Friday, September 19, 2008: Pre-Cruise Independent Visit to Bristol, Day Trip from Providence
The American Cruise Lines brochure indicated that Day 5 would be in Fall River, MA, with only a quick stop in Bristol. The Blithewold Mansion and Gardens was not listed as one of the attractions on the schedule, so we decided to use one of our free days in Providence to take a RIPTA bus ride to Bristol. The bus system worked well, and the driver dropped us off right in front of Blithewold, about 11:00 a.m.
Blithewold is an outstanding place to visit and we would recommend it highly. We spent two hours seeing the 45-room mansion and the extensive gardens.
Docents invited us to eat our picnic lunch on the verandah overlooking sparkling Narragansett Bay
We hiked along a well-worn 1.5-mile footpath back to town. It was enjoyable walking among the old storefronts before coming to another museum well worth seeing, Linden Place. This 1810 mansion was featured in the film The Great Gatsby, and Ethel Barrymore Colt lived there for a time.
Bristol calls itself the most patriotic city in America, and has the most consecutive Independence Day parades, dating to 1785. We had time to stroll some residential streets, accented with fall colors, before catching the bus back to Providence.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008: Morning in Bristol, Cruise to Newport in Afternoon
The American Spirit arrived in Bristol on another brilliant morning, perfect for sightseeing. American Cruise Lines had arranged an excursion to the Blithewold Mansion and Gardens. Since we were there just recently, we skipped the excursion. Our earlier visit turned out to be a blessing, because we barely had two hours at Bristol today, and the charming town, with a strong historic preservation ethic, was conducive to a leisurely stroll.
The Herreshoff Marine Museum-America’s Cup Hall of Fame was located right opposite our wharf, so it was an easy matter to walk to it. The Museum is located in a former fine yacht manufactory that operated from 1863-1945. The America’s Cup Hall of Fame chronicles the 150-year history of the America’s Cup regatta held in venues around the world.
After lunch, the American Spirit began the cruise to Newport along scenic Narragansett Bay.
By arrival time in Newport, the late afternoon sun was casting a golden glow over the shoreline.
Sandy Balla was passing along some weather bulletins: Hurricane Kyle moisture was enhancing a nearby upper level cut-off low-pressure weather system, increasing the chance for heavy rain and wind in southern New England. The captain began to hint
that Block Island may have to be dropped from the itinerary, due to high seas and wind, since the American Spirit lacks stabilizers. However, the weather was expected to be fine tomorrow and Newport's fabulous "summer cottages" awaited us!