25 August 2012

Hudson Valley Road Trip

Last weekend continued with a perfect road trip involving pain au chocolat, cemeteries, and the kindness of strangers.

I read about Maison Kayser opening a store in New York and put it on the to do list.  It's an incredible bakery from Paris and the French do bread very very well.  We picked up the rental and drove up 3rd Ave to 74th.

I was too excited by all of the bread to take the best pictures but I did take a photo of the best item we ate - the pain au chocolat.  It's perfect.  The cheese bread is a very close second.  We both grabbed a bag of bread-type products and ate on the road up to the Sleepy Hollow.

We were on an ambitious schedule.  Our goal was to hit Washington Irving's House, Kykuit, the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, the Union Church of Pocantico Hills, and Mark Twain's House.  We could have done all of them except for Mark Twain's house easily in one day but Twain was on the list and that was a two hour drive away in Hartford, CT.  We worked as a team and saw everything except for the church.  I'm still sad about this because of the Marc Chagall stained glass windows.  I will return though someday.

We arrived before Irving's house opened and greeted the caretaker when he opened the gate.  The first tour wasn't until 10:30 so we moved on to the cemetery.

I love cemeteries.  Phor does not.  She was a true friend and helped navigate the way to find Irving's grave.  Every way I looked there was something beautiful.  

We drove to the Visitor's Center and bought tickets for the 11 am tour of Kykuit which was built by the Rockefellers.  The tour took us through the house and the gardens which were gorgeous.

A bus drove the tour group from the center up to the house and it was a beautiful site.  On one side is the house and on the other is this fountain.  The tour guide was good and she really emphasized how the Rockefeller's were Baptists and that the house really isn't as ostentatious as a some of the other wealthy industrialists of the time.  The house may not have been as grand but the gardens made up for it.

Abby Aldrich Rockefeller was one of the founders of the MOMA and Nelson, her son, also loved modern art.  Modern art is sprinkled throughout the house and garden including this piece by Brancusi.

This was a tea house built away from the main house.  I love how you can see the sky behind the house by how the windows are designed.

A statue of Cupid and Psyche.

Adam and Eve.

A garden of sculptures by Picasso.

We weren't allowed to take pictures in any of the houses.  Each of the homes were beautiful in their own way.  I loved how we traveled in time by seeing the homes of these men made famous through industry and their writings.

We made it to Irving's house which looked like a fairy tale cottage.  He lived in a beautiful part of the Hudson Valley but it was marred later in his life when the railroad built a track right by his house.

We should not have made it in time to Mark Twain's house to buy tickets to a tour.  The tours sell out very early in the day and the tickets cannot be bought online.  Phor called early in the day to ask about the status of the tickets.  She made friends with a very nice manager who agreed to hold two tickets for the last house tour for us.  Kindness should not be underestimated.  

It's Mark Twain made out of legos.  Amazing.

Twain's home was my favorite.  It is very dark inside but one of the Tiffany's designed the etchings throughout the stairwell and it is beautiful. This is what I wanted a picture of to remember the detail of it.  I learned a lot of interesting facts about Twain and the horrible deaths of two of his daughters. 

And next door to Twain's house is Harriet Beecher Stowe's home.  I would have loved to have heard the conversation between these two friends.

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