Monday, April 24, 2017

Newport, Rhode Island, May 2017

Off to Newport, RI in May.
My Castle Awaits...
Not my photos. These are courtesy of Mr. Google
As soon as we arrive I'll post plenty of my own photos
This is the Ocean Cliff Resort.  Info about the property says it was a castle built in 1864; converted in 1954 to an Ocean Front "Retreat for the Elite". Now operating as a restaurant, wedding/events center, hotel/condo rentals. 
Photos of the room and a little history of the castle at the end of this entry.

Friday May 5,2017

There are no direct flights on any airlines from Phoenix to Rhode Island.  We connected through Baltimore on the flight in.  We’ll connect through Chicago going home.
Our flights were right on time.  Packed in like sardines on the first flight.  Plenty of space to stretch out on the second flight. 
Our bags were waiting at baggage claim by the time we walked through the airport.
Nobody was in line at the car rental. 
Directions to the resort were perfect.  
I *DID* have plenty of sources.  Google Maps, a map from the rental car place, directions from the rental car place and Glenda, my GPS (Get Patti Somewhere).
It took about an hour with rain and a little traffic.
Once we got on the island we drove through the adorable little town.  I think I’m going to enjoy it here.
Our condo is beautiful.
So far so good.

This is going to be a rainy vacay.  Weather is predicted to be a mixed bag of rainy, cloudy, sunny, rainy all week.  We’re prepared with plenty of rain gear so it will be fine.

After we checked in we went to the grocery store and liquor store. I always forget that you can’t buy alcohol in grocery stores in the east.  I don’t cook on vacation but we get coffee, beer/wine, fruit, snacks, etc.
Back to the condo to put everything away and then we had planned on having dinner at The Safari Room, the restaurant on the property.  We walked over there and found out they were closed for a private party.  Dang.  
Misty Evening
We could have stopped somewhere while we were out.  Back in the car and back to town.  We are about 10-15 minutes to downtown.  We decided to go to Buskers Irish Pub that has excellent reviews.  It was hoppin’.  They have a musician who plays guitar and sings oldies mixed in with Irish tunes.  Paul had a Ruben and I had a sampler plate with wings, mozzarella sticks, an Irish version of chicken fingers, and fried pickles.  We both brought back half.  I had my obligatory Irish Coffee.  I’m an Irish Coffee snob and this one was very good.
I know, I look pretty wiped out after a long travel day.
It’s Saturday morning and I’m doing my favorite morning thing.  
Sitting on my beautiful patio and recapping yesterday.  The patio is private and huge.  It’s a little cold out, mid 50’s with a slight breeze.  I’m bundled over my PJs in my light weight down jacket, peshmina, boots and luckily I brought the gloves I bought in Linz, Austria (hi Connie). They don’t have fingertips or covered thumbs so I can type! 

Back to the view from my patio.  All the way to the left all I can see are trees.  Center left, across a big grassy area is a large house and a sprung structure (big tent) where they probably have some sort of events. In fact last night we could hear music playing and we could see people dancing although its not THAT close.  I should have brought binoculars!  Directly across is the ocean.  To my right is a big grassy area and then the event center for this property where there is a big tent and the restaurant and banquet rooms.  They have weddings here on the grassy area overlooking the ocean. 
Weather today is supposed to be high of 60 and foggy.  A little rain is predicted for a couple of hours this morning.  In fact right now its intermittently sprinkling a wee tad. 

I think I need one more cup of coffee before I SF&P (shower, fluff and puff) and see what the day brings.

