Monday, July 18, 2016

Freedom on Independence

It's was now day five in Boston and my day trip goals had ended. At this point exhaustion was beginning to hit me as I was walking most of my days in mid-80s sunny weather. I tried my best to stay as hydrated as possible. At times I struggled with this because I knew my options for finding a public restroom would be limited and I hate walking around with a full bladder. True to my frugal spirit, I likely wasn't taking in the amount of calories that I should have for the amount of traveling I was doing. I wanted to spend less that $20 per day on food so this meant at times I often skipped dinner hoping a large lunch would sustain me. On day five it was Independence Day in Boston and I was eager to hit the Freedom Trail. 

The Boston Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile long path winding through downtown Boston and into neighboring Charlestown marked by either a brick line or a red painted line depending where you are. It leads walkers past 16 locations significant to history of the United States. Good thing about this path was I couldn't get lost! Or could I? The path got confusing just in one or two spots but for the most part I found assurance in following the red brick road. Since there are 16 stops, I'll let you research it for yourself by checking out the Freedom Trail website. For now I'll tell you a bit about my own personal experience in a couple of spots.

The first stop  that I really loved was the Granary Burying Ground. Some 5,000 Bostonians have made this their final resting place since 1660, but a few notable residents are Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and family members of Benjamin Franklin. Since it was 4th of July, Boston began filling up quickly. I had overheard that the mayor would be stopping by this place after some time, but I got out and continued down the trail, anxious to see what laid head.

As I came upon what would be my 8th stop I noticed hundreds of people were gathering. I stopped and asked someone standing around and I was informed that there would be an annual reading of the Declaration of Independence from this stop which was the Old State House.

Though I understood being a part of this would be cool, I was really on a mission and frankly impatient. I began trying to traverse my way through the tight crowd. When I got nearly all the way out I realized there were barricades protecting the crowd from traffic. It became clear I wouldn't be able to get out, so of course I embraced it and tried to get the best view possible. Due to my short stature, this was no easy task. 

After the reading there was a small parade, none of which I could experience with my eyes. Confetti was shot off and since I was down wind I was showers in little red, white, and blue bits of paper. 

As I continued on I was nearing the edge of downtown Boston. The trail crosses the Charles River and concludes in the nearby Charlestown (the oldest neighborhood of Boston) with the Bunker Hill Monument and the USS Constitution. By the time I got to Bunker Hill I was hot, dehydrated, and in need of a restroom. When I saw the accompanying museum with restrooms I was happy and finally was able to rest by weary feet while sitting on the side of the hill. It became known to me that the public could in fact climb to the top of the monument, a decision that I weighed out over my rest period. I knew I could do it physically and thought it would be another thing to do to fill time. When I took my first step I didn't know how many were ahead of me. Instead I was given this information a third of the way up by someone descending in the compact two-way traffic. There were 294 winding stairs. 

After decending I made my way to the only subway station in Charlestown to journey back to Boston, where I wanted to attempt eating lunch at Union Oyster House, America's oldest continuously operated restaurant.  It was during lunch time and it was a holiday so I figured I may experience an extremely long wait at this landmark. Much to my surprise the restaurant was much larger than it appeared from the street and I walked right up to the bar to sit down. I was sitting next to another single gentleman and the bartender had the idea we were together. The two of us joked about that and I told him he was more than welcome to pay for me! He didn't bite. I had a cup of clam chowder, a salad, and a Sam Adams Colonial Ale, a beer made especially for this establishment.

I was pretty tired by this point and slightly tipsy from the one beer but I wanted to check out Quincy Market for its street performers, so I did that for a bit. I was beginning to feel claustrophobic around the large crowds so I walked to Boston Commons, the large public park, and knew some rest under a shady tree was just what I needed. When I finally chose the tree I wanted I looked to my right and of all the trees in Boston, there were sitting two of my German hostel room mates. We quickly acknowledged  this chance encounter and got to talking about everything from Brexit, to their careers, and the fireworks that would take place later that night. We agreed to go together which made me happy to not have to navigate Boston streets alone at night. My day ended with a bang, literally. Many heart shaking ones as we watched the fireworks display after the Boston Pops concert. We had an incredible view that was just 10 minutes from our hostel on the Charles River.