Sunday, June 24, 2012

Newport - Settling In

ACWS Newport - Saturday, June 23, 2012
Newport, Rhode Island

For years my parents have been wanting me to move back to the East Coast.  I think about it from time to time.  They would like me to move to Annapolis or the DC area.  My consideration to move has just increased, but I should let my family know there is a new contender on the list.  The top of the list for places for me to move back east might just be Newport, RI.  This is my first time here and even though I have not even been here for 24 hours yet, I absolutely love the place.  So starts my latest adventure.
Red-eye flights are never fun but sometimes you just have to take them.  This was my route of choice to get to Newport, by way of a red-eye to Cleveland, during which I might have gotten about 20 minutes of sleep just before landing.  I connected in Cleveland to Providence early Saturday morning, and then there was the shuttle to Newport which only runs once every two hours.  Of course I arrived about 20 minutes after a shuttle had just left.  That hour and 40 minute wait for the next shuttle was the longest ever. Thank goodness for the triple venti latte from Starbucks.
When booking this trip I discovered that there are not a lot of hotels in Newport.  There seemed to be a lot of Bed and Breakfast places which were equally as expensive as the hotels.  Availability was scarce.  I then looked at VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) and found a room in a house that looked to be quite central.  The price was right so I booked it.  With VRBO you never know exactly what you're getting into, but I had been happy with other booking so I figured it was worth the risk.  Photos, as I know well, can be deceiving and clearly not everyone on VRBO hires a professional photographer to display their listings.  
As my shuttle from the airport drove a few of us from Providence to Newport I was taking it all in and enjoying the view, amped up on adrenalin and caffeine at that point.  As we crossed the Claiborne Pell Bridge that takes you into Newport, I squinted just to be sure I was seeing things right.  There in the distance, looking down between Rose Island and Goat Island I saw them - standing proudly on their moorings, those impressive wings.  I noticed a bunch of white tents and figured that must be Fort Adams.  And then they were gone, as we headed off the bridge into town.  
My shuttle was driving down this incredibly charming street, lined with rather large homes and a few B&B's when the driver stopped the van.  This was where he was dropping me off.  I was a bit puzzled, but got out with all my luggage.  My driver pointed to an old, slightly rusted iron gate and said that was where I was going.  Beyond the gate, I looked up, past the stately oak tree in the perfectly manicured front lawn, to a front porch where a lady sat reading a book.  "Ellen - is that you?" came the greeting from the lady as she put down her book.  I must be at the right place.  As I entered the gate, in front of me stood a beautiful old home built sometime around the 1850's that had been wonderfully restored by the current owners.  The lady took me inside and showed me the front room which I have all to my self, with an en-suite bath.  I actually have the whole front entrance all to myself as the owners use the back, so the front porch, complete with chairs where I can sit in the shade of the giant oak and watch the world wander by, is all mine - for the next ten days.  Yes - the pictures on their listing might have been a little deceiving as this place has far exceeded my expectations.
After unpacking and having a shower, the lady of the house offered to give me a driving tour of Newport.  We were very close to downtown, the wharfs and what looked like the happening parts of Newport.  She also drove me out by some of the mansions which were some of the most impressive homes I have ever seen.  Then we drove over to Fort Adams which will be my home base for the next week.  Traveling by car, this seemed a long way from where I was staying, but I need to remember that we had taken the scenic route.
Into the AC Village I walked, past the team bases and some historical looking buildings which I will investigate later, to the media center which is located in the what is now the Museum of Yachting (I discovered that this used to be military offices long ago).  I'm here a bit early but still there are familiar faces to greet me.  After claiming my spot for the week, I wandered around the village to take it all in.  The Puma Store and the America's Cup Merchandise Store were in full swing.  The Moet Garden now has some competition with the Stella Artois garden and the Napa Wine area as well.  Sailing fans were out playing some sort of bean bag toss thing on the lawn, and a large opti regatta was taking place out in the bay.  Even with all this going on, it feels a little quiet now, but I know that as the week progresses, this will be more and more crowded. 
To get home, I found the water shuttle that will escort me across the bay each day, cruising between AC45's on their moorings, countless other boats and the New York Yacht Club perched on the hill in the distance.   It takes about ten minutes to cross the bay, much shorter than the drive earlier in the day.  The water shuttle dropped me off at Bowens Wharf which, along with Bannisters Wharf, is a sea of restaurants, bars and shops. (Photo is taken from the village side and the wharfs are straight through those boats.)  I found a spot for a bite to eat before the lack of sleep from the red-eye really set in.  It was time to call it a day.  I wandered along a few streets, catching the whiff of honeysuckles along the way - the sweet smell stirring up happy childhood memories from just a little further down the east coast. I found the wrought iron fence, stepped up and across the front porch and headed "home".  This is going to be a good week.  I can already tell.

For more photos from this day, just click HERE

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