Saturday May 6, 2017

We got a leisurely start to the day.  We left about 10:30 and headed to Middletown to Flo’s Clam Shack.  Fried Clams are Paul’s favorite. I could usually take em or leave em and opt for shrimp or fish and chips. I had seen it on an episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate.  Chris Cosentino featured the Clam Roll with belly clams. Beau McMillan was on the same episode and featuring Flo’s Fish and Chips.  They bantered a little about which was better then Chris said “when you’re at a place called the CLAM shack, you get the clams!”   They looked amazing so When*in*Rome.  Paul prefers the clam strips so I ordered the Clam Roll and he had the Strip Platter.  They were super de-lish.  The belly clams were creamy on the inside and nice and crunchy on the outside.
I have officially reached my limit of fried foods for the week.  Unless we go back to Flo’s before we leave. :wink:
It was rainy when we left Flos’ so what do you do on a rainy day? You go to the local aquarium which is practically across the street from Flo’s.
It’s a small aquarium but nicely done with plenty of sea creatures to explore.
Touch tank man was crabby
Gigantic Starfish
Mermaid's Purses
^Aren't those cool? A Mermaid's Purse is the egg casing for a Skate.  Skates are in the shark/stingray family.  Sign says they are extremely common in Narragansett Bay.
Hello Baby Skate
Adult Skates look like stingrays.  They are dark and the bottom of their tank was kind of dark so not a good photo op.
And I thought I was having a bad hair day!
This is a Northern Red Sea Anemone.
And a turtle for Janet
^That guy is a Diamondback Terrapin. Sign says they are endangered but making a comeback in Rhode Island.
Making friends with the locals  That's a seal on the bench next to me.
Blame the blurry on the photographer!
It stopped raining right after we left so we stopped at the visitor’s center and picked up some info for things to do this week.  Ghost Tour, Wine Tasting, Cliff Walks (not to be done after wine tasting!)  We mowsied around the downtown shopping area.  We went to the History of Newport Museum.  Paul went in and I checked out the gift shop.  We walked back down the other side of the street and in-and-out of touristy stores.
Then we went to Trinity Church to wander around the old grave yard.

Some headstones date back to the 1600's
I went into the church.  
Beautiful Stained Glass Window

A Pipe Organ
It was actually sunny out by then.  We walked around town for a while then we decided to head back to the condo to relax, maybe even have some Jacuzzi time.  We past Fort Adams on the way back and decided to detour through there.  They have two tours of the fort but we missed the last one so maybe we’ll go back and do that another day. You can only get inside the fort if you’re on the tour.
We walked around the grounds and discovered another cemetery.  This one for locals who served in the military.
What a beautiful place to spend eternity
Back to the condo but first popped into the restaurant we tried to go to last night to see if we could get in tonight.
This is the daytime view of the picture I posted yesterday of the Misty Evening
They only had 6 or 8:30 available so we picked 8:30.  That’s later than we normally eat but 6 seemed too early. 
A glass of wine with some fruit on the patio is just what the doctor ordered. 
Then we went to check out the Jacuzzi.  They have a solarium with pool and Jacuzzi.  The solarium was nice and warm with lots of lounge chairs. Note to my Building Safety friends.  ADA accessible with a chair lift for the pool that can be moved to the Jacuzzi and an ADA shower with a transfer seat.  Nice!  After Jacuzzi time Paul took a nap and I read for a while. Off to dinner.  Bottom line, the food was really good. The ambiance and service were meh.
I love when they bring a tool kit before your meal
We both decided on the steamed lobster. Hey, last night we ate bar food!  He started with Clam Chowder and I had a Caesar Salad. Both were really good.  The lobster was fantastic.
This my friends, is my version of a Happy Meal ;~}
There is nothing better than New England/Maine Lobster (IMO).  We were talking about how the first trip to Cape Cod we ate lobster almost every day.  It was on every menu and typically less expensive than steak! 

This morning it is so beautiful out.  It’s only 50* right now but sunny and clear.  The view from our patio is just amazing.  There is no prediction of rain today (fingers crossed it stays that way).

