Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tour of Boston, 7-11 style

September has been quite the busy month sofar, and therefore I am getting behind in my posts. Here is one about my weekend trip to Boston two weeks ago (9/8-9/9).

Rob, Bree, and I took the 7am bus to Boston. Actually Bree barely made it due to the crappy early morning train schedules, and literally had to run down 8th avenue in order to catch the bus.

We arrived in Boston around noon and decided to drop off our bags at the hotel before sight seeing. The hotel I booked was $150+ cheaper than all the other Boston hotels. Well that should have been a sign that it WAS NOT IN BOSTON! Yeah word to the wise, Ramada Inn – Boston is not in Boston, but rather in a southern suburb. The website said “only three miles from downtown Boston” when it should have said “only three miles from a hill that you can see Boston from”. The closest sector of Boston it was South Boston (or south-E as the locals called it).

On the subway, we were discussing what sites we wanted to hit that day. Well I guess the map of Boston and backpacks were a tell-tell sign that we were tourists (way to go geniuses). A crazy drunk guy tried to tell us we missed out stop. Being anal retentive, I had planned out route and didn’t believe him. He kept shouting at us and finally another local came up to confirm that our directions were correct. He also warned us that he lives in the neighborhood and it is considered the worst in all Boston. Grrrrreat!

Walking along the streets, we were totally out of place. At least we got to see the real gritty part of the city/suburb/whatever. Most of the places were sketchy, but once we crossed a set of railroad tracks, the scenery changed for the better. Seriously, we were surrounded by huge Victorian houses and sculpted yards. Talk about wrong side of the tracks, literally.

We finally got to the strip mall where our hotel was. Well we had to dash across six lanes of traffic (3 each way) for a highway in order to reach our hotel. When the clerk asked for my car information, I informed him that I didn’t have one, I took the subway. He then said “wait, you mean you WALKED here”! Another note about our hotel, it was also one of the host for the AARP convention. Old people crack me up (see picture of them packing a KFC bucket along with their luggage). The best was when Bree said (loudly) “man what is with all these old people” only to turn the corner and run into a bunch of them (who most likely heard her comment).

We hopped on the shuttle back to the subway and headed back into town. We started our trip in Boston Common which is basically a giant park (not as big as central park, but big none the less). It felt like a 100 degrees outside, so we made a quick stop into a 7-11 across the street. Man the slurpies were like heaven, so I snapped a pic of our savior. This is what started our tour of 7-11 running gag.

The park was the start of the freedom trail. It is literally a line they have drawn in the sidewalk to follow through Boston and hit a whole bunch of American Revolution historical sites. Follow the yellow brick road, follow the yellow brick road, follow…well you get the idea. Just off the park was the “New” state house. Although it was erected in the late 1790’s, it still considered new. I’m sure a lot of people recognize the golden dome. The state house is actually built on the former site of John Hancock’s house. Makes sense since he was the first governor of the state (post revolution).

Across the street was the “Robert Gould Shaw” civil war memorial. If you have seen the movie ‘Glory’, then it is in honor of the guy played by Mathew Broderick and his brave regiment of free blacks.

The next stop was the Park Street Church and Granary burying ground. The church was not anything special besides the birthplace of Sunday school. The cemetery is the third oldest in Boston proper and most of the headstones date in the 18th century. It holds the first five governors (post revolution) as well as three signers of the Declaration of Independence, Paul Revere, Ben Franklin’s parents (rich be-hatches), Sam Adams (king of beers), the victims of the Boston Massacre which basically kicked off the whole revolution thing, and of course Johnny Hancock. John has a modest headstone, but since he was such a big deal to the people, they erected a huge memorial for him. Too bad it looks like a giant cock….HanCOCK, cock, coincidence?

Next was another church and cemetery (quiet a few stops on the tour were either churches or cemeteries, but you got to think those are the two things that are least likely to be demolished over the years). The King’s Chapel burying ground is the oldest cemetery in Boston and many of the graves date to 17th century. The first woman to step off the Mayflower is buried here. Evidently the place is haunted because an artistic caretaker decided to rearrange all the headstones so that they would be aesthetically pleasing. Unfortunately, he did not move the bodies!

