**** My Past Itinerary Series****
The temperatures in the South continue to blaze at record heat levels. Longing for my favorite time of year to arrive (Fall), I decided to visit a past itinerary that recalls the beauty of the season.
As a young girl, having grown up mostly on the west coast, I developed a fascination for the season that formed the Fall foliage of New England from images seen on television, in movies and the pages of magazines. In fact, to this date the Fall issues of food and decor magazines still remain my favorite of the year. Over the years I vowed to someday witness the spectacular display of nature. Having relocated from the west coast, to the deep south, I was still deprived of this glorious natural process that like clock work, recurs year after year.
When the opportunity finally presented itself with time and funds, I decided I would travel alone. I was determined not to allow the lack of a travel companion detour me from the experience I had longed to have for so many years. A tour, I decided, would provide safety and companionship when needed. It was quite therapeutic and in many ways, a private spiritual retreat in that there’s nothing like the quiet beauty of nature to calm and soothe the soul.
My tour was scheduled for the first week of October, which is , when Mother Nature agrees, the peak time for the changing foliage in New England. I flew to Boston less than a month after the 9/11 Twin Tower terrorist attack, my tour scheduled since June. While some worried that it wasn’t a safe time, I argued that I wasn’t going to live in fear AND that security had been escalated to a level never seen before. Our tour guide advised us along the way that many had cancelled with the various tour groups, and the traffic of tourist for the season was much lower (to our advantage).
Following breakfast at the hotel, our group boarded the tour bus that carefully navigated the streets of Boston, as the tour guide pointed out some of the many historical aspects of the city. “Boston was founded in 1630, making it one of the oldest cities in the U.S. The key role it played in the American Revolution is highlighted on the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile walking route of historic sites that tells the story of the nation’s founding,” she told us as we paused at a traffic light and she pointed to the medallion in the road. We, however were confined to our tour bus. A walk along the trail would have to happen on a self-guided tour of the city.
Once we crossed through the city, it was obvious we nearing the Boston harbor where we stopped to visit the USS Constitution Museum that showcases Boston’s maritime history and the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat. We were allowed to walk around on our own and enjoy the display of historical items.
Afterwards we were transported by bus just a couple of miles away and to the pier where the Odyssey Dinner Cruise ships were docked. We excitedly boarded a small ship for a scheduled luncheon cruise around the Boston harbor. The cruise and culinary experience were both elegant and relaxing. It was a perfect way to start the first day, allowing everyone some time to just relax and unwind from the many methods used to travel to Boston the previous day. The Boston skyline was impressive and the water reflected an elegant emerald green as the sun warmed the slightly chilled breeze that was crisp, fresh and exhilarating. As the ship cruised back to the dock, whatever slumbered state we may have experienced beforehand had been lifted and we were ready to see more of the city.
Seeing the city from this perspective was an unexpected treat. One could better appreciate the beautiful architecture from this vantage point that would be impossible from the streets of Boston. While the city is filled with the ghosts of history that formed our country, from here we only see it’s modern expansion and progress.
Back on the tour bus, our next stop delivered us before the statue of Paul Revere riding upon his horse in the foreground of the Old North Church. I remember thinking, all of that stuff in our history books in school is pretty cool in person. It’s funny how dull history seemed in school, but here is -tangible proof in full technicolor right before eyes. I couldn’t help but wish I had done more than simply memorize what I needed to know to pass a test. There is a feeling of past lives and history in every direction, that’s palpable.
In fact all of the New England States have this atmosphere of history I felt very connected to and proud of. So much happened along this group of States, so many risked their lives to come here for the promise of a better life and so many were lost in the process. As we walked the cobblestoned streets, the tour guide lead us to the actual home of Paul Revere where he resided with his very large family. He actually lived right here in this building! I felt a sense of excitement as if I were visiting the past of my ancestors.
As we turned the corner, and walked up the hill, a small cemetery came into view, cluttered with Quaker styled tombstones dated as far back as the 1600’s with engraved scull and cross bones or a skull with wings. It conjured images of men and women dressed in their Pilgrim fashions of long dark robes of fabric and wide belts adorned with large square pewter buckles.
As our afternoon of circling Boston came to an end, the bus delivered us to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Marketplace where cobblestoned walks were scattered with both merchant carts containing an assortment of crafts from throughout New England with modern stores in the buildings the framed the Marketplace. As we exited the bus, the sun was setting and there was an elevated chill in the air. Lively music echoed throughout the square played by a violinist with an amplifier as we browsed along the square for a comfortable eatery. We gathered at a replica of Cheers and had a cheerful relaxing dinner as we recalled the events of the day and learned more about each other. Back at the hotel , we prepared for our morning departure from Boston to Salem.