Our second and last day in Boston dealt with the second half of the freedom trail
. We retraced our steps of the day before on another very cold crisp day and continued off from the Old State House and the site of the Boston Massacre. The trail then travels a short distance to Faneuil Hall (Pronounced 'Funnel') which is currently undergoing some form of rennovation (but you can still pop inside the main meeting hall) and then turns across town through the Italian quarter to Paul Revere's House. Paul Revere was the man made famous for his midnight ride in which he rode out to warn the colonialist rebels that the British were planning a surprise night attack to reduce the Colonialists stronghold in Concorde and Lexington. From reading the information around his house (the oldest timber building in Boston) it seems that Paul Revere did very well out of the revolution and could have in some forms be seen as a profiteer. In fact he was kicked out of the militia for being an insubordinate and being a coward; but that part of the history is very much glossed over. Characters like Revere are singled out as being heroes for their part in a colourful period in American history and their stories are clearly exaggerated to help fuel the American dream. It would be interesting to know more about their personalities which helped them to become such revolutionaries. The House itself is a bit of a dedciation to ye olde times and gives you an idea of how people would have lived back then, but I don't think it does much for telling you about Paul Revere which you wouldn't have already known from walking around the rest of the route.
Walking further north you quickly come to the Old North Church (film fans would know this church as that which Nicolas Cage sends Sean Bean as a diversion while he is looking for his National Treasure - it is where Sean Bean is captured at the end of the film). As explained in the film this church is where a couple of colonialists climbed the steeple in the middle of the night to hang two lanterns to warn the rebels of the British plan to attack by sea, a route which would shorten their approach dramatically
. It's got all the trademarks of a heroic story which is told beautifully by the church staff who hold short speaking tours from the pulpit every now and again to explain some of the intricacies of the church history in this tale and in others. Very much worth a visit.
We skipped past the next Burial Ground because it was freezing cold and we'd seen plenty of graves already and hurried along towards Charlestown and the USS Contitution. Having little knowledge of American history past what we've learnt in the last couple of days we understand that the Constitution was used in the war of 1812 defending from the British and it has never been beaten - in fact it is still in service today (but only for special events etc as I don't think it would stand up to an attack anymore!). It is an impressive warship with rows and rows of cannons, and the ship has been kept in sparkly, shiny form. The fact that it is free to visit is extraordinary and is something the Americans should be proud of. It's gotta help the tourist trade massively. Apparently in the summer the queues for the USS Constitution can get quite big so it's worth visiting it early in the day.
Our final stop on our second day in Boston was the Memorial on Bunker Hill. Whereas you normally get these big stone pinnacles which look very impressive and stand out loud and proud as a dedication to those who fell - this momument you can actually climb up the inside and look out across Boston
. It's a long 294 steps up a winding staircase which brings you to a small room at the top with 4 windows looking out across the town. The top gave me the willies, big style; for two reasons. It was first tremedously busy. I have taken a photo to give an idea of this but at first we couldn't even step into the viewing room as people were taking so long to look out, everyone was shoulder to shoulder. It seemed a little selfish as there were people who were truly camped out up there not letting people look through the windows for the split second that is required before descending. If anything it would be better if there was a big of control over how many people were allowed up the top at one time, and maybe this is the case during the summer months. When you do get a look, the view is a good one but it is through some slightly grubby, scratched windows (it doesn't ruin the view) and the view down is terrifying. Part of the room is suspended above the drop down the inside of the memorial by a metal grate which allows you to see all the way down when standing on top of it. I could not stand this for very long and had to get out before suffering an embarassing panic attack. It was a long dark drop and with how crowded the room was didn't feel to me safe at all - although I for one am well aware that the grate is much stronger than it looks!
Looking back through this blog it appears very negative in places; but it's not meant to be. It's just how my style of writing tends to come across. I really enjoyed the day as we haven't had many full with history and so well presented as it is in Boston. The route is well supported by the city and is something different not seen by us anywhere else. It made a change to the normal Museum, Art Gallery, Botanical Garden, Aquarium combo. On to New York.
I think we're very much ready to go home now. It's not that we're not enjoying USA. On the contrary I've been particularly surprised by how much I've enjoyed it and liked it. Each of the cities we have visisted has had it's own identities and none of them have really compared to each other; Boston is yet again another example. But I for one am getting very tired. I am struggling a little to come to terms with what it will be like to return to work (and to return a lot sooner than I had at first planned) in a year which I have a lot of professional plans and have to hit the ground running somewhat. I think the New Year and the return home will give me a fresh impetus that seems to be missing at the moment because I'm a little drained stuck in travel neutral. We're both returning to work only 4 days after getting home and therefore in just over a week - these 5 months have flown past.