Sunday, June 10, 2012

City Boy Has His Day In Beantown

Couldn't find a single soul in Boston who knew our name, but we had a great time anyway!
June 6, 2012

Boston is about two hours away from Meredith and we knew from the beginning that we wanted to spend a day there.  It could have been a day trip from Woodstock, Vermont, Meredith or even a stopover as we started the trek back towards Tennessee.  Technically, we left the final decision up to circumstance and when it "felt" right.  We decided to go for it this week and settled on Wednesday.   And as irony would have it, we learned shortly after arriving back in Meredith on Wednesday evening, that someone who knew our names WAS in Boston, WAS at CHEERS and we probably only missed them by an hour or so.  Neither had a clue that the other would be in Boston that day!   It is indeed, a small, small world of coincidence!  

Several years ago at a Publix Grocery Store  in Flagler Beach, Florida, I was handed a sample packet of New England Coffee Company coffee and it was love at first sip.  Except for a few of their most basic blends, it is pretty hard to come by in Tennessee, so I order it in bulk especially when they offer some pretty good deals via their Facebook page.   I decided that I wanted to visit their headquarters while in New England so that is where we started our Boston adventure.  As it turned out, that first stop helped tremendously in our efforts to navigate Boston simply and efficiently.  

New England Coffee Company is located in Malden, MA a northern suburb of Boston.  No tours, but they do operate a coffee shop where you are able to buy every blend made by the company.

 New England Coffee Company Corporate Headquarters - Malden, MA

New England Coffee Company Coffee Shop and Store
A second row of their blends is below the one you can see
June 6, 2012

After making my purchases, we sat down for a cup of coffee and to plan strategy.  Earlier research had told us that the Malden Center "T" station was 4/10ths mile from the NE Coffee Company.  We had hoped the parking lot might be large enough for us to unobtrusively leave our car there and walk to the "T" stop.  But that was not to be - there were only five spots in the coffee shop lot, all the others for employee parking were behind the plant.  HOWEVER, there was a huge Stop n Shop grocery directly across the street and after receiving the green light from none other than one of Boston's finest police officers who was also enjoying a cup of coffee, we took our car to that parking lot and left it there.  After a 15 minute ride on the orange line, we were deposited just around the corner from Boston Common and the start of the Freedom Trail.  How convenient is that?? 

After a quick snack at the Boston Common Visitor Center and armed with our $3 map of the Freedom Trail, we were ready to go!  But first, there was homage to pay at the place where "everybody knows your name."   After the required pictures outside, we made our way in to look at the famous bar "set" which of course, one must walk through the gift shop in order to see.  My goodness, how did we ever acquire one more bag to carry simply by walking "through" a gift shop?

We meandered around through Boston Common looking for the famous Swan Boats (which we never did see) and through the gorgeous and quite highbrow Beacon Hill residential section finally finding ourselves in front of the Massachusetts State House (#8 on this trip). 

Boston Common, the oldest park in America

Does anyone know what these are?   They are everywhere in New England and I love them!

Massachusetts State Capitol
June 6, 2012
We had a sneaky suspicion that touring the interior of this capitol would be out of the question as prior web inquiries told us tours were guided and by reservation only.  Not having any idea what time we'd arrive and not being fans of "guided" tours, we did not make a reservation.  Upon arriving at the capitol, we noticed a very long line to the side of the building and once in it, we contemplated our next move.  Not even sure that this line would get us a tour and knowing we had fifteen stops plus almost three miles of walking to complete the entire Freedom Trail, we decided against waiting.   Maybe another day.   I will say that it is a beautiful, absolutely HUGE building and gives quite the appearance of grandeur sitting high atop Beacon Hill.

The Freedom Trail begins in Boston Common and ends 16 "points" later at the Bunker Hill Monument.  There is no better way to see Boston, feel its history and enjoy a pretty day than by following the trail's red brick line which runs the entire length of the tour.  By purchasing a $3 map at the VC, one is handed all the information needed to complete the trail and with plenty of greenspace, eating establishments and restrooms along the way, it makes for a delightful, yet exhausting day.  We were very grateful for a cool, partly cloudy, but calm day for our trek.

