Day Eleven

This morning, we visited the USS Constitution, the important site along the "Freedom Trail".

Boston is the oldest city in the United States and the latter's origin. Usually it is associated with the birth of the country. Most of the Boston National Historical Park sites are connected by the Freedom Trail. Recognized as a National Recreation Trail, the 3-mile trail is a 90-minute walking tour of 16 sites and structures of historic importance in downtown Boston and Charlestown.

The USS Constitution is an important site along the Freedom Trail. She is the oldest commissioned warship afloat, originally launched in 1797 to protect American merchant ships from pirates. The first US Navy was formed in 1794 and this ship was the third of its fleet to set sail.

The USS Constitution is best known for her success during the War of 1812, when her 21-inch thick wooden hull was not penetrated by a single British cannonball. This remarkable performance earned her the popular nickname "Old Ironsides," although steel was not yet used to build ships. Since then, Old Ironsides has survived 42 battles, years of neglect, and numerous threats to tear her down. She is now maintained in her original condition by an elite team from the US Navy as a symbol of American freedom, strength, and success as a naval power.

At noon, we went to visit the Quincy Market and had lunch over there. We even had Chinese (fast) food there!

Quincy Market consists of three block-long annexes: Quincy market, North market and South market, each 535 feet long and across a plaza from Faneuil Hall. The structures were designed in 1826 as part of a public-works project instituted by Boston's second mayor, Josiah Quincy, to alleviate the cramped conditions of Faneuil Hall and clean up the refuse that collected in Town Dock, the pond behind it. The central structure, made of granite, with a Doric colonnade at either end and topped by a classical dome and rotunda, has kept its traditional market-stall layout, but the stalls now purvey international and specialty foods: pasta salads, frozen yogurt, bagels, calzones, sausage-on-a-stick, Chinese egg rolls, brownies, and baklava. This is perhaps Boston's best locale for grazing.

Along the arcades on either side of the Central Market are vendors selling sweatshirts, photographs of Boston, and arts and crafts – some schlocky, some not – along with a couple of patioed bars and restaurants. The North and South markets house a mixture of chain stores and specialty boutiques. Quintessential Boston remains here only in Durgin Park, opened in 1826 and known for its plain interior, surly waitresses, and large portions of traditional New England fare.

A greenhouse flower market on the north side of Faneuil Hall provides a splash of color. In summer, up to 50,000 people a day descend on the market; the outdoor cafés are an excellent spot to watch the hordes. Year-round the pedestrian walkways draw street performers, and rings of strollers form around the magicians and the musicians.

Walking out of Quincy Market, we headed for the New England Aquarium nearby. Same as the Science Museum, the aquarium is also a "paradise" for children. The highlight in the aquarium is a huge tank as high as a five-storeyed building in the center. There are various kinds of sea fish, and also turtles in the tank. One of the aquarium workers often stands on the platform by the waterside, explaining the living habits of various fish to visitors. Sometimes, they dive into the water in diving suit and roam deep in the water. I have been here several times and today I did one more thing here: I went up to the second floor and bought a cup of water there. How can you not drink water when you are in the aquarium?

At about 4:00 in the afternoon, we drove back to Pine Plains.

It was getting dark when we arrived in Pine Plains. Facing the boundless night sky, Waterland unburdened his heart: the change of one's home. He said that so long as we returned to Pine Plains, we were as if back home; when we returned to Shanghai, we were as if back home again; and when we arrived in Nanjing, we were truly back home!