arrived at South Station, we bought ourselves seven day Charlie cards even though we were only in Boston for three nights. Then we found the red line to travel to Wollaston where our hotel was located. There was some problem with this line. It was rush hour and there were delays and a huge backlog of people had formed. We had to fight our way onto the train with our case and we were squeezed in as tightly as sardines in a can. It was even worse than travelling on the Hong Kong MTR. Boston is a friendly place and everyone squashed together got talking. We discovered that while services could get crowded, a train this packed was not normal. I felt sorry for one heavily pregnant lady who was squashed right in the middle of us. She was afraid of passing out and injuring her baby. Suffice it to say we were extremely glad to get off that train.

We walked through a pleasant residential area till we found our hotel - the Howard Johnson Hotel, Quincy. The receptionist was friendly and chatty and we were given a pleasant, clean and comfortable room.

Our Room.

Our Room.

The Howard Johnson Hotel.

The Howard Johnson Hotel.

We were tired that evening after the journey, so instead of going back into the centre of Boston we just wandered along Wollaston's main road to the Hancock Tavern. Wollaston actually has large numbers of Asian restaurants, but we went for the local pub instead. I liked the Hancock Tavern. It had friendly service and good food. We ate here twice on our stay. I decided to go local and have a hearty bowl of New England clam chowder and very tasty it was, too. We also had pork sliders and potato skins. As portions were quite large, this turned out to be too much food. We just took some home with us to eat later.

At the Hancock Tavern.

At the Hancock Tavern.

Next day we took the train to Park Station in the centre of Boston and began our sightseeing. Many of the sights we visited were on Boston's Freedom Trail, but we did not follow this exclusively. We detoured off and also left bits of it for the next day.

Our first sight was Park Street Church on the edge of Boston Common. This church dates from 1809. It was designed by Peter Banner and has a very tall steeple - 217 feet high. The church is quite plain inside as you would expect in the land of the Puritans. Its walls are whitewashed and bare. However, it did have a lovely stain glass window. On July 4th, 1829, William Lloyd Garrison made his first public speech against slavery here. The church became known as a firm supporter of the abolitionist cause.

Park Street Church.

Park Street Church.

The church's lovely stain glass.

The church's lovely stain glass.

Our next sight was the Massachusetts State House. This dates from 1798 and was designed by Charles Bulfinch. This building has a distinctive golden dome, which had to be painted grey during World War II to protect it from bombing raids. There were people outside the state house protesting a variety of issues when we arrived.

Massachusetts State House.

Massachusetts State House.

Massachusetts State House.

Massachusetts State House.

Next we wandered on to Boston Common. This is America's oldest public park. It was established in 1634. It began its life as common land for grazing cattle. It was also used as a place of punishment for criminals or dissenters. Mary Dyer was hanged here with two others in 1660 for following the Quaker faith. In 1775 over a thousand English redcoats set up training camp here during the American War of Independence. Martin Luther King led political rallies here and in 1979 Pope John Paul II carried out Mass here. I am a great fan of the children's novels written by E.B. White. In his book 'The Trumpet of the Swan' mute trumpeter swan, Louis, gets a job playing the trumpet on one of Boston Common's many swan boats.

The first sight we saw on the common was the Brewer Fountain. This was a gift awarded to the city of Boston by Gardner Brewer in 1868. Gardener Brewer was a wealthy Bostonian merchant.

We then dipped our toes in the children's paddling pool as it was a very hot day. We wandered on to the boating pond with its swan boats and had a look at 'Make Way for Duckling's. This is a statue celebrating a children's picture book of the same name. The book was written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey and was first published in 1941. The book tells the story of a family of ducks who decide to make their home on Boston Common. The statue was created by Nancy Schön.

The most famous statue on Boston Common is the one of George Washington. It depicts Washington as the Army’s Commander-in-Chief. rather than as the first President of the United States. This sculpture was created by Thomas Ball.

The Brewer Fountain.

The Brewer Fountain.

Children's paddling pool.

Children's paddling pool.

A swan boat.

A swan boat.

Make way for the ducklings.

Make way for the ducklings.

Statue of George Washington.

Statue of George Washington.

Statue of Mary Dyer outside the State Hall

Statue of Mary Dyer outside the State Hall

Next we walked to Copley Square which is named after John Singleton Copley, a famous Bostonian painter. There are a lot of lovely buildings on this square including Trinity Church, Old South Church and Boston Public Library. It was outside this library in 2013 that the Boston Marathon bombings occurred. The square itself had a statue of Copley, a very popular fountain and statues of the tortoise and the hare. The tortoise and hare statue commemorates the Boston Marathon and was created by Nancy Schön.

