Just before heading to Oregon, I was asked to speak on a panel in Bristol, RI in place of AFH’s New York Regional Director, Rachel, for their AIA Summer Conference. I was a bit hesitant at first, but since I would be talking more about what the Chapters do in general and how professionals can get involved, I was much more confident about it than I have been about the Sandy Panels. Plus, Bristol is a half hour from Newport, which I always wanted to go to and now I had an excuse.
I took Amtrak to Providence Friday morning and rented a car to drive from there. Bristol is about a half hour south and Newport and hour. The conference was in the afternoon an I think it went really well. Everyone was so nice and I talked with the local AFH leaders about how their chapter is going. The end of the conference is a lobster boil and I received my second education on how to crack and eat a lobster. Very messy process, I gave up trying to meat out of the little legs, but it was delicious.
I was staying at the Bristol Harbor Inn for the night, it was much cheaper than trying to find a place in Newport. It was also really cute, right on the water in the downtown area. I wasn’t ready for bed yet after I checked in, so I headed down the street to one of the local sports bars for a drink. I met some great locals who told me everything I would ever need to know about the area. They were even trying to convince me to move up there instead of out west. They were also genuinely upset that they had to work the next day and could not personally show me around. As nice as that might have been, I was okay driving around on my own and made sure I had their recommendations.
The next day was unfortunately cloudy and rainy like the day before, but I set off for Newport anyway. I decided to do all things that required being in a car first, which included driving along Ocean Drive. The views were amazing, even with the weather and the houses were huge.
This used to be one of the get away spots for the rich rich rich back in the day, before the Gold Coast, so many of the mansions have been preserved. I decided to do a tour of one, and just stop in to the rest for a glimpse of the exteriors. The one that I went into,Rosecliff, was the set for the Robert Redford version of The Great Gatsby. Stunning. The only thing I dislike about it was that you couldn’t go into the service spaces and many had been re-purposed for bathrooms and gift shops, etc. I think the bowels of the house might be more interesting than the main space, but that is just me.
After the tour, I proceeded to stop at most of the other houses or do a drive by and it was finally clearing a bit so I parked to do a bit of the Cliff Walk. I was able to see The Breakers, Chepstow, and Chateau Sur Mer. It was so beautiful and so wonderful that home owners agreed to allow it to pass through their property. Part of it was closed due to damage from Sandy, but I was able to go about a mile before having to turn around.
After that, I headed downtown to walk around and get lunch. I decided to not waste time trying to find parking for free, it didn’t look good, and just went into a public lot, that wasn’t too expensive for the rest of the day. I went to lunch at the Brick Ally Pub, recommended by my bar friends. At one in the afternoon, there was a wait to get in. I went to the upstairs bar area and found a seat with out waiting. Since I was in Rhode Island, I kept with the lobster theme and ordered a, Lobstacado Sandwich. Delicious.
I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the downtown and harbor area, especial Thames and Spring Streets. The rain held off for the most part and I found myself in too many adorable little shops before finally breaking down and buying my new favorite skirt at Sunya. I also found some great coffee at Coffee Grinder and gelato at Cold Fusion, before heading back to Providence to catch my train home.
I would have loved to have spent another day, maybe gone into one more huge mansion, hopped on a boat and done a harbor tour, but it was a great day trip and I get to cross it off the trip list!