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Posts Tagged ‘getaways’

mystic seaport ct

Earlier this month, the hubs and I took off for a much-needed weekend getaway. His birthday is in early May, and it seemed like forever since our quick trip to Florida in mid-March.

We’ve been through southern Connecticut many times on our train rides to NYC, but had never spent any time there – so we decided to hop down to Mystic (as in pizza) for a long weekend.

In spite of some truly crazy spring rainstorms, it was delightful. (As were these tulips, spotted outside a shop in downtown Mystic.)

tulips mystic ct

We arrived on a windy, rainy Friday afternoon, checked into our Airbnb apartment and ate lunch at the S&P Oyster Company, down by the water. The views were a bit obscured by the weather, but the clam chowder was delicious.

After lunch, we drove over to nearby Westerly, R.I., where we spent most of our time at the Savoy Bookshop & Cafe. (If you know me, you are not shocked by this one bit.)

savoy bookshop westerly rhode island

I browsed the stacks while J curled up and read for a while, and later (after wandering around in the rain) we came back for an afternoon snack.

The rain had (mostly) stopped by dinnertime, and we ate at the other pizza place in Mystic – not the one from the movie, but Pizzetta, down on Water Street. Both the spinach-artichoke dip and the pizza were fresh and delicious. (The after-dinner excitement: several of the server girls shrieking because a frog had found its way onto the back stairs!)

Saturday began with pastries from Sift (yum) and brought more wandering, including a long browse at Bank Square Books, which is owned by the same folks who run the Savoy. I could have stayed for hours: it is well-stocked, pleasantly arranged and full of unexpected corners.

bank square books mystic ct window

Our Airbnb hostess, Melissa, had told us about M Bar, a hip little restaurant in a converted gas station, a short walk from downtown Mystic. We had dinner there on Saturday night and I loved every bite: avocado mash with pita chips, veggie lasagna with white sauce, and the best fries I’ve had in quite some time – with house-made ketchup. (Plus lovely wine, a great ambiance and a handsome date.)

jer m bar mystic ct

The sun finally came out on Sunday, so we drove over to Gillette Castle, though we were disappointed to learn it was still closed for the season. (J really wanted to climb it, and I was curious to go inside.) We had to content ourselves with wandering around the site, and marveling at the exterior.

gillette castle exterior ct

After that, we headed to yet another bookstore: the rambling, overstuffed Book Barn in Niantic. It boasts a fairy garden, a “haunted” mystery shed, several annexes of various kinds, and – I kid you not – a hobbit hole.

hobbit hole book barn niantic ct

More to the point, it is positively overflowing with used books, and we ended up with a bulging bag of them: fiction and mysteries for me, history and other nonfiction for J. My favorite kind of vacation shopping.

In between our wanderings, we spent a lot of time at the apartment: sleeping late, going to bed early, curling up with good books. I spent hours on the wicker sofa by the window, under a white afghan, sipping tea and reading a couple of YA novels I loved. It was restorative in the best way: walking and resting, exploring and eating, just being together.

We capped off our trip with brunch at Rise (which J kept mistakenly calling “Shine”) on Monday morning, and headed home, refreshed.

jer pancakes rise mystic ct

Mystic, you are enchanting. (And restful.) We’ll be back.

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marthas vineyard map ma

Recently, the hubs and I hopped on the ferry for a weekend on Martha’s Vineyard. We’d heard a lot about this lovely island off the coast of Massachusetts, but we’d never been there. And – I am happy to report – it was an utter delight.

We drove down to Woods Hole (slightly over an hour from our house) and caught the ferry, which takes about half an hour and afforded us these beautiful views.

ferry view martha's vineyard ma

After landing in Vineyard Haven, we grabbed a late lunch at Waterside Market, which included this delicious clam chowder.

clam chowder martha's vineyard waterside market

The hubs had found us a cottage to rent (via Airbnb), about a ten-minute walk from the center of town.

little lobster azaleas mv

It was clean, quiet, spacious and lovely. (Also: there were resident wild turkeys.)

little lobster cottage martha's vineyard

We spent Friday afternoon strolling Vineyard Haven, which (of course) included a visit to Bunch of Grapes Bookstore. (I want a clock like this.)

time to read clock mv

bunch of grapes bookstore marthas vineyard ma

We also popped into Mocha Mott’s for a snack, and found several kitchen treasures at LeRoux. But the greatest triumph of the afternoon was Island Music, where I bought J a birthday ukulele.

