The beginning: Boston

En route to the wedding of a friend in North Carolina, I am fortunate to have some time to explore a little of the US east coast. Though, let’s be honest – there’s no way I would come half way across the world and not fit some travel in. And, as always, with travel comes travel blogging… so here goes.

My departure from Melbourne on Sunday morning was not without drama. You may have read/seen on the news, a security breach at Melbourne airport led to the airport suspending security screening for a couple of hours; obviously causing chaos and delays to all international flights. Fortunately, though my flight took off close to two hours late, I had a generous layover in LA and had no trouble catching my connecting flight. Others, I’m sure, were not so lucky.

The first stop of this trip has been Boston, a city I’ve never been before and have thoroughly enjoyed becoming acquainted with. Despite the exhausting long haul flights, I could barely sleep the night I arrived. I was excited for the following morning, when my wonderful friend and loyal travel buddy Sabrina would arrive on an overnight bus from Montreal. Our reunion was just as thrilling as I knew it would be after more than a year and a half apart.

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Sabs and I all rugged up.

So, off we headed downtown, to get a feel for the Massachusetts capital. What struck me most  was how cold it is here. It’s without doubt the coldest climate I’ve ever experienced. Everyone was saying to me before I left, ‘oh it’ll be very cold there.’ Silly me, assuring them, ‘I’ll be fine, winter will be coming to an end by the time I get there.’ If you’re one of those people, please feel free to say ‘I told you so.’ The temperatures have been sub zero. I’ve been layering up in everything I’ve brought with me. Scarf, hat, gloves, leg warmers – you name it, I’m wearing it. Even Sabrina, who is from Montreal, has admitted that it’s cold!

Let me tell you a bit about what we’ve been doing. From previous entires on Phoebe Abroad you may recall that Sabrina and I are literary nerds. The highlight of our first day was a visit to the Boston Public Library – an enormous, impressive place amongst a cluster of historic buildings which make up Copley Square.

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Trinity Church in Copley Square.

We began our second day in the city at Boston Common, the country’s first public park. It didn’t look much like a park to me, being completely blanketed in snow, but evidently there’s much history there. It was a staging ground for soldiers during the American Revolution amongst other things. From Boston Common begins the Freedom Trail, a tourist route marked by a red path on the ground which covers Boston’s key Colonial sites. Through the day, we were led to Boston’s State House, historical churches and chapels, burial grounds, Boston’s first public school, and even a site of the Boston massacre where the first victims of the American revolution died. We stopped at various points, including Faneuil Hall, a public market since Colonial times, and for lunch in the North End – Boston’s ‘Little Italy.’

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A snow-covered Boston Common.

We unfortunately had to skip the last few points on the trail, including the USS Constitution – the world’s oldest commissioned warship, and the Bunker Hill Monument – the site of the first battle fought in the revolution. To get to these required crossing a bridge across the Charles River – something we decided it was simply too cold to do. We managed to be close to the water for about a minute before the cold sent us scrambling for the nearest underground station. This was a shame, as I understand the waterfront is a highlight of Boston – in summer perhaps.

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The waterfront.

So, aborting the Freedom Trail until the next visit to Boston (please remind me that shouldn’t be in February), we made our way to Harvard University. The grounds and buildings are gorgeous, and set in a nice town, called Cambridge. We walked around for a while, pondering how we would love to study there.

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One of Harvard’s lovely buildings.

Back in the city, I went up to the Prudential Center Skywalk – the 50th floor of a Boston skyscraper which offers a 360 degree birds eye view of the city. It was fun to try to figure out what was what and where we’d been, and with the sun setting, it accorded some great photo opportunities. It also had a small exhibition documenting Boston’s history. Down in the lower levels of the Prudential Centre are shops, restaurants, and so forth, where Sabrina and I passed some time. I must mention we had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. YUM.

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Boston under a setting sun.

Today, on our final day in Boston, we went to Salem, a town north-east of Boston which is famous for its witchcraft debacle of 1692. Infamous, should I say, as innocent people were put to death for practicing witchcraft at the time. We learnt about this fascinating story through the Salem Witch Museum, which chronicled the tragedy in exhibits both colourful and confronting. We also visited the Witch Trials Memorial, a quiet park where simple stones are inscribed with the names and final words of the victims. Unfortunately most of these details were covered in snow, but it was interesting to see nonetheless.

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Sabrina getting into the spirit of Salem.

Salem is also known for its thriving trade through ships which existed once upon a time. We took a guided tour of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, where we got to venture onto a replica of the ‘Friendship’ – one of the ships used in the day. We also visited the Custom House, and learnt about how the incoming goods were processed. Interestingly, author Nathaniel Hawthorne was from Salem and once held a senior position at the Custom House. It was a very interesting tour.

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The Friendship replica.

So tomorrow morning we’re headed for New York, an incredibly exciting prospect. Notably, despite the freezing temperatures, it has failed to snow while we’ve been in Boston. My weather app promises snow in New York. Sabrina is very excited for me, as while I’ve seen plenty of snow on the ground, I’ve never seen it actually snow. Fingers crossed.

Catch you soon.

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