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Stopping by Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts

October 1, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Wayside Inn SignOn a crisp, rainy September afternoon I pulled up to the bucolic Wayside Inn, in Sudbury, Massachusetts. The sign post near the road boasts “food, drink and lodging for man, woman and beast.” I hoped I didn’t fit into the last category.

As soon as I entered, a warm welcoming aura enveloped me. The scent of smoky wood burning fireplaces mixed with the aroma of fresh baked bread and pies. The candlelight tavern bustled with activity, as it has for almost 300 years. Patrons were sitting at wooden tables enjoying meals and conversation. A bride and her wedding party stood near the entrance. Waiters and waitresses scooted about with food and drink trays.

The old tap room (part of the original building) overflowed with laughter from guests standing at the colonial cage bar. A cage- bar was standard in 18th-century taverns, used to secure the house whiskey, rum and wine from lodgers unknown to the innkeeper.Wayside Inn Bar

Eight guest rooms lined a wing on the second floor; my room, number seven, rested at the end of the hall. The space was small and rustic, authentic to the colonial era. An antique double bed covered with a white spread filled the room. Two windows were draped with tab curtains. A wooden chair sat in the corner and an armoire awaited guest’s clothing. The end table featured a framed print of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the private bath included standard modern fixtures.

Sadly I did not fully experience the Inn’s New England hospitality as family commitments kept me elsewhere. Nonetheless, I relished a good night’s sleep in a place with much ambiance and history.

Room in the Wayside InnThe following morning I awoke before dawn, hastily dressing for my 6:30 AM ride to the airport. Everyone else was asleep except for a friendly night watchman, who offered me a cup of coffee and a brief history of the place.

Seems the Wayside is the oldest operating tavern in the US on one of the oldest commissioned roads. David Howe opened the establishment in 1716 as Howe’s Inn, offering provisions for men, their horses and cattle. The renovated old barn rests across the road.

Tradition says Colonel Ezekiel Howe changed the name to The Red Horse, when he succeeded his father in 1746. Colonel Howe led Sudbury farmers to Concord on April 19, 1775, the famous battle that started the Revolutionary War.

After Longfellow published “The Tales of a Wayside Inn’ in 1863, The Red Horse became known as Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, as it remains today.

In 1923, auto maker Henry Ford bought the Inn with the intention of creating a living museum of Americana. The property passed through several trusts and is presently administrated by a non-paid board of trustees dedicated to preserving the historic house and surrounding acreage. All of the Inn’s revenue is used for maintenance and restoration.

I highly recommend Longfellow’s Inn as a way to support cultural heritage and experience the days of Paul Revere and Sam Adams.Wayside Inn -6x4

If you go:

The town of Sudbury lies close to Lexington and Concord, suburbs of Boston. Visitors find many colonial sites and museums in the area, as well as the birthplaces of early American poets and authors.

The Inn’s multiple-roomed restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serves traditional Yankee fare like Clam Chowder and pot roast.

Make reservations early for one of just ten guest rooms, all individually decorated with country antiques and discreet wireless Internet access. Breakfast included. Single occupancy $104-125, double occupancy $125-175. www.waysideinn.org, 978 443-1776.

I Love Paris…and a room with a view

August 10, 2009 by · Comments Off on I Love Paris…and a room with a view 

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Debi in Paris, 2009

I love Paris and have the urge to sing that famous song while there. But, truthfully I stifle myself. Anyone who knows me can attest, I have the worse voice in the universe.

So here I was, strolling down the streets of Paris humming until my daughter protested, “Stop, Mom.”

But I continued; I was the child, the one filled with glee. Chock it up to lack of sleep from the flight, my joy of actually being in Europe or simply the magic that is Paris?

Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais

Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais

We arrived via an overnight plane from Boston, connecting to Paris through Heathrow. A taxi took us to our little boutique hotel, Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais, in the afternoon.

We stepped in the hotel’s small lobby dominated by (what I learned later) a rare 1792 piano-forte. Candles and chandeliers created the charm of a private home, circa Mozart. The English speaking staff welcomed and assisted us with luggage. And “yes,” they assured us, the hotel offers free WiFi.

