New York & New England, USA
Itinerary: New York City – Cape Cod – Plymouth – Boston – Lexington – Concord – Portland – Camden – Bar Harbor – Acadia National Park – White Mountain National Forest – Green Mountain National Forest – Grafton – Deerfield – Litchfield
New York revisited
It’s almost midnight when I walk out of Penn Station. It is a balmy late summer evening and the streets are very busy. Welcome to the city that never sleeps! Because the aircraft that was going to bring me to the United States had a “technical fault” and another plane had to be arranged for, I arrive in New York three hours later than planned. I landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport just before 10 p.m.. After passport control and collecting my luggage, I took the train to the city and now I am in the heart of Manhattan. It’s my second visit to New York, last time was 11 years ago and I look forward to this renewed introduction. A few blocks away, in the Chelsea district, is my hostel for the next few days. When I get there, I immediately go to bed.
The next morning it becomes clear that late September it is still summer in New York: it is a beautiful sunny day and the temperature rises to almost thirty degrees. Fortunately, the temperature will reach somewhat more ‘normal’ values in the following days. I start this day in the borough of Brooklyn, on the other side of the East River. Brooklyn (a corruption of the Dutch Breukelen, after which the district is named) is one of the five boroughs that together form New York City: Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx, Staten Island and Brooklyn. Until 1898, Brooklyn was an independent city and if it still was today, Brooklyn would be the fourth largest city in the United States.
I walk down Brooklyn Heights, a neighborhood of nineteenth-century brownstone houses along stately streets lined with large trees. It looks like a nice neighborhood to live in. I arrive at the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, a pedestrian zone above the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which runs along the East River. From here you have an amazing view of the famous Manhattan skyline. Even if you’ve seen it before, it’s still an impressive view. The skyscrapers on the other side of the river glisten in the sun and one towers above it all: the brand-new One World Trade Center, at 541 meters the tallest building in the city (and the rest of the Western Hemisphere).
Down the river, on the Brooklyn side, are a number of old piers, which until a few years ago looked dilapidated and abandoned. Now the brand new Brooklyn Bridge Park is being built here. A part is already finished and turned into a green park where you can relax when the weather is nice. Sports facilities have been built on a number of piers, including basketball and football fields. In Brooklyn Bridge Park you also have a beautiful view of the bridge after which the park is named. The bridge was built in 1883 and was for a long time the bridge with the longest span in the world. There are now bridges with much longer spans, but the Brooklyn Bridge remains – at least in my opinion – one of the most beautiful bridges in the world. The way to get a closer look at the bridge (and the Manhattan skyline) is to walk across it. Traffic on the bridge is separated: cars drive below, pedestrians and cyclists use the upper deck. It is a walk of about a mile, made by quite a few people on this sunny Sunday afternoon.
The bridge ramp ends at City Hall Park, which is home to New York City’s City Hall. From here I take the subway ‘uptown’ to Rockefeller Center, the large office and shopping complex in the Midtown district. The complex, named after businessman John D. Rockefeller, was built in the 1930s. The tallest building in the complex is the 70-story GE Building. From the top floor (‘Top of the Rock’) you have a fantastic view over the city. Most people go to the Empire State Building to look out over the city; I did that last time and the Rockefeller Center has one big advantage: you also have the Empire State Building in your view! The view is phenomenal: you don’t only look out over Manhattan, but also over the other boroughs, Jersey City to the west, Ellis Island and Governor’s Island in New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty can also be seen from here. If you look to the north, you will see an enormous green oasis in the middle of all the buildings: Central Park.
A few blocks southwest of Rockefeller Center is one of New York’s most famous spots: Times Square. The square is basically an elongated intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue and is always busy with traffic and tourists. The billboards and meter-high screens on the facades do not make the picture calmer. Times Square, named after the New York Times, which once housed it, is the heart of the theater district. ‘Broadway’ is a household name worldwide and dozens of shows are running simultaneously, from theater to musical. It’s so busy it seems.
At last we meet again
There is nothing wrong with doing some ‘highlights’ a second time. Ferries to Liberty Island and Ellis Island depart from Battery Park, on the southern tip of Manhattan. On the former island is the most famous statue in the world: Lady Liberty Enlightening The World, or the Statue of Liberty. Created by French sculptor Bartoldi, the 93-meter-tall statue has been overlooking New York Harbor since 1886. In her left hand she holds a law book dated July 4, 1776, the date the United States declared independence. Good to see her again! Nearby Ellis Island was the place where immigrants entered the United States from 1892 to 1924. More than twelve million in total. The buildings on the island are now used as a museum.