jer ukulele

That evening, we walked down to the Black Dog Tavern for dinner.

black dog tavern vineyard haven marthas vineyard

A wonderful evening: hot, fresh bread; delicious fish and chips; harbor views; and all kinds of cool nautical memorabilia.

katie black dog tavern mv

After sleeping in the next morning, we ate the (delicious) bagels our host had left for us, and caught the bus over to the next town, Oak Bluffs. (The island bus system runs between all the towns, and we found it reliable, clean and affordable.)

oak bluffs harbor martha's vineyard

We had lunch at the Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company – my second bowl of clam chowder in 24 hours. (Delicious.)

A friend had told us about the famous gingerbread cottages, so we spent a while wandering around among them.

gingerbread cottages martha's vineyard

They began life as tents, then tiny shacks, built by Methodists who came over to the Vineyard for summer camp meetings. The open-air tabernacle is still there, but the cottages have evolved into candy-colored charmers.

gingerbread cottages

After all that walking, we treated ourselves to ice cream from Ben and Bill’s. We did not try the lobster ice cream (yuck!) – but the mint chip (mine) and strawberry (J’s) were delicious.

jer ice cream mv

Later, we rode the bus down to Edgartown, which was mostly still closed up for the season – though the harbor there is also lovely.

edgartown harbor mv

Dinner that night was delicious takeout pizza from Wolf’s Den in Vineyard Haven. Then we walked back to the Black Dog for pie á la mode. As you do.

Sunday dawned grey and chilly, but it was perfect weather for brunch at the Art Cliff Diner.

scone art cliff diner martha's vineyard

Now that is a SCONE. We split it, so we could have room for our main dishes. Mine was the Green Monster: a concoction of eggs, spinach, cheese, salsa and fried tortillas. Yum.

green monster brunch mv

Such a lovely weekend – quiet, peaceful, delicious. A perfect getaway with my favorite guy.

jer katie mv ferry

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jer newport cliff walk

A week ago, the hubs and I hopped in the car and drove about an hour southward to Rhode Island. We’ve taken some glorious day trips this summer, but we needed a proper getaway – a brief chance to detach from work and everyday stresses, and clear our heads.

After much searching, J found us an Airbnb room in Jamestown, just across the bridge from Newport, and we spent a highly enjoyable 48 hours just being together.

We arrived at lunchtime, so headed to Mission for delicious burgers and fries. The order numbers are written on toy dinosaurs. (The hubs approves.)

jer pterodactyl

We spent Friday afternoon strolling around Newport, popping in and out of shops – which, of course, included Island Books. A small, cozy shop with a great selection. I ended up with a novel and a fun notepad.

island books newport ri

Before dinner that night, we walked down to Jamestown Harbor. I couldn’t get enough of the boats and the light.

jamestown harbor rhode island

We ate a delicious dinner at Simpatico, which has a spacious patio hung with twinkle lights and Japanese lanterns.

jer simpatico menu twinkle lights

The next morning, we walked down to the beach after breakfast.

sandals rocks beach

Where there are rocks, we both love to climb on them.

jer beach rocks jamestown

We ate lunch in Newport and then walked about half of the cliff walk, which stretches three and a half miles along the ocean, past some of Newport’s famous mansions. (This photo was taken at the top of the Forty Steps, which lead down to a few rocky outcroppings. We saw a couple of brave swimmers nearby.)

katie jer cliff walk

More shopping, more wandering, a break for some much-needed iced chai, and an early dinner at Lucia – then we drove back to Jamestown across the Pell Bridge. (There’s a $4 toll, but I love this view.)

pell bridge sunset

On Sunday morning, we said good-bye to our hostess, Allie (and her friendly beagle, Skippy), and hit the road, stopping in Providence for brunch at The Grange. (Absolutely scrumptious.)

grange providence ri

All in all, a delightful getaway. Just what we needed.

Have you been to Newport? Any favorite places we should hit next time?

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Recently, my friend Abigail had two questions for me: “What are you doing this weekend?” And “Do you want to go to Maine with me?”

Abi’s co-worker and friend, Lisa, was getting married in Maine, and Abi and her husband had planned to go, but then he couldn’t get that Saturday off work. She really wanted to go, she said, but she wasn’t eager to make the four-hour drive alone. Would I be up for a one-night getaway to a tiny Maine town, complete with an outdoor wedding?