Sunday 5-7-17

Well the crossing of the fingers worked!  The entire day was crystal clear albeit a bit chilly.
We started off going to the Castle Hill Inn which is the castle we can see across from us.  The house across the way with the sprung structure that I mentioned we could hear music and people dancing? That is an extension of the Inn where they have weddings and other events.  We were going to have breakfast there but they are only open for their hotel guest during breakfast.  They open at 11:30 to the public for brunch (it was only 10) and later for dinner.  We’ll go back for dinner there one night during the week.
We drove down to Bowen’s Wharf in an effort to find a breakfast spot.  
No such luck.  Practically everything opens at 11:30 except a tiny little coffee bar with muffins.  We walked around the shops for a while and ended up eating at Aquidneck Lobster Co.
View from our window seat
I had shrimp and Paul had the clam platter again, this time with belly clams.  I tried one and it was okay but not as fantastic as the ones at Flo’s.
We walked around the wharf and up and down the streets.  We found a little breakfast place across from the wharf that we might try one day.  More walking, walking, walking.  I went into a fancy schmancy shoe store to look at a pair of shoes that caught my eye in the window.  They were pricy.  Paul said if I liked them he’d buy them for me.  Okey dokey then!  Then we decided to go back to the visitor center and take the trolley tour.  We had an hour left at our parking lot and the tour is 90 minutes so we decided to move the car to the lot by the Visitor Center since it would have been a pretty long walk.  We drove past Historic St. Mary's.
  Historic because that's where JFK and Jackie got married
On to the Visitor Center where we paid the parking piper and went inside to get tickets.  No can do.  The last tour left 10 minutes ago.  What is it with our timing and missing tours by 10 minutes?!?  I sweet talked the parking money-taking-man to giving us our 10 bucks back.  Luckily there was an attendant rather than the self pay lot we had been in previously.  We decided to take a drive to Portsmouth.  We only went as far as Tiverton before turning around.  On the way back we saw signs for the Greenvale Vineyards Wine Tasting Room.  Detour!  Some vineyards sell wine made by others in addition to their own but they make and sell all their own wine.    
The vines are dormant now but he said in two weeks they will have buds and from that point they grow pretty quickly. We sampled seven wines (five white, two red).  He said they produce better whites there because of the climate.  He was right.  The whites were much better than the reds and I typically prefer red.
Back to the resort for some Jacuzzi time and what is turning into our typical routine.  He naps, I read. 
I was out on the patio and two visitors we resting on the lawn.
All of a sudden I could hear music from across the way from what sounded like a big orchestra (rather than a DJ).  They were singing “and I think to myself, what a wonderful world”. {feeling blessed}.  Then there were loud cheers and wedding march music so the bride and groom must have arrived.  There were two people walking across our lawn to the unit downstairs where someone on the patio said "they are lucky it stopped raining".  The man walking said "they arrived on a boat".  Nice way to make a grand entrance to your wedding reception.  
We decided on Italian for dinner. We went to Restaurante Lucia.  Very small restaurant, maybe a dozen tables.  The food was delicious and the service was great.  I had Pollo al Forno which is chicken with eggplant baked in tomato sauce and topped with mozzarella.  Paul had Veal Aromatica, sautéed with wine sauce, lemon, capers and kalamata olives.  We skipped the starters and dessert.
Opps, forgot to take a photo before I dove in

This morning it’s a super chilly 42* with an expected high of 53* and clear. Yay!  I’d rather bundle for the cold than dart in and out of the rain.  Rain is predicted again Tuesday and Wednesday; clear again Thursday and Friday. 

Since it’s going to be a nice day we might do the Mansion Tours today.  Dunno yet but stay tuned.  You know I’ll report back!