Back in Manhattan (the name of which is derived from the name that the original inhabitants used for the island: Mana Hatta) I walk from Battery Park via Broadway to Wall Street. This street is so named because it was once the northern defensive wall of New Amsterdam. Now it is the location of the most famous stock exchange in the world. On the other side of the street is Federal Hall. In this building, which resembles a Greek temple, the American parliament met during the time when New York was the capital of the United States. George Washington was sworn in here as the first president of the independent United States in 1789. His statue stands prominently in front of Federal Hall.
My last visit to New York was in 2003, a year and a half after the attacks on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. The WTC site was a big gaping hole where the clean-up work was still going on. Eleven years later, the WTC site has changed beyond recognition. It is now the site of the 9/11 Memorial; a large square with trees and benches and on the spot where the Twin Towers stood, two huge basins have been made, exactly on the ‘footprint’ of the two destroyed towers. On the edge of the basins are the names of all the victims who died in the attacks. On the inside, water flows vertically downwards, and then flows to the center of the basin and disappears into a deep hole. Very symbolic. And very impressive.
The memories of the attacks, the images and the way in which the attacks and the victims are remembered here evoke emotions. The 9/11 Museum is located between the two basins, while construction is still underway around the square. The new 4 WTC is almost ready, as is the new eye-catcher: One WTC. Symbolism is also incorporated in this building: the tower is exactly 1776 feet high, referring to the year of American independence and the ‘footprint’ of the building is equal to that of the Twin Towers.
Neighborhoods with their own character
New York isn’t all shiny skyscrapers. In Manhattan alone you have several neighborhoods, each with their own character. The area surrounding Columbus Park, for example, is Chinatown and you can see that right away. Billboards and street signs are in Chinese, there are a lot of Chinese restaurants and in the park Chinese people are playing cards or mahjong and Chinese music is played. SoHo (South of Houston Street) is a neighborhood with relatively low buildings and lots of greenery. There are mainly exclusive clothing stores and galleries.
In the neighborhood where I’m staying, Chelsea, also a neighborhood with low-rise buildings, has been a remarkable city park for a few years: The High Line. This is a former elevated railway, built in the 1930s, which had fallen out of use and has now been turned into a park. The park runs like a green vein high above the streets from Gansevoort Street to 30th Street (and more will be added in the coming years). It is a fine example of reuse and urban renewal. This part of the city, the southern part of Chelsea and The Meatpacking District, formerly an industrial area and now being redeveloped, the railway is not the only thing that has been given a new designation: the former cookie factory on 9th Avenue has also been renovated and transformed into the Chelsea Market, a covered market with shops in the field of food and drink, from spice shops to wine shops and from fish shops to organically responsible food.
A little further south are Greenwich Village and West Village and these neighborhoods are not called like that that for nothing: they breathe the atmosphere of a village. Brownstone townhouses, lots of greenery, shops, cafes and in the heart of Greenwich Village Washington Square Park, a pretty park with a large fountain in the center and the white marble Stanford White Arch on the north side (which features in the sitcom Friends). In this park many students from the nearby New York University and there are jazz bands playing, very atmospheric. A similar park is Union Square Park, opened in 1831 and featuring a large statue of George Washington (on horseback). This park is not only used to relax, but is also regularly the scene of (political) protests. A few blocks north of Union Square, at the intersection of Broadway and 5th Avenue, is the Flatiron Building. Built in 1902, the building stands out because of its unusual shape, a kind of narrow triangle of twenty stories high.
Some culture and a concert
I’m in New York for five days and then of course the weather can’t be nice all the time, and when it rains, there’s plenty to do inside. For example, I visit the International Center of Photography, a beautiful photography museum, where at the time there is an exhibition by the Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado, beautiful black-and-white photos of landscapes, wildlife and indigenous peoples. I will also take a look at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), with mainly works from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from Van Gogh and Cézane to Warhol and Hopper. The contemporary art in MoMa appeals less to me. MoMa is a popular museum: it is very busy and Van Gogh in particular appears to be very popular.
New York has many special buildings. In addition to the aforementioned, I also walk past the Chrysler Building, one of the most famous skyscrapers in New York, built in the 1930s and especially an eye-catcher due to its striking steel spire. A few blocks west of the Chrysler Building, off Park Avenue, is Grand Central Terminal. Behind the monumental facade is a huge central hall, with a marble floor and a high, painted ceiling. The magnificent hall exudes the grandeur of the heyday of rail transportation in the United States.