I was.

abi katie harbor

Abi and I have been friends since our college days in Texas, when we sang in our school choir and on our church’s praise team together, along with the men who would become our husbands. (Together, the four of us make a perfect vocal quartet. She’s a soprano married to a bass; I am an alto married to a tenor.) They moved up to Boston about a month before we did, and I am constantly, deeply grateful for the presence of a longtime friend in a city that still feels new and overwhelming at times.

Bonus: she’s available for fun adventures like this one.

We left on Saturday morning, whiling away the miles with conversation. (We can talk for hours, and do, when given the chance.) We reached our hotel just after 2 p.m., and after a flurry of check-in and clothing changes and primping, we hopped back in the car and headed down a few country roads to the farm where the wedding was being held.

We arrived at 2:55, a little nervous because the wedding was supposed to start at 3. But we needn’t have worried: we had ample time to hang around, drinking lemonade from mason jars, before the ceremony finally started around 3:30. (It was, shall we say, a laid-back affair.)

abi katie wedding

We hung around in the wedding tent (above), enjoying cold hors d’oeuvres, then dinner, and some serious dancing. The party was still revving up when we left – but we were ready for a girls’ night in. We changed into pajamas and flipped through InStyle magazines and talked until midnight. And in the morning, we headed out to explore Camden.

downtown camden maine

We enjoyed breakfast at Boynton-McKay, which included buttermilk biscuits, a delicious omelet (for me) and steaming cups of Earl Grey (for both of us). Fortified, we spent several happy hours strolling downtown, poking into adorable shops.

We visited three bookstores, including Stone Soup, a tiny rabbit warren of used books:

stone soup books exterior camden maine

stone soup books interior camden maine

Abi (who teaches preschool) was ecstatic to find the children’s section:

stone soup used books camden maine

She bought a couple of picture books. I scored a vintage E.M. Forster hardback and a Trixie Belden mystery – I used to love reading about Trixie’s adventures with Honey, Jim and the rest of the Bob-Whites.

After visiting Once a Tree (where I bought a gorgeous, Maine-made wooden cutting board), we headed down a side street for some harbor views:

camden maine harbor boats

We couldn’t pass up the Owl & Turtle Bookshop, with its hilarious sign out front:

owl turtle bookshop sign camden me

And its animals keeping watch over the door:

owl turtle bookshop sign camden maine

The interior is also charming:

owl turtle bookshop interior camden maine

We grabbed some sandwiches (and a blueberry crumble bar) at Fresh Bakery, and then, regrettably, it was time to hit the road.

We hit some heavy traffic on our way back – it took us an hour more than the trip up – but we chatted and snacked and laughed our way back to Boston. We felt the way you feel after the best road trips: tired and hungry but content, sated with sunshine, good talk and the glow of a weekend adventure together.

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To celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary, J and I hopped in the car for a long weekend on Cape Cod. The weather was mostly grey and rainy, but we managed to have a wonderful time anyway.

We stayed at the beautiful Ashley Manor in Barnstable:

ashley manor front

ashley manor living room

Our hosts, Vince and Pat, were so friendly and helpful (and they cook a delicious gourmet breakfast). Pat even showed us the house’s secret passage, which was used to hide Tory sympathizers during the American Revolution. (The original house was built in 1699.)

We spent Friday afternoon and evening wandering around Hyannis (kitschy but fun), catching a movie (Monsters University – we loved it), then enjoying seafood at the Black Cat. (Yum.)

black cat clam chowder hyannis ma

We wandered around Barnstable Village on Saturday morning, stopping for chai at Nirvana when it started raining:

nirvana coffee co barnstable ma

Of course, we visited several bookstores: Tim’s Used Books in Hyannis, Mary’s Bookstore in East Sandwich (where we chatted with Mary, who is adorable); Titcomb’s Bookshop farther along the same road; and Parnassus Book Service in Yamourthport. So many wonderful books.

parnassus book service cape cod

There was miniature golf on Saturday afternoon:

jer mini golf

And some delicious Italian food at Alberto’s on Saturday night. This is zebra striped lobster ravioli:

zebra striped ravioli

We finished it off with ice cream at Katie’s:

katies ice cream hyannis ma

Sunday morning found us on a marshy beach in Yarmouth:

grays beach marshes

We watched people fish for tiny crabs (with pieces of raw chicken tied to strings) and enjoyed the, ah, ocean breezes.

