Boston is probably the United States most historic city, although of course other east coast metropolises will dispute this. One thing for sure, it is the closest US gateway from the UK, 30 minutes less flying time than New York. Also beyond dispute is its airport accessibility. Logan International is on an island in Massachusetts Bay, less than two miles from the city center with excellent public transport connections via the subway, by bus or taxi.
If you have been to Boston before it has changed dramatically in recent years with the demise of the elevated roadway that used to ring the central part of the city (it is now much underground) opening up a wholesale redevelopment of the downtown area. For those new to the "Cradle of Liberty" a week is not long enough to enjoy one of the most fascinating cities in the whole of the United States. Stay at one of the many fine hotels that ring Boston Common, a sort of Hyde Park in miniature right in the center of the city, and on your first day treat yourself to an Old Town Trolley Tour which gives a great perspective of the city, taking in Harvard (in the suburb of Cambridge across the Charles River), Charlestown with the Bunker Hill Monument and the USS Constitution, and the waterfront area including the Faneuil Hall Marketplace. $29 for one day or $10 for two days. Get on and get off at any one of 16 stops, hear what the driver has to say, and seek out his knowledge and advice.
Allow time in your schedule to visit the Kennedy Library and Museum (easily accessible via the subway - JFK was a native of Boston) and Plymouth, 45 miles to the south (an easy drive or by Gray Line coach) where there is an excellent reconstruction of the original settlement of 1627. The "natives" of the Plimoth Plantation speak the original west country English. You won't catch them out. Visitors try to do so daily. Also on view is Mayflower II. It is a long way removed from a modern cruise ship and not the most attractive way of crossing the stormy Atlantic.
Boston was founded in 1630 and Harvard soon after. In 1773 it was the site of the Boston Tea Party, colonists dumping tea rather than paying British tax, quickly followed by the War of Independence. Among the many inventions and developments pioneered at Harvard perhaps Scotsman Alexander Graham Bell's telephone is the greatest. On the sporting front the Boston Marathon was the world's first great city Marathon and dates from 1897. The Boston Red Sox won their fifth "World Series" title in 1918. They were not to win again until 2004! Their home stadium Fenway Park (left) is well worth a visit particularly on big match day. Sit down in your ancient (it dates from the 1920s) seat and take some produce from a hot dog vendor. We in the UK are a long way behind.
An alternative to the trolley tour (but you can do both) is a visit to the Skywalk Observatory at the top of the Prudential Center, the fine views giving an amazing perspective of one corner of Massachusetts. On the 52nd floor, one down, is the Top of the Hub restaurant, a wonderful view and good food at prices that makes the whole of the UK look very expensive. In fact eating is another virtue of Boston, fine food at attractive prices. The Prudential Center also houses a massive shopping mall, air conditioned and, particularly on the clothing front, offering real bargains with a quality of service unsurpassed. An alternative shopping area is the Quincy Market - Faneuil Hall waterfront area, which is also the center of a whole historic area served by what is known as the Freedom Trail, a 90 minute walking tour defined by a red brick line taking in the stories of the American Revolution, its patriots and events. Boston is flat for the most part and an audio tour is part of the GoBoston package (see below). Along the trail is a moving memorial to the Holocaust and the six million who died.
What else to do? Impossible to list in 1,000 words. If you have the kids with you there is the Children's Museum, the aquarium and the zoo. For history buffs the National Heritage Museum is a must, as is the Salem Witch Museum. The Museum of Fine Art is one of the world's greatest and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has its own museum.
As with an increasing number of American cities Boston has on offer the "City Pass" priced at $39 which represents a 50% reduction and the bypass of queues at six major attractions and shops plus restaurant reductions. A more expensive, but much more comprehensive package is the "GO Boston" card which covers a huge variety of places to visit in and around the Boston area, whale watching, various ferries and includes a fine and comprehensive guidebook. One day is $45 and for a week the cost is $135. A single day unlimited transportation on all the MBTA local bus, subway and inner harbor ferry services costs $7.50. Visitors will find that things are in the main cheaper than New York. The local taxes are less.
For the summer of 2006 there are five daily services from Heathrow and both Icelandair and Aer Lingus offer cheaper stopovers via their hub bases whilst American Airlines also has a daily service out of Manchester. Brand new, and due to open towards the autumn, the Intercontinental Boston is a $330m waterfront hotel with 421 rooms and featuring 130 luxury condos on the upper floors. It is about ten minutes from Logan International Airport.
Here are a few useful links:
M. Ginsberg, ABTN
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|Title Annotation:||transportation gets a makeover|
|Date:||May 30, 2006|
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