This Open Road

A season walking southbound on the Appalachian Trail

Retrospective: A Visit to Boston

I was a homebody this weekend. Except for a few errands and my early morning runs around the park and Nagoya Castle, I pretty much stayed in and it was fanTAStic, as one of my students says. There is always something to write about my life here, but I’m going to diverge from that thread for now and write about a fanTAStic visit I made to one of my favorite cities in the U.S.: Boston, Massachusetts.

As you know, because you are a loyal and regular reader, I hiked the Long Trail (lots of pics in that link) this past August, in between terms in Japan. To launch that trip, I flew from Denver to Boston and met my friend Jamie, who drove down from Portland, for a perfect afternoon and evening of walking and talking all over the city. The next morning I took a bus to Montpelier, VT to meet other friends who were part of my hike. (That post can be read here.)

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The first time I remember visiting Boston was when I was in college. A good friend from that time was from Amherst, MA and I spent a few days with her during a summer break. I fell in love with New England on that trip. It seemed that every other house or structure was preserved just as it had been since the 1700s or earlier. Squat, moss-covered stone barriers lined rolling country lanes and divided property. Homes, although common in their colonial appeal, were unique in design and situated on large plots of land, not in suburban rows divided by asphalt streets like I was used to. After walking around Faneuil Hall for a few hours, we sat on a bench to take a break. Two hours passed, barely noticed by either of us, so content were we to watch the activity around us.

Eventually, we continued our meandering and were soon walking down a narrow, cobbled street. A corner turned, a stroke of luck, and we found ourselves in a tiny Italian restaurant, complete with brick-lined walls and red and white checked tablecloths. I could not have been happier.

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Seven or eight years ago, I made another visit to Boston as part of a longer trip along the East Coast. I stayed in the Boston International Hostel, lost myself in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (my favorite in the U.S.), happened upon a John Adams exhibit at the Boston Public Library and ducked in and out of coffee shops and book stores. That trip was also wonderful and too short.

The memories of these trips only heightened my anticipation for my pre-Long Trail stopover with Jamie. As planned, we met at the Boston Hostel within an hour after my flight arrived, stashed our things in our lockers and got busy walking. I was ecstatic…It was a beautiful afternoon in a beautiful, vibrant city; I was connecting with a dear friend whom I hadn’t seen in a couple of years, on the eve of a backpacking trip I’d been planning for months, and I was going to see two more close friends as part of that adventure.

And so we dove into Boston, wending our way in and out of streets, as we simultaneously Q & A’d each other about our lives. The afternoon was on…

01-August, Boston, LT, etc 003

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The Man: George Washington.

The Man: George Washington.

I could not ask for more.

I could not ask for more.

The red-bricked architecture is beautiful and characteristic of historic Boston.

Jamie. From Jamie I learned that if you stay in a place more than two days, unpack.

Jamie.

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Original gaslight lamp posts line some of the streets.

Heading toward the North End.

Heading toward the North End.

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1909.

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Keeping craftsmanship alive. North Bennet Street School.

Keeping craftsmanship alive. North Bennet Street School.

The Old North Church is the draw in the North End. This area is just so rich with Revolutionary War-era history. The Freedom Trail leads walkers to the most significant places.

The Old North Church.

The Old North Church.

Inside the church. Many of the pews are still owned by descendents of early members.

Inside the church. Many of the pews are still owned by descendents of early members.

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Church members would light the coal box and use them for foot warmers in the pews on cold days.

16-August, Boston, LT, etc 041

14-August, Boston, LT, etc 046

Paul Revere, in the Old North Church courtyard.

Paul Revere, in the Old North Church courtyard.

19-August, Boston, LT, etc 055

21-August, Boston, LT, etc 063

20-August, Boston, LT, etc 058

And then, we got hungry. There must be about 150 Italian restaurants in the North End, also called Little Italy. Jamie had been to a great restaurant in this area that she suggested we try to find, but couldn’t quite remember exactly where it was or the name. We walked around considering other options, looking for just the right place. We came upon this restaurant, which from the outside seemed a good choice. The proprietors were outside the door, chatting (in Italian, of course) with some other locals, when they noticed us taking a look and invited us in. As soon as we stepped inside, Jamie recognized it as the place she’d been hoping to find! We had a wonderful experience here. The people-watching was as good as the food. Almost.

Our hostess at the family-owned Italian restaurant where we had the best Italian meal, I think I've ever had.

Our hostess.

After The Best Italian Meal I’ve Ever Had, we continued walking, going down to the Charles River and up to Beacon Hill.

After The Best Italian Meal I've Ever Had, we continued walking, going down to the Charles River and up to Beacon Hill.

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This place makes one wish they were from Old Money and could live here.

This area makes one wish they were from Old Money and could live here.

Just like Louisa May Alcott’s family…

The Alcott Family got to live here. But they were the Alcott Family...

“As a little girl, Louisa May Alcott lived in rented room at 20 Pinckney Street. The Alcott home was part of the Boston literary scene during the decades before the Civil War. Louisa’s father, Bronson Alcott, was an innovative educator whose friends included Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Ellery Channing and William Lloyd Garrison. In the 1880s, her reputation and fortune secure, Miss Alcott returned to Beacon Hill. She lived at 10 Louisburg Square until her death.”

Beautiful Beantown.

Thank you, Boston. I’ll be back.

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12 responses to “Retrospective: A Visit to Boston

  1. Rob Moses Photography November 24, 2013 at 8:18 am

    I gotta make my way out that way. Looks so cool there!

  2. Patris November 12, 2013 at 12:37 am

    Boston is on my list to visit someday! Thanks for the preview. (Actually my ancestors lived there at some point) I love how running around a castle is part of your daily routine!

  3. Mom November 11, 2013 at 10:45 am

    I remember some of the same places when Dad and I visited Boston a number of years ago. By enlarging the photo, I could read the dates on the grave stones. Amazing. It makes one feel like you can reach back into that time in history.

  4. Jan Tobias November 11, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Sounds like I might have a friend living in Boston in the future.

  5. Gus Pegel November 11, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Lovely photo’s and story as usual. Well done and cheers from DOWNUNDER

  6. Jamie Jarvis November 11, 2013 at 4:39 am

    Hey, I’m honored to be a guest in one of your wonderful blogs! What great memories and some great photos too! Especially the gas lights at night…ahhhhhhhh. :-)

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