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Trip Report:NYC,The Hudson Valley and The Berkshires

Trip Report:NYC,The Hudson Valley and The Berkshires

Old Oct 19th, 2005, 01:28 PM
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Trip Report:NYC,The Hudson Valley and The Berkshires

We're back in California after two mostly wet weeks on the East Coast. I will try and give the highlights along with some hotel/inn and restaurants do's & don'ts.

We flew JetBlue from Oakland to JFK and now are converts. Everything went remarkably well. They really cannot be beat for fares but all other aspects of the business are equally impressive. We rented a hire car(Carmel 212-666-6666) before we left California. They picked us up just outside the JetBlue Terminal after about a 10 minute wait.

We stayed at The Inn on 23rd in Chelsea. This is a very comfortable "Urban B&B". We had the "quilt Room" which is a queen on the 3rd floor. It was very quiet. Rates were $210(plus taxes etc)/noc. The street has ready access to any number of subway lines and the cross town bus. OUr first night's meal was at The Red Cat which is on 10th @23rd. It was very good food with exceptional service. OUr waiter brought us a number of treats and turned us on to some great places in NY to eat.

We really prefer to immerse ourselves in neighborhoods when we travel and did this to a great extent in NY. Day two we headed uptown on the cross town bus so as to be able to stop on Madison for a wee bit of shopping. My fragrance is by Etro(New Traditions) and I have ordered it for years. It was entertaining to see the store behind the name and sample some Madison Avenue "graciousness".

We headed up to the Metropolitan. After the Met we gave a quick call to Cafe Boulud and headed over there for a VERY GOOD $30 prix fixe luncheon. Service is impeccable and the food very good. The crowd seemed a bit stiff for our tastes. Well saited we headed over to Central Park, passing by the tiny boat pond and through the Ramble. We then headed over to what is probably my favorite spot, The Bethesda Fountain and took in the flora and fauna. We continued on the 72nd Street Traverse to Strawberry Fields and the Imagine Mosaic. We ended up at The Dakota and subwayed back to the Inn.

The following day we headed down to the Lower East Side and took in the Tenement Museum. I think it's interesting but more geared to children. We had lunch at Katz's which, while good, paled next to the 2nd Avenue Deli which we ate at later that week. We headed over to Canal Street for the "knock off" experience. For anyone interested it seems the block between Baxter and Center has a great deal going on. For all those in the want, I could not find a Longchamps bag but Kate Spade,Louis V , Prada and Channel abounded.

By this time the Terror alert was in full form on the subways and Metro North. We continued to take the subway.

We decided to take in both Mary's Fish Camp and Pearl Oyster Bar during this trip. While we both liked the "scene" at Mary's better, the food at Pearl is head and shoulders above that at Mary's. We tried several dishes. Everything seemed fresher at Pearl and the Clam Chowder was to die for. We had those "precious" reservations at Babbo and while I think it is very good, I was put off by the "scene". I have had equally good food at less cost and with far better service. The sommolier was charming, however.

Thursday we immersed ourselves in the Village. Original Leather was on the must do list and a beautiful leather jacket was the order of the day. This is a great place to shop. Later that evening we were off to Lincoln Center for "Light in the Piazza which we both really enjoyed. We had heard the score before buying tickets and have been big Craig Lucas fans for sometime. The show was absolutely worth it. Afterwards we cabbed down to Blue Ribbon for a very late night dinner. This is a great place.

We did take the water taxi over to Brooklyn in the pouring rain on Sautrday and had the requisite hot chocolate at Jacques Torres and a pizza at Grimaldi's. By the time we were ready to walk back across the bridge it was raining even harder so we took the train home. That evening it continued to rain very hard which allowed us to get counter seats at Pearl in about 20 minutes.

Sunday brought a burst of clear sky so we took the train over to Brooklyn and walked back across the bridge. It's a must, IMO. We took the 6 to Astor Place and headed over to 2nd Avenue Deli for the best corned beef and pastrami sandwiches.

Monday we headed over to Grand Central and took the Metro North to Poughkeepsie where we picked up our rental car then headed over to Rhinebeck. We rented from Hertz which was running a special with Metro North.

We stayed at the Beekman Arms in Room 20 which while quieter than most in the main inn was still a bit noisy. The room seemed a bit long in the tooth. We considered transferring to the Delmater but did not want to lug our suitcases around any more for a while. Breakfast at The Beekman Arms should be skipped. I would just head over to Bread Alone and have decent coffee and any number of great pastries next time. We ate a very good dinner at Terrapin and a good,not great one at Gigi's. Rhinebeck and Woodstock are old stompin' grounds for us both so we drove around and visited old haunts. We had lunch wth very old family friends at home and a late afternoon pizza at Catskill Mountain in Woodstock which gave us a taste of what we were looking for in NY pizza.Both towns have changed a great dealbut I think I prefer Rhinebeck still. We tried to find Breezy Hill Orchards and were unsuccessful.

