Emeryville Amy

This blog will be a combination of my favorite places in the Bay Area and abroad, memoirs, recipes, restaurant reviews and travel experiences.

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Location: Emeryville, San Francisco Bay Area, CA, United States

Friday, October 21, 2005

HISTORICAL BOSTON






HISTORICAL BOSTON

It seems impossible to go more than a few steps in Boston without running into something historical. Of course I was visiting the downtown "historical" part of Boston; I'm sure there are sections of the city that aren't inundated with plaques and signs marking the importance of this building or church or bench or spot.

It is amazing not only that so much of our history during the Revolutionary War period was centered in this area, but that every moment and place seem to be recorded and cherished and made available for the viewing public. In elementary school there were a couple of movies that we saw each year in the auditorium, one of which was Johnny Tremain. Paul Revere played a big part in the movie as well and we came up with a special hand sign that mimicked him after an incident where he spilled some hot melted lead and accidently stuck his hand in it, scorching himself and welding his fingers on one hand together. (Isn't it wonderful what kids will take away from a history lesson.)

My friends Ian and Mindy Noyes live in the Boston area with their son Jacob. They recently moved to Ipswich , a town about 45 minutes north of Boston on the coast serviced by the commuter rail into Boston. I stayed there with them and also with Ian's parents who were in town visiting. Their house was out on a dirt road through some beautiful trees and on a marsh. The view was stunning and no other homes were visible, just the marsh grasses and the river and water coming up in high tide and the islands dotting the coast. It felt dreamily idyllic.

Shortly after I arrived, Ian and Mindy wanted to have one more swim in the river before it got too cold. They donned their swim suits and life jackets and we all walked out along the path to the river's edge. Ian and Mindy did a running jump and plunged into the cold water. Jacob followed a bit later. I decided not to take the plunge and manned the video camera for them instead. It was great to reconnect with Ian and Mindy and see how their lives were unfolding. It felt good to be in a home after being on the train, in hostels and bed and breakfasts for several weeks. I appreciated their hospitality so much.

I took the commuter rail into Boston the next day even though it was raining. Little did I know at that point how many days the rain would last. I got off at the station and looked around for a stand with city maps but didn't find any. I decided to just start walking out of the terminal and see where I would end up. I don't know why I thought I could do this since I hadn't even looked at a map to see where the train station was and where everything else was located. But, by the grace of God, I found myself crossing a plaza that seemed somewhat familiar from when I went there for a couple of days 4 years ago on a family vacation on the way out to Cape Cod.

I stopped in a coffee shop for a little caffeine boost, purposefully avoiding the Dunkin Donuts shops that were located on every block. I knew that I was close to Fanueil Hall and around the next corner I spotted a Tourist Information office. It kind of feels like you hit the jackpot when you are aimlessly wandering around without a clue and then you find that. I grabbed a map and some brochures and headed over to Quincy Market and Fanueil Hall which is the epicenter for people visiting Boston. I enjoyed wandering through those buildings, looking at the shops and fabulous food stands as it poured outside. It reminded me of the last time I was there with my family and we were caught in a really bad thunderstorm and decided to wait it out in there.

I purchased a ticket for the on/off tour buses which circle historical Boston and point out the sights and let you get off and explore on your own. The North Church, Paul Revere Square and house and part of the Freedom Trail are all located in the Italian end of town and so there are lots of great Italian restaurants and cafes to dine or hang out in. I really liked one Catholic church named St. Stephen's. It was located fairly near the famous North Church where Paul Revere hung the lanterns to alert the others to the British invasion route and consequently now was crowded with tourists. St Stephen's was empty when I went in and it felt so peaceful and soothing with its all white interior and graceful balconies. I took advantage of the solitude and quiet and just sat there meditating for awhile before returning to the rain and tourists outside.

I hopped back on the bus and went over to the port where "Old Ironsides" and the historical/nautical museum are located. The rain increased to a frenetic downpour as I stepped onto the ship and attempted to not fall on my face walking around the deck. One of the officers on deck said they usually close it down when it is raining this hard but they hadn't that day. The museum connected with the ship was really good, especially for kids. I would recommend it as a fun part of the Freedom Trail if you are in Boston with children.

I just love the architecture in Boston. I have always been drawn to brick buildings and here almost everything is made from brick. I enjoyed just walking around Boston and looking at the buildings and the streets and park benches. It was nice to stroll around Boston Commons as well and see the Park Street Church that many of my friends have attended. My bus pass included a visit to the aquarium so I went there at the end of the tour. Unfortunately it seemed like most of Boston had the same idea. The place was so packed on this rainy day that I left pretty quickly. Also, when you have the Monterey Bay Aquarium as a standard, it is hard for most other aquariums to match up.

The next day that I went into Boston I headed for Harvard University. My father went to Harvard Law School shortly after he and my mom were married. They have always spoken of their 3 years there as a very special time in their lives. They made lifelong friends, many of whom moved back out west with them, and they love to tell stories about their penny-pinching days and walking in the snow or digging their car out of snow drifts... It was fun to picture them on the campus or in town as I walked around. I met up with a friend from Berkeley in Harvard Square at the Coop Bookstore. It is a fabulous bookstore and I couldn't resist buying one small book. I could have hung out there all day. Gordon and I had coffee and dessert at the Charles Hotel and then walked along the Charles River and then through campus to the Peabody museum where he said good-bye and I went in to see the glass flowers and geology/gems exhibits. I think that I would have liked going to college at Harvard, but since they didn't accept me I went to Cal where I was wanted. I called my parents from Harvard Square and told them I was at Harvard and they said,"Oh, so they finally let you in?" Very sweet of them...

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