Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Travels with Gary #2 - Boston

Our flight to Boston was uneventful except for a late departure caused by a mechanic fiddling with a light bulb in the cabin for about 20 minutes. Throughout the 5+ hour non-stop flight I tried not to think about getting lost or being overwhelmed by the big city. Thankfully a kind young woman from Seattle, who formerly lived in Boston, helped us negotiate the airport shuttle and 1890s vintage subway. We arrived at our hotel in the heart of the city without incident.

As we settled into our 24th floor room of the Radison Hotel, Gary shuffled through his 1" thick stack of notes, maps, and photocopies looking for the list of our hotel and restaurant reservations with phone numbers and addresses. After a thorough search without results, Gary confessed he forgot to print the itinerary before we left home. The next hour resembled a comic routine as we tried to locate our next-door neighbor's phone number, also left at home, by searching the Internet and finally locating another neighbor who had the number we needed. Gary patiently led Helen step by step through the maze on his computer resulting in an email with the precious itinerary.

By the time we resolved the itinerary issue, it was nearly dark and a light mist was turning into a steady rain. Being tough Oregonians unwilling to be daunted, we donned our coats and hats and set out to explore the Public Garden and Beacon Hill just a few blocks away.

The formal Public Garden, located across Charles Street from the Boston Common, was almost deserted not counting statues and a few swans. Globe lights on a 1860s ornamental suspension bridge over the lagoon in the center of the garden created a magical atmosphere. Unfortunately because of the rain, it was difficult to take photos of the lovely park. One snapped of a bronze George Washington Statue gives an impression of the setting.

We walked along the meandering paths of the garden to Beacon Street where we entered the Beacon Hill neighborhood. The narrow streets and brick sidewalks are lined with charming early 19th century classic Federal Style brick row houses. This area was the most prestigious in Boston until the more exclusive Back Bay was built. We stumbled onto tree lined Louisburg Square surrounded by fine homes, still considered one of the most desirable addresses in the city. The advantage of an after dark tour was peaking into lighted living rooms along the way. The walls and ceiling of one of the most impressive were encrusted with ornate decoration and a giant gilded mirror hung over a carved fireplace. Steep winding stairs were visible through many of the entryway windows. After reading our map under a street lamp, we found a little alley named Acorn paved with large round river rock.

It wasn't long before the rain started to soak through and I was getting cranky after a long day of travel without more to eat than the cold sandwiches we brought from home. We made our way to Charles Street, the main shopping and dining area of the Beacon Hill neighborhood. A dark Boston beer and hot pub sandwich at the Sevens Ale House, frequented mostly by locals, improved my mood and capped off our day.

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