Monday 5-8-17

We started off with breakfast at Annie’s.  It was typical Ma and Pa little breakfast/lunch joint.  It was okay.  It’s rated as one of the top 10 breakfast joints in Newport.  Apparently breakfast isn’t a big thing here!
Then off to explore some mansions. We pulled into The Elms. We bought the 5-tour package.  Even if we only tour two mansions we’ll break even compared to paying separately.   One of the mansions is closed for renovations so they added on a topiary garden in Portsmouth as an option.  I don’t know if we’ll bother going up there. 
A little history for you today. 
Come on.  I'm waiting for you on this lovely bench
The Elm was the summer cottage of the Berwinds.  Mr. Berwind made his fortune in coal.  They hired an architect in 1898 and finished construction in 1901 for a cost of 1.5 million. In the 1960’s it was slated for demolition (as a lot of old mansions were) and most of the interior items were sold at public auction.  The Preservation Society of Newport purchased it for just over $100,000 (can you imagine?) two weeks before the wrecking ball was about to hit.  They were able to track down a lot of the original furnishing.  Some were donated back, some they had to purchase. It became an National Historical Landmark in 1996.  I took about 100 pictures so I’m going to try to just pull out my favs of the highlights.
This is actually the back of the "cottage"
Paul standing at the front entrance
500 year old tapestry
Marble columns with gold at the top
Beautiful chandelier with ceiling plate (typical throughout)
Mrs. B's Bedroom
Mr. B's Bedroom
They say the reason for separate bedrooms was because the lady of house often entertained her friends in her Bedroom.  It would not be appropriate if Mr. B were to enter to say, change his clothes.  Across from her bed was a tea table with chairs and in the center of the room was a game table with mah jongg set that looks very similar to the one my Mother-in-Law gave me years ago.
Bathroom (sink is across, vanity in the center)
That little tub in the center - I thought it was possibly for bathing babies and toddlers.  Nope.  Its to sit in.  I guess sometimes you just need to sit your hiney in a tub without the rest of your body! Who knew?
That large white thing on the counter is a marble block and there's a giant bar bell looking thing next to it.  It was their mortar and pestle for grinding fresh herbs.
Next we went to the Marble House.
*Sidebar – possibly haunted.  I asked an elderly lady working at The Elm if any of the mansions are haunted.  She said “maybe at night!”  Then she said she’s heard tour guides say they have had strange feelings in Consuelo’s room at the Marble House.  She said “check out her room, it’s the red room upstairs.  Don’t be afraid”.  :twilight zone music:
The mansion was built in the late 1800’s by the Vanderbilts at a cost of 11 million. That would be about 300 million in today's dollar. The Vanderbilt fortune came from steamships and railroads. He gave her the Marble House on her 39th Birthday.  On her 40th Birthday she divorced him. Mrs. Vanderbilt was actually the first women to file for divorce.  It was not proper in those days so Mr. V just wanted to separate but she didn’t want anything to do with that.  A year later she married his best friend and moved to the Beaumont cottage down the street!  After he died she re-opened the Marble House and had the Chinese Tea House built on the edge of the cliff.  That’s where Mrs. Vanderbilt held rallies for women’s right to vote.  Thank you Mrs. Vanderbilt.  Marble House has been a National Historical Landmark since 2006.  The Vanderbilt's had more money than dirt so their mansion was not at risk for demo as many of the others were.  Again tons of pictures so I’ll try to pick my favs.
Red Marble Slab walls in the Dining Room.
They cut the slabs in half and open them like a book
Ornate wall plates above the doors
Mrs. V's Bedroom
Mr. V's Bedroom
Consuelo's Bedroom
Consuelo's spirit looming!
Very Impressive Kitchen
Oven and Heating Surfaces
Pots so heavy they have spigots 
The path to the Tea House
The Tea House
View from the Tea House
One thing to share since my husband is hearing impaired.  The tours have self guided narration with headphones.  They didn’t work with Paul’s hearing aids.  At Elm they gave him a bound booklet with all the same info that was recorded.  You just have to ask for it.  At Marble they had tablets that you could either use the headphones and push “play” or you could push an icon that looked like the page of a book and scroll through to read the info room-by-room.  Your PSA of the Day.

I think that was enough mansion tours for one day.  We spent hours wandering around just those two properties exploring.  After that we went o O’Brien’s Irish Pub so I could warm up with an Irish Coffee.
O’Brien’s is not as nice as Busker’s but the Irish Coffee was good.  Paul had a Guinness.  Then back to the condo for our typical mid-day R&R. 
Dinner at the White Horse Tavern. They have a dress code so I had the opportunity to wear my new shoes.
Waiting for my date
Open since 1693 was once the usual haunt for colonist, soldiers, mercenaries, sailors and pirates.  PIRATES?!?!  They say it’s the birthplace of the Businessman’s Lunch.  It’s nicely decorated for their period in time.  Upscale dining room with linens and candle light.  We started sharing the Crispy Heritage Pork Belly appetizer.  Amazing.
Then we split a Wedge Salad.  Super delicious. 
I ordered the Hanger Steak with RI Mushrooms, he ordered the Beef Wellington.
Still looking for the RI Mushrooms
That thing that looks like a baked potato is the puff pastry of the Wellington
Mine was okay.  His was great.  He was disappointed that mine wasn’t fantastic.  Hey, it happens.  It wasn’t bad, it just wasn't as good as I hoped it would be.  If I had a do-over I would order something else for my entrée but I highly recommend the pork belly and the wedge salad.  Service was also impeccable. 

