I get to know Northampton, a small city in western Massachusetts, as my daughter started her college last year. She goes to University of Massachusetts (UMass) in Amherst, a neighboring city of Northampton and we always pass by Northampton before reaching Amherst by car or train. My first encounter of Noho, the city’s nickname, was an eye-opening. The city is so charming with rows of 19th century buildings along its main streets. The downtown area especially, oozes that charm. For someone who has never come here, let alone heard about Northampton, I was in awe and felt dumbfounded. Every time we come to Amherst either dropping-off or picking-up our daughter from her dorm , or me having a solo trip to attend UMass Symphony Orchestra concerts (our daughter plays violin with them), I’d make sure I’ll visit Northampton and strolling down its beautiful downtown area. My love for old buildings, history and architecture find its way in this city. Thomas Cole, my favorite landscape painter who established the Hudson River School, painted the Oxbow in 1836 depicting a romantic panorama of Connecticut River Valley after the thunderstorm as viewed from Mount Holyoke in Northampton. It showed how he loved Northampton and its environment.
The city was called “Norwottuck” or “Nonotuck” by the native inhabitants of the area which was the Pocumtuc. The name means “the midst of the river” and Northampton is situated by Connecticut River. Its splendid surrounding has attracted many, including the “Swedish Nightingale” – Jenny Lind, a famous opera singer, who thought Northampton as “Paradise of America”. That’s how this city’s other nickname is the Paradise City. Noho is known as the city with cultural, arts, educational and historical background where Christian revival, slave abolitionist, artists and people with eclectic lifestyle thrive. Clarke School for Hearings and Speech was established here in 1867 which was United State’s first oral school for the deaf. Alexander Graham Bell was one of their school leaders. Other educational establishment founded in Northampton is Smith College, a private liberal art college for women, founded in 1871. Their famous alumni are Julia Child, Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan – both were US first ladies, and also American poet and writer, Sylvia Plath.
I live about 2 hours away from New York City. To reach this metropolis, I can take the train and that’s the transportation that I mostly take every time I visit New York. Most trains going to or passing New York will arrive at Grand Central Terminal. This magnificent train station was once called Grand Central Depot which opened in October 1871 and went through several changes as New York needed bigger place to accommodate all the trains that were coming and going, also the people. The present Grand Central opened on February 2nd 1913. For a building with more than 100 years old history, Grand Central still looks astonishing. It is one among so many icons that make New York City a marvel city worth to visit. When visiting Grand Central, try to spend some time at Grand Central Market. The market, like any market, tries to offer the New Yorkers and tourists with everyday needs, such as food be it cooked or raw, flowers, baked goods, fruits, vegetables, kitchenware and housewares, etc. One thing that makes Grand Central Market one of a kind is it is a fancy-kind, rather posh sort of market. But you don’t want to miss the experience to browse along the stalls at this small market. You’ll be amazed by the freshness of the seafood, the colors and smells of the world’s spices and also the aroma from many variety of teas; not to mention the artisan chocolates and the baked goods that make you drool. The stalls are lining up neatly and classy that match with the New York middle and upper class life style. Even when you only browsing, there is something, if not a lot of things, to see at the market. Maybe you might want to try the baked goods or bring back home a box of chocolate. Some things are quite affordable and don’t forget to get a souvenir. Come and see Grand Central Market when you decide to visit Grand Central Terminal, especially when you can only visit New York once in a lifetime.
Having a road trip means stopping occasionally when something interesting is seen. That also means turning around when the thing we saw was being passed quickly. During our trip to Cape Cod in Massachusetts, we passed by a windmill on U.S. Route 6 and I just had to see it closely. So we turned around and I wandered for a while. As I suspected, the windmill is a very old. In fact, it’s actually the oldest windmill on Cape Cod. It was built by Thomas Paine in 1680 in Plymouth. Plymouth was the first European Colony in America. The windmill then moved to Truro in 1770 by ferrying it on a log raft across Massachusetts Bay. It must have been quiet a task! The windmill then moved again on an ox cart to Eastham in 1793 and 1808 was set up on its recent location on the Village Green. The windmill worked to grind the grains into flour. The surrounding scene around the Green was typical of a New England small town, picturesque and calm. It was fortunate that the weather was amazing when we passed Eastham and I got to take several of the most wonderful images of the windmill. I wished we could stop by longer and had some picnic on the Green. It must’ve been wonderful!
The towns of Sandwich and Plymouth in Massachusetts are among the oldest towns in United States. They situated in the area in Massachusetts which is a cape in the southeastern part of the state called Cape Cod. Cape Cod is famous for its beaches and quaint New England style towns. Town of Sandwich is the oldest town on Cape Cod being settled in 1637. While Plymouth was the first permanent settlement of the European who came to the New World (America) and became the Plymouth Colony. I visited these two towns in summer and although I didn’t explore much, I managed to visit several places and snapped some wonderful and interesting scenes on my cellphone. The SNAPS FROM A ROAD TRIP is the newest theme I want to develop on this blog that consists the pictures I took with my cellphone camera. Please, enjoy!
