Maybe I've lived the majority of my life in Boston. And maybe I've walked across or along the Freedom Trail on at least a weekly basis for the last five years. But maybe I've never walked the actual Freedom Trail, from beginning to end. Worry no more! The situation has finally been rectified. And I have pictures to prove it.
In anticipation of this adventure, I downloaded a podcast audio tour. It was free and I thought I would like it better than finding a book and having to read as I went along. In case you're ever walking the Freedom Trail and want an audio tour, don't download that one. It's probably worth paying for one of the not free ones that you can find on iTunes. It was entertaining to listen to the ridiculous computer voice call the Old North Church "the Old Number Rth Church", but it got annoying once it mispronounced Copps Hill as "Copes Hill" for the tenth time. I'm sure there are better audio tours out there, I just didn't spend any time researching. Learn from my mistake.
Pete joined me for the first half of this walk, and because he's a history major (sometimes referred to as the "Human Wikipedia"...by himself) he was annoyed that I kept stopping to listen to my podcast so I would know the significance of everything we were walking past, and amused that I kept stating facts that were completely obvious to him but completely new and interesting to me. I should have just made him play tour guide and left my iPod at home.
Right before we parted ways (he went home to spend some quality time with the couch, I continued on to the stretch of the trail that I have never walked along before), we saw a big line of folks waiting to enter Faneuil Hall for who knows what. There were two Boston Police Officers standing at the doorway who I guess were in charge of letting them in when the time came. And until the time came, they were in charge of trying to hit the lotto with scratch tickets. Pete thought it was hilarious and made me take a picture. I didn't even bother trying to be subtle because they were so absorbed in their scratching that they never even saw me.
Once I got into the North End, I realized exactly what I would do differently if I were ever to walk the Freedom Trail again - and/or what I would recommend to someone doing it the first time. Go backwards. Start at Bunker Hill. Timing wise, I would definitely start after a good lunch. By the time you've climbed the Bunker Hill Monument and made your way across the bridge, down Copps Hill, and through the North End you'll be 100% ready for a cappuccino and a delicious pastry as you're passing Modern Pastry.
After your treat you'll be refueled and ready to fight through the most crowded portions of the trail.After you finish the trail, head down the hill on Beacon Street to Charles Street and have a dinner at whichever restaurant you come across. You won't go wrong with any of them, but I'm partial to King & I for Thai food or 75 Chestnut (turn right onto Chestnut St to find it). Bonus: you get to browse some very cute local shops and antique stores.
Anyway, back to my own Freedom Trail adventure and not someone else's hypothetical one. I was cheap and wanting to get on with my day and get home, so I didn't go into Paul Revere's House or The Old North Church. I did find this brick with my sister Jen's initials outside of Paul Revere's House though. I'm pretty sure that at least a dozen tourists who were standing along the trail there and taking pictures of the Freedom Trail plaque in the sidewalk or Paul Revere's actual house wondered what the hell I was doing taking a picture of a random patch of sidewalk two doors down.
Out of everything along the Freedom Trail, I was probably the most interested in seeing the USS Constitution. I knew it was free admission and while I've walked along the waterfront in Charlestown, I had never checked out the Constitution itself. I was even more excited after coming across the first adorable sailor in his wide leg pants and cute white hat. I was a little less excited after sitting out on the windy waterfront waiting for the tour to start - it was chilly! Not that you would know that if you saw the goofball wearing flip flops who was also on my tour. Anyway, it turned out that the tour of the USS Constitution was definitely the highlight of my adventure. The guy that led my tour was pretty good looking (and that sailor uniform certainly doesn't hurt!), but it was real fun to climb around on the ship and hear stories about what life was like for the folks that served on it. Definitely worth every penny! ;)
And finally...I headed over to Bunker Hill. Because I'm ridiculous, I decided to climb all 291 stairs to the top of it. That probably wouldn't have been a bad idea if I hadn't gone for a 3ish mile trail run in Blue Hills with my running club in the morning. Then walked about a mile to meet Pete for lunch and get to the start of the Freedom Trail. Then walked 2.5 miles along the Freedom Trail to get to the monument. If climbing 291 stairs after all of that doesn't sound like a good idea, I don't know what does! Off I went...I took a few breaks on my way up because I don't think I could have made it otherwise. This is what you see when you're about 1/3 of the way to the top and you look up...
...stairs that look like they may never end. I would love to show you what you see when you get to the top, but you're going to have to survive that climb yourself! Just kidding. Well, not really - you really will have to climb it yourself to see, but not because I'm a jerk. The batteries in my camera died. Oops! Anyway, it's worth it once you're up there. Not just because they have a few benches up there, but because the views are pretty nice. Also, thank God for the breeze at the top, because I was definitely sweating by the time I got there. My calves were also killing me, but the breeze didn't help at all with that.
I did treat myself to a frappe at Friendly's on the way back to the T - I figured I earned it with all those stairs. And now I can finally say that I've walked the Freedom Trail!