I was full of excitement for my first trip to Boston in over ten years. The first time I had visited was to see the Harvard campus with some friends, wave hello to “Cheers” and head home. Now I was on my way to really exploring Boston for the Labor Day weekend. My friend and I took the Megabus out of New York early on Saturday morning, and by Saturday afternoon we were checked into our AirBnb and on the “T” headed to Fenway Park!
Fenway Park – My friend had a friend who got us tickets in advance for the Philadephia Phillies vs. the Boston Red Sox on Saturday, September 5, 2015. We got to Fenway Park a little late, being new to the “T”, and dragging our feet a bit as we wandered through the stadium, taking pictures outside, finding beer and pretzels to buy, finding our seats. The game was already several innings into it, but we came just as the Phillies were beginning to score. Then the Red Sox beat them solid. The crowd roared. There is nothing like seeing Red Sox fans in Boston, going to the game on the “T” dressed in Red Sox gear, their red baseball caps turned back, accents thick and energy high. Seeing a game at Fenway Park has to be one of the best ways to kick off a trip to Boston.
Copley Square – It is centrally located in Boston’s Back Bay area, and is historic for many reasons. A cultural center, many cultural institutions used to either originally be located there or still are, such as: Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Natural History, New Old South Church, Boston Public Library, etc. The Boston Marathon finishes at Copley Square, and it is now sadly known as the location of the Boston Marathon bombings that happened in April 2013.
I went there to also see Trinity Church which dominates the square, next to the towering, sleek, John Hancock high rise, offering a unique juxtaposition of historic and modern.
Trinity Church – Founded in 1733, the Trinity Church provides Episcopal services, but is open to the public and also provides many community programs and services. I found the architecture a stunning example of Romanesque style, with its clay roof and heavy arches. Inside all the murals were completed by American artists, and the stained glass windows were recently restored. While I did not go inside, I would think this would be an amazing place to experience one of the choir concerts that are given by the several choirs that perform there. For information on upcoming events, visit their website Trinitychurchboston.org
The Boston Common and the Swan Boats – The Boston Common is a large park that is pleasant to stroll through, but for this trip it is the memorable location of my first ride on the Swan Boats. Swanboats.com
Bostonians used to row small boats on the public garden’s lagoon but that was changed in 1970 when Robert Paget decided to introduce a paddle boat which looked like it was being driven by a Swan that could be ridden on for a fee. The idea was based on the romantic German opera Lohengrin, where a knight of the Grail crosses a river in a boat drawn by a Swan to defend the innocence of his heroine, Princess Elsa. Soon, the fleet of Swan boats replaced the row boating on the lagoon, and the Paget family has been operating the fleet ever since. For a small fee, I glided along the surface of the water around the lagoon in the Swan paddle boat. I almost felt as if I were a swan myself gliding along.
The Boston Common is also the location of the start of the Freedom Trail.
The Freedom Trail – This has to be one of the best introductions to Boston one can take, and I’m so glad I did it on my first visit to Boston. It is a 2.5 mile long walk through 16 locations that are significant to the history of Boston. It winds through downtown, up through the North End (a nice place to stop and get something to eat, or an Italian pastry and coffee), crosses the Boston Harbor and ends in Bunker Hill. Following are a few of my favorite spots, but you can also go to their website for a full description of each site and other information Thefreedomtrail.org or download a .pdf map map of the Freedom Trail.
(8) Old South Meeting House – site of the protest that started the Boston Tea Party in 1773.
(9) Old State House – built in 1773, the oldest building in Boston and site of the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.
(11) Faneuil Hall – “cradle of liberty”
(12) Paul Revere House
(13) Old North Church – Where Paul Revere spread the word that the British troops were on their way
John F. Kennedy Museum – Columbia Point, Boston, MA 02125 (617) 514-1600
The JFK library and museum sits on a 10 acre park on the Boston waterfront. To get there take the T Red line to the JFK/UMASS stop. There is a free shuttle from the subway stop to the JFK library and museum. There is plenty to see here. Theatres show films of the story of JFK’s family and rise in politics. As you walk through the museum, the rooms recreate the world of JFK for you, as do the multimedia exhibits. If you need refreshments, there’s a cafe but I enjoyed the bookstore, where I got a copy of John F. Kennedy’s book “A Nation of Immigrants”, and a DVD of Jacqueline Kennedy’s televised tour of the White House.
A large room with floor to ceiling windows looks out onto a lawn where they have tied down a boat that JFK and his family used to sail on. As you gaze out over the water beyond the lawn, you can almost picture yourself a Kennedy running out to take a sail on their boat.
That was the last thing we did, on the morning that we were to later catch the bus back to New York. Even with such a hectic schedule, I left Boston feeling like I had just gotten started getting to know the city. There were neighborhoods I hadn’t even touched. Still, some of the sightseeing was accomplished and I learned just a little bit more about American history and grew more appreciative of it. Thankfully, I do not live too far away, so I am hopeful more exploration of Boston is still to come.