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The main purpose of this blog is as a permanent record of my adventures throughout the Americas by motorcycle. Feel free to comment or ask me any questions - I'm an open book.

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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Boston, MA

Said goodbye to New York and headed from my hostel on 87th st down to Chinatown to catch the cheap bus to Boston. While the subway is undeniably popular and efficient, it isn't geared towards the disabled, or those carrying large bags. Those stairs are killer. Combined with an early morning run up along the Hudson (in thermals and a beanie!) and I was feeling ready for a nap on the bus to Boston.

Boston, MA is one of the oldest cities in the US, steeped in history, particularly as the flashpoint of the American revolution and consequent birth of modern democracy. The local universities (Harvard and MIT amongst them) contribute to this rich tapestry of history, and combined with Fenway park (home of the Red Sox) provide a beautiful range of both architecture and parklands that make Boston a truly beautiful city. A statistic to note is that during semester, 1 in 5 Bostonians are attending one of the many universities - It is the highest density of college students of any city in the western hemisphere.

Boston, taken from Boston Public Park & Commons - America's 1st Botanical Gardens & Park respectively

The must-see sight in Boston is without a doubt the freedom trail. Starting in the Boston Commons/Public Garden, the trail passes famous landmarks such as the old north church, the old state house, and the Bunker Hill monument. I found a mp3 guide online, which proved a cheap and interesting way to see the sights. I won't go into too much detail, but the whole experience was fascintaing, especially as a foreigner with a differing view on imperialism.

The Old state house - site of the Boston 'Massacre'

One of the lesser known sights in Boston is the site of the Molasses Disaster of 1919. A tank near the wharf ruptured, and 8,700 cubic metres of molasses poured out into the street. The 40 foot wave resulted in the killing 21 people and injuring of hundreds. Rescuers struggled to pull people from the sticky substance, and the cleanup took weeks. It is said that even now, on a hot day, that the smell of molasses can be detected in the area.

The hostel was across the road from Boston's premier sports stadium, the garden - host of the both the Boston Celtics and Bruins. But on saturday, there was only one show in town - the one, the only, the Harlem Globetrotters. Facing the designated bad guys, the "international elite" for the world championship, the game was a polished display of basketball and athletic skills, with a generous helping of comedy thrown in. The result went according to the script, with the Globetrotters winning with seconds to go. The seriousness of the game is all but forgotten as slapstick comedy and trickshots become the focus. Definitely an entertaining evening, albeit one geared more for families.

The Garden - Home to both the Celtics and Bruins

Boston is now a knowledge hub, with many prestigious universities such as Harvard and MIT. A visit to both these campuses across the river from downtown Boston is a must on any itinerary. Founded in 1636, Harvard university is based in the town of Cambridge (a homage to the alma mater of the original academics) and is a beautiful campus. While MIT is much younger and is less architecturally interesting, it is academically superior in the engineering game.

Widener Library - The Harvard Library System is one of the largest, with over 15 million volumes

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