We made our way over to the touristy part of town, ostensibly to check out the pre-game Florida State booster event being held in a pub on Union Street. It might be unfair to describe Union Street as the touristy part of town because, besides the tourists, there is a lot of history packed in that section of Boston. Even if a person has only a rudimentary knowledge of American history, the statues and names all ring a bell and make the area worth visiting. It would probably be wise to show up Monday through Thursday because, by the time we arrived on late Friday afternoon, the out-of-towners were gathering en masse. The FSU event was quickly discarded, our love for the Seminoles not strong enough to override our discomfort at being squeezed into a small space with loud people drinking cheap beer. The struggle to make it in and out of the pub burned enough energy that we determined it was time to eat. Taco Bell may tout a fourth meal but we don’t count ours; we eat on demand; we find it keeps us less cranky. Dinner was close to four hours in the future so a bridge meal was acceptable.
We decided to try the Ye Olde Union Oyster House, Boston’s “oldest and most famous eatery.” For once, the marketing was not hyperbole. The restaurant opened in 1826 making it one of the oldest restaurants in the United States. It also boasts employing the first waitress, inventing the toothpick as well as feeding such historic figures as Daniel Webster and practically every member of the Kennedy clan. And now they were going to feed us. We were early enough to beat the crowds and were seated upstairs after a short wait. We ignored the fact this meant we were early birds which is touristy as well as carrying a whiff of senior citizen; the opportunity to try another lobster roll over rode our pride. We were blessed to sit in the booth that was the favorite spot of President Kennedy. We knew this because there was a plaque in the booth that informed us of this fact. I assumed the booth’s proximity to the upstairs bar had a lot to do with his favoritism but the information provided did not broach that subject. That does not make it untrue.
We all ordered hearty snacks, my hunger finally starting to kick in after a long day of nothing but liquids. I enjoyed a dozen raw oysters, clam chowder and a cup of Boston Baked Beans, “a house specialty for generations.” That would be regular baked beans, not the candy. Upon reflection, that seems like a sketchy meal with which to wade back into the living but I suffered no ill affects. I was even able to survive my required bite of the community lobster roll, washed down with a Sam Adams Octoberfest on tap. It may have been a restaurant for tourists but the food was good, the beer cold and the history somewhat believable.
After dining, we walked the area for an hour, exploring Faneuil Hall, a town hall and marketplace that was established in 1743 and is famous for hosting speeches by politicians from Sam Adams to John Kerry. It is also number four in the list of most visited tourist sites so we were able to check that off our nonexistent list. We crossed the street to the harbor and mingled with our people, the visitors, greeting the growing number of Florida State fans with a hearty “Go Noles” and discussing what to do before our nine-thirty dinner reservations. As the sun set we voted to leave the Union Street area which was now swollen with people, making it hard to maneuver. We spotted bicycle taxis and inquired if they would take us to Chinatown where the restaurant was located. It was a long haul and not a simple request but two of them agreed. It was a pleasant ride, watching the lights of the city blink on and keeping up a running banter with our peddler. She smoothly ferried us across town and, after finding out we had some time to kill, offered a suggestion for a bar to visit until dinner. And it was there they dropped us off.