Trinity Church.

Trinity Church.

Boston Public Library.

Boston Public Library.

Fountain, Copley Square.

Fountain, Copley Square.

The Tortoise and the hare, Copley Square.

The Tortoise and the hare, Copley Square.

After Copley Square, we headed back towards the common and walked to The Bull and Finch Pub. This pub, now renamed Cheers was the inspiration for the comedy series 'Cheers'. I used to really enjoy this show, though it is a while since I've seen it. I love my beer, though not normally at lunch time on a hot day when I'm sightseeing, but since it was one of Boston's most famous sights, we had to go in and have a beer. The pub has several bars - all very busy. I enjoyed the fact that you could pose with pictures of the cast of the show or even cardboard cut outs of some cast members. There is a Cheers themed gift shop inside the pub, too.

Cheers Pub.

Cheers Pub.

Peter joins the cast.

Peter joins the cast.

Everybody loves Norm.

Everybody loves Norm.

I guess he loves Diane, too.

I guess he loves Diane, too.

A little unsteadily on our feet after our visit to Cheers, we continued to the Granary Burial ground where Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and John Hancock are buried. These men all played prominent roles in the American War of Independence. Paul Revere famously rode to Lexington to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams of the approaching British on the night of April 18th, 1775. His ride is commemorated in a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Most gravestones in the Granary Burial Ground were quite plain as puritans frowned upon fancy memorials. Many had a winged skull at the top. This is known as a death's head; others had a winged cherub and some had a willow and an urn.

Plaque on the gates of the cemetery.

Plaque on the gates of the cemetery.

Death's head gravestone.

Death's head gravestone.

Cherub head gravestone.

Cherub head gravestone.

Next I left my husband to have a rest outside the Old City Hall while I looked in the nearby King's Chapel. King's Chapel was founded in 1686. It was the first Anglican Church in Puritan Boston and as such it was considered a significant milestone in the pursuit of religious freedom in Boston. Next to the church stands the King's Chapel Burial Grounds. These predate the church and are not linked to it. They were locked when I got there which was a shame as I wanted to see the grave of Elizabeth Pain. Pain lived from 1652 to 1704. She had a child before she was married - a great disgrace at the time. When her child died, she was accused, I'm guessing falsely, of murder. When Pain died a large letter A was carved on her grave. She is said to have inspired the novel 'The Scarlet Letter' by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Despite the burial grounds being closed I still saw the grave of Joseph Tapping. This is considered to be the loveliest gravestone in Boston. Tapping died when he was just 23 years old. At the top of his gravestone an hour glass is depicted to remind us of the closeness of death. In the bottom centre of the stone Father Time battles against a skeleton - symbolizing death who is trying to snuff out a candle - symbolizing life. I got a photo of this stone using my zoom because the grave is so close to the cemetery's main gate.

Peter outside the old city hall.

Peter outside the old city hall.

Inside King's Chapel.

Inside King's Chapel.

The loveliest tombstone in Boston.

The loveliest tombstone in Boston.

Next we visited the memorial to An Gorta Mor -The Great Hunger. This memorial depicts victims of the potato famine which ravaged Ireland between 1845 and 1850. Another part of the memorial shows those who managed to survive the perilous journey on board 'coffin ships' to Boston where over time they recovered and created new lives for themselves.

Victims of the famine.

Victims of the famine.

Making a new life in Boston.

Making a new life in Boston.

Near this memorial stands the Old South Meeting House. This was a meeting place where Puritans could worship. It was built in 1729. A meeting was held here on December 16th, 1773 to decide what to do with 30 tons of tea contained in the holds of three ships moored at Griffin's Wharf. The ships were the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver. If the ship's cargo was unloaded, a tax would have to be paid to England. No-one wanted to pay this. Following the meeting a small group including Paul Revere and Samuel Adams boarded the ships dressed as Mohawk Indians and threw the tea into the sea. This became known as the Boston Tea Party.

Old South Meeting House.

Old South Meeting House.

Next we saw the Old State House. This was built in 1713 and was home to the colony’s government. It was here that lawyer, James Otis, spoke out against the Writs of Assistance. These writs entitled the British authorities to enter any colonist house at any time and for any reason. After listening to Otis speak, John Adams (who would become the second president of the USA) stated “Then and there the child independence was born.” In 1768, the colony’s government located in the Old State House defied the royal governor and refused to allow people to pay taxes to the British Crown. This led to the British sending troops to ocupy Boston. In 1776 the Declaration of Independence from Britain was first read to the people of Boston from the Old State House balcony.

