The weather while we have been in Boston has been unseasonably hot - about 100° every day, totally unexpected. We arrived about 4pm and we had booked on a mooring ball outside the marina as it cost less for 4 nights on a mooring ball than 1 night in a marina berth. So, after a quick clean down of boat and us, we went ashore to see where we were. When you visit places like Boston, you really have no idea what to expect, neither of us have been before and we don't know anyone who has been, so it was a complete unknown. From the marina, you can see the tower blocks and skyscrapers that make up downtown Boston - they are considerably smaller than Manhattan, and also there are less of them so the whole place feels less crowded, and you can also look up without getting vertigo! The main area for restaurants is the North Quarter, which is all Italian based, there are whole streets of Italian restaurants, cafes, ice cream gelatarias, and pastry shops, as well as fabulous deli's for take outs. On our way up to the North Quarter, via a bit of a detour, we stopped for a drink in Boston's most famous pub, the bar from the programme 'Cheers'. Some of you will remember this series but for those of you who don't, it ran from 1983-1992 and was hugely popular. The story was based around the 'barflies' who spent time in the pub. Now, I hope you won't be disappointed when i tell you that the pub itself is just an ordinary bar as they TV show only used the outside, and the actual scenes were all shot in LA! That's spoiled that then! Inside there are two bars, one a normal bar, and the other a 'set replica'. We went to the set replica and had a quick drink at the bar - they pack so many people in there is just about room to move a bar stool out to sit down, and woe betide you if the person next to you starts waving their arms round, or sticking their elbow out to drink!
John goes to 'Cheers'
In order to get a 'feel' of the city and try to get our bearings a little, tickets had been arranged for us by Jay, to go on a city tour by bus. We have done these tours all over the place and they are a great way to get an overview of a place and see which areas you want to go back to, and which sights in particular you want to see - for some sights, a drive by on the bus is enough.
We had been warned before we arrived that finding your way round Boston can be tricky. Unlike New York when the Avenues run up and down, and the streets left to right, and they are all numbered, Boston was likened to a cart wheel with spokes, and also the names of the streets have a habit of changing halfway along, just for extra confusion.
Boston has a very different 'feel' to New York. It seems younger and more vibrant in a way and more elegant, and also a lot less brash. There is a huge amount of history attached to the town and that is reflected in the architecture. Many of the buildings date back to the 1600s and 1700s and more thought seems to have gone into planning the expansion of the city to preserve the old style architecture than in New York where, if a building has been needed, it has been built in the style of that era with little thought to the building styles round and about.
Historically, Boston is one of the most important cities in America. One name that kept cropping up throughout our stay there was Paul Revere. He was the leader of the colonial militia and was the chap who did the midnight ride through Boston to warn that 'the British were coming' in 1775. Following the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence was read from the balcony of the Old State House in 1776, and this is re-enacted every year on July 4th.
Many of the founding father's of America came from Boston and are buried in the various graveyards around the town, such as Samuel Adams now immortalised as a brewing company, the family of Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock and also the original Mother Goose! There is a also a statue in the graveyard of the first female to alight from the Mayflower ship. Boston had a lots of 'firsts', the first public park, Boston Common, the first university, Harvard, and the first subway. Interestingly enough, when we arrived we kept hearing a vibrating, rattling noise when we were on the boat, when we asked at the marina office what it was,it turned out to be the noise of the subway trains going under the river to the airport!
Following on from the Mayflower, there is a huge irish contingent in Boston amply catered for by the many Irish Pubs serving Guinness with their lobster rolls. Boston is also home to Ye Olde Union Oyster House, the oldest restaurant in the country and also the oldest pub, The Bell in Hand Tavern.
Boston is also famous for it's 'Tea Party' in 1773, where in a revolt against tax on tea, the contents of three tea merchants ships were dumped in the harbour. This action was one which in part led to the American Revolution as the British were thought to be getting above themselves with the taxes they were imposing. Looking at the colour of the water in the harbour, I think there is still some tea in there!
Other sights that we saw included the oldest wooden warship currently in commission, the USS Constitution, nicknamed 'Old Ironsides' by the Brits whose cannon balls were simply bouncing off, and the naval dockyard.
For our last day, we took a trip across the water to Cambridge and wandered round Harvard University, so at least we can say we went to Harvard, even if it was just for a couple of hours!
Apart from the first two nights, we ended up on board in the evenings due to rain, so on this visit we didn't really get to sample the nightlife that Boston can offer, so that's a perfect reason to visit again on the way back south. We have both been very impressed with the city, there is lots to see, and also lots of places to sit, relax and people watch, a great sport in the sunshine!
Our next stop will be further north, in Portsmouth for a few nights, which is also one of America's oldest cities. The difference between here and the Caribbean islands (I would say apart from the weather, but it's been quite hot this week!), is that everywhere we go now there is a lot to do and see, whereas in the islands, we would go somewhere and just drop the anchor and swim and dive for a few days. When we get to Portsmouth, we will have to make a conscious effort to spend some time doing boat jobs and playing catch up with our maintenance lists which have slipped a little! We are also suffering from a few very early starts so we can catch the tide - another thing you don't even need to consider in the Caribbean!
The Massachusetts state house with real gold leaf dome.
The oldest pub in America...
...and the oldest restaurant!
Jane on USS Constitution
The fabulous Harvard campus
The newest Boston Red Sox fan leaving Boston bright and early