Taking a break from all your worries.....
Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
132Trip End Jan 04, 2012
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Instead of spending our time in these attractions we opted to take a walk along the 'Freedom Trail' which is a red line painted along the sidewalk of Boston leading you through it's hsitorical heritage and the events leading up to the start of the battle for Independance. The trail visits sights of signficance (some of which require a small admission fee but on the whole are free) and provides an insight into a particular snapshot in time
I have always been a bit unsure about what all the hype was with American Independance - they make such a big show of it - but it makes a lot of sense now. It's all really that the country has in terms of history and so I can see why they flaunt it about a bit.
For me though and this is just an opinion, I find it quite ironic that the country battled for independance from Britain (a country which was taxing colonials because it was fighting wars to strengthen it's position and in turn strengthen the colonies) to become an independant set of states which now taxes it's occupants to fight war after war consistently including wars which infringed on others freedoms (Vietnam could be argued in this case). But at least now they are 'free' with a free expression of beliefs and free speech (or so you would hear in any bit of patriotic mumbo jumbo you would hear in any museum etc) but they are no free-er than anywhere else in the world. So why the big hoo ha about independance, why are the Patriots so well celebrated?
I personally think it's because the Americans can. They, like their fore-fathers are strongly spoken and take pride in what they have achieved and where they have gone in a couple of hundred years and so are happy to celebrate that and why not? The flashpoint of independance has given them something to gather around and pin up but it's just a highlight of a short proud history.
In comparison the English people to which we belong have a much longer and overbearing history yet seem to have lost the patriotism and replaced it with shame.
In the past I looked at the Americans and thought 'Stop it with the damn independance all the time' Woop woop
Now after spending just a couple of days along their 'Freedom Trail' I look at them in envy because they have been so successful in taking everything from that period in their history to make symbolic and create some real patriotism. The Flag, the declaration of independance (should that be in capitals?!), the constitution - I would love some of that noise and hurrah in the UK, even if it is a little slice of sickening cheesy propoganda; If it makes everyone a little happier to be British, then so be it.
The Freedom Trail as I have already said is mainly free and is an excellent day or two of activities. On our first day we started in Boston Common (recognised as the start of the trail), walked up to Massachusetts State House (also free and with a guided tour if wanted), past Park Street Church, Granary Burial Ground (burial place for John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Paul Revere and select others), Kings Chapel and Burial Ground, we went into the Old South Meeting House (the meeting place and flashpoint for the Boston Tea Party) and finally to the Old State House and site of the Boston Massacre. The Old State House was a particular highlight as the tour guide did not just give the colonial side of the story but represented the loyalists somewhat by explaining some of the propoganda used at the time. An example of this was the use of the word 'Massacre' at a time where the British troops could have been seen to be defending themselves, not attacking the hoards of rioting Colonials at the entrance of Custom House
By visiting the stops along the trail the day can be quite long. I expect in the summer the trail also gets very busy. At about 4pm we called an end to the trail and headed for some food with the intention of finishing the rest tommorow. It also breaks up all the information doing it like this giving you a chance to absorb some of the facts and figures that inevitably get repeated from one place to the next.
So where is somewhere good to get some food in Boston? the Cheers bar, thats where!
They say when in Rome..do as the Romans do..but I expect nobody in Boston actually drinks in the Cheers bar. It's a tourist trap which thankfully is not at all overpriced. It's pretty reasonable in fact and the drinks prices are not anything which will make your eyes spin in disgust. My burger was cooked very nicely, the staff were pleasant and honest (If you are eating you can sit down, but if not you'll have to stand or go to the other bar because tables are reserved for diners - as it gets so busy) and the bar has a quirky charm which is why it was picked by the shows producers. If you go into the bar and are confused why it doesn't look like the show bar seen on TV, thats because the TV bar was a set. The bar we drank and ate at was the inspiration for the show, looks very similar inside and shares the outside shots etc; but the actual set was in a studio somewhere (Paramount I think - Cheers was one of the first shows to use multiple location shooting)
There are however two other Cheers bars in Boston (one just upstairs from the 'original' bar) and one over by Feneuil Hall which are set copies for those who want to sit in a replica of the show.
Good meal, traditional ales and a great break from a day on our feet.
After dinner we continued our extremely hectic day with a march across town to the Fine Arts Museum. Although we saw many people handing over money at the till and were unsure if we had been mistaken, the Museum is in fact free on a Wednesday after 4pm until 10pm. It is completely by voluntary contribution and being cheapskates who only wanted to have a quick look around, we didn't volunteer anything up. We did have a nice quick conversation with the girl at the till who was convinced we lived in a nice town because she had once visited there some years back. I was sure she had confused our town with another.
Because we hadn't paid I enjoyed the museum. I didn't feel like we needed to see everything (and it is a massive museum) like we would normally try to and so after spending a good hour or so walking around a Degas exhibition we just picked out a couple of other things (Kate wanted to see the Gems and Jewellery and I wanted to see the Impressionists) and then headed home. Once I had spent the time in the Degas Exhibition about his nudes I sat waiting for Kate and through my tiredness and after seeing so many nudes sketches and sculptures I sat down and all I could do is imagine people walking around naked. It freaked me out a little and so clearly I was a little more tired than I thought.
Through the day Boston turned bloody cold and our walk back against the wind was a trial of our new clothes. I need earmuffs.