16 January 2011

7 hours in Boston

Last Sunday I had to head up to the suburbs of Boston for work so instead of heading up late I caught the 7 am Amtrak, which put me in South Station at 11 am. I spent a lot of time planning what I would wear and pack (I had to carry everything around all day including work computer and business outfit for the next day. I packed a backpack and it was a success, I didn't feel like I was roughing it and my back made it through the day pain free.), but I didn't spend a lot of time planning what I would do in Boston.

First a little background- I'd been to Boston once before, when I was 20 years and 364 days old. I had family living there at the time and was visiting with my mom and sister. We had a wonderful, if not cold, time and saw a lot of the tourist highlights (while on a trolley). My favorite memory of the trip was when everyone went out to some awesome pub with awesome music, but I was sent home with my 5 yr old cousin to watch Lion King 1 1/2 because I was a day short of 21 (maybe two or three days... I might be being dramatic). Anyway back to Sunday...

What to see: I wasn't feeling in the shopping mood or the museum mood and hey it was a balmy 37 degrees with a beautiful sunny sky so I thought I would do the Freedom Trail up right this time and walk every red step brick of it.

the trail

How to get there: I took the Amtrak which was very reasonable compared to how much it usually is to DC. Work was paying but at $67 each way it is a relaxed and comfortable way to travel. There are also plenty of nice buses and flights traveling between NYC and Boston each day.

Money Spent: $67 each way

What to eat: I brought along some snacks for the train ride then got a my first coffee of the day on my walk to the Common. It was early and cold, so coffee was necessary. Sidenote: I always thought the further you went northeast the less you saw Starbucks, but Boston is covered in with them.

Money Spent: $4.00

Where to start: Walking straight northwestish from South Station you arrive at Boston Common where the trail begins. I went to the visitor center and bought a little book so I could read about each location as I walked around.

Money Spent: $6.75

Massachusetts State House
The Granary Burying Ground
Paul Revere's final resting place
Old State House
I'm not sure what this building is, but I liked how the picture came out
Where to eat: By the time you reach Faneuil Hall you've been walking for an hour at least and you are hungry. Faneuil Hall was closed for a special event, but behind it is Faneuil Hall Marketplace and that is where I had lunch. The middle building is a giant food court and while I had researched a few nice places to eat I didn't want to take too much time to eat and I ended up getting some clam chowder and a bottle of water from one of the booths inside.

Money spent: $6.00

Old North Church- where the lanterns were displayed to warn Charlestown how the British were advancing
Where to take care of business: The bathroom facilities in the visitor center for Old Ironsides is anything but old. Highly recommended.

What to do: I was delighted to learn that there are free half hour tours of the USS Constitution. I arrived right as one was started so I climbed down the ladder and joined in. As the USS Constitution is a commissioned Navy ship the tour was lead by an active sailor. The ship got its nickname from a fight during the war of 1812 with the British Frigate HMS Guerriere firing at less than 50 yards away the cannonballs were just bouncing off the sides. The sailor explained that it was because of the special wood that the ship was made out of that can only be found in the southern United States.

Money Spent: $0

USS Constitution "Old Ironsides"
On board
Lesson Learned: Even a beautiful 37 degree sunny day will start to feel a lot colder in Boston when the sun starts to dip. The walk across this bridge to the ship and to Bunker hill was not pleasant. And it wasn't until I was to the other side that I looked at a map to learn that there are no subways over there... when you walk over, you have to walk back. Even though I warmed up inside the ship I have to confess... I didn't make it to Bunker Hill. I mean I saw it... I saw the memorial lots of times, but not close enough to see the whites of their eyes.

Charles river with Bunker Hill Memorial in the background
How to get around: You see the most by walking so that is what I did for most of the day, but after walking over that cold bridge twice I looked for the closest subway or "T" and went inside to buy my Charlie Ticket (who's Charlie?). For a visitor like myself it costs $2 a ride and is convenient to many parts of Boston (just not Bunker Hill). I also saw lots of cabs, but why are all their lights on with people inside. Well it turns out that the lights don't indicate anything in particular and people don't generally hail cabs in Boston. They operate on more of a dispatch system. But what to do when you are wandering around? When it was time to head to my hotel in the suburbs I walked past another hotel and asked a cab waiting outside if he would give me a ride. He turned out to be a great driver and I had a smooth trip to the hotel. I didn't catch the rate, but the 16 mileish ride cost about $55, a ride around proper Boston would be much, much less.

Money Spent: $2 for the Charlie ticket

Other highlights: Somewhere on the tracks in CT I realized that my phone wasn't working. I tried everything and it just wouldn't do anything. If you have a Sprint phone I highly recommend the Sprint store on Boylston. After my four hours on the trail I stopped in. They not only fixed my phone in less than an hour they gave me a new back cover for it... brilliant.

Where to eat dinner: After fixing my phone I was tired from walking around and cold so when I saw a Boloco, a Boston chain, I thought I'd give it a try. I had the memphis which was BBQ shredded pork and cole slaw burrito. Pretty good and the staff was very friendly.

Money Spent: $8


  1. pork and cole slaw burrito, sounds like something I should try. Didn't we see the USS Constitution last time we were there? I don't remember finding it as delightful as you seem to and we really should of made that first trip a week later so you wouldn't have to watch the Lion King 1.5.

  2. I think we saw it from the trolley tour, but didn't board the ship... and I agree, but I think we went when we did because it was my spring break.

  3. What a wonderful tour. I would follow your one afternoon tour of Boston. Boston must always be cold. MOM

  4. Hopefully Matthew has better memories of Lion King 1 1/2. Boston looks pretty, I need to check it out on my upcoming tour of the northeast.


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