Independence Day and New England…

8 07 2008

…are mutually intertwined, as the American history scholars among you may know. The Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, the Declaration of Independence was first read to the public in Boston and some American folks threw some bags o‘ tea off of some ship in the Boston harbor – known as the Boston Tea Party. No taxation without representation, and so forth. I’m sure most of my German readers are well familiar with these events, needless to say my American colleagues probably also know what I’m talking about. To make a long story short and to somehow weave my own personal history into this randomly thrown together display of historical expertise, we were in Boston over the Independence Day weekend.

We were promised some great fireworks and a lot of traffic on the way up as well as on the way back home. Apparently, we should not have been the only ones that had the great idea of spending the most important American holiday there. We got to Boston faster than we had expected and checked in with our hotel. The most challenging part of this endeavour was to somehow manage to convince the concierge that we were not 12 but 8 people divided up into two rooms with 2 king size double beds each. Done the math? Right, 8 people, four double-beds – fits. But it’s cheaper to accomodate all 12 of us in these two rooms. So, we were running around all over the hotel lobby, back and forth from the elevators to the cars, from the reception to the elevators and from the restrooms to the reception to confuse the guy that checked us in. Not successful, as it turned out, because the other hotel guy asked how many people we were. I replied that we were 8, and he nodded and said „Right. Need any extra blankets?“. Confusion tactics was never my strength.

The next day. 4th of July. We headed into town and took the „Freedom Trail“, that leads all the way around Boston, passing the most interesting sights.

First thing that struck me was that Boston appeared much less American than any other American city I had ever seen. In fact, Boston could well be anywhere in Europe (especially in Britain somewhere). Maybe that’s why they call it New England…hmm..

One place to recommend to anyone coming to Boston is the area around Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. Especially in South Market, there’s an unbelievable amount of food stalls and stands, where they serve food from nearly everywhere in the world. Walking through there is like entering some kind of Elysian field of food. After having staggered along Freedom Trail for long enough we went back to the hotel to take a quick shower and then headed down to the harbor side, where the Independence Day festivities were taking place. The Boston Pops were already playing when we got there and later that night, Rascal Flatts laid down a great lipsynch-playback performance. When the wailing had finally stopped, the fireworks commenced and let me tell you – I have never seen fireworks more impressive than that. Half and hour of pure impressiveness. Towards the end, one could hardly see the fireworks through tha massive haze that was hanging over the harbor. Take the biggest new year’s fireworks and imagine it four times longer, bigger, higher and brighter, then you might get an impression of what took place that night in Boston.

Next day, we visited my prospective university in Cambridge, MA. We took a guided tour around the campus that was led by two students who did a really great job at making the whole thing very entertaining.

To the right, you can see a proof that now, I, too, am a Harvard student. Well, at least I was there and was able to suck in some of the genuine atmosphere of the great, dignified learning facility that it is.

Leaving Boston that day, we stopped by at M.I.T., to get yet another glimpse of yet another university that none of us would ever be able to afford to attend – let alone have the intellect to even pass the admission tests. But, I bought a „HAHVAHD“-T-Shirt. (Bostonians have their own accent, which incorporates not pronouncing any ‚R’s)

Our next stop was Orleans on Cape Cod, where we moved into a hostel that was mainly a few wooden huts with bunk beds. From there, we headed out to check off another topic on the to-do-list: Eat lobster.

Early the next morning we moved out to drive to Provincetown to do some whale watching. Ever since I was a young boy, I have always dreamed of seeing whales. Though I’d given up on wanting to be a marine biologist, I still hoped that someday I might encounter whales in their natural environment. I couldn’t have imagined, though, that it would be that breathtaking. The first whales we saw on the way out to the feeding grounds of the humpbacks were Minke whales. Though they are not much bigger than dolphins, I was pretty excited. The highlight, as I’ve indicated, was the humpback whales that we saw out at sea. There was a layer of fog hanging over the water and suddenly two of them appeared out of nowhere and circled the boat, checking out what was going on. As it turned out, it was a mother with her calf, in search for food. This was one of the most impressive experiences I have ever made. Seriously. Can’t really put it into words.

Coming back to Provincetown only to remember (and see) that it’s home to a large gay and lesbian community was like the starkest contrast between pure nature and, well, ungraceful mankind that one could imagine. I don’t ever want to go there again. Yuck.

On our way home we stopped by at Yale University in New Haven, CT, just to see what it was like.

What a trip.

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