Saturday, April 25, 2015

Boston, is this really you?

Holiday Inn Bunker Hill, Boston. April 22-23, 2015

Beep-beep-beep! Overload warning!
Two weeks into our Canada/U.S. trip, my head is still spinning, a maelstrom of images and emotions. Bloor street and Queen street, Thornhill and Burlington; Liberty and Mr. G; Pemberton and Grounds for Sculpture; Silver Spring, DC, Etto's; Manhattan, the High Line, Celeste, Riverside Park -- all these are not mere words or names; they evoke sights and sounds and smells. Not to mention the beloved people that were the focal point and lodestone drawing me to these places.

My feelings upon reaching Boston, after a four-or-five hour drive from Manhattan, were along the lines of "I wish I'd spent another day in Manhattan instead..." (Hear that, Jonathan Torn?) But to be fair, I hadn't really given the place a chance. It's just that the hotel -- perfectly satisfactory once we were inside, except for the dour receptionist -- is in a dreary, industrial-looking part of town. Obviously, we had to do the touristy thing and follow the Freedom Trail Guide (or similar) to get a whiff of the pretty face of town. Which is what we ended up doing, having less than 48 hours at our disposal.

I get the impression you have to be American to appreciate the Freedom Trail. You don't have to be American (or British, for that matter) to have heard of the Boston Tea Party. And I have no idea whether I learnt of the ride of Paul Revere in American Poetry classes at Tel Aviv University, or possibly earlier when I thought I might be spending high school in Brooklyn with my cousin Sheri, and started reading up on American history. So, while I appreciated the attempt to make American history come alive for American youth, I couldn't get very emotionally involved.  (Which is a "nice" way of saying I was a mite bored.)

When it comes to ships, though, it's a totally different story. I love seafaring stories. I love big ships with huge masts and sails, I am awed by aircraft carriers. Just say Cutty Sark, the USS Intrepid, or any other name of a famous shipyard, and I'll hop on the nearest train to go visit.  So obviously we went to see the USS Constitution -- the ship and the museum.  There were lots of youngsters at the museum; looked like a school outing. Indeed, most of the illustrations and activities seemed geared to a young audience. Which is fine and dandy, of course. On the ship itself, two young Navy guys with a penchant for acting were giving lively explanations of the history of the ship, its travels and travails.
Still -- most of the ship was not accessible, and I was a bit disappointed. Maybe my memories of other ship-related experiences, such as the Chatham dockyards in England, got in the way.

Yes, I know -- there's more to Boston than the Freedom Trail. There are places where people live, eat, shop, study, enjoy. Quincy Market, for example, was bursting with activity. So much so, that, though hungry, we found refuge in the relative quiet of the nearest Pret a Manger. I'd love to add a link, but the slow wifi is driving me nuts...

On that happy note -- to be continued!

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