Monday 11 October 2010

Day 45 – Cheers To The Founding Fathers

Just before we left London for good we spent a day as tourists. We went around all the cliché places – Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, St. Paul’s Cathedral – just to see it all one last time…or possibly to remind ourselves what we were leaving. It was during this daytrip that I remember saying to Joe how much I was going to miss being in a city with so much history. There’s something about walking around beautiful old buildings that makes you appreciate what went before you, so it was reassuring to be back in a town that brought back that appreciation.
Welcome to Boston, the place that was the starting point for America as we know it. Sure Washington DC and Philadelphia have most of the good stuff when it comes to signing paperwork and building monuments, but when it comes to barebone revolutionaries Boston’s the place to be! The city has helpfully mapped out a route for tourists to follow that passes all the important sites. The Freedom Trail is a red brick line that starts at the USS Constitution in Charlestown and ends at the Boston Common (or visa versa depending on which way you wanna go!).

We didn’t get time to cross the bridge into Charlestown (home to many bank robbers if the movie ‘The Town’ is to be believed!), so we started at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground and the Old North Church. You may have heard the saying ‘One if by land, and two if by sea’, well that saying refers to the lanterns of this church.
It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when England and America didn’t share a ‘special relationship’. Yep, turns out the early Americans were in fact British people who wanted to branch out on their own. But years after settling in their new country the British government was still trying to run their show and that just didn’t sit well with people who had been looking for independence. Sounds like somebody was looking for a revolution. Enter Paul Revere and his townsman. Paul Revere came up with the lantern system so that his fellow Bostonites had a way to warn the people of Charlestown which way the British army were leaving the city if he happened to be captured. It wasn’t long after this that things started to go very wrong for my ancestral countrymen, but very right for Joe’s.
Getting away from what divides our countries, we made a quick rest stop at the Faneuil Hall area which is now a very popular shopping and dining area. It also has a fake ‘Cheers’ bar. We stopped in for a second, but left as we were looking for the original ‘Cheers’ bar.
Getting back on the Freedom Trail we arrived at the Old State House which was the site of the Boston Massacre, the incident that indirectly kicked off the American Revolution when British Troops killed five civilians. Just a little further along we found the Old South Meeting Place where The Boston Tea Party was organised. This was an action that wasted a lot of my precious tea all because the ‘Americans’ didn’t wanna pay us Brits taxes anymore. Tea should never be a reason to fight, it’s just too relaxing and it especially shouldn’t be chucked into the sea, salt has no place in tea, that’s almost as bad as mixing it with sugar. Ick and double ick.
At the Old City Hall I took the opportunity to stand in opposition, unfortunately they only offered republicans the chance to stand in opposition of the democrat’s donkey, but hey, a photo op is a photo op, regardless of politics. Finding the Granary Burying Ground we stood by the graves of some of the signers of the declaration of independence. Samuel Adams and John Hancock; whose signature was so prominent on the document that his name is now used as slang for signing things.
We ended the trail at Boston Common - in the midst of a 10k charity run - and we looked upon the Massachusetts State House (some may recognize the large gold dome from the movie ‘The Departed'). Around the common we finally arrived at the original ‘Cheers’ bar. Back before the TV series the bar was known as the Bull and Finch Pub and has been in business since 1969. Only the exterior was used for the sitcom, but the inside has a replica of the bar if you need to take your love of the show one step further.
Finishing up our day in Boston we went to the legendary Fenway Park; home of the Boston Red Sox. The ballpark is the oldest in baseball, having been in use for nearly a hundred years. Its opening would have been front page news in America had it not been the same week in April 1912 that Titanic sank.
The park has many iconic things from the history of the America’s favorite pastime, including its outfield wall – The Green Monster – and the lone red seat that marks the longest homerun hit there. Even to non-Red Sox fans this place is amazing.
On the way back to the hotel we swung by Cambridge, home to Harvard University. Harvard is the oldest university in the United States, founded in 1636. Sadly neither Joe or I are smart enough or rich enough to attend this prestigious school, so we made a quick exit.
So, until tomorrow…

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