k & j grays beach

We ended our trip with lunch – and scones – at the Optimist Cafe in Yarmouthport:

optimist cafe scones yarmouthport ma

All in all, a perfect getaway with the man I love.

k & j ashley manor

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Since we moved to New England, people have been telling us we needed to visit the Berkshires, which is only a couple of hours from Boston but might as well be another world. We spent a recent weekend there, celebrating J’s birthday, exploring half a dozen charming little towns and touring a historic Shaker village. It was green and fresh and blooming, quiet and relaxed and charming, and simply lovely.

Berkshires May 2013 006

We stayed at the Apple Tree Inn, eating breakfast on the veranda, playing Super Scrabble in the living room, reading in the front yard, and taking deep breaths of the spicy, woodsy air all around.

apple tree inn lenox ma

Berkshires May 2013 086

Just up the road was Lenox, where we stuffed ourselves with pasta at Frankie’s, savored ice cream at The Scoop, and sampled a range of tapas (and sangria) at Brava. (Fried calamari + patatas bravas = YUM.)

brava interior

Lenox boasts one bookstore, aptly named The Bookstore, where I found a wonderful old hardcover edition of Anne Frank’s diary (complete with newspaper clippings about Otto Frank) and a copy of a brand-new E.B. White collection on dogs. (He and I share a deep affinity for dachshunds.) They have a wonderfully eclectic selection and an enormous amount of poetry. I could have browsed for hours.

the bookstore lenox ma

I spent far too much money at Colorful Stitches, a gorgeous two-story yarn shop, and we also stopped by the Lenox library book sale, where J and I each scored a $2 find. (We figured that balanced out the big yarn bill.) From there we drove to Lee, where we poked around a bit and had lunch at the Starving Artist Creperie & Cafe. (Delicious.)

colorful stitches porch

We then drove up to the aforementioned Shaker village, where we saw medicinal herb gardens complete with cool old seed boxes:

shaker seeds

There were also baby animals, and lots of old farm equipment, some of which J tried out:

j with buckets

I was fascinated by the looms and spinning wheels, once used by the women of the community:

shaker looms

shaker looms wheels

On Sunday, after checking out, we drove to Great Barrington and enjoyed omelets at Martin’s, then spent a while wandering around Main Street and its environs. The sun was out and so were the locals.

Just before leaving, we enjoyed some (more) ice cream at the SoCo Creamery shop. This was the same brand served at The Scoop in Lenox, and it is delectable. That blue concoction you see below is called Cookie Monster. Nom nom nom.

cookie monster soco ice cream

Berkshires May 2013 118

All in all, a perfect (and delicious) weekend. We’ll be going back.

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Because birthdays call for a little extra pizzazz.

Because booking a room at a B&B and taking off in the car is one of our favorite ways to relax, unwind, explore a new place, and spend a weekend together without computers, chores, errands or other distractions.

Because we’d wanted to visit Northampton ever since we drove through on our way back from a day in Amherst last fall.

And because we love: bookstores, llamas, homemade ice cream, funky restaurants, charming Main Streets and red-brick college campuses.

We spent two nights at the Starlight Llama B&B, enjoying the lack of city noise and getting to know the resident menagerie:

llamas starlight bed and breakfast

peacock starlight llama bed and breakfast

llama starlight bed and breakfast

Seven llamas, six peacocks, a donkey, three dogs, a pair of emus, two goats, assorted guinea fowl, and a partridge in a pear tree. (Just kidding about that last one.)

We browsed the bookshops (of course!), including Broadside Bookshop in Northampton:

broadside bookshop northampton ma

And we drove up to the Montague Bookmill – “books you don’t need in a place you can’t find!”:

montague book mill books

montague book mill jeremiah

We ate yummy Italian food at Spoleto, delicious curry at the India House, and copious amounts of ice cream, mostly from local legend Herrell’s:

herrell's ice cream katie

herrell's ice cream jeremiah

And we walked around the campus of Smith College (quoting Danny Kaye – “They didn’t go to college! They didn’t go to Smith!” and Bing Crosby’s response: “Go to Smith! She couldn’t even spell it!”):

smith college fountain botanical garden

smith college northampton ma

In short, we had a lovely weekend. Just right for celebrating my favorite man.

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