Monday, September 21, 2015

There's Almost Nothing New Along the Hudson, and That's a Good Thing!

For years, my husband and I have talked about checking out the Culinary Institute of America or the CIA.  We finally got a reservation this weekend for lunch and got up early for our weekend away in order to get there on time.  It turned out that it was finals weekend and all of our food was graded for graduation.  How cool is that?

We ate at the Bocuse Restaurant which is one of several restaurants on campus.  It was some fabulous fine dining.  I won't lie, it costs to do it, but it is so worth it.  Whoever made our meals, I hope got all A's.  The amazing part about the restaurant for me is that you can watch them cooking in the kitchen.  That's how we discovered that they were all being graded that day, because we could watch the teacher checking all the food before it left the kitchen.  We both had the lobster trio which was amazing.  I tried Ceviche, and it was great.  My husband had an amazing corn soup.  I had what was called the Chocolate Variation and my hubby had Pear Charlotte for desert.  All amazing.  Then we stopped in the bookstore and picked up some great items for our own kitchen including some Tandoori seasoning that I intend to use soon.

So, we decided to walk off that amazing lunch with a trip up the road to the Vanderbilt Mansion.  We strolled the gardens which were designed in grand Italian fashion.  Francis Vanderbilt was a horticulturist and he and his gardener enjoyed the outdoors more than most of the folks who visited the cabin by the Hudson.  Mr. Vanderbilt even had escapes built in so that he could escape the crowds in the house and go outside.  His gardener, Mr. Shears, was such a good friend and loyal employee that he inherited the house by the garden when the Vanderbilt's passed on.  The grounds are still vast today, and the public is invited to enjoy them every day.

The mansion is one of the smallest of the 43 mansions built by the Vanderbilts in this country.  It only had five guest bedrooms.  It only had six floors.  It only had 14 bathrooms and a staff of 20 to run it.  These Vanderbilts had no children, so when they passed the main property went to their favorite niece who wanted to sell it because it was so small.  FDR and the National Parks finally bought it for $1.  Mrs. Vanderbilt was a huge fan of French design, which is why her bedroom looked like Marie Antoinette's.  The best part of this mansion is that most of the interior is original.  Nothing was removed from the house and most things remain today.  The house did have indoor plumbing and electricity even though it was built in the late 1800's.  The Vanderbilt's went there in the spring and fall to get away from the city.

We did a lot of things on our weekend along the Hudson, and believe me, almost nothing was new.  The Hudson Valley is full of historic mansions.  A bunch of them belonged to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.  But all of the elite followed the Vanderbilts up the river and there are mansions all over the place.  I will be checking them out over time.  On Sunday, after we took a walk across the Hudson, which is one of the newer ideas on the river even though it was made from an old railroad bridge.  I love the views up there and this time we went twice and got a sunset view and a morning view.  It was great.  But before we headed home, we went to Rhinebeck and went to the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome.  If you like old planes, this is your spot.  If you like air shows, well, here you go.  These guys have many hangars full of antique planes and other antiques.  They call it a museum.  But they also have an old time airfield and since 1958 they've been doing air shows every weekend all summer long.  So, you can walk around and see everything from the French version of the Wright Flyer to a Sopwith Camel. We had a great time, and they had to cancel the show because of the wind.  But, they still flew a couple of planes for us and there happened to be a car show that day, so they had an antique car parade as well.  I didn't get to take a ride in the biplane, but I will go back.  It was still a good time.

So, you could spend months roaming around the Hudson Valley and you would see nothing new.  What you would see is a plethora of amazing historical sites.  Everything here has a story.  The colleges are old, the properties are old, the shows are old, the towns are old, the bridges are old, the parks are old, the restaurants are old.  You'll never have a better time with a bunch of old stuff.  So take a walk over the Hudson, that's your something new, see the view and then take off and see something old and amazing.

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