Beside the King’s Chapel is the site of the first public school (or the Latin school) where Ben Franklin, John Hancock, and Sam Adams all attended. Outside was a big statue of Benny Franklin with reliefs on the base. We realized that everyone posed really really really gay back then with one foot pointed. Rob contested it, but Bree and I agree that they were all a bunch of pansies. Also there was a random bronze donkey with foot prints facing it that said “stand in opposition”. Yeah we are immature.

Next up was the Old Corner Bookstore, but it is now a Zales jewelry store or something. Boring! However, we did stop into another 7-11 for water (because people, it was super hot). Next to the 7-11 was the Old South Meeting House. This is where the colonists were all arguing and debating (bitching more like it) about England when Sam Adams said something like “hey lets go piss them off and trash their shit”. Yep this was HQ for the coke bender we all know as the Boston Tea Party.

Around the corner was Ben Franklin’s birthplace. Too bad it had long since been demolished. No plaque or anything. I guess they spent all the money on John Hancock’s giant penis. Down the street is the Old State House. The public would gather at it to hear announcements and such. The Declaration of Independence was read to the public for the first time from the 2nd floor balcony. Evidently Queen Elizabeth II also gave a speech from the same balcony in honor of our bicentennial. Personally, I think it is was her way of saying kiss off yanks, the British monarchy can still do pretty much anything they want to in your silly country.

Right outside the balcony (at a street intersection) is the site of the Boston massacre. I did not get a picture since a crazy guy was defending that particular territory.

The next stop was one of my favorites. Not because of the site (hurrah yet another old historic building…snooze) but because of the story behind it. Faneuil Hall and market place. Basically Peter Faneuil inherited a whole lot of money from his uncle or someone on the lone stipulation that he never marry. Well he took this and made it his credo. He was notoriously known as the “jolly bachelor” (basically the biggest player and man whore in New England). He even christened a ship named in honor of him called The Jolly Bachelor. Oh I guess you could also say the building was a town meeting place where Sam Adams used to give a bunch of speeches, etc. He doesn’t speak there anymore, he is dead.

We moved into the North End section of town. Essentially it is Little Italy. The streets were all cobblestone and the place was covered in old tenement buildings. This neighborhood was home to Paul Revere’s house. It is the oldest wooden building in the city and it was even already over 100 years old by the time Paul moved in. Nearby by was a small park dedicated to Paul and it made us talk about Johnny Tremain. Turns out Rob never had to read that book and therefore did not get the inside scoop on the American Revolution (I am so privileged).

Next on the trail was Old North Church which everyone should recognize unless you didn’t read Johnny Tremain. Yep, oldest and tallest church in Boston with second oldest cemetery, blah blah blah, home of the lanterns. Truth be told, you really can see the steeple from far away (and even across the river).

We crossed the Charleston River over to Bunker Hill and the USS Constitution. Okay us juvenile, but we had some fun with the cannons. This wooden warship defeated four British frigates during the war of 1812 and therefore earned the nickname “Old Ironsides”.

That night, we headed back to the North Side neighborhood to eat some real Italian food. Okay you may ask, why we didn’t want seafood since we are right on the water, simple, Bree and I both hate seafood. The Italian place we picked out was evidently owned by this old lady godfather. She spent the evening sitting outside and was greeted, bowed to, kissed, etc by all the guidos passing by. Our waitress had the real thick Boston accent and was the worst at giving recommendations. We would ask “how is the chicken X” and she would say “oh I don’t know, I only like things with the red sauce, oh wait it comes with the red sauce, so I think it is good”. Moron.

After a very big dinner and two bottles of wine, we stopped at Modern Pastry where my Chicago friend Rachel told me to get deserts. She said it is way better than the tourist trap Mike’s Pastry down the street. We got a second confirmation from the crappy waitress who made a scowl when we said Mike’s and then clapped her hands at Modern. I got very rich ricotta and custard filled chocolate dipped canolie. Yeah after a big dinner, I could only nibble on it (don’t worry we used the remainder of it for a prop later on).

