Maybe we are just naive but we didn’t realise that Boston could lay claim to so many US 1sts. I suppose this makes sense in some ways because it was one of the earliest founded cities but even so some of the things in the top ten are a surprise. The list will follow in this post but first an Airbnb experience update.
An Airbnb or not an Airbnb that is the question
It had to happen sometime, with over 40 Airbnb arrivals under our belts we knew, by the law of averages that we would eventually have a hiccup. We cannot fault our hosts and have no regrets but along the way we have encountered a cockroach, a stressy cat, a rare poisonous spider, towels the size of a handkerchief, beds on wheels on wooden floors and worst of all, Jon’s pet hate, no hangers. All part of the adventure! So what was it in Boston that necessitated a blog entry? Keys not strategically placed under a flower pot? The place did not exist? Or even worse, as Daddy bear would say, “Someone sleeping in my bed”.
Well, we arrived at the beautiful colonial style weather-boarded house set at the top of around 30 steps. Jon manfully lifted the cases to the top step while I entered the four digit code into the keypad lock. (His case, by the way, was minus one wheel. It fell victim to the streets of Chicago.) The door opened no problem but as I entered the small lobby/porch a middle aged Chinese man came rushing towards me saying, “No, no!” and shooing me out with hand signals. Jon and I regrouped outside the door and our immediate thought was that we were at the wrong house. Then common sense kicked in – the house number was correct, it looked exactly like the photos on the listing and the key code worked. All these things added together meant IT WAS the right place. Our hosts were called Ava and Josh but they said in their instructions that they would not be home until 7pm. The current time being 4.30pm. Nothing for it – a second attempt was required. I entered once again saying “Ava and Josh, Airbnb?” whilst pointing to the Airbnb symbol on my phone. The Chinese man used more hand signals and promptly slammed the porch door on me. Not a warm Airbnb welcome at all. Jon used some precious cell phone data to contact Ava and she explained that she had other Airbnb guests who spoke no English at all. Their room had been booked for them by their son and be obviously hadn’t explained to his parents that there would be other Airbnb guests arriving at the property. This all took around 20 minutes. Time for a 3rd assault. We entered the porch – all clear, we traversed the lounge and dining room – all clear. We breached the staircase and made a dash for the allocated room. By the time Mrs Chinese lady appeared we were in the room and unpacking. They must have thought that as burglars we had made ourselves very at home. Using the shower, putting food in the fridge, etc. That son had some explaining to do to his Mum and Dad when he got home from university. However, if this is the worst thing that happens with our Airbnb arrivals then life can’t be too bad.
The Boston Top Ten 1sts (plus a few)
1. windmill (1632) 6. swimming pool (1827)
2. anti-smoking law (1632) 7. US mail route (1672)
3. public park (1634) 8. police department (1838)
4. public school (1635) 9. subway (1897)
5. regular US newspaper (1704) 10. digital calculator (1944)
add to that the first Christmas Card, printing of the first cookbook, first demonstration of the telephone and so the list goes on. Even though Boston was founded in 1630 by British Colonists (several of whom originated from Boston, Lincs), being able to claim the introduction of the digital calculator or the anti-smoking law have no direct relation it it’s early history.
Boston’s Historic Events
Before moving on to say a bit more about what we have seen in the city, here a couple of historic events that you cannot talk about Boston without mentioning:
- Called the Boston Massacre (1770) by colonists and “the incident on King Street” by the British when 5 civilians were killed by British troops.
- Boston Tea Party (1773) – a political protest against the British by colonists who destroyed an entire shipment of tea in defiance of the Tea Act.
- American Revolution (1775-1783) – when the colonials rejected the authority of British Parliament to tax them which both of the above events were forerunners of.
This walking route through Boston leads to 16 historical landmarks significant to it’s colonial and revolutionary era. For $15 each we could have had a guide in costume but we are more your self-guided types and you know how we like a walk.
The trail started at Boston Common so armed with a map and, following the narrow red brick lines on the pavement, we set off to view the sights along the trail. Three burial grounds, the Massachusetts State House, the Old State House Museum, Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, North End (the original Italian quarter) and Paul Revere House. (Paul Revere being a British American who famously raised the alarm that British troops were being mobilised by riding at midnight to a town called Concord.) A few photos we took along the way:-
Once the trail had taken us over the Charles River, we entered Charlestown Navy Yard which is a National Park. After meeting some very friendly Park Rangers, we explored the USS Cass Young, a WWII destroyer, and the USS Constitution, a wooden frigate launched in 1797 and currently being restored.
Finally, we ended up at the Bunker Hill Monument. This is the site of one of bloodiest battles of the American Revolution. Colonists were outnumbered and ill-equipped and facing the powerful British Army. It took the British three assaults (a bit like our airbnb Boston arrival!) and the death of over 200, with 800 wounded for them to gain a victory. In comparison, the colonists lost 115 and had 300 wounded. A massive 221 foot obelisk marks the site of the battlefield on Breed’s Hill. Being the part-time amateur history nerd that I am, it annoys me that name of the battle is Bunker Hill. Bunker Hill is further inland to the north east. Call me picky but, just to set the record straight, it should be the Battle of Breed’s Hill!
The trail had given us a great overview of Boston and we would be back to see more of each area and look for a much needed new case for Jonno who is currently “one wheel on my wagon”. First impressions = a very English feel with cobbled streets and familiar architecture. None of your grid layout and 42nd street here thank you very much!
7.6 – 11.6.2016