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Friday, October 28, 2016

SOLO BOSTON: DAY III [LOWELL]

last minute (the weekend before my trip), i decided spend one of my days in lowell. i realized i did not need 3 whole days in boston. at first, i thought of going to quincy, which was closer, but i was not very interested in that national park; it's john quincy adams home. now lowell may ring a bell when you think back to your elementary / high school years as that city mentioned in your us history class'  industrial revolution lecture. i remember learning about the mill girls of lowell and thought why not learn more?



one again, i had to take the train. this was the farthest city i went to (a good 30 miles north of boston).




lowell was known as the venice of the us [can't you see the resemblence ;) ] because of all the canals. lowell is very different from concord or boston. when you look around, you can tell this was a big industrial town which is no longer. when you look around there is less green, lots of brick buildings, stone streets, and of course the canals. it reminds me of the late 1800s, early 1900s english dramas (ie north & south, more on that later).










there is also a train museum here, but i did not go.



a monument to the industrial workers.



the entire downtown lowell looked like this.


after some dunkin' donuts i headed to my one and only stop, lowell national historical park. the park focuses on the history of the textile industry form the mid 1800s to mid 1900s. interesting fact, the city was planned around the manufacturing industry (not the other way around). at least i think it's interesting (i liked city planning).  the nps does canal boat tours, but i didn't have 90 minutes to spare. so i only did a walking tour which was surprisingly tiny.




the industry was here before the city. after visiting the visitors center, i headed to the boott cotton mill  (est. 1835) and museum. this place is soooo cool. it is a functioning cotton mill! workers still use the machines and demonstrate how it is used. it is like walking onto the set of north & south (which by the way is on netflix). it is a bbc miniseries about a man from north england who manages a cotton mill and a women from the south of england who moves close by. anyhoo, it is one of my favorite things ever to watch. very pride & prejudice-esque. i definitely recommend it. so good! i was asking workers if they had ever heard of it, but no one knew (boo).











the mill girl. i'm such a creep.



looking up the stairwell.



this old trolley takes you around the city, but it so small that there really is no point.


i continued on my little walking tour, but there really wasn't that much more to see other than the canals. i thought of going to nps' exhibit on the mill girls & immigrants in lowell's manufacturing industry, but they did not open until 1:30 (boo to budget cuts). unfortunately i wanted to make the 1:00 train (the next would have been 3:00) so i could see some things in boston. it would have been nice to see the reconstructed mill girls living quarters. oh well.






lowell is also known for jack kerouac (this was his birthplace), but the only thing to see was a commemorative park for him which did not have any interesting statues. i'm not really a fan, but the park was disappointing.




after heading back (and walking 1.5 miles in the wrong direction trying to get to the train station), i took the train and headed towards boston public library (est. 1848). now why a library you may ask? it is unlike any library i have seen and looks more like an art museum. the bpl was the first large free municipal library in the us. also the building is based on the national library in paris.



just some students studying under a crazy ass dome. what?!





roar.



a mural from the story 'quest of the holy grail.' i like m some ghosts.


i was also planning on going to trinity church (i love visiting catholic churches), but it was closed for a wedding. oh well. i saved $6.



i did get to see the gargoyles though.


i also went back to acorn street. i wanted to see it with the gas street lights on. unlike in the morning, there were sooo many people! it was nice to visit again even though it took me way too long to find. i forgot where it was. oops.



my lovely mug shot / selfie with acorn street. just wait for my selfie the next post. i is horrible, but i'm not here to impress. 


now for a song. i really really like chris jackson's (aka george washingtons parts). i think he is my favorite male singer in the play. i also think this is my favorite song he is featured in, but the more i listen to the soundtrack the more uncertain i become. i almost picked 'guns & ships.' it also has a crazy good rap. i also really like i love how this song features so many different melodies (is that the right word?) from the other songs. it kind of is like a compilation song. it also features a lot of the characters. anyhoo, here is 'stay alive.' enjoy!




Thursday, October 20, 2016

SOLO BOSTON: DAY II [CONCORD]


early thursday morning i headed to the train station to go to concord. man was it busy (after all, it was a weekday morning). along the way i met a nice train conductor, though i had a hard time understanding what he was saying. i had no idea i would have such trouble with the accent.

now why concord? most of all, there is a national park. here, the battle of concord was fought during the revolutionary war (duh). this battle was the first open arms combat of the war. the british arrived to take the militia's firearms, and the colonists fought back. the revolutionary war history really intrigued me, but there is also a literary history (especially transcendentalism). louisa may alcott, nathaniel hawthorne, ralph waldo emerson, and henry david thoreau were either born or lived in concord. i didn't see any grapes, but the concord grape was also developed here.

from my entire trip, concord was the spit image of the picturesque new england town. there were old cute buildings, small businesses, old churches, and narrow streets. also, this was the city with the most autumnal leaves (boston was a bit of a disappointment). a ranger told me that normally by this time it is the peak for the leaves, but not this year. if only i waited a week or so i could have seen all the colors. oh well. warning: this post has tons of leaves/trees pictures.