Our hotel room

Our hotel room

We took the elevator up to our room on the third floor- twin beds draped in white spreads, a desk or make-up area and by European standards a large, shiny, modern bathroom with a shower/tub and decorative tile. White hand towels were fresh and emblazed with the hotel logo.

Room with a View

The View from my room in Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais

Best part of our room was the window with a view, which I immediately popped open, stuck my head out and took this snapshot. I saw shops and a multitude of restaurants and cafes, including many ethnic varieties. Mmm. Was that croissants I smelled?

After a short rest and we took off, happy to discover Caron de Beaumarchais was only two blocks from the Seine. The city sizzled, not from the heat but with activity. A Sunday afternoon crowd included couples smooching, tourists checking guide books, booksellers standing by their wares and artists at work. Numerous roller skaters zoomed by, not many joggers; perhaps they are more abundant in the early morning hours. How romantic I thought; even if your spouse or love is missing, this city is enchanting.

The sidewalks along the river felt comfortable because they looked familiar; I’ve experienced Paris so often through movies, TV shows and books. I pinched myself; the sights, sounds and smells were everything I wanted them to be.

Laura and I crossed a bridge heading for Notre Dame. We entered through the arched doorway framed by statuesque columns of saints and found the unexpected—a prayer service in progress. To think a historic cathedral over 850 years old was still in use. I liked that.

Mass Celebration in Notre Dame

Mass Celebration in Notre Dame

Notre Dame Saints

Notre Dame Saints

We spied a little diorama showing the medieval construction methods used to build the church. The exhibit of tiny workers, oxen, ropes and pulleys should not be missed if you’re traveling with children.

Sunlight poked through the famous Rose window (stained glass) and outside,the gargoyles kept watch as they have for centuries. We didn’t have time to wait in the queue of tourists snaking round the corner. They were ready to climb to the top of belltower, however, Laura and I moved along feeling the city under our feet.

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Laura loves Paris, 2009

We crossed back over the river on a different bridge and were astounded by the hundreds, and I do mean hundreds, of policemen dressed in SWAT gear. What in the world was happening? A major demonstration planned?

No. Later it was explained that the date, June 21st, is the longest day of the year and is celebrated as a city-wide Music Fete.

Lisa, an American friend who lives in Paris met us at our hotel. She navigated the subway, getting off at the Louvre. We dined with abandon at the fashionable Le Cafe Marley overlooking the Louve’s Pyramid and courtyard. (See my restaurant review at my food blog: www.bylanderseafood.blogspot.com .)

View of the Louvre Pyramid

Glass Pyramid in the Louvre Courtyard--Paris

To start, we tasted a traditional French appertif- Kir Royale (champagne and cream de cassis.) I was so taken with the location I cannot remember what type of fish I ate. However, I can remember dessert. Laura and I indulged in a chocolate lava cake- oozing a molten center and Lisa chose a raspberry macaroon.

Carr0usel Triumphal Arch

Carr0usel Triumphal Arch

We strolled past the Pyramid, through the gardens, an arch and into Place de la Concorde. We continued up the Champs Elysees all the way to the Arch de Triumph to catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. On the stroke of 11:00 PM, it light up like a huge sparkler, a burst of energy in the distance. We oohed and aahed but feeling totally exhausted, caught a cab.

However, the taxi couldn’t get us close to our hotel because of the massive street party. Fortunately, I recognized the shops we passed on our ride from the airport and maneuvered through the fete back to our hotel. We squeezed through crowds like New Orleans during Mardi Gras. I hugged Laura and my camera close, but the Parisians were a happy crowd.

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Eiffel Tower at night

Needless to say our little room with a view no longer remained a quiet retreat. All those cafes were now rowdy with revelers. We were so tired we fell asleep despite the boisterous noise out the window. Funny, but when the crowd dispersed around twoin the morning, I woke up to the silence. Oh, how I love Paris.

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I chose Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais on the recommendation of The Provence Post (a wonderful blog) and paid for my own room.

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