Central Park is New York City’s ‘backyard’. In the days when New York was still called New Amsterdam and still a small colony on the southern tip of Manhattan, this area consisted of swamps and only a single pig farm could be found here. Now Central Park is located in the middle of the metropolis and the park covers the area between 5th Avenue in the west and 8th Avenue in the east, 59th Street in the south and 110th Street in the north. The construction of Central Park began in 1858 and took no less than twenty years. The park is the place for New Yorkers to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, have a picnic, jog or sit in the sun. Or to visit a concert; for example, the famous Simon and Garfunkel concert took place on the Great Lawn in Central Park. There are baseball fields, hot dog stalls, ponds, walking trails, lawns, a zoo, a John Lennon Memorial (the famous ‘Imagine’ mosaic), and the unmissable Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, which was once intended to ensure that New York would have plenty of drinking water.
On the last night of my stay in New York, I go to Madison Square Garden, the sports arena cum concert hall, where Billy Joel gives a concert. I managed to get a ticket for the concert a day before departure. Once in the stadium I find myself in a very good seat, exactly halfway down the long side of the oval hall, with a good view of the stage. Billy Joel performs for over two hours and plays a lot of well-known and some (for me) less well-known songs. The Americans around me sing along without any hesitation (even if they can’t sing…). A beautiful show and a fun experience.
Off to New England
It is Friday morning, October 3, when I pick up my rental car on the Upper East Side in Manhattan and drive out of New York. Leaving Manhattan isn’t difficult, but just after passing the toll booth at the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly Triborough Bridge), I miss the exit, landing on 278 West instead of 278 East. With a small detour I get on the right highway and I leave New York City via Interstate 95. I continue my journey in New England, the area in the northeastern United States that consists of the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine and Vermont. New England is closely linked to the history of the United States: in 1620 the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth, followed in 1628 by the Puritans, who founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1175, the American Revolution began in Boston and the War of Independence began in Lexington. I will visit all these places (and more) in the coming days.
Via Connecticut and Rhode Island I drive to Massachusetts. My first stop is Cape Cod, the peninsula south of Boston. In summer this is a popular beach destination. The road follows the rolling countryside with wooden houses between lots of greenery. I stop in Chatham, on the southeastern tip of Cape Cod, a friendly town with a touristy Main Street. On the coast of the village is Chatham Light, an 1878 lighthouse that overlooks the vast beach and the Atlantic Ocean. I walk onto the beach, but it’s not really beach weather. After Chatham I drive to Eastham, a little further north, where Fort Hill offers a view of the Nauset Marsh, which is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, the protected area of the peninsula. You can walk a modest walking route. One thing is clear: this is a totally different world than New York City!
My visit to Cape Cod is short, the next day I drive further north. It is an hour’s drive to Plymouth. In 1620 the pilgrims first set foot here, after they had fled from England and had first found shelter in the Netherlands. After a sea voyage of 66 days, they founded the first colony of what would later become New England here. Here they built the first houses and laid the first street. This street was logically called First Street, but was later renamed: it is now called Leyden Street, after the city where the pilgrims found shelter after their flight from England. Leyden Street is now the oldest permanently inhabited street in North America. You probably get it: I immediately feel at home here. The wooden houses that exist today date from the early 18th century. A large stone, Plymouth Rock, marks the place where the pilgrims set foot, although that stone, like where it lies, is more symbolic than historical fact. A little further on is a replica of the Mayflower II, the not-so-large sailing ship with which the pilgrims crossed the ocean.
In the United States it is customary for former presidents to build a library-cum-museum. This happens in the state from which the president originates. And so on the south side of Boston is the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Kennedy was from Massachusetts and loved the water, so ‘his’ library and museum overlooks the water. The museum tells the story of JFK’s life and presidency by photographs, campaign footage, White House memorabilia, and most importantly, plenty of footage. The election campaigns, the inauguration, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, the race issue, everything is covered – although I think it’s a pity that really only the known highlights are discussed and in a rather superficial way. Also little attention is paid to the death of Kennedy.
