So Massachusetts… we chose to stay three nights in West Concord (lots of history, possible to reach Boston by public transport) and it was a good decision as it turned out (it's a pretty and peaceful area all round). For a start there was a really nice restaurant that did great cocktails next to the hotel… but it wasn’t all boozing and stuffing our faces… we did all this too:
Monday 21st March
We started with a visit to Orchard House in Concord where Louisa May Alcott lived with her family and wrote ‘Little Women’. It was a really precious visit – snow falling lightly outside, gorgeous eccentric house, really informative tour guide (it’s one of those places you can’t visit without a guide), all kinds of snippets about the whole fascinating family. My Mum loved ‘Little Women’ and I have to confess this visit brought a wee tear to my eye here and there… in a good way though. It was really worth doing… if you like this kind of thing, of course.
Next we took a trip round the historical centres of the Concord and Lexington area (all connected to the Battles of Lexington and Concord - the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War). It wasn’t the best day for exploring battlefields (cold, snowy, wet underfoot) so we stuck to the indoor information centres. All good though – we learned a lot.
Tuesday 22nd March
We took the commuter train into Boston (there is a subway system – the ‘T’ - but we would have had to drive further in to find that). The commuter train was like something out of an old movie – dusty and huge (we practically had to climb a ladder to get into it). The conductors work in a kind of charming old-school way too (they call out each station, you can’t get off without telling them…). We didn’t travel during rush hour of course.
Once in the city we took a ‘Duck tour’ around Boston (in an amphibious WW2 style vehicle). As we only had one day we wanted to see as much of the city as possible and we chose to take one of these tours where they take you on land and water because we thought it might be something different/memorable/fun. We had a great guide (lots of sights and stories - historical, educational... all the boxes ticked) plus Mark and h both got to drive the vehicle on the Charles river too so all round it was excellent (expensive but well worth it).
After that we made a visit to Boston Science Museum’s recently refitted Planetarium for their show ‘Undiscovered Worlds’ (had read about it in the ‘Boston Globe’). It had very comfortable seats and some pretty space shots but overall it wasn’t as mindblowing as we’d hoped in all honesty.
Next we took a (chilly) walk around the city taking in… the fake Cheers bar (good beer…), the Cheers souvenir shop, the Quincey Market, Irish pub Kennedy’s for our tea/dinner (it was more Irish than in Ireland possibly – good beer too), the theatre district, the edge of Boston Common, the general city streets ambience. It's one of those cities that feels quite tightly packed - all the architectural styles fighting for view. As we left there was an ice hockey game (the Bruins!) going on in the sports arena near the station (and people are sports mad here – they were watching it in the station, listening in cabs, it was all quite exciting). No sports for us tired tourists though - we got the big, old train back to Concord and slept like babies. Might have been the beer, I suppose. No beer for h of course - just the educational experience that is watching your old folks drink...
Next post – Plymouth, Massachusetts and then on out of New England.