Still in Boston, we decided to do something neither of us had done and go to university. Be it for the afternoon, but surely we’d learn something. There was a little known university called Harvard just down the road from us so we headed there. They have free tours every few hours, which are run by current students.
I’d read that parking was a bit limited so was relieved to find a meter about 10 minutes from the meeting point. Like the parking, the spots on the tour were limited so we gave ourselves plenty of time to get there. We walked through the doors to a big church that was the start of the tour and read a notice on a plinth. I’d taken us to the wrong place – this was a tour for potential new students. I don’t think I’d get away with being young enough to pass for being a student.
Of course, Stef knew that I was wrong (again) and we went back to the car to look in the faithful Lonely Planet Guide book. It turned out we had a long walk ahead of us to get to the right place. I wasn’t prepared to drive, as I knew we wouldn’t be able to find another parking place! As we got closer to the actual start point, (after about 15 minutes of walking) there were bloody loads of spaces!
We queued up and there were about 2 more couples in front of us. The front couple asked for the tour and were told they had just filled the last spot! Great. I asked the boy behind the counter if they had any maps so we could walk it ourselves. He pointed to a map, no lie, that was the size of a duvet! After asking for a slightly smaller one that we could carry, he provided us with one for $2. The map had the walking route on it along with facts about the sights. We grabbed some lunch and then I took my new role as a tour guide.
It wasn’t a closed university. There were members of public walking everywhere. They have buildings scattered all over town and it wasn’t how I imagined. (He actually thought people would be walking around in black gowns and Mortar Board hats! – Stef) The university was opened in 1636 and has a lot of very old buildings in it. The oldest building, Massachusetts Hall, being a freshman’s dorm, which was built in 1720.
Building after building. We walked around the campus. We even took part in a psych study where we had to answer questions on a laptop. The sign read “Psych Study. Nuts or Candy.” I took that to be that it was going to about nuts or candy. So I was well up for it. It turned out that we had to answer a few questions about pictures and quotes. I didn’t have a clue. The nuts and candy was the prize when you completed it. Disappointed as the study wasn’t about candy, I didn’t even take one. Stef took some candy. I still think the whole point was to see who took what prize.
One of the most interesting buildings was the Widener Library that was built in 1915. It was named after a Harvard man that went down with the Titanic. He was an avid book collector and his mother, who survived the sinking, donated the collection to Harvard. It houses 3.5 million books which are situated on 57 miles of shelving which are spread over 4 miles of aisles that are on 10 floors! It’s such a labyrinth that a student could not enter without feeling they needed to bring with them a sandwich, a compass and a whistle in case they got lost in there!
The tour ended up at the John Harvard statue. As we were standing there, you could hear the student tour guide telling people to rub or hold his foot for good luck. People were lining up to do this, which quite annoyed me, as I wanted a photo of just the statue without some idiot rubbing off on it. I managed to get a shot of it at last but I believe in making your own luck so I didn’t participate in touching it. It wasn’t until I Googled it; I saw that there is a Harvard tradition. Before you graduate you have to perform three tasks – to streak through the yard, have sex in the library AND to PEE on the foot of the statue! How hilarious is it that the same people that have probably pee’d on it themselves are now telling the tourists to rub and hold it! Ah, gullible tourists, so much entertainment.
We walked back to the car with our pee free hands and went to the hotel before the events of the night began.