I’m staying in Braintree, a suburb of Boston and take the subway into the city from there. In the center of Boston you can walk the so-called Freedom Trail, a four-kilometer city walk that takes you past all the historic sights of Boston. Because when you talk about Boston, you’re talking about American history. The city was founded in 1630 by Puritans from England under the leadership of John Winthrop, who envisioned “a city upon a hill”. Boston laid the foundation for the American Revolution. In 1770 the inhabitants of the city protested against the taxes imposed by England. When English soldiers opened fire, five people were killed in an event known as The Boston Massacre. In 1773, new taxes on tea gave rise to the Boston Tea Party, during which large quantities of tea were thrown into the harbor in protest. The English king then placed Boston under guardianship, which only fueled anti-English sentiments. Not long after, in 1775, just outside Boston, at Lexington and Concord, the first shots were fired in what would become the War of Independence. A year later, American independence was a fact.
The Freedom Trail begins at Boston Common, the oldest public park in the United States (dated 1634). At the north end of the park is the Massachusetts State House, the state’s parliament building with a distinctive golden dome. On Washington Street is the Old South Meeting House. In this building, which looks like a brick church (and was also used as such), in 1773 the settlers organized the protest that became known as the Boston Tea Party. Dating back to 1713, the Old State House, at the end of Washington Street, is the oldest surviving building in Boston. The Old State House was the colony’s pre-independence parliament building, and in 1776 the Declaration of Independence was read to the town’s residents. In front of the Old State House, a circle in the street marks the spot where The Boston Massacre took place. It’s nice that all these historic buildings have been preserved in the midst of modern Boston.
While the sun is high in a clear blue sky, I walk to the other side of the Charles River, to the Charlestown neighborhood. The USS Constitution is moored at the Old Charlestown Navy Yard. This is the oldest ship in the US Navy, built in 1797. The ship, which served in three wars in the 19th century, is a beautiful old three-masted ship (not a replica), with an upper deck, a gun deck and a sleeping deck. Also in Charlestown, atop Breed’s Hill, is a 67-foot-tall obelisk commemorating a battle fought here at the beginning of the War of Independence, known oddly as the Battle of Bunker Hill. The English won the battle, but suffered heavy losses against the amateur settlers. For those who want even more history: at Griffin’s Wharf, in downtown Boston, are the two restored ships from which the tea was thrown into the harbor in 1773: the Eleanor and the Beaver. Although Boston is a modern city, all these sights take you back in time.
I’m in Boston for two days, but spend much of day two on the water. I’m going on a whale watching tour. With a large catamaran we sail in an hour to Stelwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, not far from the north side of Cape Cod. Thanks in part to the rich marine life here, humpback whales stay here between March and October (the rest of the year they prefer to stay in the tropical waters of the Caribbean). It doesn’t take long before we see the first whales coming to the surface. Humpback whales grow to 12 to 15 meters in length and dive underwater for a while before coming back up to breathe. They then swim on the surface for a while and then dive back down, their tails swinging gracefully in the air. According to the girls from the Sea Aquarium, who lead the excursion and study the whales, the group of whales we see consists of six adults and two cubs. It is beautiful to see these animals in the wild!
Lexington & Concord
After two days in Boston I take Interstate 95 around the city to Lexington, nowadays a suburb of Boston, but especially interesting because in 1775 the War of Independence started here. In the middle of the small town is the Battle Green, at first sight a regular lawn annex park like almost every town has. But right here on this spot, history was made on April 19, 1775. The night before, the British had left Boston to dismantle an alleged ammunition depot of American militia in Concord. The Americans found out, and Paul Revere, a hero to many Americans, rushed to Lexington on horseback to warn the militia leaders headquartered at Buckman Tavern.
The next morning, on what is now the Battle Green, the 800 English soldiers encountered a militia of 77 Americans. After the resistance to taxes, the Boston Massacre and the Tea Party, it was clear that the Americans no longer accepted the authority of the English. The leader of the militia, Captain Parker, ordered his men (mostly farmers) to “Stand your ground, don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here”. A shot was heard (to this day nobody knows who fired it) and the English opened fire. Eight Americans were killed. The War of Independence had begun. It is very special to be in such a historic place!
The English moved on to Concord, a small picturesque town, just like Lexington. The route they took is now Minute Man National Historic Park, named after the Minute Men, the volunteers of the American militia who were so named because they had to be on standby at short notice. Here, at the Old North Bridge, the English shot two Americans dead, whereupon an American officer gave the first order to shoot at the English. This has come to be known as “the shot heard around the world”. In January 1776, the Americans would declare independence, but the war would not be over until 1783.
