The Providence Athenaeum is one of the oldest libraries in the country, and Amy proved how well she knows me when she included it in my tour. This place is a bibliophile’s dream. The second floor is open to the first, making you feel like you’re in a catacomb of books. You can stroll along the second floor walkways and find various nooks and crannies among the shelves. It was odd and surprisingly wonderful to find a library with almost no computers and an honest-to-goodness card catalog still intact. I wanted to sit at a second floor desk overlooking the main room with a notebook and pen in hand.
Amy took us to Newport, Rhode Island, for a New England beach experience. Newport also has a cliff walk where people can see the coast and mansions built by extraordinarily wealthy people of yore. There’s a Vanderbilt house and another that could easily serve as Mr. Rochester’s home in Jane Eyre. The craggy shoreline creates a nice juxtaposition to the opulence. It was obvious why people use the cliff walk for romantic gestures, like the lock pictured below.
Occasionally there were steps going closer to the water, and although it’s not strictly advised, some people venture even farther. Katie was the most daring rock-climber of our trio, but we all climbed down a bit. Rest assured, it was not actually dangerous for an able-bodied person. Just one of those things that you have to do because you might never get the chance again.
There was also an abundance of daffodils in Newport. We came across many patches during the cliff walk, but this was definitely the largest. There were many people trying to take pictures with this backdrop, and even a few sitting down in the grass to take selfies. Looking toward the ocean made me feel like I was in Moby Dick, but looking toward the mansions felt like The Great Gatsby.
I’m glad this little jaunt was part of our trip. If traveling is all about new perspectives, this was yet another.
I loved Providence. In my limited experience with East Coast travel, it’s definitely my favorite place. The tour starts with Brown University, which is one of the most beautiful campuses I’ve ever seen. (Sorry, Harvard, but it’s got you beat.) I spent some time wandering around campus while Amy tended to grad school business, and she gave me a tour later on. As she pointed out, Brown bleeds into the surrounding neighborhood very nicely. One unique and lovely feature on campus is this sculpture by Tom Friedman.
After walking around campus, Amy and another grad student toured me around the neighborhood. Prospect Park boasted the best view of Providence, and one of the most beautiful structures was the Unitarian church pictured above. My absolute favorite place was the Providence Athenaeum, an historic library that Amy very astutely predicted I would enjoy. Those photos will probably get their own post. Besides being absurdly cute, Providence is known for its restaurants. We always ate well for brunch and dinner.
This trip made me feel like I was back in college, except with all the fun and none of the work. There was even a spring formal for the grad students while we were there. As the whole world knows, I love Minneapolis, but it’s not old enough to be this quaint. I’m grateful to Amy for hosting us and to her friends for welcoming us into their world.
Tomorrow we travel to Newport!
The first day of our East Coast trip was a busy one. After a few hours in Boston, we took the train to Cambridge, where we were met by Katie’s sister. I wasn’t going to Cambridge without seeing the Harvard campus, and luckily we had an expert guide. It was a struggle keeping my Good Will Hunting and Gilmore Girls references to a minimum, but I think I succeeded. That being said, here’s a picture of me in front of Matt Damon’s freshman dorm!
Harvard feels unified with almost all its buildings in red brick. Above is Annenberg Hall, a dining hall with stained glass windows that looks more like an ornate church. I didn’t want to embarrass our tour guide with my enthusiasm, but apparently it’s normal to walk around Harvard taking pictures. She even offered to take this one of me on the steps of one of the many libraries on campus. (I remember Rory Gilmore being very excited about the number of libraries…)
When a place is as famous and revered as Harvard, it’s refreshing to see that it’s just a place. An impressive place, certainly, but not another world. A place where young people have many of the same college experiences that I did (and probably some that I’m thankful not to have had). And as it happens, not the last Ivy League campus on my trip.
Tomorrow we travel to Providence!
After years of my friend Amy visiting Minneapolis, I finally felt financially capable of returning the favor. My roommate Katie joined me so that she could see Amy and visit her sister at college. I was excited to spend time with my friend and experience the place where she’s been living for the past three years. And I’ll admit, I was also excited to take lots of photos. I’ve become a less frequent photographer of late, and that’s probably because I’ve been living in the same city for almost four years. New environments are always inspiring!
I considered just sharing my photos through a series of Photo Friday posts, but I have thoughts to share as well as photos. So here we go.
Amy lives in Providence, Rhode Island, but Katie and I flew into Boston. I wanted to spend a little time in Boston because, well, I’ve never been there. I’ve always had a strange affinity for Bostonian accents, actors, and movies, so it was basically a requirement. One bus and a subway ride brought us into the city. In fact, we emerged right on the edge of Boston Common. I had an immediate sense of being somewhere else.
My inner nerd was begging to find historical sites. There was a group of high school students led by a man in a tricorne hat, and we may have followed them to the Granary Burying Ground. Costumed tour guides turned out to be very useful for catching snippets of information throughout the graveyard. It’s the resting place of Paul Revere, as well as Benjamin Franklin’s parents, which makes the huge Franklin obelisk a bit misleading. (Ben himself is buried in Philadelphia.)
Our main challenge in Boston was that we were still carrying our luggage. Taking advantage of the opportunity was worth a little hassle, but let’s just say I didn’t feel guilty about missing the gym on this trip. We also saw the Old State House, adorned with a golden lion and unicorn, from where the Declaration of Independence was first read. For a Midwesterner, it was odd to see these historical sites butting up against a modern city. Although I appreciated visiting them, there was no real feeling of “going back in time.” Still, I only experienced a small sliver of Boston and would love to go back someday.
Tomorrow we travel to Cambridge!