A friend in from Sweden – a young man 22 years old from a small town outside of Malmo – made the grand tour of Boston last weekend.
It began in the North End last Saturday about noon-time.
Actually, it began with trying to find a parking space, which we found near the Lindemann Center.
We walked down Salem Street into the heartland of the North End.
The North End was very much alive with young men and women mixing with tourists and with the locals all in very great numbers.
It was abuzz with activity.
He was feeling the charm of the North End and he was, as most people do, loving it.
“Wow. This is so European,” he said over and over.
We turned onto Prince Street after taking a look into Parziale’s Bakery and Bova’s.
It was electric when we hit Hanover Street.
The crowds of tourists, and everyone else mixed beautifully on Hanover Street. It was like standing room only at Boston Garden on Hanover Street.
A line of people waited for treats at Mike’s.
We grabbed cappuccinos at Café Vittoria – and there was Jerry carrying the chairs outside – his handsome son Gennaro probably sleeping in the family home upstairs while Dad got the place ready for another day of business.
Nik is the name of the young man visiting from Sweden.
Next, I walked him to Paul Revere’s house as no trip into the North End is complete if you don’t get a glimpse of where Paul Revere did his thing.
“Who the hell was Paul Revere?” Nik asked.
And then I went through it like everyone else.
“He was a talented silver smith – the nation’s best. He was a prolific father having something like 15 kids and he lived right here in this house.”
Nik took a photograph of the place with his cell-phone and sent it immediately to Sweden.
The gray18th century home looked as unwelcoming and dour as it has always tended to look to those of us who always feel happy we weren’t living in 18th century Boston when we look upon that home.
“He made the big ride,” I said.
“What big ride?” he asked.
I gave him the first few lines of Longfellow’s classic as best as I could as we walked out of the North End and headed towards Quincy Market.
“Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. One if by land and two if by sea and I on the opposite shore will be, to ride and spread the alarm …the British are coming.”
“Oh. Now I understand,” Nik said.
Walking out of the North End he sighed.
“I never thought America could be so European …so open…so friendly … and everything being cooked smells so good.”