The Atlantic Coast
Driving north, I’m leaving Massachusetts (for now) and entering New Hampshire. In the United States, every state has a slogan and New Hampshire’s is one of my favorites: “Live free or die.” At least that’s clear. New Hampshire has only a small stretch of coast, about 20 miles, and there you will find Portsmouth, where the Piscataqua River flows into the Atlantic Ocean. It is an old town with many wooden houses and used to be an important place for shipbuilding. In Prescott Park with its wooden piers you look out over the river and the current shipyard, on the other side of the water. Just like during previous visits to the United States, I again notice in New England that you really see American flags everywhere. It may seem even more here, could that be due to the region? In any case, many people have a flag on their house, they hang it on shops and companies, but also on lampposts, electricity poles, viaducts, barns of farms…
Once you cross the Piscataqua River, you enter the state of Maine. Slogan: ‘The way life should be’. There are a few showers along the way, but who cares if you’re in the car? From Wiscasset I take the coastal route. This is US1, the road that runs from northern Maine, near the border with Canada, along the entire east coast of the United States, all the way to Key West in Florida (a few years ago in Florida I already drove part of drove the US1).
The road here leads through small fishing villages along the jagged Atlantic coast, with glacier-carved coves, peninsulas and islands. I stop briefly in Rockland, at the Owls Head peninsula with a lighthouse dating from 1852. Camden is also such a typical coastal town in New England style. A Main Street, wooden houses, white churches, trees in autumn colors and a small harbour. Everywhere you come across pumpkins because Halloween is coming up. Many people put one or more pumpkins at the front door of their house and in shops it is all pumpkin soup, pumpkin candies, pumpkin bagels, pumpkin ships, pumpkin coffee…
Just north of Camden is the Camden Hills State Park, a beautiful park that mainly consists of forest. The weather is better by now and I walk from the entrance of the park the Mount Battie Trail, to the top of Mount Battie. A walk of four kilometers in total, not too difficult, but still a fair climb. At the top you are rewarded with a great view over Penobscot Bay.
Acadia National Park
The next day the weather is beautiful and I continue my journey along the coast of Maine with Acadia National Park as my destination. This national park (the only national park in all of New England) is located on Mount Desert Island, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge. The island has an area of 280 square kilometers and the park occupies more than half of that. This area has been carved out by glaciers over millions of years, creating steep rocky coasts, lakes, mountains and valleys. A Park Loop Road runs through the park that you can drive down at your leisure and take you past fantastically beautiful places. Much of it goes along the east coast of the island, where the waves crash against the granite rocks. There are lookouts everywhere with names like Thunder Hole and Otter Point.
The second part of the Loop Road continues inland, past Jordan Pond and Cadillac Mountain. Jordan Pond is one of those glaciers left behind, surrounded by rounded mountain peaks. Because it is autumn, the leaves on the trees are beautiful yellow, red and brown. On top of Cadillac Mountain (which is about 500 meters high and where the wind is blowing) you have a fantastic view over Frenchman Bay, Eagle Lake, the rest of Mount Desert island and the smaller islands off the coast. I am in Acadia National Park for two days and the weather is beautiful on both days. That, and the autumn colors, makes for beautiful pictures. This park is highly recommended!
The only significant village on Mount Desert Island is Bar Harbor, a town similar to Camden and Portsmouth. There is a large cruise ship in the harbor and its passengers are all walking down Main Street, so it is quite busy. In Maine many residents along the coast live from fishing, but when you say Maine, you mainly say: Maine Lobster. You see the lobster everywhere here: on the plates of the many lobster restaurants, on t-shirts, in cartoons, as a stuffed animal. You can’t have been to Maine without eating lobster, so before I leave for New Hamphire, on my last night in Maine, I have Maine Lobster for dinner. It’s delicious!
Usually on road trips I have little trouble finding my way, but on the Saturday that I drive from Acadia National Park to New Hampshire, I can’t find the road numbers in my itinirary and the road numbers I do come across mean nothing to me. You’d say it’s not the first time I’m doing something like this… Anyway, with a little sense of direction and after taking some detours I finally end up on the correct road.
