Boston Day 3: "Lord, Give me strength!"

Day 3: Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

After two days of runnin’ and gunnin’ through the city of Boston, it was a perfect time to have a more relaxed schedule for the day. A ferry ride and some fort exploration was just what the doctor ordered.

We woke up a little later in the morning and went to breakfast in the hostel. At some point while we were sitting and enjoying our meal, we noticed the machine that dispenses milk was leaking. We watched as a girl called over a kitchen staff to take a look. The staff immediately starts freaking out and calling over another staff member, at whom she begins to yell “What did you DO!?” The second staff member runs off to get towels as the first one opens the machine. The milk begins spraying everywhere, flooding the counter and the floor. Either the bag was punctured or the nozzle came off, but it didn’t matter the reason, only that it was a major mess. The staff wrestling to wrap the bag in towels and paper towels just murmured to herself “lord, give me strength.” And so our day began!

This whole weekend there were various events under the umbrella of “Harbor Fest days” for the celebration of Independence Day. One such event was the changing of the guards on Sunset and Washington throughout the day. So off we headed to the square, where we saw a small handful of redcoats standing in position. It was pre-revolutionary Marshall law. Eric and I took a seat and after fifteen minutes or so, we watched as the guards marched to face one another as a third redcoat read a scroll narrating the soldiers’ presence. She then closed the scroll and announced the commands of the various positions for the procession, which totaled about ten minutes. If this is how it used to be, no wonder we hated the British so much. It was lengthy and unnecessarily formal.

From there we walked to the Boston Common park (west of where we’d been going the previous days) and walked around a bit before heading up to the harbor. On our first day of our trip, I got a little stamp happy at the NPS headquarters in Faneuil hall and accidentally passport-stamped for the Harbor Islands, to which Eric was quick to inform me we hadn’t yet been. But now we had a moment to go, and Eric was also eager to go on a boat. Thus we found ourselves at the NPS kiosk for the Harbor Islands, buying our $18 ferry tickets to Georges island.

We had about 45 minutes before the ferry departed Boston, so we wandered around the park near the harbor which was filled with random kiosks giving out free promotional food. Free bananas from Amazon Grocery! Free Choco Tacos from Good Humor ice cream! Our lunch today was bananas and Choco Tacos. We're grown-ups and we can do what we want.

We boarded the ferry around 2pm and had great seats up front on the middle deck. During the ferry ride to the island, one of the boat crew narrated some history and architecture facts. We caught some of it, but a majority was difficult to hear unless you sat in the indoor portion of the boat, or in the semi-covered middle deck. We caught bits and pieces, but for the most part all we heard was the roar of the motor and the water churning under the boat.

The 45 minutes passed quickly and we soon arrived on the island. The island is uninhabited but home to Fort Warren and some parks. We spent only a few minutes in the NPS visitor center where I got even more passport stamps, when a ranger announced a free tour of the fort beginning at 3pm outside.

We lined up for the free tour which was led by an incredibly soft-spoken elderly ranger with the best Boston accent I’ve ever heard. Half the time I was listening to the history he was sharing, and the other half I was just listening to his pronunciation of words. I never previously made this connection, but the Boston accent is essentially the JFK accent. I really wanted to suggest that they provide a Boston-to-English translator on such tours, but I know I’m pretty bad too, because people tell me my Chicago accent is strong. But come on, when the ranger says “this is the theadduh” I really wanted to interject “and for those of you not from Boston, it’s the theater.” The guide even would do unique vowel pronunciations like “and he-yah is wheah the cannons coyd toyn” (“here is where the cannons could turn”). This accent was so fascinating to me.

After an unnecessarily long tour of the grounds that got us properly excited about all the buildings, we explored. As Eric put it “I kept waiting for there to be an area cordoned off… but the entire fort is open to explore.” And he was right… the fort is MASSIVE with tons of empty rooms and staircases and dark tunnels and it would be so much fun to play hide and seek, or paintball, or capture the flag. There were rooms so dark that once Eric entered before me, I lost him. He’d turn on his phone for light and startle me as I could only see the glow of the screen and his disembodied head floating in blackness. In one room we entered, we walked in the darkness until nearly running into the back wall, on which someone graffitied "You will die here" in red ink. Cool!

Between the inner and outer wall of the fort was a deep grassy area that looked like it was once a moat. When no people were visible, it looked like a set from Game of Thrones.

At five, we boarded the penultimate ferry of the day back towards Boston. This time the boat was much more crowded with people, but we still managed to get seats on the middle deck.

There wasn’t any historical information provided on the ferry ride back, so it was a nice time to close our eyes and let the sun hit our face while we attempted a short nap.

We returned to Boston and went straight back to our hostel, where we changed and got ready for dinner. We ate dinner at Bell In Hand, America’s Oldest Tavern (opened in 1795). While it is in a historic building, it had moderately modern d├ęcor and an urban menu (braised beef tacos or spicy lobster roll, anyone?).

After dinner, we wandered around the plaza near Faneuil hall and witnessed a couple acrobats doing a pretty impressive juggling show that ended in the duo climbing a three-story ladder supported by hand-held ropes while doing planks and other odd positions on it. After that, we people-watched for another hour or so and then we retired to our hostel for a good night’s rest.