The Old State House.

The Old State House.

After that we went to Faneuil Hall which was built by merchant Peter Faneuil in 1741. It was here that Americans first protested against the Sugar Act and Stamp Act, stating "no taxation without representation." On top of Faneuil Hall there is a golden grasshopper weathervane. This weathervane was used during the War of 1812, yet another war with Britain, to spot spies. Anyone who could not answer "What is on top of Faneuil Hall?" was regarded with suspicion.

Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall

Next we went behind Faneuil Hall to a market complex set in historic Quincy Market and the North and South Market buildings. In the background we could see a tall tower which turned out to be the Boston Custom House.

Quincy Market and the Customs House.

Quincy Market and the Customs House.

Then we walked to the waterfront and took a ferry from Long Wharf to Charlestown Navy Yard. This ferry was free using our seven day Charlie card. The views back towards Boston Harbour from the ferry were lovely.

At Charlestown Navy Yard we went to visit the USS Constitution, an old sailing ship nicknamed "Old Ironsides". She earned this name in the War of 1812 when she fought against British ship HMS Guerriere. In the battle the two ships got so close they became intertwined. When they separated, the HMS Guerriere was so badly damaged her crew surrendered while the Constitution was largely intact.

We should also have climbed up Bunker Hill to see its monument, but I messed up and forgot about it, so that did not get done.

Waiting for the boat.

Waiting for the boat.

Boston Waterfront.

Boston Waterfront.

USS Constitution.

USS Constitution.

Boston Waterfront.

Boston Waterfront.

Once we returned to the centre of Boston, we took a walk in the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. Then went to dinner. We wanted to go to an Irish pub and chose The Black Rose, but it was too crowded so we ate in Sissy K's which was nearby. It was ok, but very, noisy.

Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.

Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.

Dinner in Sissy Ks.

Dinner in Sissy Ks.

Posted by irenevt 00:58 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Wandering Around Boston

Second full day and departure day.

On our second full day we decided to make use of our Charlie Pass and travel around the city of Boston and beyond. We started by taking the train to Central Quincy. This was just one stop away from Wollaston where our hotel was located and we thought we might as well take a look at it since it was supposed to have several historic sights.

Quincy is nicknamed the "City of Presidents" because it was the birthplace of John Adams, the second president of the USA and his son, John Quincy Adams, the sixth president. Both of them are buried here, too. Quincy was also the birthplace of John Hancock, the first signer of the Declaration of Independence.

The first sight we came across was Quincy City Hall which is located at 1305 Hancock Street. This is a Greek Revival Style building dating from 1844. It is the seat of government for Quincy.

Quincy City Hall.

Quincy City Hall.

Next we walked to the nearby United First Parish Church, which was constructed in 1828 by local stonecutter Abner Joy, using designs created by architect, Alexander Parris. John Adams and John Quincy Adams, attended church here. Just across from the church there is an interesting old graveyard - Hancock Cemetery.

Hancock Cemetery is named after the Reverend John Hancock who lived from 1702 to 1744. He was the father of John Hancock, who as I mentioned above, was the first signer of the Declaration of Independence. Hancock Cemetery was the original resting place of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams and their wives, but later they were all reinterred in the crypt of the United First Parish Church.

United First Parish Church and Hancock Cemetery.

United First Parish Church and Hancock Cemetery.

Next we passed the Quincy Masonic Temple at 1170 Hancock Street. This was built in 1926 in Neoclassical Style, but was badly damaged in a fire in 2013.

Quincy Masonic Temple.

Quincy Masonic Temple.

A short walk later we reached a building that now houses a museum and library, though it was built originally at the bequest of John Adams as a school known as the Adams Academy. This school first opened in 1872 and continued as a school until 1908. Outside this building there is a war memorial and a bust of John Hancock.

The Adams Academy.

The Adams Academy.

After that, we walked to the Dorothy Quincy Homestead at 34 Butler Road. This house was originally built by Edmund Quincy II in 1686. During the American Revolutionary War it became a meeting place for many revolutionaries such as: John Adams, Colonel John Quincy, and John Hancock. It was the childhood home of Dorothy Quincy Hancock Scott, wife of John Hancock and the first ever First Lady of Massachusetts. Architecturally the house is a mixture of Colonial, Georgian and Victorian styles. It is currently a museum.

The Dorothy Quincy Homestead.

The Dorothy Quincy Homestead.