It is quite a long drive to the White Mountains – it’s easy to misread the distances here. Located in northern New Hampshire, the White Mountains are the highest mountains in New England. The NH112, nicknamed the Kancamagus Highway, runs right through the area, a so-called ‘scenic route’ from Conway to Lincoln. The road leads over the Kancamagus Pass, named after a seventeenth-century Native American tribal leader. The White Mountain National Forest is the second most visited park in the United States (after the Great Smokey Mountains). When I’m there, the White Mountains are busy as well, also because Monday is Columbus Day and many Americans therefore have a long weekend off. Although that does not explain why it is teeming with Asians here…
The late summer, when the weather is relatively warm and sunny, but the leaves on the trees are already taking on their autumn colours, is called Indian Summer here in the United States (and also in Canada). New England in particular is known for its beautiful Indian Summer – not surprising, because there are a lot of forests here. Indian Summer is a kind of superlative of autumn. I’ve seen a lot of fall colors along the way in the past few days, but here in the White Mountains it seems like some kind of color explosion has taken place. Due to the high elevation, the nights here are cold at this time of year and that promotes the discoloration of the leaves. The trees along the road and the slopes of the mountains are green, golden yellow, ocher, red, brown and everything in between. It is a beautiful sight, especially when the sun shines on them.
I spend the night in Jefferson, where at first I can’t find my motel, but guess what: the house numbers along Route 2 may go down as you drive east, but if you drive long enough they go up again… (?) The next day I continue my road trip, the quiet two-lane road mile after mile winding through the hilly landscape, past forests, farms and through small villages. Signs along the road warn of deer and reindeer crossing, but the only thing crossing is a squirrel.
I enter New England’s sixth state (and the seventh this trip): Vermont, and near the capital Montpelier I exit onto the VT 12 to Northfield Falls. Here are three covered bridges from 1812, entirely of wood, over three small rivers. Covered bridges seem to exist all over the world, but I had never seen one as far as I can remember. The bridges, often from the eighteenth or nineteenth century, were covered to protect the bridge against the weather (wooden bridges without a cover only last a short time). Very special to see.
Just as the White Mountains were not white, the Green Mountains are not green: the fall colors dominate here too. I drive via the VT 100 and VT 73 down the Mad River Valley, a ‘scenic route’ in a valley with overgrown slopes in autumn colors. ‘Rural’ is probably the best word to describe the Green Mountain region. Farms and small villages with country stores and barn sales. It is a beautiful day and all those yellows, reds and browns against a clear blue sky make it very special. The most beautiful part is perhaps the VT 73. Near the town of Windsor, where the Connecticut River forms the border between Vermont and New Hampshire, there is also a covered bridge: the Cornish-Windsor Bridge. This is the longest wooden bridge in the United States and the longest two-span covered bridge in the world. It was built in 1866 and the special building is still there (and is still being used).
In the south of Vermont is Grafton (a ‘must see’ according to Lonely Planet), a picturesque town with wooden houses, a ‘town store’ and that’s about it. A little further south, I’m back in Massachusetts by then, is Deerfield. This town looks like it is still the eighteenth century (except for the cars). The town has one street, called The Street, and several houses on this street date from the eighteenth century, others from the nineteenth century. Both places are nice to walk around for an hour. Then I drive west via the MA 2, nicknamed The Mohawk Trail. This is also a beautiful route to enjoy the exuberant colors of the Indian Summer.
My motel in Williamstown has a view of Mount Greylock, but when I drive up the mountain the next day it is cloudy and so the view on top of the mountain is about zero meters. I then stop in Northampton, a somewhat larger town with a nice center around Main Street and Pleasant Street (almost everywhere I’ve been there is a Pleasant Street…) and a wide range of shops and restaurants. I walk around, drink coffee, visit some shops and then continue to Hadley, where I spend the night. In the Mall at Hadley I walk into a Barnes & Noble and come out a while later with a whole pile of books. Just like on Mount Greylock, it is cloudy the next day in Skinner State Park and all the way on top of Mount Holyoke. Well okay, you can just see a bit of the Connecticut River. It will remain gloomy and gray all day long.
The Indian Summer has apparently turned into an ordinary fall and as a result the Litchfield Hills are not only very colorful, but also very wet. The Litchfield Hills are located in western Connecticut, an area of rolling countryside, forests and lakes. The center is the town of Litchfield, founded at the beginning of the eighteenth century and little changed since then. Litchfield was on a trade route at the time and that made it a prosperous town. This is reflected in the beautiful wooden houses, surrounded by large lawns and large, colorful trees. If you like country living, Litchfield is the place to be!
My journey is almost over. The next day I drive back to JFK International Airport for the flight back home. It’s been a beautiful trip, with New York City as highlights, of course, but also the whales off Cape Cod, the historic sites in and around Boston, Acadia National Park and the beautiful colors of the Indian Summer.