  

look at these leaves, so pink!



and these leaves!



a cute old church (for some reason made me think of gilmore girls). also, i love how the church is all sunny and the grave is dark.



the little grave behind the church.


the first stop, after coffee, was sleepy hollow cemetery (est. 1855). this was a good 1 mile walk. here all the authors mentioned above are buried. i am not a big literary person, but i like visiting old cemeteries and it makes it more interesting when i am familiar with names.







both thoreau & may alcott's graves had pens (i imagine emerson's did but i could not locate it).


another 1.5 miles is the concord visitor center for minute man national park. north bridge is where colonists were first told to fire back on the british, but it was the second battle of the day. this is also the site of, "the shot heard around the world."



the minute man statue (est. 1875).



the north bridge.



a view from the north bridge.


while at the visitor center, i was trying to figure out a way to also see the visitor center in lincoln (a good 5 miles away). i gave up on the idea of walking round trip, which i am so glad. man would i have gotten bored and exhausted. ranger andy helped me find a taxi service (which was awful. more on that later). also the nps passport stamp was stolen, so he drew me a special stamp :) i always say this, but rangers are da best. he even offered to drive me to the station when his shift was over, but it would have been too late. also, when the park is closed for a good 5 months (due to the harsh winters), ranger andy rides his bike across the us. my favorite quote from andy: i use to collect junk, now i collect snakes.



the masterpiece.


i then ordered a taxi (which was only my second time in a taxi by myself). when i ordered, the lady gave me a different price than the driver who was super rude the entire time. i then called back and the lady gave me another price. ridiculous. anyhoo. i arrived at the minute man nhp lincoln visitor center (which is the main visitor center of the park).



the visitor center in lincoln is so pretty.


after, i took the 5 mile 'battle road trail.' i was originally going to only look at some sites along the road, but the ranger told me this was a bad idea. it may be shorter, but there is no pedestrian walkway.  the longer trail allowed me to listen to more hamilton. even though the musical talks about the battle of lexington, it was cool listening to the songs while on the trial. the trail shows you the terrain the soldiers experienced. there are also structures and commemorations relative to the battle. one of the coolest commemorations was the site that paul revere was captured. 

during this trail was a dummy. i took a wrong turn that became a dead end (to my credit, the sign did not inform me). to save time, i ran back but on the way dropped my brochure. oops, but i am proud to say i did not get lost :)





scattered throughout the park are british soldier grave sites of those who were killed during the battle.



the sign of the hartwell tavern, a reconstructed 18th century inn.






because i was not going to make the earlier train i had a couple of hours to waste. i thought about walking to the reconstructed thoreau cabin in walden pond (this was part of my ambitious itinerary and 2 miles away), but i was pooped. instead, i decided to have a nice meal. i happened to walk by this busy little family restaurant / cafe and was sold. it's called main streets market & cafe. honestly, this was probably my favorite meal of the entire trip. the meal was delicious and the environment was wonderful. as any solo eater, i sat at the bar. i was also sold because they let me order iced coffee as my fountain beverage and had no additional charge for coconut milk, what?!



main streets market & cafe



fish & chips



boston cream pie. to my surprise, the chocolate is hard not frosting.


now for a song. like i said prior, i am keeping with the hamilton trend. everyone loves this song, but it is because it is so good. it has the best rap parts in the entire show! also, angelica is the most badass woman from the show. side note, but i wish they would have kept her song 'congratulations.' i love the honesty & attitude. anyhoo, 'satisfy' from hamilton. enjoy!


Sunday, October 16, 2016

SOLO BOSTON: DAY I [YE OLD BOSTON]

the day finally came! my big trip this year, to boston. for years i have been wanting to go. as a history major and really enjoying american history, boston is a must. i almost went when i was in dc in the summer of 2014, but flights were expensive and a bus ride was 11 hours. now because i am a tad crazy (and vacation time is gold), i decided to take a red eye wednesday and fly back monday. a red eye means using less vacation time and not paying for a night of accommodation. the flight was not bad, i did sleep 2 hours, but my seat mates were very unpleasant and grumpy the entire trip. what was cool was that i saw fireworks from the plane (i love window seats). overall, i was surprisingly okay for the rest of the day with so little sleep (just red eyes and a bit groggy).

now the flight landed 30 minutes early so i was literally wandering around downtown in the wee hours of the morning. this was probably not the smartest idea, but i enjoyed it. i like seeing a city before it wakes up. i planned on just hanging out at a coffee shop, but everywhere was closed, so i dropped off my stuff at the hostel first to waste time and save my back. 