We stopped into the first pub we could find (Green Dragon, shout out to my Gretna folk). Bree and I decided to give Rob some advice on how to begin speaking with a woman. Granted we were a bit drunk and therefore told him to give the remainder of the canolie to a girl. He balked at the idea, so I offered to do it to prove it could work. I used my “accidental bump into you at a crowded bar” move on a group of four guys. Sure enough, they took the canolie and later migrated to my area of the bar. Yep I rock!

We further tried to give Rob advice like “don’t wear pleated pants out, you are not AC Slater”. He tried to demonstrate his dancing ability to us and Bree said “what are you doing, the Carlton?” to which he replied “no but I can do the Charleston (and proceeded to flail his arms about)”. I shook my finger at him like a mother scolding a child and said “no, no, no, we are not going to dance like that”. Bree almost hit the ground laughing. We gave up when he could not even master the slight head bob to the music because it more resembled a pigeon walk head jerk.

We headed out to another bar and insisted that Rob go approach a woman. He picked out a woman who he believed to be only 25. Bree was like no way that woman is under 40! They bet on it and we asked the woman (don’t get me wrong, we were all smooth like “my friend says you are 25 and we think you are 28, who is right”). She got all mad at first asking us if a nearby man (her husband none the less) put us up to it. When we denied she was all exasperated saying, oh sweetie I’m 42! Her other even older friend kept saying to us that we were about her kids age and stuff. Bree and I walked away from that train wreck, but poor Rob was too much of a nice guy to abandon ship. At least I think it made that lady’s night.

There was a pub crawl at the bar. The guys were all wearing Chuck Norris shirts. I unsuccessfully took a picture of one. The back said “Chuck Norris doesn’t do pub crawls, he does pub marathons”. Ah ha ha.

The next day we took the subway out to Cambridge. It was the ALEWIFE line and Bree declared that would be her name for the remainder of the trip…Ale Wife. It was move in day for Harvard (or pronounced Haaaaavaaard by the locals) freshman. My first thought was ‘fresh meat’ but then I realized that am tiptoeing the creepy point. The most impressive building was Memorial Hall which made me gasp at first sight. It was almost too decorative but I was still in awe (it was huge!). Along with move in day, they had a giant flea market from all the stuff left behind the previous year. We could have picked up some shower shoes, laundry hampers, or some art history notes, but my heart was set on the blue sequined smoking jacket.

At the nearby Cambridge Common (another park, why cannot they just say park instead of common, is it a New England thing or something) we found the plaque marker where George Washington took command of the troops. About 100 feet away, we found another marker where Georgie took command. Huh? Somebody is wrong or George was really larger than life….Paul Bunion style.

Other highlights were the cannons left behind by the British (yet another picture of us being immature) and the church where George and Martha attended (gorgeous on the inside).

We caught another subway back into town for our tour of Fenway Park. Actually, we were on a tight schedule because of the bus station bag natzi, so we literally ran to catch the 2 o’clock tour. Okay, I’m not a big baseball fan, so here is what I took from the tour: small old ball park, home to the oldest wooden seats in any ball park which are only 16” wide because back then everyone did not have such fat asses, etc. We were able to sit atop the Green Monster and from the press box see the lone red chair out in center field where Ted Williams hit a monster 500+ homerun. Also over in left field is the CITGO sign which stands for “see – it – go”. The people made it a landmark and therefore could not tear it down even though there are no more CITGO stations anywhere remotely close to the city.

We killed two hours before our bus ride by walking through the botanical gardens. Beautiful! A really Italian wedding party was taking pictures on one of the bridges. It was seriously the most Italian thing I’ve ever seen. The groomsmen were all slicked back hair guidos and they even had a guy playing the godfather theme song on an accordion!

We meandered through the Beacon Hill neighborhood which is full of old money houses and unknowingly came across the Cheers bar (from the sitcom). The outside was identical, but the inside was waaaay different (evidently the show inside was a studio set). After a beer at Cheers (yes we even ‘cheered’) we stopped over to the original Filenes department store and the original Filenes basement (go figure it was actually the store basement).

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy.
Me riding a British cannon, yee-ha!
Us at Fenway ball park
CITGO sign from Fenway pressbox
Leonard Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge
7-11 at Old South Meeting Hall
7-11 at Harvard
7-11 at Filene's Basement
7-11 at Fenway Park
7-11 at the Aquarium
7-11 at Boston Common


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