Explore. Experience. Engage.

Powered by our sister site, Family Vacation Critic

A "Revolutionary" Journey Part IV (Boston)

Author: Host Ciao (More Trip Reviews by Host Ciao)
Date of Trip: December 2008

Leaving Old North, I headed back toward St. Stephen's on Hanover Street. The sales tables were still up, and children were flocking to a colorful, open-sided wagon where Santa and Mrs. Clause were greeting them. Of course, this would be a picture I blurred!

Since it was already mid afternoon, I was pretty hungry and settle on Lucia's, one of the many Italian restaurants. I liked the menu choices posted so didn't go farther down the street. As it turned out going another block or so would have saved me some money. The pasta was very good. I chose one with a fairly plain sauce for $17. Of course, I had to have two glasses of wine and lemon sorbetto for dessert. The sorbetto came between two halves of frozen lemon and was sooooo good!

I slowly walked back to the hotel still enjoying the weather. I was able to use one of the computers for guests in the lobby and deleted about 400 emails. I sat in one of the comfortable chairs in the lobby and read for a while still enjoying the walk in my mind and my body—nothing hurt, not feet, not shoulders, not back. Must be it took three weeks for the aches to give in to the fact that they would not make me give in any plans! Supper was a couple more cookies from Mike's.

It's a good thing I didn't know how cold it was when I set out to walk to St. Stephen's for 7 a.m. Mass on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. I found out later it was only 9 degrees. On the walk back I stopped at the Quincy Market and bought an egg and bacon sandwich that I ate back at the hotel.

Luckily this was not a day I had planned for much walking because several of the places on the other half of the Freedom Trail were closed on Mondays. I had all along planned to go to the Kennedy Library. The hotel staff directed me to the station for the Red Line train I had to take toward the outlying area where the library is located. Again luckily there was a friendly transit authority person who helped me get the kind of ticket I needed out of the machine. It was called a "Charlie Ticket." Could it be that it comes from the old Kingston Trio song about poor Charlie "doomed to ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston"? The ride was very pleasant, and from the station I boarded the bus to U Mass and JFK Library—a 10 or 15 minute drive. http://www.jfklibrary.org/

john f kennedy library jfkThe Library is a very handsome, modern building with many exhibits. The first one was about the President's life, leading up to his running. The introductory movie goes through the campaign and ends with his nomination at the 1960 Democratic Convention. Other sections include the Inauguration, White House Corridor, Cuban Missile Crisis, Robert Kennedy (the Office of the Attorney General including several drawings made by his children) the First Lady, Kennedy Family, November 22, 1963, and Legacy. The exhibits feature photos, furniture, film clips, etc. It was certainly a very interesting time for me since I think I mentioned before that this was the first President I was old enough to vote for and also the only one I traveled to see during the campaign when he spoke in the Quad Cities in Illinois not far from where I was teaching.

I had already decided it was too darn cold to take in the second part of my day's plan, wandering around Harvard University. So I spent more time in the Library looking at the opening exhibit. Also I ate lunch of pasta salad and milk, which was pretty good for $6. I wandered through the shop and for once didn't find too much to buy. There was no book about the library, and I have several of the Kennedy books on sale there. I did buy a library book mark and a magnet with a JFK quote on it. I might also mention, there was Obama "stuff" on sale there.

"Charlie" got me back to the station, and I went back to the hotel to read a bit. Walked out for dinner and decided on Green's Tavern, not as crowed or as expensive as the nearby Oyster House. I think I have mentioned the number of Italian restaurants north of the park. However, around the hotel and just south of the park there are many, many Irish pubs/restaurants. Anyway tonight I picked Irish and had a Guiness and excellent shepherds' pie for $20. And so back to the hotel and bed.

