Sunday, September 30, 2012
Boston: The U.S.S. Constitution

The weather is pretty iffy today, mid 50s, overcast, and raining steadily, but I'm hopeful it will change to just intermittent showers. It better, or it's going to really screw up our day of sightseeing in Boston.

At 9:30 we went to the complimentary breakfast downstairs. It was fantastic! They had all the bacon you could possibly eat. There was quite a bit of other stuff too, but who cares? Don't misunderstand. It wasn't just a lot of bacon. It was ALL YOU COULD POSSIBLY EAT. And believe me, Tom and I ate all the bacon we could.

Eventually, the rain turned to sprinkles, and we drove over to the Wonderland Station of the MBTA (the “T”) Blue-Line train/subway. Remember that cracked rear-view mirror I mentioned on Day 1 of this journal? When Tom closed the car's passenger door at the train station, the glass part of the mirror fell completely off the car, and it spiderweb cracked the whole thing. Now I'm sure we'll be paying for it! Plus, we're going to really miss that mirror when we're driving through the traffic and roundabouts this evening and to the airport in a couple of days. Argh!

Anyway, on to Boston. With a little effort, we managed to buy a couple of Link Passes out of machine at the station for $18 each that entitled us to unlimited rides on the subways, buses, and commuter ferries of the MBTA system for the next week. We only need them for two days, but it's still the best deal.

We took the Blue Line to State Station. Right in front of us as we stepped out of the subway station was the Old State House, built in 1713. It was from the balcony of this building that the Declaration of Independence was read to the people of Boston in 1776.

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Old State House, Boston, Massachusetts

Next we checked out Faneuil Hall. Once the scene of tumultuous gatherings held to protest England's tightening control over the Colonies, Faneuil Hall is now full of stalls selling touristy bric-a-brac. Yikes. At least there's a cool statue of Samuel Adams out front.

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Samuel Adams, maltster and revolutionary

Across from Faneuil Hall is Quincy Market, historically a retail and wholesale distribution center for meat and produce. Now it's a super-mega food court. The food looked and smelled delicious, but we were still full of bacon, so we just walked through and left.

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Quincy food court and tourist trap

It stopped raining long enough for us to walk over to Long Wharf and catch a little commuter ferry to Charlestown. We were the only passengers. I thought Boston would be crowded. I guess there's worse times to visit than a rainy Sunday in very late September. The views of the city from Boston Harbor were great!

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Boston from the Harbor

It's just a short walk to the U.S.S. Constitution from the ferry landing at Pier 3. Most of our Boston exploring will have to wait till tomorrow, when we're expecting better weather, but the U.S.S. Constitution is closed on Mondays, so that must be toured today regardless.

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U.S.S. Constituion from the ferry

Launched in 1797, the wooden-hulled, three-masted frigate U.S.S. Constitution gained the nickname “Old Ironsides” during battles with the British during the War of 1812 due to the resiliency of the ship's heavily planked sides. The Constitution served in the Barbary Wars, the War of 1812, and the Civil War, and today is the world's oldest commissioned warship. Normally stationed at the Charlestown Naval Yard and open for tours, she's been at sail as recently as August of this year, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of her victory over the HMS Guerriere in the War of 1812.

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Jana in Charlestown

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Old Ironsides

To board the Constitution, visitors must present a valid federal or state photo ID, get their hand stamped, go through a metal detector, and send any personal items through x-ray. But you're allowed to keep your shoes on – This is the Navy, not the ridiculous TSA. After security, we watched a 10-minute film about the Naval Yard, toured a small museum, then boarded and wandered Old Ironsides to our hearts' content. This is a must-see if you're in Boston!

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Cannons of the Constitution

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Officer's quarters

The Bunker Hill Monument commemorates the Battle of Bunker Hill, the first major battle of the American Revolution, fought on June 17, 1775. This is the battle in which Colonel William Prescott gave the famous order "Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes," demonstrating the conviction and determination of the ill-equipped American colonists facing the more powerful British forces.

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Bunker Hill Monument

The monument, a 221-foot granite obelisk, is a dead-ringer for the Washington Monument. Of course, we climbed the 294 steps to the top! The view was pretty good, but the windows are all scratched up and terribly dirty, so the photos aren't that great.

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Charlestown and Boston from Bunker Hill

After returning to Boston via the ferry, we had a late lunch at Cheers. The TV show “Cheers” was inspired by an actual bar in Boston originally named the Bull & Finch Pub, which later changed its name to Cheers, after the TV show, and which is now called Cheers The Original, because they've now built a second one. The second Cheers bar is named Cheers The Replica and is a recreation of the “Cheers” TV show Hollywood set. Got it? Good.

The one we went to was Cheers The Replica, by Faneuil Hall. Tom had a reuben and I had clam chowder, with a Sam Adams Octoberfest again for me and a Fisherman's Brew for Tom. Good pub grub. The New England Patriots v. Buffalo Bills game was on, and the crowd was stoked. The waiter had a wicked awesome accent, the best local dialect of the trip!

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Nobody knew our names, but they were glad we came

We rode the Blue-Line T back to Wonderland Station in Revere, where I was able to gingerly reattach the glass of our rear-view mirror into its housing. From now on, we will close the passenger door ever so gently. I'm resigned to paying for the mirror at this point – I just want to be able to use it for the rest of our trip.

By now, the rain had stopped for good, and the sun finally came out. Tom drove us out to Nahant Island, another not-really-an-island locale, but, rather, situated on a peninsula. It's a cute little waterfront town and we enjoyed it, but there is no parking in the town that we could find, even at the city parks, unless you're a resident, so we couldn't linger.

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Nahant Island, Massachusetts

Around 6:00 we returned to the hotel, and a little later we went down to the Landing Cafe Lounge and shared a gigantic plate of nachos with chili. Some locals at the bar were talking smack about Peyton Manning versus their guy Eli. Unnecessary, but we didn't engage them.

Continue to October 1, 2012

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