Taverns, Cannolis, and Cheating Death

Trip Start Jul 16, 2011
Trip End Jul 31, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The past two days have been spent reliving the start of our country. Tuesday we went back to Boston to see more of the sites we did not have time to visit on Monday.  This time our first stop after getting off the T and back on the Old Town Trolley was America's oldest, still commissioned warship - the USS Constitution.  I assumed the USS Constitution was owned and maintained by the National Park Service.  I was wrong.   Our tour guide was a U.S. Navy Gunner’s mate not a ranger in a cool hat.  The ship is still a commissioned United States Naval vessel capable of sailing into harm’s way.  This probably would not be the most intelligent military move in history but none the less the ship is still considered a warship. 

When Pat and I were here in 1993 the Constitution was in dry dock being prepared for its 200th anniversary in 1997.  Now it is a beautiful living symbol of America’s ability to weather any storm.  It has a perfect 33-0 record.  She has never struck her colors and no foreign party has ever set foot on her in anger.  Every year on the 4th of July it goes out into Boston Harbor to fire her cannons and remind us where we came from and how far we have come.  It was hard not to walk where American sailors walked, fought, lived and died over 200 years ago and not be a moved by being there.

This was not the only awe inspiring moment of the day.  After we finished with touring the USS Constitution we went back to the oldest section of Boston for lunch.  We ended up at the tavern behind The Bell in Hand where we had eaten at earlier.  This one is named the Green Dragon Tavern and has its own claim to fame.  The Green Dragon is where the original Sons of Liberty hung out.  They planned the Boston Tea Party there, Paul Revere was sent on his midnight ride from there and the roots to our Constitution can be traced to this Tavern, or at least to this tavern name.  The original Green Dragon was demolished in 1854.  This tavern is just as old although not the same one documented in history.  It sits right behind the Bell in Hand so I have no doubt that an occasional Son of Liberty stopped by for some ale and to hone their "treasonous" plot. 

Another oversized tasty lunch completed we walked out of the 18th century plot to overthrow the Crown and into one of the darkest pages of the 20th century, The Holocaust.  Sitting on Congress Street less than a block from the two taverns I have described is a block long Holocaust Memorial.  There are 6 glass rectangular spires representing the death camps.  You walk through each structure and find the numbers tattooed on Jews in the death camps etched on the glass walls.  There is steam coming out of the ground in structure.  There were statements from camp survivors etched along the walls between the glass structures and on the structures themselves.  As you walked through everyone was quite and just reading, looking and I am guessing like myself reflecting.  I took no pictures because it did not seem appropriate.  Some things just need to be experienced.

We then went over to the site of more carnage, The Boston Massacre.  We toured the building and received a half hour tour around the building explaining what happened that day in March 1770. The shame of this particular location is that the site of the massacre is now inhabited by a traffic light.  Alas, it is probably just as well.  It avoids the massacre of tourist trying to cross the road to take a picture of a plaque. 

 We also received the side of show of Boston’s finest having a friendly conversation with 3 stellar citizens in a Buick on the side of the road.  The conversation included a thorough pat down of these 3 upstanding citizens and a complimentary close inspection of their vehicle.  In fact BPD was kind enough to clean all the junk out of the back seat of this fine ride.  I am not sure how this interlude ended as our tour started but I love to see community policing in action.

The day ended with a trip to the North End Italian section for dinner.  Italian for dinner is only second to Mexican for dinner in my book.  There are over 100 Italian restaurants on/off Hanover Street in Boston.  We walked past most before selecting some little joint that served some really good food.  Dinner complete it was time for desert.  Unbeknown to me, Pat has never had a cannoli.  How this travesty culinary injustice has occurred I am not sure, but since every tour driver we have had has mentioned Mike’s Pastry, this seemed like a good time to correct a wrong and put the world back on its correct axis.  The last word I heard from Pat on the subject was, “wicked good”.

Wednesday it was back in the car for the first time since Saturday.  We drove out to Lexington and Concord to retrace the steps of the first days of our country’s birth.  The trip was worth it in spite of dealing with Boston drivers.  One of our tour guides said using a turn signal is a sign of weakness when driving around here.  I thought it was a joke.  It turned out to be more of a public service announcement.  After cheating death we made it to Concord and retraced the steps of all parties involved back to Lexington.  I can sum this piece of history by saying it was not the high water mark of the British Army.   With all the miscues, instances of lack of judgment and general ineptness, you have to believe there was some kind of divine intervention going on. 

Lexington and Concord complete it was time for another 14 mile death defying trip along Boston surface roads back to our hotel.  By some stroke of luck or genius in planning, a Mexican restaurant is located right here in our hotel.  Two Margaritas later, the blood returned to my white knuckles so I could enjoy the evening and type this blog.

Tomorrow it is off to the Mecca of Boston…Fenway Park.
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