My last day in Boston and on my Revolutionary Journey sent me out to walk the other half of the Freedom Trail. I stopped at the two sites closest to the hotel. First was simply a circle of paving stones which marked the Boston Massacre. This is on a traffic island directly in front of the Old State House. The Massacre's beginning is unclear, but it involved a group of angry citizens and another of frightened soldiers, whom the mob was taunting. The soldiers fired, killing three men. The soldiers were arrested, but when it became clear that it was not really a massacre, John Adams defended the soldiers. Six were acquitted, and the two who fired directly into the crowd were convicted of manslaughter. They were punished by branding on the thumb, a light sentence which seems to mean the jury believed the soldiers had felt frightened. Here is more information on the historical sites run by the National Park Service. http://www.nps.gov/bost/

old state house boston mass massachusetts nightThe Old State House was the seat of government in Colonial Massachusetts, where the government protested the Stamp Act and then the Townsend Acts, taxing every day items like paint, paper, and tea. When the colonists proclaimed that they could not be taxed without representation and refused to withdraw the Circular Letter stating this, the king dissolved the colony's government and British soldiers occupied Boston.

It was from the balcony of the Old State House that the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed to a happy crowd. Also from this balcony 200 years later Queen Elizabeth spoke on the 200th anniversary of Independence. The building is still decorated by the lion and unicorn, symbols of the British crown—copies, though, since the originals were burned during the Revolution.

make way for ducklings boston public garden commonFrom here I set out to go to the far end of the Freedom Trail in Boston Common and beyond to the Boston Public Gardens. I wanted to go to the Garden to see some of the statues there. Probably the best known is the grouping called "Make Way for Ducklings," which features a mother duckling followed by four or five of her offspring.

The Visitor Center for the Freedom Trail is in Boston Common. There you can pick up a map and other information. There are also tours that leave from there. The Soldiers and Sailors Monument from the Civil War is near there as well as a beautiful fountain—with no water, of course, in December. It was a cloudy day so some of my pictures of statues are too dark. The Frog Pond is for wading in the summer and skating in the winter and is presided over by a couple of friendly bronze frogs. The Central Burying Ground is part of the common and is one of the oldest in Boston. It is the site of graves of many American and British casualties from the Battle of Bunker Hill.

A monument at the edge of the Common and part of the Freedom Trail is the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial. In 1863 Shaw was asked to lead a regiment of black troops. Fighting in the South, the soldiers risked death and enslavement if caught. Shaw was killed leading his troops in a charge in South Carolina. The story of this is enacted in the movie Glory. The monument is beautiful and the bas relief shows Shaw riding beside his soldiers.

Across the street is the Massachusetts State House begun in 1795 when Paul Revere and Samuel Adams laid the cornerstone on land bought from the descendents of John Hancock. The building is beautiful with a golden dome. Inside I went up to the second floor where tours leave from. My timing did not hit a tour time, but I wandered around the five halls on that floor on my own. A choir group of teenagers was singing Christmas Carols on the main stairway.

I saw Nurses Hall with a memorial to Army nurses, the hall of flags were there are many historical flags, the Doric Hall and the Great Hall, a special ceremonial space with flags of 35 cities and towns in Massachusetts.

The next stop was Park Street Church, which was not open for visits. Here on the front steps on July 4, 1831, the hymn "America" was first sung. The Grainery Burying Ground is adjacent to this church and definitely worth wandering through. You can see the tombs of John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and another signer of the Declaration of Independence, John Treat Paine. The victims of the Boston Massacre are buried by Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere is also buried here.

King's Chapel was another stop on the Trail that was not open to visitors at that time. This was built because the British King ordered an Anglican Church built. The Puritans refused to sell any land to the king because they had fled the Anglican Church. The Royal Governor seized land owned by Boston used as a graveyard because the dead could not protest. Again I wandered in the graveyard here and found the grave of John Winthrop, first governor of the settlement in Boston. Does seem like I toured a lot of graveyards!

Related Trip Reviews
Boston Trip Reviews
New England Trip Reviews
Send Us Your Trip Review!

Thank You For Signing Up!

Please Note: To ensure delivery of your free e-letters, please add news@independenttraveler.com to your address book.

We're committed to protecting your privacy and will not rent or sell your e-mail address. By proceeding, you agree to our privacy policy and Terms of Use.