July 4 - We spent the day in Boston to be ready for the fireworks spectacular on the Charles River. The highlight of the day for me came early when we ate lunch at Pizzeria Regina, which had been recommended by the waitress at Joe Tecce's as serving the best pizza in Boston. A lot of other people had the same idea; we waited in line on the sidewalk for about 45 minutes. For awhile we thought that the crowd had gathered to see the Red Sox World Series trophy. Either the actual trophy or a replica was at the restaurant to help sell raffle tickets for Red Sox World Series rings to raise money for an unnamed charity. We declined both the tickets and the opportunity for a photo with the trophy, as did many others, so I think the pizza, the lone item on the menu, was the attraction.
From the restaurant in the North End, we headed downtown to look for Faneuil Hall and kill time until the Boston Pops concert at 8 . To Kallie's delight, we found a Borders bookstore and H&M clothing store instead. At Faneuil Hall the shops were closed, but a troup of breakdancers were performing outside. I sent my camera into the front row with Kallie to take pictures while I searched for a public restroom. McDonald's came through, for me and others in need. We didn't even have to pay the 25 cents to get in the door--one exits; another enters. Pay rest rooms are a Boston phenomenon that I haven't seen elsewhere in the U.S. I hope the fad doesn't catch on, though it does beat the ugly sign, "NO PUBLIC RESTROOMS".
After an uneventful subway ride to the Charles River station, we struck out on the long march to Esplanade Park for the concert/fireworks. All the pre-event hype talked about hundreds of thousands of people, and I didn't see any reason to disagree. It seemed like all of Boston had descended on the narrow strip of land along the Charles River. Access to the area in front of the Hatch Shell (where the Boston Pops would be playing) was shut off at about 2 p.m. We arrived after 7, and were shunted to other areas of the park where we couldn't see either the stage or any of the large video screens. We could hear the show via a large, but not very acoustically satisfying speaker. Chairs would have helped, but we decided we didn't want to lug them around all day. Bad idea. After about 15 minutes of sitting on the ground, I paced around the rest of the time, taking pictures to pass the time. A beautiful sunset was my reward, along with a capture of an Air Force flyover. We tried leaning against a police car, but were quickly chased away. The highlight of the show, even with the appearance of country stars Rascal Flatts, was the playing of Tschaikovsky's 1812 Overture, complete with cannons, church bells and a volley of fireworks at the end.
The big fireworks promptly followed the concert. We had the idea to get out ahead of the crowd and watch the show from a remote location on the way to the train station, but lost ground when Kallie and Erin stopped for soft ice cream. We watched about half the fireworks from the ice cream stand and then started walking. This didn't work out too well from a train standpoint. By the time we made the 30 minute walk to the station there were already several hundred people in line. But we did get out of range for the fireworks finale, which from a distance sounded like a "shock and awe" invasion.
Another 30 minutes of squirming through the station put us in another crush of people on the Red Line train to Braintree. I was fortunate to move from standing to sitting after just one stop. We made it back to the Hampton Inn sometime after 1 a.m., about two hours after the end of the fireworks. One beer and on to bed for an early call on Saturday--Fenway Park awaits.