I took Marissa and her fiance Gary down to Newport, RI Wed 05/13/09 through Sat to relax and tour the mansions. Great time with nice cool weather, though it was really foggy with some early morning drizzle Friday.
Unfortunately, Colin had to work and so couldn't come along this time. I had taken them both down back in Sept of 2004, and he was bummed out that he couldn't come with us. At least Marissa took a zillion pictures.
We stayed at the Howard Johnson's in Middletown again. They have a great indoor pool and hot tub - both of which I took advantage of after trooping around town all day. We visited 8 mansions and spent half a day walking along the waterfront in Newport so it was a busy time during the day. We had two left we were going to see on Saturday before heading back, but after finishing the first one, Marissa said she was "mansioned out" so we just headed home.
Wednesday 05/13/09: Marissa and Gary swung by my place at 9:00am and we were off, though we made a mercy coffee and breakfast stop in Newington, NH before getting on the road. Nice trip down with little traffic. We got to the Howard Johnson's in Middletown, RI around 11:45. Couldn't check in until 3:00pm so we had lunch at D'Angelo's just up the street.
Chepstow was the first mansion on our list, so headed there after lunch. But it hadn't opened for the season as yet, so we visited Chateau-Sur-Mer.
From there we headed over to Rosecliff. I had forgotten how grand the ballroom here is. It's just breath taking. And Rosecliff is where the movie The Great Gatsby (among others) was filmed.
By the time we finished touring Rosecliff and walking the grounds it was around 3:30pm so we headed over to the hotel to sign in. Amy got us all registered but when we got to our room, 118, there were four guys throwing carpet in there. But Amy squared everything away for us by having the one of the guys let us into 136. And then she came down with the new keys herself. Great service by everyone involved - and it was that way for our whole stay.
Didn't take us long to unpack and head for the heated pool. After a nice swim and a long soak in the hot tub, I parked it in a corner table and read Colleen McCullough's The Thorn Birds. I had read this years ago, but wanted to revisit it and study her writing style. Marissa and Gary headed back to the room to shower up and research where we'd go to dinner. I got back to the room around 6:00pm and we opted to go to Ching Tao for Chinese. Back to the room and the Pay-Per-View movie. Didn't know how tired I was because I rolled over after the movie at 9:15pm and slept through until 8:00am. Nice...
Thursday 05/14/09: There is an Applebee's that is connected to the hotel that offers a great Continental Breakfast deal for hotel guests so we did that every day. And then we were off to the first mansion of the day, The Elms. I love the Elms style, and the Conservatory is my idea of how it should be done.
We spent awhile after the tour wandering around the grounds, and then headed off to see The Astor's Beechwood. That's a pretty neat tour as it's done by actors playing staff. We broke for lunch at Ruby Tuesday's and I was in total vacation mode at this point. Nice...
We ended the day with a tour of Marble House, which is just a mind blowing experience. Just amazing the opulence and money spent on these summer cottages, $11 Million dollars - and that's in early 1890's dollars; like $275 million today! This one was built by William Vanderbilt for his wife Alva, who ended up divorcing him and marrying Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont and moving into his Belcourt Castle, though keeping Marble House to store her clothes (women of wealth changed outfits up to 8 times a day...). It is exhausting just to think about the amount of money involved in all this.
But no problem... Back to the hotel and the pool and some reading. For dinner, we went to Coddington's Brewing Company and a half rack of ribs and a couple of Corona's. All set now; full vacation mode. Movie of the night was the unimpressive and poorly ended Babylon A.D..
Friday 05/15/09: After breakfast, we headed over to The Breakers in a dense fog. Finished in 1895 at a cost of $7 million, this is the grandest of the grand as far as size and scope - 65,000 square feet of size on 13 waterfront acres!
Next on the list was Belcourt Castle, but we had just missed the start of a tour. We had to wait about 40 minutes for the next one, which was fine as the courtyard is beautiful and the fog had lifted for the most part. This one cost 3 million dollars in 1894, about "$75 million dollars in 2007" and had quarters for 30 full time servants! But by the time the tour ended, it was too late in the day to do another mansion.
Back to the hotel. More rough life with pool and reading. We thought we'd go to dinner at a place called Tickets on the water, but there was no parking anywhere. We used Marissa's Garmond to locate Gold's Cafe and Grille, and had a spectacular meal there. Movie of the night was She's Just Not That Into You, which was really cute and entertaining; a nice end to the day.
Saturday 05/16/09: After breakfast, we packed and checked out of the hotel. We had just two more mansions on the list to visit, so off we went to visit Kingscote. The tour didn't start until 10:30am and was a wonderful hour long guided tour. But after that, Marissa said she was "mansioned out" so we jumped in the car and headed back for home after stopping at D'Angelo's again for a quick lunch.
What a wonderful trip; just what I needed. And a great time with Marissa and Gary. I bought a tee shirt for Colin as a consolation gift and plan to have dinner with him Wed. But by the time I got unpacked and had some dinner, I just crashed on the sofa and watched a movie and then called it a night.