After spending a full week in Massachusetts, it was time for us to hit a couple more states. From Boston we drove straight into Rhode Island. Although Rhode Island is known for its amazing beaches and seaside mansions, we reasoned that we’d had a taste of this at Cape Cod and Nantucket, so for RI we were just going to stop in Providence (the capital) for some lunch and then it would be onto our next state.
Rhode Island is the smallest state in the USA so no sooner had we crossed the boarder, than we were in Providence. I’d looked up some of the best eateries in Providence so we could have a delicious lunch, however once we got there, there was a half hour wait for a table. We were starving, so we decided to find somewhere else. We drove around for a bit and soon spotted an Irish pub. When all else fails we also end up going Irish – Christmas Day, New Year, Independence Day – the old Irish have never failed us. We parked up and entered Tammany Hall. We were met by Heather who let us know that it was a cigar bar – hence the slight smell and the huge ashtrays on the tables. It didn’t bother us; we were far too hungry to care.
Heather came over to take our order and we got talking to her about our travels. She was fascinated by our journey and told us all about her friends that have travelled the world. It wasn’t long before our food arrived – Shepherds Pie and a Reuben. The food was yummy and the people in the pub were so friendly. The chef even came out to ask how our food was! Even after we’d finished eating, we stayed to talk to everyone. We chatted to Steve who was Heather’s friend that had spent two years travelling. And we even got to check out the cigar room. It was filled with cigars from top to bottom. All different kinds – it was a smokers paradise!
After spending our first night in Connecticut, it was time to go and see the state. Today we were spending our time visiting Gillette Castle, home of Sherlock Holmes. Gillette Castle was actually built in 1914 by William Gillette, who was most famous for portraying Sherlock Holmes on stage. As we drove towards the castle, we came to the Connecticut River. To get across we had to go over on the historical ferry. It was only a few dollars to board and took just five minutes to get across the river. Once we were over, we had to drive through a park, before reaching the car park. We paid our entry fee and walked over to the castle.
As we arrived, we were met by a huge castle shaped home. Everything was made from stone, even the balconies. It looked amazing. We took a walk around it and then made our way inside. We were given strict instructions, which included – not to touch anything, no flash photography and ‘it’s all one way, so once you’re in you can’t walk back.’ Needless to say, as soon as we were in and walking up the first lot of stairs, an old lady came rushing past us trying to get back out. People just never listen!
Inside, the castle was more like a very grand house than a castle. It had electricity with some very funky switches that were made to look like those on a ship. Out of the 56 doors in the castle, no two in the castle were the same. They were all individually carved, with unique handles. In William’s bedroom, he had a secret closet built and his dresser was designed with all his clothing in mind, including little drawers for tiepins and cuff links. Everything would’ve had a specific place, which enabled him to have a very small bedroom. Upstairs there was a room filled with all his books and Sherlock Holmes memorabilia. It looked like it was straight out of a movie. I expected to be able to pull a book out and a secret passageway would be revealed.
Once we’d finished being amazed by the castle it was time for us to make our way back. There were lots of walking trails you could do within the Gillette State Park but we just wanted to chill for the rest of the afternoon.
That evening, I finally got what I’d been promised for a long time – Sushi. We had a delicious dinner at Mikado just down the road from our hotel.
The next day, we had one more place to visit in Connecticut before heading onto our next state. It was another old house, this time it was the home of Samuel Clemens, otherwise known as Mark Twain, the author of Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Although Twain wasn’t born in Connecticut, he decided to buy a house there in Hartford with his wife’s money (she was from a very rich family whilst he was still a struggling writer). They lived there from 1874 – 1891 with their three children.
Once we arrived, we had about half an hour to wait for the tour to start, so we took a look round the museum. It told us all about Mark Twain’s life and how he actually spent most of his days broke or in debt due to his love of inventions. He would plough lots of money into these inventions, which unfortunately rarely took off.
Once the tour began, we were walked over to the house. We learnt that an architect that designed churches designed the house and you could definitely tell. Unfortunately we weren’t aloud to take any photos once inside, so you won’t be able to see for yourself.
The furniture inside the house was mixture of originals and reproductions and it was all very grand. We were shown the wallpaper and told how it was hand-painted with silver paint to look like mother of pearl as it would’ve been too expensive to have the real thing. They had a telephone, which was fitted in the kitchen, as it was only really the servants that would’ve used it to order supplies etc. Every week Mark Twain would write a report for the phone company documenting any problems he had with the phone, whether there was crackling on the line or interference. They didn’t ask him to; he just liked a good moan (like my husband!) Mr Twain didn’t like to use the phone himself, preferring to write letters to people instead. The Twain family had their own staff so there was even enough room in the house for servants quarters.
Overall, it was a beautiful house, which I wouldn’t say no to living in. Mark Twain originally purchased it for $40,000 in 1874, which in today’s money would be around $833,333.
Barry and I have decided to buy it.
We move in next week.