USS Constitution today, mid-renovation.
USS Constitution in 2007.
Boston must see me coming and go, "turn up the heat!" Today I sweltered my way through a small part of the Freedom Trail — the USS Constitution and museum, and the Bunker Hill Monument.
I kicked off my morning by checking out a Yelp find, Scup's in the Harbor. This tiny little place is actually in the Boston shipyard, and for awhile as I was walking there, I wondered it I would ever find it. The guard at the front asked where I was going, though, and when I told him Scup's, he gave me friendly directions.
Why is Scup's so great? Well, it's tiny (one picnic table and some counter stools inside, a few picnic tables outside), and improbably located. But it's also absurdly cheap and has delicious food. I got a yummy scone, an equally yummy breakfast sandwich, and fresh squeezed lemonade for $7.35.
After Scup's, I took the T one stop to get back to the other side of the water, and then started searching for the Charlestown ferry. It was not the best sign-posted thing I've encountered in Boston. Once I found it and it arrived, though, it was a quick ride over to Charlestown, and the breeze on the water felt good in the hot sun.
When I got to the Constitution, I felt very glad that I'd made the effort to see her two years ago. I knew she was undergoing renovations, but I didn't realize that the tops of her masts and much of her rigging would be gone, or that her deck would be covered. They're replacing the deck, and while it's great to know that the Navy is still actively working to preserve Constitution, it did made the ship look sad and stumpy.
The tour was different, too. Instead of having one seaman take you around the ship, now they have different stations the group moves between, with each seaman describing his or her station. I thought the format was nice, but there wasn't a lot of time built in for taking pictures. There wasn't as much to take pictures of, either — across the ship, things were covered in plastic or caution-taped off.
It was still nice to see the ship, and to take my time through the museum. Seeing the ship mid-restoration gave me a better idea of how the ship was constructed. But I got spoiled seeing the Victory last year — there were no tours on that ship, so I was able to just move at my own pace and leisurely make my way through the decks. I still think it's important that the two ships serve their different roles, though. The Victory is as much a museum as a ship. The Constitution, meanwhile, is an active ship, still capable of sailing. It means you don't get the same amount of freedom to explore, but I wouldn't want to see the Constitution drydocked and turned into a museum.
After taking my time in going through the museum, I followed the Freedom Trail's red sidewalk line to the Bunker Hill Monument. And then did one of the more stupid things I've done lately — climbed to the top. Initially, my reaction was, "no way am I climbing up there." But then I went in the park service building, and looked around, and exited, and there was the entrance to the stairs right there. So I started up.
Let me just say, the view is nice, but probably not worth that much effort. By the time I got back down to the ground, my legs were shaking so badly I wasn't sure they would function to get me back home.
I believe effort like that should be rewarded, especially on vacation, so I shuffled down the hill to the Warren Tavern for a beer and a burger. I knew it was historic, but the couple next to me at the bar said this was the place where the revolutionaries came to drink and plot. Looking around, I could see it — take away the televisions and other modern elements, and you could see Sam Adams sitting under the low-slung beams, getting people riled up about taxation without representation. He even worked his way into this exchange between me and the bartender.
Bartender: What do you want?
Me: What do you have that's local?
Bartender: Sam Adams.
Ha. Ha. Ha.
Either the rest or the beer did my legs good, because I was able to walk back to the Custom House through the North End and do a little shopping on the way. Italian espresso for home, and a mind-blowing cannoli from Mike's Pastry.
Pictures from today are making their way up to Flickr.