Claim to Fame

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Boston is another city full of history, really being the birthplace of the United States. This is where the War of Independence took place, where Paul Revere did his famous midnight ride to warn that the British were coming, the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence, and so on.

We arrived into Boston quite late in the day, and found it very confusing. We took a chance on getting some inner city accommodation, but after getting quite frustrated at the options we headed back out of town. Strangely, I thought I was heading west but by the time we managed to find a Holiday Inn Express we were somehow in Cambridge, which is not west but north of the city. No idea how I managed that! After negotiating a room, we headed down to the nearby Galeria Mall, for dinner and a visit to the Apple Store. How convenient is that? The hotel was also nearby to two other local icons of higher education, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, both of which we got a chance to have a look at.

With such a convenient location, the next day we decided to walk down to Lechmere station and catch the transit train into the city where we picked up a Boston trolley bus tour. This tour took us on a 1.5 hour loop around the city although we got off at the Boston Harbour to do a harbour cruise. Perhaps it's an unfair comparison, but when you live in Sydney other harbours of the world have a lot to live up to... and although Boston has lots of interesting history, visually it seemed to lack real character. I didn't find it had a particularly distinguishing skyline, and really, to look at, it was just another big city. We cruised out to the docks, past the US Coast Guard ships and the USS Constitution. Nicknamed Old Ironsides for the way the cannonballs apparently bounced off her sides, the Constitution is an old rigged tallship that is still commissioned as an official member of the US naval fleet, although I can't see here going to war anytime soon.

Back in the city, we spent more time looking around, and caught to trolley for the rest of the city loop. To finish off the day, Alex and I went out to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for a look around... I was particularly interested in visiting the world famous Media Lab. We found the Media Lab and, being late in the day on a Friday, we just walked in and had a look around, no questions asked. We didn't see a lot, and when I did eventually ask someone for some help, they told me the lab was not open to visitors and we had to leave. Just goes to show that it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission... we should have continued to poke around on our own. Oh well, at least I can say I have been to the MIT Media Lab, even if I never got to meet Nicholas Negroponte or Seymour Papert!

The next day we took a drive through Harvard Universtity then went up to Salem, site of the infamous Witchcraft Trials of 1692. The whole witch thing in Salem is played up in a very cheesy way, and really is Salem's only claim to any sort of tourist interest at all. The Salem Witch Museum was reasonably interesting, although way overpriced I thought. What happened in Salem all those years ago was a disgraceful display of fear and mistrust against a handful of people, although I can't help thinking there are a lot of parallels with the way the current US government is creating fear and mistrust with Iraq and the "War on Terror", but that's another story altogether...

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