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Known as the "Cradle of Liberty", Boston, it is true to say, is where modern America began. New England was the site of the first landing of the Pilgrims, who made their first settlement at Plymouth, located a bare hour south of Boston today. And just over 150 years after the founding fathers set foot on mainland America Boston was throwing a Tea Party, with the British as the unwelcome guests, and a couple of years later the first skirmishes of the War of Independence broke out here, with a notable battle taking place on Bunker Hill to the north-east of the city.
The Freedom Trail connects 16 of the city's most famous revolutionary sites, including the house of Paul Revere, made famous in ballad and poem for his daring midnight dash to warn of the impending British invasion (take time to pity his companion William Dawes, whose name just didn't scan sufficiently for Longfellow to pen an ode to his bravery as well). Faneuil Hall where fiery revolutionary orators such as Samuel Adams stirred the coals of insurrection and "Ol' Ironsides", the USS Constitution are other must-sees on the trail, as it traces the timeline to independence.
It's a strange thing though, that for all Boston was where the American nation began to shake off its colonial shackles if anything it is quite European in its attitude and outlook and has always been one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the US. Home to the nation's most respected university in Harvard, its population is erudite and bohemian in outlook, rather than sharing the strait laced views of their forefathers. Indeed today's crop of students represents one in ten of every Boston inhabitant, which keeps the atmosphere young and vibrant. Try coming on St Patrick's Day when the city's large Irish (and Irish at heart) population parties all over the city - it is hard to believe that this is the liberty that Samuel Adams and his ilk envisaged, but nobody seems to be complaining.
The surrounding countryside of New England and the coastal resorts of Cape Cod and the island of Martha's Vineyard are breathtakingly beautiful. North of the city meanwhile you'll find Salem, home to the famous 17th-century witch trials and later Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of the father's of American literature. Concord likewise is famous for its literary alumni, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and the reclusive writer Henry David Thoreau who lived in a cabin at Walden Pond, recreating a pastoral idyll of America (albeit with the odd sojourn into town for tea with his friends).
No modern introduction to Boston is complete without mentioning the incredibly popular TV show Cheers, and visitors to the city will invariably flock to the Bull and Finch Pub, which was the inspiration for the long-running comedy series. If planning such a homage be prepared - the bar looks nothing like Cheers, and Boston is full of tourists complaining about it. But forewarned is forearmed; simply move on - there's a lot more going on in this city to be worried about such a small thing, and anyway there's another Cheers bar at Faneuil Hall, just like the one on TV.
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