Like most folks visiting Boston, we did the “Freedom Trail.” Rather than take a paid tour, we headed to the National Park headquarters in Faneuil Hall and found out that they have several different ranger guided tours that are open to the public. If there’s one thing that we’ve come to love on this cruise, it’s ranger-led National Park Tours. The rangers always seem to be history buffs, naturalists or academicians, and Boston was no exception. Over two days we took in everything the Park Service had to offer, asking questions, and getting a different perspective on history.
On Monday we took a tour from Faneuil Hall to the north side of the Freedom Trail, titled “Why Boston?” Our ranger led us past Faneuil Hall, the pubs in the north end, Paul Revere’s house, the location of the Governor’s house that was burned, and the Old North Church. She explained why Boston was where the revolution began for several reasons that could be seen as we walked the old areas. We were going to continue to Charlestown and the USS Constitution, but it’s closed on Mondays. We headed back to Faneuil Hall and caught an impassioned speech from the ranger on duty regarding the upstairs meeting room. He recounted the symbolism of the hall as a place to express free speech and new ideas, from the revolution, through abolition, women’s suffrage, and present day. Later we grabbed a pint in “The Green Dragon,” mine was Guinness, but Sabrina had the delicious Sam Adam’s Boston Brick Red, only available on tap in pubs along the Freedom Trail. After our pints we headed back to a Vietnamese place we saw in Chinatown to try Pho noodle soup, it was delicious and hot, warming us at the end of a chilly day.
Our second day we knew where we were headed, so we arrived at Faneuil Hall just in time for the first tour. This was titled, “Meetings, Mobs, and Massacres,” and took us from the hall to Liberty Square, the Old State House, the site of the Boston Massacre, and the Old South Meeting House. After that we headed up to the Massachusetts State House for a peak inside under the gold dome. The interior is very impressive and we wish we would have had time to take the guided tour.
From Boston Common we hiked downhill towards Charlestown Navy Yard and the USS Constitution. We toured the Constitution and the yard and then took the next ranger tour to the the Bunker Hill Monument. This tour was titled, “Taking the High Ground” and the ranger followed the path the British took during their assault of Breed’s Hill. As we learned, the commonly referred to “Battle of Bunker Hill” actually culminated at the earthen redoubt on Breed’s Hill. We climbed all 294 steps in the Bunker Hill Monument, but unfortunately the views from the top are obstructed by the safety glass installed in the viewing windows.
From there we traversed back downhill from the monument through Charlestown. I’ve joked with Sabrina that the only things I know about Boston I’ve learned from movies like The Departed, Good Will Hunting, and The Town. So it was interesting to walk the narrow streets of Charlestown as we headed back to the North End.
Back in the North End after our long walk, we met up with our friends Ed and Val (local Bostonians.) We haven’t seen Ed since he headed back north in the spring of 2011 when I helped him move his boat “Tir Na Nog” north from Coinjock, NC to Chesapeake City. We had a wonderful dinner at an authentic Italian restaurant, sharing sailing stories, tales of adventure, and planning for voyages in the future. After dinner we headed back to Joint Venture briefly to admire the Boston skyline. It was a great evening, and we loved having the chance to get together with both of them. We hope the next time it won’t be as long between visits.
Today we’re crossing the last couple things off our Boston list and then heading out.