Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Graneys Go Sabbatical Update #4: Totally Free Stuff to do in Boston, NYC and DC!

Before I get to the totally free stuff, let me just say that on the way to Boston, we had an AMAZING time visiting with our friends Angel and Amy Silva in Portland, Maine. The Silvas were part of a couple's Bible study group with us at Dallas Theological Seminary that met every Sunday night for two years, but we haven't seen the Silvas since graduation! Saturday evening, we feasted on great conversation, Amy's delicious pork tenderloin and Angel's homemade ginger kombucha. Sunday morning, we visited their church, Missio Dei. Angel is preaching the Gospel in an area of our country that sometimes isn't very accepting of Christians, and we are so thankful for their ministry and so glad we had to chance to stay and catch up with these awesome friends!  

And.....before we get to NYC and DC, you have to see all the fun free stuff we did in Boston so here goes:

Okay this isn't quite Boston yet, it's the Portland Headlight! Such a beautiful lighthouse and rocky coast, but we did freeze there so our visit didn't last we were on the way to Bunker Hill in Boston, Caleb's most anticipated historical site:

This is where the US Continental Army showed the British what they were up against. The British lost a third of their troops trying to gain back this little hill. While they succeeded, it took them three tries, and it proved that our ragtag group of farmers become soldiers had a chance against the world's greatest superpower of the time. You can climb up all 296 steps in this monument and see all of Boston for free from there. Yes, we did climb it. And yes, I was the last one to make it to the top.

The best thing about Boston has to be the beautiful row houses, and they are everywhere.

While a lot of the Boston leaves had already fallen, some of the beauty remained. This is Anna walking through the Boston Common where the British troops set up camp for 8 long years before the revolution.

That circle on the ground indicates where the Boston Massacre happened, just in front of the Old State House on the Freedom Trail. Inside the building is where folks like Paul Revere and Samuel Adams discussed unfair British taxation of tea, but you have to pay to go inside...however we discovered you can go in the gift shop inside and see the beautiful circular winding staircase in the middle for free! :)

This is one of the oldest examples of 18th century architecture in Boston, and I was delighted to see that it currently houses a Chipotle!

Another free thing to do in Boston is accidentally find your way into the huge indoor shopping mall just after closing so you or  your children aren't tempted to spend any money.

You can also tour the New State House for free and see what is inside that beautiful golden dome on the top. We stepped into a Massachusetts meeting of the House of Representatives and sat for a few minutes. On the way out, we even witnessed this protest outside! I don't think I've ever heard the words: equality, liberty, and freedom more times in the five minutes I listened than anywhere else. But if you're going to be talking about equality, liberty and freedom, Boston is the historical place to do it right?

We also saw the final resting place of Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin's parents, and several other signers of the Declaration of Independence. The graveyard is free to enter and full of fascinating fading and falling tombstones. Boston is my favorite! Now on to NYC:

The first and greatest thing to do in NYC is obviously....Times Square! All the glittery lights and advertising you can imagine!

Okay maybe I should have said this lady first:

Lady Liberty is free to see, but to climb up into her crown, you make reservations online about 6 months ahead of time.

About the climb up into the crown.

What isn't free is the boat ride over to her :)

The next best free thing is Central Park:

If you're lucky enough to end up there at Thanksgiving, the Macy's Day Parade is a totally FREE event! We read that you should get there around 6am to claim a spot, however, we opted to stand in the cold for 4 hours instead of 6 and got there at 8 (after all, this is a sabbatical :) and were perfectly happy with the amazing spot we found to stand close to the road.

After almost 4 hours of parading, I couldn't have been happier to see Santa Clause show up!

Other ideas for free stuff to do in NYC:

Visit Grand Central Station

Get your picture taken with the smallest police car in NYC.

Pretend you are staying at the Plaza Hotel and get kicked out.

How could I forget the 9/11 Memorial?

Find the Empire State Building and realize you've been pointing to the Chrysler Building and calling it the Empire State building all week.

Take your picture with a police officer, whether he wants you to or not.

Find Trump tower and notice there aren't any protestors around.

Make your way past the police who aren't letting people walk by Trump Tower by telling them that you are visiting Trump Tower and take a ride on the escalators inside.

Oh, and it's not free, but to eat cheap in NYC do this:

Eat hot dogs in Central Park ....or do this:

Order the largest pizza you have ever seen for just $12 in Jersey.

It's free to walk in New York City! We averaged 7 miles of walking a day. Intermixing a week of rest, with a week of sight seeing has been a good mix for us. With five kids in tow, it has allowed us to relax, have fun, learn somethings and make some good memories together as a family and we are incredibly thankful for the opportunity we have had to do this.

And finally....say goodbye to NYC and head to DC, but realize you aren't going to blog about DC tonight because you are tired and this post is already way too long.

Stay tuned for Totally Free stuff to do in DC next time!

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