The above Freedom Trail link gives excellent information, more links and pictures of every single stop along the way.   They are much better than mine, so I'll only include a few of our favorites.  

Stop #4 was the Granary Burying Ground.  We enjoyed wondering around in this old cemetery where notable names are buried including John Hancock, Paul Revere and Samuel Adams.  Lest we are again chastised by one of our readers, who happens to be the President of the College where Bill teaches and a history major, for making light of Boston's rich history, I will emphatically state that we paid tribute to every one of these famous patriot's resting places, but our favorite was this one......................

rumored to be the final resting place of Mother Goose who, BTW, was a real person!

Stop #9 was the Old State House Museum.  We did not take time to do the tour (one could not do this all in one day if they toured every stop fully plus there is a fee for most of the tours at each stop), but loved the circular staircase at the entryway.

 I loved this total juxtaposition of the old against the new.
Old State House

Floating circular staircase just inside the Old State House

Stop #10 - Boston Massacre Site   I am embarrassed to admit that I could not tell you a whole lot about the Boston Massacre or its relevance to our history.  Now I know!   I loved this picture showing the back side of the Old State House and taken from the site where the Boston Massacre occurred. 

At this point, we were more than half way through the stops on the Freedom Trail, but no where near the half way mark of distance to cover.   And we were hungry!  The next stop was #11 - Faneuil Hall also known as the "Cradle of Liberty."  It is said that every event important to our history has been debated inside this hall.   Today, the Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market (just behind Faneuil) house shops, a huge outdoor market and an amazing array of food vendors with everything from around the world you could possibly think of.  It is a food lovers delight and not a single name you'd recognize can be found here.  We walked the halls and finally settled on a large skewer of four chicken breast portions each the size of a small fist, covered with bacon and roasted on a rotisserie.  We split an order (how could anyone eat one alone???) and it was so good!

Only three of the four pieces - wonder where the other one is??  This was delicious!

 Inside Quincy Market - all food vendors down both sides.  This is near the midpoint of the hallway.

Following a nice lunch break, we soldiered on.  There was still a lot of ground to cover and we had already mentioned the time it would take to get from Stop #16 - Bunker Hill to the nearest "T" stop (about 3/4 mile) and then hopes to get out of Boston before rush hour began, which BTW, didn't happen!

Stop #12 - Paul Revere's home  We considered taking this tour as we'd like to have seen inside, but when we arrived, it and subsequently, Stop #13 - The Old North Church were both extremely crowded.  In fact, so crowded we just snapped a few pictures of the house and moved on.  A lecture was in progress at The Old North Church so we sat and listened for awhile.  Our longest walk of the day lay in front of us and we were both really feeling tired.  We actually debated foregoing the last stop #16 - Bunker Hill, but just couldn't do it.  It was too important in our history and we wanted to feel the sense of completion. 

 Paul Revere's homeplace

 The Old North Church

 Inside The Old North Church

The trek from The Old North Church to Bunker Hill was the longest of the day, but even as tired as we were, the beauty of the walk couldn't be denied and we were so glad we did it.  We walked across the bay...................

we could see the USS Constitution in the distance.................
 we walked through parks always following the red brick trail...........................
 having some fun and laughs along the way....................

through residential areas..................................

past the fire department........................................

through another park..................................
past some REALLY fancy looking homes......................
FINALLY, off in the distance, we could see something!  OH MY GOODNESS, we've walked all the way to Washington D.C. 

No, that's the Bunker Hill Monument and there is nothing funny about the battle it immortalizes.

On June 17, 1775, the ill-equipped colonists stood courageously facing the powerful British army.  In the end, the Battle Of Bunker Hill was one of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolution leaving 1,400 casualties on the field.   Bill and I worked hard to get to this monument, but recognized the significance of it with respect to the courage of our forefathers and to every American's freedom to stand there JUST AS THEY ARE and JUST LIKE WE WERE!  It was a poignant moment for us in that it was a learning experience and represented the completion of a hard day's work!