also let me just say the t is a beautiful thing. it is sooo easy to get around on the subway system, though it does smell a little but that's normal. i do not know how dc keeps their trains from not smelling. the first stop was thinking cup, a little cafe across the street from boston common. it's really popular. so popular that mr. and mrs. unpleasant were there and this was not even near the airport!



the thinking cup. also look at this cool table made with an old boston newspaper article.



the freedom trail


once 9 o'clock hit, i was out. today was all about the freedom trail, and in the end i completed the entire trail (something i did not think i could do). everything is so close together, but streets change names and directions, so it can be a bit difficult to navigate. the first stop was boston common, the oldest city park in the united states (est. 1634). there are multiple points of interest here; including, central burying ground (est. 1756), the robert gould shaw memorial, the boston massacre memorial, and frog pond.






frog pond. i later found out this becomes an ice skating rink during the winter.


right across the street is the public garden, the first botanical garden in the country (est. 1837). here, there are tons of statues, ponds, flowers, and paths.   



the ether monument. boston was one of the first cities to use ether for anesthesia during surgery.



statues dedicated to robert mccloskey's make way for the ducklings. the story takes place here.



i'm on a duck.




next was one of my favorite places, even though it seems so minimal, acorn street (located in beacon hill). beacon hill (est. 1795) really is just a picturesque new england residential area. there are cobblestone streets, narrow brick homes, and gas lantern street lights. it reminds me of elfreth street in philadelphia (the oldest residential street in the nation, and pre-revolutionary).



it was still early and a weekday so no one was here.



the cobblestone streets


continuing on the freedom trail, the next stop was granary burying ground (est. 1660); and this is only the 3rd oldest cemetery in boston! there are multiple famous dead people here including sam adams, john hancock, paul revere, and the 5 victims of the boston massacre.

also this site has one of my favorite stories ever: in 2009, a tourist was on a self guided tour and suddenly fell through the ground into a previously unknown stairway that led to a crypt. man, i would have loved to have been that person. what a great story.






the grave of the victims of the boston massacre



many 17th century graves in boston have "death's head" and either crossbones or wings. puritans did not like religious symbols.

not part of the freedom trail is the john adam's courthouse. i went because they have a little exhibit on sacco & vanzetti. they also have cool statues on the different virtues of court; including, knowledge, justice, widsom, innocence, and my favorite guilt (he had a funny face). 



the ceiling of the john adam's courthouse





the site of the boston massacre. here is where british soldiers shot in a crowd and killed 5 civilians. it led to animosity towards the lobsters and growth in the patriot's cause.



inside the old south meeting house. the location where the colonists protested the tea tax before the boston tea party.




i love calligraphy.





along marshall street (near quincy market & government center), a cool historical block.



the paul revere mall. really it's a park surrounded with old brick buildings (including old north church & an old chocolate shoppe)...that man pointing tho.



a cute home :)

there were also other freedom trail sites i stopped at, but i don't have any good pictures. this includes faneuil hall, location of the first private school (started by ben franklin), the irish famine memorial, old corner bookstore (now a chipotle, how sad), the paul revere house, and the old state house.

the last stretch of the freedom trail is across the charles river / atlantic ocean at the charlestown navy yard (est. 1800). ships were built here until the end of the vietnam war. today it is a national park and consists of the visitor's center, the uss cassin young (dd-793), and the uss constitution.



the entrance to the navy yard.


surprisingly, my favorite feature of the navy yard (dare i say, my favorite site of the day) was the uss cassin young (dd-793). the destroyer was used during wwii & the korean war. the ship was fully furnished and replicated to the wwii era. you would walk through portholes and see so many little details. it was like you were going through a time warp to the 1940s. also, they played old jazz. it was wonderful (even though my clothing did get caught on a porthole; i'm a clutz). also, fun fact: it was built near home, in san pedro!







honestly, i found the uss constitution boring. a cool thing is active duty navy sailors are the crew, but they only talked about battle strategies (i find this soooo dull). interestingly, it is the oldest commissioned warship in the world; it was completed in 1797! also, it was named by george washington.



but look at this cute little monster :)



and the last stop was bunker hill monument.


then i got some dinner at rite-aid (i'm so fancy) and and called it a night. now for a song! the soundtrack of this trip was the cast album of hamilton; which means every post on boston will include a hamilton song. now i know i am late, but i finally took a listen and what good timing. even though hamilton takes place in new york, it takes place during the revolutionary years; which was a focal point of this boston trip. because there are 46 songs, i would listen any chance i would get. i would listen waiting for the train (and on the train), during long walks, and right before bed. now for this post, i choose 'burn.' this was the first song that got me intrigued in listening to more of the album. so pretty. enjoy!