Thursday, May 01, 2008
Sightseeing in Newport
[Maryanne]Newport is famous for a few things - Sailing (e.g. it is the historic start for the Americas Cup race), very, very rich people, and the summer cottages they built here (referred to quite correctly as "The Mansions"). It is also a very, very expensive place to visit (overnight dockage for our boat would be around $180, and they don't provide breakfast, nor change the sheets for that!).
I decided to give myself a day off and explore. I especially wanted to see the Mansions, and also a much raved about "cliff walk". Many of the houses are not yet open for the season, or not open the day I arrived, so I changed my original plan to see two, and just went to visit the Breakers. The Breakers was the summer cottage of the New York City based Vanderbilt family (it only has 70 rooms, their main house 140), built from 1893-1895. The main entrance leads into a ball room, the Music room was built in France to order, and shipped over and reassembled, and well - every room is extravagantly wonderful, lots of marble, frescoes, mosaics, just GRAND! We were not allowed to take photographs inside, and I can't find any good web sites that show the rooms, I really wish I could begin to describe the decadence and beauty. The best I could find was a National Park Service write up.
I followed that very girly sightseeing with a brisk healthy walk along the Cliff Walk. This is 3.5 miles of walk between the Atlantic Ocean and the gardens and the rear of the Mansions, the walk has some very easy parts, and some areas where a bit of scrambling was required. In some places the walk goes through tunnels (I guess to avoid disturbing some of the views from the Mansions). I really enjoyed it, and I'm not surprised as it was voted by National Geographic as one of America’s 50 must-see places. (in the Paradise Found section - "Destinations that are often remote, but that shimmer in the mind as retreats of the first order."). Now how could I miss that? Although I would probably put a few other cliff walks ahead of Newport's, who am I to argue with National Geographic?