This morning its 42*, expecting a high of 54*.  That rain that was expected has moved to tomorrow.  YES! We’re  thinking of maybe taking the trolley tour today.  Afterwards we'll have lunch on the wharf and for dinner we'll stay in and eat the leftovers that are piling up.
We’ll save another mansion tour for either Wednesday or Thursday.

Tuesday May 9, 2017

All things subject to change, kind of like the weather here.  Grateful for another beautiful day of chilled sunshine.  Prediction of rain has moved to tomorrow.  :TwoThumbsUp:
We skipped breakfast today (don’t worry about me – I had a banana). We headed to the Visitor Center for the trolley tour.  We purchased tickets but the next trolley wasn’t until 12:30 so we had two hours to kill.  We went over to the Marriott next door and checked out their restaurant menu to see if we might want to go there another day.  Nothing special about the dinner menu.  We might have breakfast there. Then I talked to the concierge to get info about the Haunted Tour.  It’s at 8 p.m. every night, rain or shine.  It’s a 90 minute walking tour that starts at the hotel and walks through the streets of Newport.  She said “dress warm”.  I’m not sure if we’re going to do that or not.  Paul thinks it’s going to be too cold.  I hate to admit it but I agree. We’ll see if fits into our schedule because we’ve been eating dinner around 7 or 8.
We walked around the wharf for a while and enjoyed the beautiful morning.
Finally saw a sign that this is a Kwanzan Cherry Tree.
They are in bloom everywhere and so pretty
Back to the Visitor’s Center and *all*aboard*.  
Yep - Viking (just like my last trip but a different type of cruisin' )
Our guide Joe was an older gentleman and very knowledgeable about the area.  He pointed out some if his favorite restaurants along the way, one of them being the White Horse Tavern we ate at last night.  As we past St. Mary’s he said the Kennedy’s had 2,000 people at their wedding reception.  He told stories about the famous mansions (cottages) we past.  I kind of felt like I was on a Hollywood Homes Tour as he pointed out the homes of the rich and famous.  This one was owned by the Perrins as in the Lee and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce people; that one was owned by a famous butter family; celebrities that stay here and there while visiting.  Women ran the social scene back in the day.  Their husbands worked during the week and were only on the island on weekends. The women stayed all summer.  The 400 club was formed (the 400 richest of the rich).  If you weren’t on the list, you weren’t invited to the cocktail parties, let along the balls.  This woman had six children and lived in this mansion, her husband lived in the mansion next door.  He had an extensive art collection and didn’t want the children touching anything. Okay, let’s just move the entire family next door so they won’t touch my stuff!  He told an interesting story about Doris Duke.  She was the stepdaughter of RJ Reynolds.  He left her 100 million dollars when she was only 12 years old.  They called her the Cigarette Heiress.  RJ Reynolds, the tobacco man, as in Lucky Strikes.  She used her money for good.  She’s one of the founders of the Historic Preservation Society of Newport and saved 11 mansions from being destroyed.  They credit her for saving Newport when the old money left town.  They have no industry to fall back on.  Tourism is their financial source.  Speaking of when the money left town, all was good and frivolous until 1913 when income tax came into play.  Apparently millionaires didn’t want to share their millions to the tax man…
This little nugget could be yours for 17 million
Eisenhower had this little cottage built right on the golf course where he liked to play
After the tour was over we went to Moorings, Seafood Kitchen.  I had a fantastic salad with grilled shrimp, roasted beets, wine poached pear, shaved fennel and a blue cheese vinaigrette.  M-M-Good.
Paul had an open faced tuna melt. 
When we left there we went to Breakers, the “other” Vanderbilt Mansion.  Cornelius Vanderbilt's fortune came from steamships and later railroad (just like his brother William of the Marble House).  The original wood framed house was destroyed in a fire.  It was rebuilt out of marble and steel. He had the kitchen built in a separate wing due to it’s potential for fire although they did not know the source of the original fire. Apparently fire investigation wasn't a thing in the late 1800's. Tour guide said when the house was sold to the Historic Preservation Society there was one stipulation.  The two remaining Vanderbilts would be allowed to stay there when visiting Newport.  Those two? Gloria Vanderbilt and her son Anderson Cooper.  The upper levels of the cottage originally housed quarters for 33 servants.  He said that’s where GV and AC’s private quarters are now.  Gloria is 93 so who knows how often she travels anymore or if she’d actually stay there.  I didn’t see an Anderson Cooper sighting although I could imagine him wandering around there! 
The grand staircase
The children slid down the banisters on sliver platters! 
Baccarat Crystal Chandeliers, So impressive it was hard to look away.  
Ceiling Art
More Ceiling Art

