Bostonians speak funny. And that’s coming from a Brummie and whatever-someone-from-Nottingham-is-called. We’re used to unusual accents. But Baw-stan’s drawl is something else!
We enjoyed chatting to the locals during our relatively brief three days discovering the birthplace of America and a city, unlike most of the USA, whose history goes back more than 200 years.
Our trip began with a tour around the hallowed lawns of Harvard University (or Hahvahd, as a local might say!), consistently ranked best in the world, and given the $63,000 a year tuition fees, it better be!
Students give free one hour tours of the campus, full of fascinating facts, like how female students were only recognised as Harvard graduates in 1999, when the “Harvard Annex” of Radcliffe College finally merged with Harvard proper.
And how the statue of John Harvard in the university yard is nicknamed “The Three Lies”, because he didn’t actually found the university, as it claims (he was its first major benefactor instead), Harvard wasn’t established in 1638, as it states (it was 1636), and the statue isn’t actually a likeness of John Harvard at all.
No one had an image of him, so the sculptor simply found a good looking young student as the model!
Tradition dictates that tourists rub fake John Harvard’s feet for luck, as seen by his shiny brass toes – however our tour guide and every other we overheard, advised against it, or at least to wash your hands afterwards!
The town of Cambridge which Harvard sits in feels like you could be in Cambridge, England, which isn’t surprising given it was named after its British counterpart.
If it hadn’t been 90 degrees, we could have been at home, which for a couple of hours was lovely. It’s easy to while away an afternoon ambling across campus.
There’s a cool Le Corbusier designed building for the architecture geeks, and an original IBM computer from the 1930s proudly displayed in its gigantic glory in the Science Center.
Boston is a history lovers paradise, so Day Two carried on where we began. The city’s Freedom Trail is a self guided walking tour of all of the key sites that tell the story of the American Revolution and beyond.
It begins at Boston Common, where the city’s first settlers grazed cattle from 1622, a couple of years after the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth Rock down the road.
The trail takes you to various churches and cemeteries, the site of the Boston Massacre when locals clashed with those darned British in 1770 and ends at the USS Constitution, nicknamed Old Ironsides because cannons appeared to bounce off its sides during battle with – you guessed it – the British during the War of 1812.
It’s a hefty 2.5 mile schlep there and back, but you will walk through some other interesting neighbourhoods, especially North End, AKA Little Italy. If pasta, pizza or cannoli is your thing, you’ll be in heaven.
You’ll also head past the headquarters of the Converse trainer company. They moved back to Boston in 2015 and the HQ includes a shop where you can customise your own pair using your own iPhone photos.
If we had more cash we would have definitely replaced our beaten, dirty and downright disgusting Converse for a shiny new pair!
One more thing to mention about Boston; it’s bloody expensive. An average hotel room will set you back at least £200 a night. It seems almost as expensive as New York, but with a complete lack of budget accommodation to compensate.
We ended up, after a day in the suburbs in an Air BnB, at 40 Berkeley, a former YWCA turned hostel/hotel. No air con, metal bedposts and a shared bathroom, but it was clean, comfortable and had a pool table for Chris to whip James’ ass on!
We enjoyed Boston. We didn’t DO a huge amount, but it has a small town feel in a relatively big city. The public parks are beautiful, its grand boulevards reminiscent of London or Paris, and we can’t resist that thick Bawstan drawl. Til next time!