18 August, 2009
Boston, MA (as if there were any other Boston)
So just prior to my family's epic hike of Katahdin, I decided to spend a day in Boston, both to look around the city, and to visit a friend from Chicago who's staying there for about three weeks. My sister was going to come with me, but she chickened out (jk Mary!), claiming that she would need more than four hours of sleep before hiking Katahdin (what nonsense!). So another friend from Maine who had spent the summer doing biochem research in Boston came along instead.
It was quite a lot of fun going down there at any rate, and considering that Katahdin turned out to be hikeable on what ended up being about 3 hours of sleep, the trip was less rash than it might sound. I travelled down on the new bus line that extends from Augusta to Portland and then on to Boston. (Huzzah for the introduction of some basic public transportation to central Maine!) Basically this meant getting up at 4:30 to ensure that I could catch the 6:15 a.m. bus, a rather tedious hour-and-a-half-long ride to Portland, a bit of a wait as the bus became crammed with so many passengers in Portland that the friend who was supposed to travel down with me couldn't board, and then another couple of hours spent watching "Mr.Bean's Holiday" without any sound.
Then Boston, South Station; and the epic Revolutionary War era site-seeing commenced. Well, actually I at first only walked to the Old South Meeting House, dating from 1729, and famous for Sam Adams' planning of the Boston Tea Party there in 1773. That was while I waited for my friend to arrive on the next bus. Once she arrived, we went to Mass at the cathedral, lugging backpacks all the way in pretty sweltering heat, but finding the beautiful church worth the trouble of getting there.
Lunch in Boston Commons was nice; it cooled us off a lot to be able to just sit around on the grass and talk and eat carrots and fruit and homemade bread with peanut butter for a while. We followed that up with a walk towards Faneuil Hall, through Quincy Market, and to the wharf, which was much cooler and another nifty area with a most Bostonian feel to it. Once we met up with my other friend, we went towards the North End, which is both Little Italy, and a site saturated with Revolutionary relics. Now Little Italy was particularly fascinating this day because there was a celebration in honor of Our Lady going on, and it seemed like the entire section of town was out to celebrate. There was a huge procession carrying a statue of Mary and Jesus on a litter covered with streamers and a canopy. The procession moved through streets crammed with vendors selling canoli, Italian ice, gelato, and practically every other Italian-American food known to man, and it would stop every few yards as children from overhanging balconies would shower it with pounds of confetti and streamers, people set off fireworks, and one of about six Italian-American marching bands would play. Each time it stopped, the men carrying the litter would pass long streamers to the crowd, and people in the crowd would tape dollar bills to the streamers until they were full. Then the resultant money-chains would be taped to the litter like decorations. Definitely the most unusual thing about the entire celebration.
Nothing else was quite as exciting as that, but we did get to see (not for the first time for me) Paul Revere's house; the Old State House, oldest public building in Boston, dating from 1713; the Old North Church, where we marveled at the fact that families would come to church to sit in cubicles; and the Copp's Hill Burying Ground. All good stuff, which helped to refresh a little of my elementary school American revolutionary history, and reignite my interest in that period.
No recounting of a trip would be complete without a brief overview of food consumed; for dinner this day we went to a bakery, bought a loaf of bread, then bought some tomatoes, cheese, and an avocado at a grocery store and ate near the harbor where some musicians had set up and a moderate number of people had gathered to listen and enjoy the growing cool of the evening.