Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Backyard - Marble House, Newport, RI

Ah, another day in Newport....another Mansion tour. And what a glorious one it was, too!

In a previous post, I told you about my adventures at the Breakers. I promised myself (and you, my dear reader) that I would return to Newport to visit another grand old manse. That opportunity presented itself last December. (Ok, so I'm a little slow in writing this post about it....been a bit busy....but i'm trying to catch up...honest!)

continuing on....Hubby actually brought it up. "Let's go see one of the Mansions this week," he said. "They should all be decorated for the holidays. It'll be a good time to go."

Ok....hmmm....let me think bout this...twist my arm...ummm...weeelll...Of course I'd go, and with hubby along, too? Heck yeah!

So on a cloudy, cold day we headed to Newport and chose to visit Marble House on Bellevue Avenue. We parked across the street and, after buying a ticket for hubby, we strode up to the massive entrance to the mansion. While grand, we immediately recognized that this place is nowhere near as large as the Breakers. But maybe that's okay. It actually felt a bit homier to me, more comfortable. (If you can call a large, stone mansion built in 1882 homey and comfortable.)

After entering, we were handed a set of headphones and hand-held controller to begin our audio tour. I love these things! There's so much info stuffed into those little machines! On to tour another summer "cottage" owned by the infamous Vanderbilt family. The opulence. The French-inspired furnishings and architecture.

The first thing to assail our senses were the elaborate holiday decorations and the massive decorated Christmas tree in the main Stair Hall. A mansion employee indicated that we were allowed to take pictures of this tree and one in the Gothic Room. (Normally, pictures are a big no-no.) With permission granted, we took full advantage of taking pictures of the trees and ornaments. What I wouldn't give to have such beautiful decorations in my own home during the holidays!

The tour took us about 2 hours. That was long enough to really take our time viewing all the breathtaking artifacts, antiques, paintings, architecture, etc. in each room. And also allowed us time to listen to the entire narrated tour along with the bonus audio for each room. Similar to my tour of the Breakers, visitors are not allowed to view all the rooms (there's 50 rooms in Marble House). But we saw enough to really get a sense of the privileged lifestyle that a gilded age family led.

We strolled through a ballroom, library, bedrooms, dining room and the kitchen. Hard to say what my favorite room was but I think it'd be fair to say I really enjoyed seeing all the yachting and America's cup memorbilia on the second floor.

Before we knew it, our tour was over and we passed out of the last room and handed in our headphones. We shopped in the Mansion gift shop and picked up a few things, including some exquisite ornaments. After leaving the Mansion, we strolled the grounds and found our way to the back lawn which faced the Atlantic Ocean. It is here where we found the infamous Chinese Tea House.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to go inside. It's only open during the warmer months of the year. Visitors can purchase refreshments in the Tea House during those days. So we spent our time taking pictures of the Mansion, the Tea House and the ocean waves crashing onto the shore below us.  (The Mansion backs onto the famed Cliff Walk which, due to the damage from Hurricane Sandy, it's unwise to stroll onto the Walk right now. But hopefully come warmer weather, the damage will be fixed and visitors can once again walk along the cliffs and enjoy the serene, picturesque vistas.)

We pulled our coats tighter around us to brace against the increasingly colder air and pulled on our gloves to brave the icy wind that swept across the back lawn from the ocean. Shivering and with teeth clattering, we decided to say au revoir to Marble House. As we were leaving, we noticed in the oncoming dusk, lights were now twinkling in the trees on the front lawn of the Mansion. Very pretty!

It was close to dinner time so we decided to head down to Banister's Wharf for dinner. Located along Newport's famed America's Cup Avenue, it is here where visitors and locals alike shop and dine. We found our way to the Black Pearl, a great place to eat because it caters to whatever style you're looking for. From elegant (the Commodore's Room) to casual (the Tavern) or, in warmer weather, outside on the patio. Of course, being on the waterfront, their specialty is seafood dishes and there was no way we were going to order anything else. Hubby ordered a steamed lobster entree with melted butter and the restaurant's fab clam chowder. I orderd the halibut special (prepared in a champaign butter sauce....divine!) The food was absolutely delicious but the best part had to be the hot apple cider with a shot of rum and a cinnamon stick. OMG! Talk about hitting the spot on a cold, windy day on the ocean. Didn't take me long to warm up....just sayin'.....

After dinner, we strolled the wharf and visited several of the shops. They have a wide array of very interesting items for sale, most with a nautical flair but there's something for everybody here.

The long day eventually caught up with us and we decided to call it a day and head for home. It was hard to say goodbye to what had been such a great time but since we have one more ticket to visit another mansion, we decided to save that one for the Spring. When all the flowers and trees would be blooming. Gives us something to look forward to. Only one thing.....which mansion to visit next? Hmmmmm.....

1 comment:

  1. Sounds just lovely! And now I want clam chowder, lobster, and that halibut dish! ;)


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