By the time Thanksgiving is over, New York City will be ready to display the festivity of holiday season. There will be more lights, wonderful window displays and amazing store decorations; seasonal events such as ice skating rinks at Bryant Park, Central Park or Rockefeller Center and my favorite is the winter market at Bryant Park. Of all the many wonderful things to see in New York City during holiday season, the window displays from the city’s top stores are the ones that are most breathtaking. Each store competes to show the astonishing display of themes on its windows. People will be wowed by the ranging of themes from Saks Fifth Avenue, Barney’s, Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman’s and many other upscale stores. They can be whimsical, full of fantasy, imaginative, depiction of stories that are popular like A Christmas Carol, Mother Goose, the Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and so on. Those themes are truly work of art!
When you decide to visit New York City during holiday season, be prepared to encounter a lot of people, more than usual. There will be crowd almost everywhere! Wear sensible and comfortable shoes, bundle-up warmly, cause you’re going to take lots and lots of walk. Your main attractions will be mostly along Fifth Avenue. Saks Fifth Avenue has musical light show that covers its entire building. It is simply amazing! Young and old would gather across the store and waiting for the show to begin every 10 minutes. Across Saks Fifth Avenue is another attraction that has been showed on popular movies about Christmas, such as Home Alone: Lost in New York, which is the Rockefeller Christmas tree. The tree, the ice skating rink and the displays around the Rockefeller Center are another wonderful sights to see. You might also browsing the winter market at Bryant Park that has many local artists showing and selling their artworks. Not too mention, another ice skating rink, which is heated, and I think is more romantic than the one at Rockefeller. People can buy some hot cocoa or coffee and have varieties of munchies, sit on one of the park metal chairs and see people ice skating or just relaxing with loved ones. The market is also the best place to get presents for any occasion or souvenirs, if you’re a tourist. So, let me show you how New York City celebrates holiday season. You’ll be amazed for sure!
There’s something about a carousel that you can always love. The carousel at New Haven Lighthouse Point Park is like that, you’re going to love it as soon as you see it. The carousel was built in 1916 by the Murphy Brothers in their workshop in Savin Rock, West Haven. It is one of the unique and charming American folk art still exists. It used to be an outdoor carousel, but then when after years of effected by the sea water and weather, the carousel became deteriorating. In the 1980’s, the mayor of New Haven set up a community action organization to take care of the carousel. After it was cleaned, repaired and restored, the carousel was placed in the pavilion near the lighthouse. It is now among the National Register of Historic Places. There is a small fee of 50cents to ride the carousel. The music they play when the carousel moves is lovely and sweet to your ears.
The music is played on an organ made by Stinson Organ Company. A mini organ with a miniature of George Washington holding a baton can be seen as part of the carousel decorations. There are also paintings of beach scenery, mermaid, sail boat, lighthouse and some nature scenery in New Haven adorned the top part of the carousel. There are 72 figures on the carousel that are placed on 20 arrays on a 60-foot platform (about 18 meters high). Each horse is different. It has different color, character and details that make each of the horse unique. It also named and the name is posted on top of each horse. When you look up, you can see the name of the horse you ride. Maybe you ride Thunder, White Lightning, Ocean Light, Wild Heart, Jumpin Jack or Bella Vista. Public can rent the pavilion and also the carousel for private party, such as a wedding or prom. I would love to attend a party here at night, when the carousel lights glimmer while the whimsical music from the carousel plays and the sound of the ocean is heard outside the building. What a marvelous night it seems!
My state, Connecticut, is located in the east coast of United States and the Atlantic Ocean part that stretches along the southern part of the state, is known as Long Island Sound. Being located near the ocean, Connecticut has several lighthouses and one of them stands in the city of New Haven. I have visited this lighthouse which is called Five Mile Point Light, many times but mostly when the weather wasn’t as lovely as the last time I came there. Two weeks ago I came to the Light House Park because of religious reason. It was Eid-ul Adha and the prayer was held in a field there. A couple hundreds of people showed up to pray together. After the prayer, I walked about the park especially near the lighthouse. The scenery was marvelous!
The Five Mile Point Lighthouse is called that way due to its location, which is about 5 miles (8km) from the center of the city of New Haven. It has octagonal shape that becomes a trademark of Connecticut’s lighthouses. This lighthouse is the 2nd lighthouse built in New Haven. The first lighthouse was called Morris Point established during the Colonial period. In 1847, the Five Mile Point Lighthouse opened replacing Morris Point that thought to be too far north on the shore. The Five Mile Point was made of sandstone from the nearby town of East Haven, while its interior was lined with bricks made in New Haven. This lighthouse stands 97 feet (29,5 meters) above the sea level. Inside the lighthouse there’s circular staircase with 74 steps made of granite leading up to the lantern.
The Five Mile Point Lighthouse operated until 1877. There’s another lighthouse that was built closer to Long Island Sound replacing it that’s still active until today. If you see the 3rd and 5th pictures, you can see far away a minuscule object which is the Southwest Ledge Lighthouse. This lighthouse stands on the reef at the opening of New Haven harbor. New Haven Lighthouse Park is a beautiful place to visit. The park has nature trail, bird watching station, small water park – wonderful entertainment for children especially in summer. It also has an indoor antique carousel. The carousel is so beautiful. Each of the carousel horses has different feature that I will write about them next time. Meanwhile, if you happen to pass by New Haven or visiting Connecticut, come and see the Five Point Mile Lighthouse at New Haven Lighthouse Park.