Marble lined walls in the game room
^That is "Book Marble" where they split it down the center and open it like a book. If you look close you can see the line down the center. See how the pattern is practically the same on both sides? 
This tub was carved from a single block of marble
They had to fill and empty several tubs of hot water until it would hold the heat long enough to bathe. There are four faucets.  Two for fresh water; two for sea water because they thought it was good for you to bathe in salt water.
Mr. V's Bedroom
Mrs. V's Bedroom
The upstairs rooms are not nearly as elaborate as the main floor.  They had a French architect who believed in the less is more approach of design.
Another elaborate Kitchen

Yes please!
We took the scenic drive back along the coast line.  So beautiful.
Hard to capture the beauty
Out onto the patio for a glass a wine and a coyote ran across the lawn.  I thought I left those back in Phoenix!  Paul went for a Jacuzzi and a swim while I sat by the fireplace and read.  Neither one of us were very hungry after our late lunch. I think I snacked on some leftovers around 9-ish.

Today we have another day of  postponed rain.  Its 44* with an expected high for 53* and cloudy.  Mr. Sunshine is trying to break through the clouds.  We haven't decided whats on the to-do list yet.
A little redheaded visitor this morning on Mi-Patio

Wednesday May 10, 2017

As we left the resort to go to breakfast, Paul stopped on the side of the road at a farm along the way so I could take a pictures.
Oreo Cows lounging 
The Llamas headed  over to checked me out while I was checking them out
Lions and tigers and bears – well okay, cows and llamas and horses and sheep.
We started off with breakfast at the Corner Café.  Cute little homey spot across from the court house which I’m assuming is downtown Newport.  Listed #1 on the top 10. I had bacon and eggs with the best morning potatoes and excellent nine grain toast.  I cleaned my plate except for the eggs which were a little too under cooked for me.  Paul had Eggs Benedict.  Service was great.  We walked up and down the streets around the café.
We discovered a little tiny cemetery on a back street dedicated to Dr. John Clarke.  
He was a Physician, Baptist Minister and Statesman.  In 1651 he was arrested in MA for his Baptist Faith, jailed and tried without defense; fined for preaching the gospel.  He returned to England where he spent 12 years laboring to obtain a Charter of the New England Colony. We’ve come a long way baby.
Back in the car and off to Mansion # 4, the Chateau Sur-Mer.  I told Paul they are all starting to look alike to me.  It was built in 1852 by China trade merchant William Wetmore.  The largest cottage until the Vanderbilt’s arrived.
I tried to get some pictures of things that were different like the fireplace with tiles.

The wood sculpture above this one was carved from a single piece of walnut
This wall hanging that looks like tapestry is woven bamboo
It was difficult to get pictures with the way they have the lighting.  I think they do it on purpose!
Marble Angels Dancing
Marble Man Pondering
We walked around the grounds known for their imported trees.

View of the back of the cottage
We left there and spent a couple of hours on the Cliff Walk.  We started at a point called 42 steps, 
Named for these steps that lead down to the rocky shoreline
Your reward for walking down the steps
Salve Regina University.  The tents on the left are being set up for graduation

Poetry Boxes along the walkway
Open the door and read the poem.  There was a little tablet and pencil inside so you could leave a note.  So cute.
Benches along the path to sit and daydream.
Kind of reminded me of the benches on the Danube
Then back to the resort for wine-on-the-patio time before heading to the Jacuzzi. 
View form my patio, nice day for sailing
Dinner at a French restaurant, Bouchard’s.  Ah-MAZ-ing!  I started with the escargot appetizer.  Yes, I ate the snails!  They were in a Mousseline Sauce, which is a creamy egg based sauce with garlic and parsley. I prefer them in garlic butter but these were really good too. Super tender and delicious.  Paul had soup.  For my entrée I HAD to have lobster because it was their house specialty and I'm glad I did.  Homard et St. Jacques Cardinal Gratines.
It’s re-stuffed roasted lobster and scallops in gruyere lobster sauce.   Oh My Stars!  I could see why it’s their specialty.  Paul had one of their specials de jour, a Veal Chop with demi glaze and three kinds of mushrooms.
We split a Grand Marnier Souffle
Not my photo.  I forgot to take a pic so I snatched this one from the web.
So light and fluffy and flavorful.  It could quite possibly be the best thing I’ve eaten on this vacation. Definitely the best dessert.
Even my cappuccino was picture perfect
After dinner we went for a nice long walk around town before heading back to the car and back to the resort.  My FitBit is quite pleased today at over 12,000 steps. Seriously, it felt more like 20k! 

