Boston Freedom Trail Exploring Framed by MFA and Gardner Museum
When Therese had to go to Boston for work recently, she invited me to come along. She explained that for part of the time I would be on my own, but we would also have time to visit a museum or two together. So I put together a rough and ready itinerary where we could visit the Museum of Fine Arts on Wednesday afternoon when we arrived in Boston, then I would have dinner on my own. On Thursday morning I would explore the Freedom Trail, and at lunchtime we would re-connect and go to the Gardner Museum before heading home on a late afternoon train.
Ceiling by John Singer Sargent
Ceramic Figure 2
Ceramic Parrot 1
Ceramic Parrot 2
Ceramic Parrot 3
Fall of the Rhine at Schaffhausen by J.M.W. Turner
La Japonaise by Claude Monet
Triumph of the Winter Queen by Gerrit van Honthorst
Our Wednesday morning Amtrak train got us to Boston mid-day (we ate lunch on the train), and we immediately taxied over to the museum (which has a coat check room where we were able to leave our luggage as well as our coats). I did not have a very ambitious agenda for the museum – I thought we would make our way through the galleries of the second floor, eventually arriving at the gallery 252, reputed to be one of the best collections of the paintings of Impressionist artist Claude Monet (my favorite from this visit was definitely his portrait of his wife in Japanese dress, called “La Japonaise“). Along the way, we saw lots of other wonderful things – lots of American art and furniture, ceramics (some very whimsical), and paintings we didn’t know existed.
In this last category I would definitely place “The Triumph of the Winter Queen” by Gerrit van Honthorst. The Winter Queen was the title given to Elizabeth Stuart, who was only Queen of Bohemia (modern day Czech Republic) for one winter (the details are complicated, so I encourage you, if you want to know more, to click on the hyperlink of her name). The painting includes her whole family – all her children, as well as her deceased husband and his brother. We spent a good deal of time sorting out who was whom and taking in the whole spectacle.
We concluded our time at the museum with beverages at the Taste Cafe. From there, we Ubered to the Ames Hotel to check in. It was at this point that Therese and I went our separate ways – she to her dinner with her clients/work colleagues, me to my bachelor evening. Don’t get too excited – I just walked over to my dinner restaurant, Crudo, had some food, and walked back to the hotel.
Crudo Restaurant Boston
Grilled Octopus with Citrus Glaze and Pickled Daikon
Grilled Pork Belly
Crudo is an Asian fusion sort of restaurant, apparently very popular with the younger crowd in Boston (I was easily the oldest person in the restaurant, I believe). I had some sushi and some appealing grilled appetizers – octopus with a citrus glaze and grilled pork belly.
The next morning, Therese was off early to attend morning meetings, so I had breakfast solo in the hotel’s executive lounge (part of the perks of being Hilton Diamond members). From there, I headed out for my morning on the Freedom Trail.
My first stop was decidedly un-freedom-ish. I had read that Equal Exchange Cafe sells some vegan baked goods, so I thought I would pick up some for snacks for the ride home later in the day. They didn’t have much, but I bought what they did have: a cranberry muffin and cranberry nut rolls. I was surprised to discover that the home of the Boston Celtics, TD Garden, was just across the way from the cafe.
Equal Exchange Cafe Signs
Equal Exchange Cafe Window
Equal Exchange Cafe with TD Garden in the Background
Stocked up on snacks, I pulled out my phone and got Google maps going to tell me how to get to the famous Old North Church. Little did I realize that along the way, I would pass one of Boston’s oldest cemeteries, Copp’s Hill Burial Ground. I spent about a quarter of an hour exploring the many 18th century (and some 17th century) gravestones.
Copp’s Hill Burial Ground Second View
Copp’s Hill Burial Ground Sign
Copp’s Hill Burial Ground
Copp’s Hill Gravestone – Oldest One I Found
Copp’s Hill Gravestone with Angel
Copp’s Hill Gravestone with Poem
Copp’s Hill Gravestone with Streaks
Down the block from the burial ground is Old North Church, which features so prominently in the legend of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. The details of what really happened on the night of April 18, 1775 are a little different than the legend, but the important thing for me was seeing this beautiful historic church with its many pews and the nameplates of the people who owned them, some of which are very colorful (it’s hard to beat “William Increase Rideout Gatchett”, don’t you think?).