We headed over to Middletown,CT to visit our "all knowing" goddaughter at Weslyean.
It continued to pour as we took the campus tour. We took her to First and Last Tavern for great "old world" Italian. She declined Thai food as she always eats that. We sent her off with a mound of leftovers and the knowledge we were being "ditched" for loftier beings. We stayed at the Inn at Middletown which is fine. She had insisted we stay there. We decided she plays around with "established" parent figure type establishments and finds them "novel". She comes from very "non-traditional" roots.
The "hidden jewel" in Middletown was the Ford News Cafe. This is a locals place with all the charm of same. We sat next to Frannie who had just had her hair done and at the counter where we could listen to Kay, the owner, banter with the town folk.

It was still raining and we headed over to Lenox for our three day stay at the Birchwood Inn. The Birchwood is a wonderful B&B which is really more like staying in the home of one of your favorite relatives. Ellen, the innkeeper is a thoroughly likable and immensely warm woman. Her service dog, Quinn is a golden who takes her turn nuzzling with the various guests. The rooms are nicely done, the shared space is very comfortable and the breakfast is delicious. I would go back here in a heartbeat as it is really one of my all time favorite places we've ever stayed. One is in walking distance to town and across the road from the Kennedy Park. We ate at Bistro Zinc which we thought was very good, Spigalina which I would not do again (pretty boring and just as pricey as Zinc) and Old Inn on the Green. The highlilght was definitely Old Inn on the Green. Our meal was delicious,the service excellent and the surround was charming. The very small dining rooms are lit by candle and hearth light.

We did stop off at Wheatleigh for a drink. This is an old palazzo now high end hotel. It was an experience but one worth doing once and only once.

We poked around various towns including Great Barrington. We visited the Mount and tried some of the other historic homes but they had closed on Columbus Day. We did head over to Williamstown and a visit to the Clark which I thought was great. There was a Winslow Homer show in addition to the usual collection.

The foliage was quite muted this year owing to a long hot summer. We did miss some of the pleasure of walking around due to the very heavy rain. All that being said, it was still lovely to be there. Once of the highlights was a trip to Bartlett's Orchards in Pittsfield for hot apple cider and cider doughnuts. We had a box of empire apples shipped back to CA as we cannot get them here. My fond memories of cider doughnuts were rekindled at Bartlett's.

We returned the car to Poughkeepsie and took Metro North back to NYC and the Inn on 23rd for one final night. Our last day in NYC was a stellar one in all respects. We headed uptown to the 72nd Street traverse and took a roll of film between the Imagine Mosaic and Bethesda Fountain. We headed then to 68th and Lexington for a subway ride back to the village and a search for the perfect "slice". We headed over to 2nd Avenue for a bag of goodies to bring back to CA(I just had a corned beef and pastrami sandwich)...kugel,corned beef. pastrami, latkes,bagels,cole slaw. I am happy to report it sailed through security. Returning to JFK was a bit of a nightmare. We had arranged transport with Carmel who, to their credit, called to say they were delayed. We gave up and took a cab with an angel of a cabbie who knew Brooklyn like the back of his hand. He got us from Chelsea to JFK in about 40 minutes even with the Queensboro Bridge in flames. We had another perfect flight with JetBlue.

We can't wait to go back. Thank you to everyone who helped with tips for this trip.

PamSF is offline  
Old Oct 20th, 2005, 03:32 AM
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It was delightful to read your positive report and not a lot of moans about the rain. We were in the city for our son's wedding which the weather happily cleared up for on the Sunday.

We have previously stayed at the Inn on 23rd and found it to be delightful. Made a note to try the Red Cat next time we are in the city.

Agree about JetBlue. Our other son much prefers this carrier from San Diego to JFK.

Anyway loved all your details. Thank you for posting.

SandyBrit is offline  
Old Oct 20th, 2005, 10:35 AM
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PamSF is offline  
Old Oct 20th, 2005, 10:48 AM
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Very enjoyable PamSF-thanks. Good to hear specifics about JetBlue and the places you visited. I New York too!
BYW, I never posted this but is it easier to travel from Oakland than SFO or was it a function of your destination? Thanks.
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 11:27 AM
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I am out of breath from reading this!

I love The Red Cat! Miss going there on Thursday nights ..

I do prefer Rhinebeck too, but aren't the Berkshires great?! I like those roads where you come around a bend and there is a view of the farms below or just some great trees and a dairy..then the houses on the back roads! I still wish we had bought one 3 years ago when we had the chance

It sounds like such a great trip, so full and nothing wasted. Glad you had a good time, sorry it rained, come to Portland, the leaves are bright and colorful

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Old Oct 21st, 2005, 07:40 PM
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Pam, your trip sounds perfectly
Thank you for sharing such detailed
I am adding this thread to our *to-see* file!
(so many trips, so little time)
wanderluster is offline  
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