Sunday 3 November:
It’s amazing when all the months of planning and thinking and visualising what things might be like come to fruition on a day like today! Our hotel is fairly basic with no breakfast bar offered so we ventured out a bit and found a lovely café close by called ‘Caffe Bene.’ Filled up for the adventure ahead we caught a cab to Christ Church, North Boston, commonly referred to as the Old North Church. Founded in 1722 (planning on how to celebrate its 300th anniversary soon) it is Boston’s oldest surviving Church building and most visited historical attraction. We went not only for the history but for the worship which was beautiful if more plain than I had thought it might be. It was the first time I had sat in box pews and it felt like you were at the opera as you were literally in a box and could only see from the shoulder’s up of your fellow worshippers. The enduring fame of the Old North began on the evening of 18 April, 1775, when the church sexton, Robert Newman, and Vestryman Capt. John Pulling, Jr. climbed the steeple and held high 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. This fateful event ignited the American Revolution.
Following church and the coffee hour after it we set off on the freedom trail: a red brick marked trail leading around the centre of Boston highlighting important buildings, people and places associated with the start of the war of Independence. While not only enjoying the wonderful autumn (or should that be Fall) weather, and enjoying the sights on the trail – I couldn’t help but notice a lot of beautiful buildings in Boston. It was a delight and pleasure to walk the streets of this city. We stopped for a drink at the Green Dragon Tavern – the watering hole for the patriots and revolutionaries. We passed by the State House, the Park St Church, the Old South Meeting House, Faneuil Hall, the old State House, Paul Revere House, just to name a few. Space doesn’t permit me to give a summary of all but suffice to mention that we finished the middle part of our day at the Boston Common which is overlooked by the State House of Massachusetts. Puritan settlers established the Common in 1634, making it the nation’s oldest public park. Charles Bulfinch designed the State House. Samuel Adams and Paul Revere laid the corner stone in 1795. It is truly a magnificent sight to behold.
Having finished the Freedom Trail, we had one more thing on our agenda for the day and that was making our way to the harbour to enjoy the ‘Boston Tea Party: Ship and Museum – A revolutionary experience.’ We asked for directions and figured out how to use the metro system and soon we were on the harbour. We found ourselves taking part in an interactive hour long exciting ‘re-enactment’ of what happened on that fateful night 16 December 1773. We toured a replica of the trading ship of the day and got a chance to throw a chest of tea into the harbour. It sounds like fun and we suppose the tour was designed with children and school tours in mind; but that said, it still was informative and engaging for us big kids as well. There was some high tech displays and the tour finished with a 12 minute video of what happened after the tea was destroyed. While not condoning violence you do get to feel what the American colonies were up against with the British taxation system. It is no far stretch to see how this act of destroying 300 crates of tea destined to be taxed led to the start of the War of Independence some 16 months later. Ironically, after the tour we were led to the tea house where we enjoyed drinking some fine tea!
Once back at our hotel, we were able to do our laundry, write and post some postcards, write our journal entries and complete this blog. All in all – a fantastic day in Boston. Tomorrow – stay tuned as we hopefully visit the JFK memorial library and the Museum of Fine Arts.