Morning coffee on the patio and that rain that was predicted for today has moved itself to the weekend. TYJ. We've been so lucky with the weather. Its 44* now with a high of 57* predicted for the day. Paul asked last night what my favorite meal has been this week.  We've eaten soom pretty amazing food so he was shocked when I said my favorite (beside the souffle) was the belly clams at Flo's.  I think I was just surprised at the burst of creamy deliciousness hidden under the crunchiness.  I was expecting the texture to be a little firm, like mushroom-ish.  He said if that was my favorite we'd go back again today instead of going to breakfast.  Hmmmmm?  Not sure what the day brings (typical).  This is our last full day here.  We check out Friday morning and head for the airport.  We have one more mansion to choose from on our ticket.  We'll have to do a little research and see which one we'd rather see.  There is also a automobile museum that Paul wants to check out.  Dinner tonight at the Castle Inn across the way.  Its a Prix Fixe menu (translation "table of the host") so we have no idea what there will be to choose from since it changes daily.  A dinner adventure...To be continued...

Thursday May 11,2017

Today was a do-over day.  Dinner reservations are at 7:15 so if we want to go back to Flo’s we need to skip breakfast and be there at 11 when they open for an early lunch.  Off to Flo’s it was. This time I just had the belly clams ala carte.  I didn’t really care for the coleslaw and only ate a few of the fries so let’s skip the sides and go straight for the bellies!  Paul had the clam strip platter again so I snagged two or three of his fries.  Still, just as good as the first time.  I’ve had my fill of belly clams to hold me over for about 5 years!
Off to another mansion tour.  We’ve been to the Breakers, Marble House, The Elms, Chateu-sur-Mer.  They had told us when we purchased the tickets that Rosecliff was closed for renovation so they added the Topiary Garden in Portsmouth as an option.  The others listed on the ticket were Kingscote, Isaac Bell House and Chepstow.  We decided on Kingscote but when we drove up it was closed until May 20th.  Then we went to Chepstow.  Closed until May 20th.  Final stop Isaac Bell House.  You guessed it. Closed until when? May 20th.  Apparently that’s when the “season” opens. Funny she told us the Rosecliff was closed for reno but didn't tell us the others weren't open yet.  Oh well. We didn’t want to drive to Portsmouth for the Topiary Garden (although the ticket lady said its worth the drive). He's more into the history and the architecture of the buildings so wouldn't really appreciate the art of turning plants and trees into objects but would have gone if I wanted to.  I can live with out it.  He wanted to go back to the Marble House because there was so much to see there that you can’t possibly see everything the first time around.  We wandered around there for awhile. 
Back down to the main street to Newport Jerky Company.  I had bought a package of beef jerky the first time we were down there and it was really good so I wanted to buy another.  Must use my $5 off coupon!  I really haven’t done much shopping and the little shopping I’ve done has produced nothing. Haven’t even found souvenir t-shirts that I wanted to bring home. I went into a little store and bought the most adorable tea towel.
Then we went across the street to Busker’s for an Irish Coffee (me) and a brewsky (him).  The bar tender was kind of cranky. Boo.
We left there and went to another entrance of the Cliff Walk and had a nice long walk.  
Plaque says the Cliff Walk was wiped out by Hurricane Sandy and rebuilt 2013/2014

On the way back I saw a woman overlooking the path and taking pictures.  She approached us and said she’s a photographer for the Newport Daily News and had taken a picture of us on the path and asked permission to use it.  Sure, why not.  She took down our name and where we were from and what we doing there.  Who knows.  We may just be in the local paper.  Big news headline “Patti and Paul, vacationing here from Phoenix, AZ, walkin’ the walk.”  Slow news day!
ETA - OMG - we're in the paper!  Too funny.
Don't know why it says 2014.  It was taken 5-11-17.
Back to the resort.  I went to the office and the nice lady printed our boarding passes.  Ugg. I strongly dislike Southwest’s boarding ticket system.  I doubt I'll ever fly SW again unless it's an emergency situation with no other options.
Lovely afternoon on the patio enjoying my last glass of vacay wine here.  Ha, look.
A tug boat actually tugging boats!
Always a different view from the patio. A little Jacuzzi and reading time before getting ready for dinner.