Fortunately, our trek along the Freedom Trail was moving us slowly back in the direction of Malden where we'd left our car, so once we found our "T" stop, we were only five minutes and three stops from Malden.   One final half mile jaunt from the transit station to our car and we were headed out.  UNFORTUNATELY, it was after 4:30 p.m. and rush hour was well underway.  Boston's traffic nightmares are well documented and with all due respect to any Bostonian reading, their driving habits are downright frightening!  It took awhile to get out, but we finally made it back to the peace and quite of Meredith by 7 p.m.   

Am I embarrassed to tell you we were in bed fast asleep by 9:30 p.m??  Nope and I slept till 6:30 the following morning - absolutely unheard of for this early bird!!   

Hope you enjoyed our trip to Boston.   We certainly did!    Have a look at a few more of our "just for fun" pictures!

 I think I actually dreamed about this red brick line that night!   We followed it for six hours!

 Freedom Trail symbol found in front of each stop along the way!

In front of the Paul Revere house, I considered throwing myself at the mercy of this limo driver hoping for a ride!


(City Boy got his day in the big city.  Tomorrow, Country Girl gets her day in the mountains)



  1. Thanks for the tour. What a marvelous place. Gotta go there, too.

  2. Thank you for sharing your tour! Boston is on my list of cities to visit, but only when I have a few days to explore. :)

  3. Great writeup, Sharon. Last time I did the Freedom Trail it was as a chaperone for an 8th grade field trip. Think I'd appreciate it a whole lot more, now! I asked my son, who's a gardener what those plants are and this is his answer: They are Alliums... they are related to Onions. You plant the bulbs in the fall. There are a ton of sizes/varieties, some as big as 10" across. I've often seen them around here, but never thought to ask the name. Now we both know!

  4. Wow---how many miles total did you walk that day? I would have been dying! NOTE to BETSY: When you visit Boston, make it about a 3 day visit...

    Incredible day you all had though... Loved the way you described everything.. So many bloggers just post pictures with no explanations.. I love love love your blog... Thanks so much!!!

  5. 65MD had a conference in Salem a few years ago and we took one day to tour Boston. We've always said we would have to go back because there was not nearly enough time in one day to see everything. We toured the USS Constitution, ate at Faneuil Hall, and only walked a short bit of the Freedom Trail. We always said that would be our first agenda item if we ever got back. We finished our day well after dark. We wouldn't have had traffic worries because we took the ferry over from Salem.

  6. I love those allium flowers. They are very popular in New England because they can take cold winters (they are bulbs).

    So, how much coffee did you load your car with??

  7. I didn't know there was a Bunker Hill monument. It really did look like the Washington monument from a distance! Enjoy your day in the country after a busy city day!

  8. What a wonderful tour, Sharon! And, Lordy, what a walk! If it had been me, I would have needed some of all that coffee you bought just for the extra little caffeine energy boost. :-)

    My daughter just recently got the chance to go to Boston for a conference through her work. She was so excited to take her first plane ride! And I believe she took the Freedom Trail on a bicycle tour. It was a pretty thrilling trip for her.

  9. One of my life regrets is that I never walked the Freedom Trail while growing up outside Boston. I did, however, go to Fanueil Hall and Quincy Market A LOT! As a teen I'd ride the T in with my girlfriends and eat and shop. And during summers in school I worked very nearby and often ate lunch there. That place has grown so much in the years. Last time I was in Boston I stayed with a HS girlfriend who lives in a condo around the corner from Bunker Hill. She has a rooftop deck with a great view. And I have been to the Bull and Finch Pub, the bar that the Cheers show was modeled after. Not even sure if it still exists.

  10. I've ALWAYS wanted to visit this area. I absolutely love the scenery. It looks like you had a wonderful time!

  11. Hi Sharon - I had a few extra minutes so thought I would check in on what YOU were doing!

    BOSTON! WoW! Definitely on my list but not sure I'll ever get there! sooooooooooo far away!