Friday, August 24, 2012

Massachusetts Road Trip: Boston

It was finally time to visit Boston and, of course, I was feeling really sick.  But, I did my best to make sure I didn't miss out on the sites.  As I mentioned in my introduction, a trip to Boston was something I never really considered.  I now know why it wasn't on my bucket list.  It's full of history!!  It's very interesting history - but I never really paid that much attention to history in school... So I was a little lost ;-)

This is the main section of Boston that we visited.  The city really isn't that big so you can see a lot by walking.  But, it is busy and the roads go in every direction (I was told that the roads were made over old horse trails - makes sense why they are not exactly straight) so it is hard to get around.

We parked near the New England Aquarium and paid a huge parking fee of $35 for the day (no matter how short/long your stay was)!!  It is very hard to find a cheap parking rate unless you are willing to walk a long way!

I really didn't come to Boston with a plan of what I wanted to see.   So my question was:  When I go home, what one thing will people ask me if I saw/did it?  The big thing is the "Duck Boats"!  These things are driving all over the city giving tours.

This is the map for the tour we participated in.  As you can see, it gives a great tour of the land and then they drive into the water and give a tour in boat mode!!!

We decided to start with a duck boat tour.  That would give us a good idea of what and where we wanted to go back to visit on foot.  So we purchased our tickets (a booth was located just outside of our parking ramp) and then headed to Legal Seafoods for lunch.

My brother ordered oysters.  He likes them but we really wanted my kiddos to see the whole process.  The wait staff asked if he wanted them sweet or salty.  Kind of a strange question we thought but it was actually referring to the sauce they gave with it.

And then it was time for our tour!  We had to ride a bus to another location to get on the duck boat.  My kiddos were surprised to see that we were actually going on a different "bus" for the tour.

With this company we got 45 minutes on land and 45 minutes in water.

Our duck boat.

Our tour guide.

Old State House (picture taken from duck boat) - where the Declaration of Independence was first read and
the reenactment takes place every year on the 4th of July.

Going into the water.
We kept this part of the tour a secret from my kids so they were REALLY excited!

At the end of the tour we were all given duck call whistles.
Cute but these kiddos were driving me crazy!!!
After the tour it was time to see the city by foot.

It's not a city without entertainers looking for "tips".

One of the oldest places still in business.

Fun to see some "live" history.

Statue at the birth place of Paul Revere

This reminded me of my dad who LOVED biking!

We heard about this place and had to stop.
The line was crazy (and we were told it was slow for them) but it was worth the wait!

They have sooooo many cannoli flavors!!!!

Some of the cannoli's we tasted later - YUMMY!

Of course I had to test their cupcakes too!
Chocolate Peanut Butter and Carrot Cake.
So good!!

Look at all that yummy creamy peanut butter!!!

Of course, we couldn't leave the Italian side of town without getting some real Italian food!!
This is a delicious eggplant parmesan layered like a lasagna!
There was so much more to see but we were tired and ready to go home.  It's a great city and if you love American history you have to visit some day!!!

Massachusetts Road Trip: Author's Ridge in Concord

Author's Ridge in Concord was another historical and interesting place we visited. The cemetery is big and beautiful but it is hard to find "Author's Ridge" so you may need to ask someone how to get to that section.  It is very well cared for so it wasn't hard to find an employee to direct us.

There's a lot of old burial sites so it's not always easy to find the "significant" ones.

 Some have large family stones to help draw your attention:

But, as you can see, Henry Thoreau's actual stone is small.  
But, the added notes left by visitors made it stand out.

This stone was helpful:

 Ralph Waldo Emerson actually has this beautiful large rock for his marking!

I really love this one!!!
We took the time to teach my daughter how to bring a keep sake home.  It was a last minute idea from my sister-in-law and it worked out great that we had enough supplies to pull it off.

Nathaniel Hawthorne was buried in Concord too!

I probably would have never noticed Louisa M. Alcott's stone if it hadn't been covered in "gifts".

My kiddos were a little too young to really understand why these people are more interesting than all of the grave sites.  But some day they can look back at this and feel a connection!

Massachusetts Road Trip: Salem

I was excited to finally check out Salem!  I have heard so much about it and I find the history of it very interesting!  Although, I am far from being an expert on the subject!!!

Did you know that the movement to deal with witchcraft all started due to what we would now consider "teen rebellion"?  At least that is what we were told while visiting Salem.  It kind of makes me wonder what we (society) may have done in more recent times that will be considered so crazy in the future!

Salem is not a huge place but there is a lot to see.  There is a plenty of shopping, wax museums, haunted house tours (commercial ones only from what I saw - not actual houses that you toured), and historic tours.  Plus, there are many people in the area that really love the time period so you will see them wondering around dressed and acting like people would have during that time period.

Fun free photo opportunities all over!
First, find a map!  Just about every free city guide will have one.

It isn't hard to walk around and figure out your way to the key places.  To help you along, they have a red line painted on the roads and sidewalks to help guide you on a walking tour.

It was very hot during our visit and we had 3 little ones with us.  So, we walked to the key areas and then drove to another.

First on my list was to visit the cemetery that I have heard so much about!  

To make it even more thrilling, there is an abandoned house next to it that looks haunted.

Map of the cemetery

Our first encounter with someone dressed
and talking like a gentleman from the time period.
He was making a walking stick.  Very friendly!

Not sure why someone added the sweater....

The next section of the cemetery was under construction but we could still walk around and check things out.  This is the area to remember those that were accused of witchcraft and sentenced to death for it.  

Each stone "seat" was in remembrance of an individual.  They listed how their sentence was carried out and some were very graphic!

Why put change (pennies) on the stones?  I wondered why people did this at grave sites.  I found a few reasons why but this I think is the most fitting:  

"Some people hold to the tradition of leaving something of yourself when visiting a grave. If nothing else, a coin from your pocket serves as a marker of your passage and esteem for the departed. It also signifies to any that pass by that the grave was visited, and that the deceased is well loved and esteemed and has not been abandoned or forgotten. Coins are also an older form of leaving flowers, a practice prompted by the heavy Romanticism of the Victorian era."

Leaving some pennies of our own

Some even left flowers
Next we drove to tour "The House of Seven Gables".  We made the mistake of parking in a spot far away only to find out that they offer plenty of parking on location.  

I found the tour very interesting but it really was more about how people lived in the late 1700's.  Having not read the book, I was hoping for ghost stories and family secrets but on a kid friendly level.  My kids were bored!

The house that Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in was relocated to this location and you can tour it on your own.  

Notice the difference in spelling for Nathaniel Hawthorne vs Justice John Hathorne?  Nathaniel did not want to be associated with his family member (I think uncle) who was the justice for the witchcraft trials.