We only had 1 full day to explore Boston (the previous day didn’t really count since we arrived so late!) and it was simply not enough. It was more of a teaser trip of all the sights that Boston had to offer. One of the highly recommended to-do’s was the walk the Freedom Trail which takes you through 16 of the important landmarks in US history. We are not history buffs nor are we trying to be one by doing this trail – we figured that this walk will be an easy way to get an idea of Boston, and it was!
It was so simple that we barely had to plan it out. We just had to start at either end of the trail – Boston Common or the Bunker Hill Monument and follow the red bricked line on the paths. You’ll know when you’ve reached a landmark because there are noticeable markers on the ground or signs nearby. You could join a guided tour which no doubt will feed you all the history about each place but it was fully booked when we were there – they do advise to book these in advance! We were happy to just stroll along at our own pace though and wander off the trail when we wanted to.
We stopped by the Thinking Cup branch opposite Boston Common to pick up some breakfast to have in the park before starting the walk.
Boston Common is the centrally located park in Boston, the starting/ending point of the trail. Plenty of squirrels to be spotted here!
Cream cheese bagel from Thinking Cup
Squirrel eyeing my bagel… I’m amused by the ghostly-ness of their tail .. which looks bushy but isn’t at a closer look.
You can join tours from the visitor information in the park, we spotted a tour guide waiting for his audience.
Protest outside Massachusetts State House
Granary Burying Ground
Somewhat eery/random to find a cemetery in the middle of the city which dates back to the 1600s, quite a few important people are buried here.
Left: Hi Benjamin Franklin (He’s from Boston!) Right: Old South Meeting House
Loved seeing the old amongst the new… or the other way around
Fanuel Hall / Quincy Market – loved this area, it was beautiful with all the Christmas decorations. Other than the food halls, markets there were also fashion retail stores here – wish we had more time to wander around here!
“Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animal” – Home Alone 2
Neptune Oyster, North End
Lobster rolls (and oysters) seem to be a thing to try in Boston! We found that one of the popular choices, Neptune Oyster was pretty close to the trail so we made a lunch stop there. The place was pretty small and already packed but we were lucky that there were 2 seats waiting for us at the bar. We didn’t need to study the menu in depth since we already knew what we want… the Maine Lobster Roll… served with hot butter (rather than cold with mayo). Rolls in general were classified as ‘Sandwiches’ – an American thing that we had to get used to seeing.
It was not a big roll but they were pretty generous with the amount of lobster stuffed in between. Anything with butter (especially melted!) had to be tasty, and it was so good paired with lobster! This was our second lobster roll we ever had so we didn’t have much to compare it, definitely better than the one we tried at Waterman’s Lobster Co in Sydney. However I wish it wasn’t so expensive (mostly caused by our exchange rate) and having to tip made it the most expensive roll we’ve ever eaten.
Maria’s Pastry, North End
Around the corner from Neptunes Oyster was Maria’s Pastry – one of the places famous for its cannoli. Reviews have suggested that there were usually lines out the door but there were just a handful of people inside when we were there. There were a lot of other italian pastries to choose from but we were obviously only there for the cannoli. Alfred was pretty full from lunch, I was too but I could not resist!
You won’t find the cannoli’s on display in the shop other than photos of it above the counter, you have to ask them for it and they will fill up a cannoli with your filling of choice on the spot for you. I went for the traditional option – just a plain ricotta cannoli. Since it was freshly piped, its no wonder that the pastry was still so crunchy with every bit. The ricotta, as you can see in the photo is definitely not smooth, but I didn’t mind it too much. It was quite filling after a big meal, but if I ate it on an empty stomach, I’d have a few thanks.
We continued to wander through North End – the Italian part of Boston.
Partially-copper coated apartment block! #coppercrush
You know you’ve reached the end of the trail when you see this tall structure, also known as the Bunker Hill Monument! It took us about 2 hours to complete this 4km trail which was the average time suggested. It wasn’t too tiring of a walk since it was mostly flat surfaces, we only wished that the weather was a little kinder to us!
Next stop: Off to Harvard!