Breathtaking Boston; Judith Fielding Flew to Boston for a Weekend of History, Art and Super Shops

Article excerpt

IN recent months, regular travellers to the US have become resigned to ever-lengthening queues to clear immigration at New York airports, an exhausting ritual which is then followed by at least an hour's cab or bus ride into the city.

It is a very different situation at Boston's Logan International Airport.

Here, queues are much shorter and, as the airport is a couple of miles north of the city, the transfer time is less than 30 minutes with four methods of making that transfer - by cab, bus, subway (known as the "T") or, intriguingly, the Airport Water Shuttle.

Boston is one of America's oldest cities and its history can be easily and comfortably explored on foot, by the T or on the Boston Duck - an amphibious bus, complete with a local guide, which tours the city on the road and the river.

Among many possible walks in and around the city, the most famous by far is The Freedom Trail. At two-and-a-half miles in length, it begins at Boston Common (the oldest park in the country) and ends at Bunker Hill, taking in 16 American Revolution sites.

Then there is the Black Freedom Trail, which visits, among other places, a house which sheltered runaway slaves on their way to the freedom of Canada, and the Women's Trail, which covers the lives of some 80 famous women of the area.

The T, which has four lines branching out from the centre of the city, is easy to use, safe and efficient.

The dramatic 18th century history of the US, which largely created the country we know today, comes vividly to life as you explore the city.

Faneuil Hall is where orators like Samuel Adams argued the ideas that led to the American Revolution, while The Old State House in Washington Street, seat of British Government until 1776, houses a history museum and looks across the cobblestones where the Boston Massacre took place in 1770 after a mob provoked British soldiers to open fire.

Down on the waterfront, you'll find the wonderful New England Aquarium, full of sea creatures including dolphins and sharks. In the summer, the Aquarium and Boston Harbour Tours run Whale Watching expeditions.

Tied up along the front are the harbour tour boats and the local ferries plying their way to the outlying Boston Harbour Islands, Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard - or 45 minutes up the coast to Salem, famous for its 17th century witch trials, as depicted in the play and film of The Crucible.

Boston is absolutely crammed with museums and art galleries - The Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum are both in the centre of Boston's North East University area.

Salem is home to another - The Peabody Essex Museum. It is from the permanent collection of Chinese art in this museum that the all-important fan for Boston's newest hotel was chosen.

Every Mandarin Oriental Hotel has its own fan, selected to "represent the distinctive character of each property and to highlight the history and culture of the local destination".

It has taken nine years to bring the new Mandarin Oriental Hotel to its opening day. …