Old North Church Exterior
Old North Church View from the Entrance
Old North Church Interior
Old North Church Pew Nameplate 1
Old North Church Pew Nameplate 2
Old North Church Pulpit
Old North Church Sign
Old North Church Window Above the Altar
The Bay Pew Sign
The Bay Pew
The gift shop adjoining the church is also an interesting building, with its stone lions framing the entrance.
Old North Church Gift Shop Entrance
Old North Church Gift Shop Lion Statue
Circling around the church and heading southeast, I passed by the church’s Memorial Garden, which pays tribute to American service-people who have died in the recent Middle East wars.
Old North Church Memorial Garden Sign
Old North Church Memorial Garden Stones
Old North Church Memorial Garden
From there, stretching out in front of you is the Paul Revere Mall, with the famous statue of Paul Revere riding his horse at the far end of it. I had to pause and take the iconic photo of the statue with Old North Church in the background.
Classic Photo of Paul Revere Statue and Old North Church
But looking in the other direction is very appealing as well, since beyond the Revere statue is beautiful St. Stephens Church. This church is the last remaining Boston church designed by architect Charles Bulfinch, and it definitely has a style all its own.
Paul Revere Mall, Paul Revere Statue and St. Stephens Church
St. Stephens Church in the Sunlight
St. Stephens Church
It was back to Google maps for me again, but my next destination was not far – the Paul Revere House. Yes, my friends, I was doing the total touristy thing that morning.
Paul Revere House
Paul Revere House from the Rear
Pierce Hichborn House Sign
Pierce Hichborn House
I am glad I visited the Revere house. Seeing the furnishings inside, all of which are of the period that Revere and his large family lived there (that is, the late 18th and early 19th century) and many of which actually belonged to the family, is very cool.
Having completed my tour of this house and getting a glimpse of the nearby Pierce Hichborn House (an early Georgian house on the same property which unfortunately can only be visited by afternoon tours), I saw that my time for exploring was running out. But luckily, my walk back to the hotel to meet Therese would take me past two more Boston monuments, Faneuil Hall and the Sam Adams Statue.
There was a huge line of people outside the former – I never did find out what the event was that they were all waiting to get in for. I know that Faneuil Hall has a museum as well as numerous shops inside it. One of these days when we are in Boston for more than a couple days, maybe we will do some shopping and exploring here.
Sam Adams Statue
Most people nowadays when they hear Sam Adams name think of the beer, but I still think of the Sam Adams we heard about in history class, the second cousin to President John Adams who was one of our Founding Fathers.
In another few minutes, I was back at the Ames Hotel to meet Therese. While a lovely building, this hotel didn’t strike us as being exceptional. Other Hilton properties in their “curio collection” have definitely impressed us much more, like the Providence Biltmore we stayed in last November.
Ames Hotel Boston
Decorations on the Wall of our Room at Ames Hotel
Anyway, once Therese arrived, we jumped in a cab and headed to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Once again, we checked our luggage (again), and headed to their restaurant, Cafe G, for lunch.
Lamb Chop Appetizer
Cafe G’s menu changes seasonally, and I found a number of options that sounded really good to me. I went with a lamb chop for my appetizer, maybe the best lamb chop I have ever eaten, and then a salmon entree. Very good lunch.
Bird Sculpture Cloister Gardner Museum
Bust of John the Baptist by Benedetto da Maiano
Christ Resurrection Before the Romans Sculpture
Lamentation of Christ by Giovanni della Robbia
Monkey or Dog Cloister Sculpture Gardner Museum
Portrait of a Young Man by Masaccio
The Coronation of Hebe by Paolo Veronese
Virgin and Child by Benedetto da Maiano
Winged Lion Cloister Gardner Museum
The good news at the Gardner Museum is that they have changed their policy on photography. Previously, you were only allowed to take photographs in the museum of their center atrium; but now, you can take photographs everywhere (without flash, of course)! So I had to capture some of my favorite piece to share with you, like the ceiling by Paolo Veronese and the Lamentation of Christ by Giovanni della Robbia.
We spent a couple wonderful afternoon hours at the Gardner Museum, and then it was time to think about heading train station-ward. But along the way, we made a stop at Jacob Wirth to pick up some German sausages to serve as our supper on the train. Sitting on our somewhat comfortable Amtrak seats, munching on weisswurst with brown mustard, I had to say that, while short, this not quite two day visit to Boston had been a lot of fun.