Friday, 10 December 2010

Where in those from Old England experience New England

We recently returned from our Thanksgiving trip to Boston. We had a wonderful visit, the Thanksgiving feast was prepared primarily by our wonderful hostess and it was amazing! I think there was only one American at the table, but the turkey, cranberry, sweet potatoes; pie etc would have made any American proud! Thanksgiving in the US celebrates the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony giving thanks for surviving their first brutal winter in New England. But as ever with traditions and legends, history is often a lot more complex and controversial. If you care to; you can scroll down to the section headed, “Controversy” in the above wiki leak. Also an interesting BBC podcast about the issue can be found here. We did listen to this podcast on our trip to Plymouth, Massachusetts 

The trip to Plymouth was interesting for all of us, including our 6 year old companion (nephew of our friends) who had just been learning all about the pilgrims and Thanksgiving at school. The weather was beautiful, it was a little chilly but the blue skies and the sunshine did little to remind us of the brutal winter the first pilgrims would have given thanks for back in the 17th century. It is always an interesting reminder that these first pilgrims came out of Oliver Cromwell’s religious separatists and puritans. The Native Americans story is now no longer relegated to the footnotes of history as it once may have been. The pilgrims would have encountered the Wampanoag tribe when they disembarked from the Mayflower, although their encounter did little to remind them that this New England was not an unpopulated land. We did do the tourist thing in Plymouth and visit the Plimoth Plantation. An open air museum, which is slightly expensive and a bit contrived but an interesting experience nonetheless.The Mayflower II was the second old boat we saw in Boston. The first was the USS Constitution, we were shown around by a US Navy Sailor. The USS Constitution the world's oldest floating commissioned naval vessel. The HMS Victory is the oldest naval ship still in commission, but she sits in dry dock in Portsmouth, UK.
Our friends are active and interesting tour guides, even more impressive as they have only just moved to Boston. There is no need for an official guide when you have well informed friends; as we walked parts of the Freedom Trail. We climbed the 296 steps of The Bunker Hill Monument , we were rewarded by the pretty views of Boston from the top. The Bunker Hill Monument (A National Park) marks the first major battle of the American Revolution, this is the site of one of the most famous battle orders; "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!" Another famous quote from the American Revolution is the cry, “The British are coming.” This warning was provided by Paul Revere and we stopped by his house near Little Italy.

Whilst in Little Italy or North End we enjoyed a delicious warming Italian feast and splurged on cannelloni’s from Mikes Pastry Shop. And the food did not stop there, I think I had the best hot chocolate ever as we walked around Cambridge. The nicest surprise was that we discovered that Boston is not home to one but two Wagagmamas. Of course we indulged and it was superb! The other reminders of home were the terraced red brick houses, Quincy Market similar to Covent Garden, Boston Common and Boston Public Garden similar to the parks in London, and the shopping; Hotel Chocolat, H&M, Zara and French Connection UK. On a side note I decided to boycott FCUK due to their sexist window display which read, “The Man endures the holiday season and the Woman prepares for the holidays.”
We also made it to the venerable academic institutions that are MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) where we saw the Frank Gehry building and Harvard. Finally but not least we also went to the JFK Presidential library. Living in Dallas for the last (gasp) nearly 4 years, we have visited the Sixth Floor Museum  a few times. So it was really nice to spend so much time at JFK’s library, which is a must see; if you are ever in Boston. (As a side note I am still trying to locate President Bartlett's library?)
We also returned to the Library to listen to a very interesting lecture on, “Voting Rights in the Kennedy Years.”  It was a fascinating and moving talk by Judge Gordon A. Martin  who discussed his new book Count Them One by One:  Black Mississippians Fighting for the Right to Vote, about the 1962 court case that resulted in one of the first victories for voting rights in the South.  Judge Martin was joined by John Doar, who worked for the Justice Department under Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and successfully tried the case.  

And so ended our wonderful tour of Boston, New England a historic, beautiful and fun place; our friends provided the warmest welcome and whilst we are sad that they are no longer around the corner from us here in Dallas we are very thankful that they were able to host us in their new home, Boston.

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