Boston’s downtown is vibrant! The eclectic mixture of old, from the time of Paul Revere, and new modern high rise office buildings create an interesting sky line. People actually live and play downtown in bustling neighborhoods such as the North End. We ate pasta dinners twice in the North End and serendipitously timed our arrival with the annual Feast of St. Anthony. Since 1919 the Italian immigrants in the neighborhood have culminated the event with a parade of the statue of St. Anthony accompanied by marching bands for ten hours. It was a thrill to be part of the fun and festivities.
Not to be outdone by the Italians, the 23% of the population in Boston claim Irish ancestry. This bustling city is the center of Irish-American culture and history. While in Boston we saw more redheads than ever in our lives which lead me to do some research…I didn’t really think there was a convention for redheads that week!
While exploring the city we meandered through the neighborhood of Beacon Hill, down the famous Acorn Street and stepped inside the famous Cheers bar. Boston has no shortage of bars, pubs and breweries; some of them quite famous such as the Green Dragon Tavern which opened in 1657. During the Revolutionary War it was deemed the “headquarters of the revolutionaries” by Sam Adams, Daniel Webster and Paul Revere.
While walking to the North End we caught a glimpse of the Holocaust Memorial which was so intriguing that we returned the next day for a closer look. I’m so glad we did as this tribute was exceedingly impactful. The six 54′ towers represent the 6 million Jews killed, the 6 main death camps, and the 6 years in which the “final solution”, the most deadly phase of the Holocaust, took place. Etched on the glass walls are the numbers of the tattoos on the arms of the victims. The horror is represented by the brutal cutting of the trees on half the site with the stumps remaining. As one walks into each tower the hot steam is felt rising up from the pit dug beneath that’s filled with a burning fire. This sobering experience had a powerful and lasting effect on us.
The Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum was our cultural experience one afternoon. Isabella was a patron of the arts and she curated her collection of books, art, and furniture. The rather nondescript building on the outside houses an interior courtyard based on Venetian palazzos filled with gorgeous flowers and sculptures. Before her death she arranged and edited her collection then stipulated in her will that nothing in the galleries could be changed and no items could be acquired or sold. Thus, in 1990 when 2 thieves stole 13 works of art (the largest property theft in the world) the works were not replaced. To date these works have not been recovered and one can see the empty frames where the thieves cut the canvases out of their frames. As seen in the center picture the lighting is somewhat dark compared to typical museums. I found it interesting that Isabella did not label her objects as she wanted the art to be experienced with an emotional response rather than an intellectual one.
We wrapped up our visit with an afternoon of history at the JFK Museum where we learned about his 1000 days in office. All in all, we love the energy in Boston. Such a clean city with something for everyone.
Nantucket was our next stop. We timed it just right for taking advantage of big sales in stores where we wouldn’t normally shop. A shuttle dropped us off at the extremely crowded Cisco Brewery/winery/distillery where the average age was under 35. Our stay there brief.
After some arm twisting I finally persuaded Scott into visiting the Hadwen House which is the current home of the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum. I understand his lack of enthusiasm for basketweaving but after a few minutes his interest was peaked. Basket weaving as an art form is an iconic symbol of Nantucket that began in the 1820’s. The name “Lightship Basket” comes from the baskets woven by the men who were stationed aboard the lightships that marked the dangerous shoals around the island (Think lighthouse in a floating boat.) The four elements of a lightship basket include staves made of rattan, weaver of cane, a solid wood base and woven on a mold. It was believed that the roots of the style came from the Indigenous Wampanoags. Life aboard was a dangerous and lonely yielding leisure time for the men to weave. In 1916 the government forbade the business of moonlighting basketmaking and the tradition was continued on land. Classes have continued to be taught in Nantucket today. We were amazed at the skills required to create the baskets, in particular the nested ones and the minute ones. The fine manual dexterity required to contruct such precise and intricate baskets must be difficult for men’s fingers.
We enjoyed strolling through the town of Nantucket with the cobblestone streets, historical buildings, and weathered cedar shake homes. Hopefully next time we can spend time in the countryside and visit a cranberry bog. Labor Day weekend is a busy time but I always find the island to be rather quiet and calming. There are no stop lights on the island so just how chaotic and crowded could it be?
After a summer of fabulous weather and no hurricanes it all changed on Labor Day as we traveled to Martha’s Vineyard. Cool temperatures, clouds, winds, and drizzly weather set in just as if fall suddenly arrived in a single day. We went to shore for dinner the first night then stayed home in Lagoon Pond for the next 2 days. Scott had plenty of chores to do that had been postponed while we had been playing every day. I felt like snuggling into a sweatshirt and nesting. When our friends Bridget and Mike, along with their son Nick and future daughter-in-law Arta, arrived at their beautiful home on a quiet single-lane road we had two great days together. I do believe the best lobster rolls are at Larsen’s Fish Market in Menemsha where we also tried one of their stuffies, a quahog in its shell with stuffing. They introduced us to the Obama’s favorite restaurant on the island…The Sweet Life Cafe. I can understand why The Sweet Life Cafe is Obama’s favorite…our dinner was fabulous! Mike and Bridget drove us throughout the island introducing us to the beautiful woods and farms, far from the tourists. On our final evening, after a short walk to the southern beach, Nick prepared an exquisite salmon dinner. Thank you for your hospitality Bridget, Mike, Nick and Arta!
We love cruising the Cape Cod area but must head south for our Kadey Krogen rendezvous in October!
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