Sunday, September 29, 2013

Autumn Gold Cruise

Dearest Family and Friends,

Our newest journey started with a nice flight to Newark Intl. Airport and an hour-delayed pick-up by a highly inefficient transit company hired to transport us to the London NYC hotel in the center of Manhattan.  The trip into the Big Apple was fine until we got into the city.  Seems the United Nations general assembly meeting was about to kick off, attended by President Obama who was staying at the hotel across the street from ours.  Traffic was horrendous; streets were blocked off, seemingly without regard for either common sense or local inconvenience, and secret service personnel were positioned every thirty feet or so for blocks in every direction, recognizable only by the most sharp-eyed observer as they were inconspicuously attired in black suits with white shirts, black ties, black lace-up shoes, bulges under their jackets and an ear-piece with coiled wire disappearing at the neck line.

We met Brandi, Noel, Eliana and Gehrig, who drove in from Princeton just for the evening,  at the famous NYC steakhouse, Smith & Wollensky’s, for dinner where fine cuts of charred mammal flesh, succulent lobsters, jumbo prawns (as huge as I have ever seen) and delicious crab were in abundance and consumed in great quantities.  It was a fun evening and a perfect way for Vicki and me to start our vacation.

The hotel was 5-star and loaded with luxury so after a wonderful night of sleep Vicki and I walked down to the famous Diamond District for a little light shopping. Vicki says that is a mandatory activity when in NY.  For our 45th Anniversary we picked out matching Raymond Weil watches and struck what we thought was a fairly decent deal.  So much for the kid’s inheritance.

We boarded the Regent Seven Seas Navigator at about 1:00 PM and sailed at 9:00 PM for our cruise to Montreal.  The first pictures below are of the New York skyline.  Note the almost finished Freedom Tower, which looked amazingly regal against the night sky and dwarfs the buildings that surround it.  Of course, who can look at the Statue of Liberty and not feel proud.  This is a ten night cruise visiting both U.S. and Canadian ports of call.  First stop….Newport, RI, then on to Boston, MA, Bar Harbor, ME, Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada), Sydney, Nova Scotia, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (Canada), Saguenay, Quebec (Canada), Quebec City, and, finally, Montreal.  Below are some of our pictures and adventures in Newport.  Future posts will include details and photos of the rest of our cruise.  Hope you enjoy following along.

NEWPORT, Rhode Island

Vacation spot and summer home for the rich and famous dating back to the middle 1800’s, Newport is filled with gilded age “cottages” along the rugged shoreline, some with as many as one hundred rooms.  The Gilded Age ended in 1914 when the government instituted the Federal Income Tax and even some of the wealthiest people in the country at the time, including the Vanderbilt’s, the Rockefeller’s, and the Morgan’s decided they could no longer afford to maintain these opulent and exclusive properties.  Many of these mansions fell into disrepair but have since been purchased and restored to their original beauty, either by individual, decedents of the original owners or by historical foundations.

We took the scenic Cliff Walk which winds along the eastern coast line with gorgeous views of the ocean and the homes that lined Bellevue Avenue with their spectacular backyards facing the water.   Our hike ended at The Breakers.  This Richard Morris-designed 70-room Renaissance-style palazzo is considered the most opulent of the Newport mansions.  Commissioned by Cornelius Vanderbilt II after the original wooden structure burned down in 1892, this residence is filled with over a ton of gold leaf details, pink, gray and green marble, polished granite, ancient tapestries, elaborate Persian rugs and fine woods of every species.   The sculptures, molding details and craftsmanship is exquisite and the view is one of the most breath-taking on the entire cliff line. 

Unfortunately, no photos of the interior were allowed but before the docent informed me of this little detail, I did get one shot of a portion of the ceiling in the main living room.  Hey, who knew?  You will have to be satisfied with outside shots for the rest of the visual tour, but it will give you an idea of why this “cottage” is so revered.

Next stop….Boston!   Stay with us.   God Bless you all.

Jud and Vicki

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