Then it was back on the train again and off to have a look at Harvard University.

I saw a statue just before we entered the university grounds and took a photo of it without having a clue who it was, but having just looked him up, I found he had an interesting story. It was a statue of Charles Sumner, an American politician and United States Senator, who was born in January 1811 and died in March 1874. He was a leader of the anti-slavery movement in Massachusetts. In 1856 Sumner delivered a strong anti-slavery speech called "The Crime Against Kansas." Two days later, a South Carolina Congressman, called Preston Brooks, nearly beat Sumner to death on the Senate floor using a cane . This was because Sumner had critisised Brook's cousin, South Carolina Senator Andrew Butler, a staunch supporter of slavery, in his speech. Apparently this event played a major role in bringing about the American Civil War.

Charles Sumner, a very brave man.

Charles Sumner, a very brave man.

Harvard University's main campus is centered on Harvard Yard in Cambridge, three miles north west of Central Boston. The university was established in 1636 and named after John Harvard who was its first benefactor. There is a statue of him on the campus and tourists love to pose for a picture with him. Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. I enjoyed wandering around its grassy courtyards and admiring its old buildings. These included Memorial Church and a library.

Harvard University.

Harvard University.

Harvard University.

Harvard University.

Peter with John Harvard.

Peter with John Harvard.

Peter outside Memorial Church.

Peter outside Memorial Church.

On our way to Harvard our train had crossed the Charles River. We decided we would get off there on our way back into Boston, because it looked quite scenic, so we bought some refreshing drinks and drank them on the banks of the river.

The Charles River.

The Charles River.

Peter next to the Charles River.

Peter next to the Charles River.

The Charles River.

The Charles River.

Leaving the Charles River, we took the train back to South Station and walked to Chinatown. This is the third biggest Chinatown in the U.S. after San Francisco and New York. It was quite a nice one with the usual entrance gate to ward off bad luck, murals on the walls and lots of Chinese shops and restaurants. Groups of people sat around the entrance gate playing mahjong or cards. I also spotted a memorial to the victims of Tiananmen Square.

Chinatown.

Chinatown.

Chinatown.

Chinatown.

Chinatown.

Chinatown.

Chinatown.

Chinatown.

Chinatown.

Chinatown.

Chinatown.

Chinatown.

Leaving Chinatown behind us, we set off for the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. The Boston Tea Party is one of the best known incidents in American history. On December 16th, 1773, Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty boarded three ships that were moored at Griffin's Wharf and threw 342 chests of tea overboard in order to avoid having to pay large amounts of money in taxes to the UK Government. The museum is set on a floating barge. It has replicas of two of the original ships and it stages re-enactments of these historic events. There is a statue of a proud looking Samuel Adams outside the museum and a souvenir shop and tearoom inside.

The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.

The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.

The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.

The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.

The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.

The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.

The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.

The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.

Next we got back on the train and went to North Station from where we walked to Old North Church. This church is actually called Christ Church and dates from 1723. Here on the evening of April the 18th, 1775, church sexton, Robert Newman, and Vestryman, Captain John Pulling Jr. climbed to the top of the steeple and displayed two lanterns as a signal from Paul Revere that the British were marching to Lexington and Concord by sea across the Charles River and not by land. With our usual great timing, we arrived just as the church closed.

We walked around to the front of the church to see the statue of Paul Revere making his famous ride to warn the people of Lexington that the British army was approaching. There should be a great shot of the statue with the church behind it from here, but the light was all wrong for that shot in the early evening.

Old North Church.

Old North Church.

Paul Revere statue.

Paul Revere statue.

From the statue it is a short walk to Paul Revere's house at 19 North Square. This was built in1680 and was Paul Revere's home during the American Revolution. It is now a museum. Sadly someone had parked right in front of it which did not help me take a good photo of it.

Paul Revere's house.

Paul Revere's house.


Then we walked to Quincy Market where we had a beer in the non-authentic only for tourists Cheers Pub. We didn't care as long as it served beer.

The other Cheers.

The other Cheers.

After that we were done for the day and returned to Wallaston where I had very tasty and filling pizza and my husband had a burger in the Hancock Tavern.

The Hancock Tavern.

The Hancock Tavern.

Next day we visited Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox baseball team. I know nothing about baseball, but remember this team featured frequently in episodes of Cheers so I wanted to take a look.

Fenway Park.

Fenway Park.

Me at Fenway Park.

Me at Fenway Park.

Fenway Park.

Fenway Park.

Fenway Park.

Fenway Park.

Posted by irenevt 03:47 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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