My trip to Newport was a 2 day, 1 night whirlwind.
The first Christmas that BF and I spent together, he asked me where I wanted to go during his days off. I think there were about 10 things on our list, including New Orleans, Texas, a cruise to the Bahamas and Las Vegas, etc. We eventually went to Las Vegas and visited family from both sides in LA (two birds with one stone), but one of the ideas I had come up with was a bed and breakfast trip to small, cold, Northeastern towns –> Newport, Burlington, etc. We both are very much into Christmas decorations and the holiday atmosphere, so I thought it’d be very romantic to walk along snow covered cobblestone streets, window shop at all the window displays and lights, popping into a non-franchise coffee shop for a hot chocolate by the fireplace, and staying at a ma and pa bed and breakfast. But after my weekend trip to Newport, I am glad that idea was vetoed. The idea may make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, but in reality…it’s frickin’ cold man!
Newport is definitely a summer town. All the shops displaying striped bathing suits and yacht paraphernalia should have been a big indicator. Thames Street (the main shopping/restaurant/touristy street) is sooo cute, but after walking a block or so outside in the frigid cold Saturday night, we were both quick to choose a random restaurant, basically anything that was close by and served seafood, and call it a night back at our hotel to watch the Olympics.
We attempted a sightseeing stroll down Thames Street again on Sunday since it was sunny and clear (I really needed to find my shot glass, and BF knows I am not leaving anewly visitied town without adding to my collection), and nope, still cold! We opted to tour some of the Newport mansions and the 10 mile Ocean Drive instead, mainly because they were indoors.
The Newport mansions made my trip, I think, particularly The Breakers. I had heard about these former summer homes of the rich and powerful back in the late 1800s early 1900s, but never fully understood the magnitude of the extravagance. So when I walked into The Grand Hall, I was so blown away I almost cried.
Cornelius Vanderbilt II built The Breakers and used it as his summer home for many years during The Gilded Age. (I later found out that some of his descendants still summer there on the top floors, formerly used as the helps’ quarters and now closed to the public.) Everything was marble or gold or the rarest wood, cherubs adorned every panel, every marble post, their fat, sometimes angry carved in great detail, every room had a different theme, a different color scheme, and the place was massive, 138,000 square feet to be exact (including the grounds). I don’t care if it was criticized to be too gaudy, too much of a show for that era. To me, it was breathtaking.
And although thy had rules and etiquette, and all sorts of schedules that had to be followed, I would have loved to be a society lady in those days. They changed outfits as much as 7 times a day, and planning balls and parites and high tea etc. was a full time job, a full time job I would like to have! Though if I had to walk up and down the grand staircase several times a day just to get from my bedroom to the library, or the music room, or the breakfast room, etc., I’d have amazing quads.
The Gilded Age is now my favorite Age. It only made it so much better when I found out that Anderson Cooper, aside from being the sexiest anchor ever, is also, in fact, a Vanderbilt. (?!?!?)