Just returned from walking the Boston Freedom Trail - and I'm exhausted! Must have walked MILES today, but have increased my knowledge of American history 100% (non-existent before). The Freedom Trail is basically an historical walk-about of sites relating to the American Revolution and independence from England. From my trusty guide book: 'all of these sites and more were the gathering places of the patriots, the incubators of revolution ... the buildings where American resistance to the British Crown was born, grew and flourished .. until, eventually, the only alternative was war and independence'. I started off at the Massachusetts State House, the seat of local government. The interior of the building is very grand - marble floors and columns, grand staircase - and very patriotic, of course. I joined a free guided tour and, as the only obvious Brit in the group, began to feel quite paranoid as our guide waxed lyrical about American victories over those terrible English! Highlight of the tour was when he took us into the House of Representatives and then into the Senate, both of which were in session. It was like walking into the House of Lords and Commons - again, very grand; lots of very important looking people in suits undertaking the business of local politics - very exciting! Beautiful paintings of Boston's history everywhere, along with a proliferation of American flags! Very interesting. Next stop: Beacon Hill, a rather upmarket residential area with some typical Bostonian buildings to photograph. On to Park Street Church, 'one of the city's most beautiful landmarks'. The hymn 'America' was sung publicly for the first time on the steps of Park Street and the first anti-slavery addresses were heard here. Next to the church's burial ground which contains the remains of Benjamin Franklin's parents among other political notaries. King's Chapel was of particular interest to me - the next stop - because it contains the oldest pulpit in America, with over 30,000 sermons preached there and it is still a church today. It was the first Anglican church built in America, much to the disgust of the Puritans who had fled England because of the corruption in the church back home. The enclosed pews inside are big enough to contain whole families and they even used to light small fires in them on Sundays to keep warm! The Old South Meeting House is another church where the revolutionaries used to gather for rowdy, rebellious debates. It was from here that they set out for Boston harbour on the night of the Boston Tea Party. On to the Old State House, 'the capital of the colony, the centre of British authority, where the governor and other royally-appointed officials met'. Also the meeting place of the Massachusetts Assembly, freely elected by the people, so lots of conflict there! Last stop (and there were others I haven't mentioned) was Faneuil Hall, known as the 'cradle of liberty': 'no local landmark is more cherished that this, the city's political focal point for over 2.5 centuries'. America's heroes - Samuel Adams, John Adams and others - fuelled the revolution from here with more highly charged meetings over British taxes etc. There was more but I was flagging at this point and started to head back, having been on my feet for about six hours. I didn't get lost because the Freedom Trail is marked by a red line or a row of red bricks on the pavement - you simply have to follow it. Found a back-street cafe at lunch time and asked for a chicken salad sandwich which came in a HUGE box and consisted of nearly a whole baguette filled to overflowing with chicken in mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato. In addition, a pile of pasta and a guerkin (sp?) - all for $6 (3 pounds). I wonder what Americans must think of the portions they get dished up for their dollar in England - puny compared to what you get here! So, Heidi and Jane managed to get tickets to see the Boston Red Sox (baseball) play last night. Unfortunately they lost, but it was a true American experience, which they enjoyed. Time to buy and cook some dinner - I think we're eating out on our last night. And my journal is drawing to a close very soon! Bye for now.