Dinner at Castle Hill Inn was phenomenal.  We arrived a little early and walked around the beautiful property before going in.
Lovely view from our table.
 If you look into the sun you'll see a sailboat passing by
They offer a three course, a four course, or the chef’s tasting which is seven.  We both had the three which is a first course (appetizer), second course (entree), and the third course (dessert).  If you order the four course menu you get two first courses.  The chef’s tasting would be food overload (IMO) with two first, double entrees and dessert (all chef's choice) and lots of amusements before, during and after.  
I started with the soup. 
Spring Dug Parsnip Bisque (with peas, mint and burdock root)
Paul had the Queen’s Greens.
Spring Greens with red pepper, ricotta and fennel
For my main course I ordered the Wild Stripped Bass.
Pan seared and finished in the oven with fiddle heads, radish and salsa verde
Paul ordered the Crusted Halibut.
Served with ramps, cured ham and horseradish-buttermilk vinaigrette
For dessert: 
Apricot Souffle with vanilla creme anglaise for me
Tart Aux Rhubarb with vanilla Bavarian, soft meringue and rhubarb for him (sorry, no photo).  Everything was fantastic and the service was superb.  Definitely a 5-star-plus experience. 

Another beautiful day in the neighborhood.  44* now with a high of 57*.  Did I mention how lucky we've been with the weather?!  They had predicted rain for four of the days while we were here and we only had rain the first day.  It wasn't even bad, mostly a light rain mixed with a little steady medium rain, which cleared up in the afternoon.  Not the 100 year storm we were surprised with in Hilton Head, SC last year.
Time to SF&P and pack up.  I want to be out of here by 10.  Paul wants stop at a Harley Dealership on the way to the airport for his mandatory vacation T.  We need to be at the rental car return no later than 12 and then head for home-sweet-home.  So looking forward to seeing my sister and my munchkins.  Very grateful to her for staying at my house and taking care of babies.
Look at all these wishes waiting to be  made...
About the Accommodations:
The Ocean Cliff Resort was a great place to stay.  One of our better timeshare experiences.  Beautiful views; well laid out; only 10-15 minutes from downtown. It could use a little maintenance but overall it was great. 
The castle was originally owned by Arthur Bronson of New York, a financier who speculated in land, then sold to GM Hutton who was a wealthy industrialist who built the Trans-Siberian Railroad in Russia. Said to have made about 10 million per year at the time.
Living Room to Dining Room

Living Room to Patio
Bedroom (dresser on the left; chair and window to the right)
Bathroom 1 (shower behind the door)

Bathroom 2

Bathroom 2 - jetted tub

Castle Hill Inn across the way with Event Center
Old Tennis Courts to the left
Ocean View straight ahead

Ocean Cliff Resort Event Center to the right
Solarium with Pool and Jacuzzi

Originally the Gate House, now used to store lawn equipment/maintenance supplies
Another long awaited vacation has come to and end.  Travel day always stresses me out and this one was no exception.  I typically focus on the positive but on travel day, all the things that can go wrong are on my mind. Everything went fine.  Our flights were right on time.  Our luggage came down fairly quickly.  Jay was waiting in the cell lot when we landed and pulled up a couple of minutes after we got to the curb.  
Nicely done Travel Gods.

Facing the scale with one eye shut for the post vacay weight in. Down two pounds!  We ate a lot of amazing food which must have been balanced out by all the walking. 

What's next?  Pack your bikini wahini we're going to Hawaii. ;~}
Maui in July with my sister Diane, her b/f Jay, and my long time friend Janet.  

So looking forward to smelling the pineapple and plumeria through the trade winds.