Thursday, October 30, 2008

Day 8: Providence, RI

Saturday, September 27, 2008: Return to Providence; Afternoon at RISD Gala Opening

Saturday morning was transition day when our cruise ended and the next one began. Normally, the
American Spirit would have brought us back to Providence Piers in early morning, with the next group waiting to embark. However, the captain considered the passage up Narragansett Bay too risky given the stormy conditions, so American Cruise Lines arranged to have us return by bus. They also provided bus transportation to Newport for the next group waiting to board the American Spirit.

Serendipity stuck when Sandy Balla introduced us to Bill and Sue Ewen. Bill is a professional photographer and an expert in Northeastern U.S. history. They live in Providence and are familiar with some of its most picturesque neighborhoods. We had an interesting chat and told them about our blog. They expressed an interest and thought they could help us become more familiar with
Providence. They asked us if we had any plans for Sunday afternoon; they offered us to take us around on a drive, provided the weather was not too extreme. Since that day was open, we took them up on their offer!

We reached Providence Piers about 9:00 a.m. and disembarked under a large tent. American Cruise Lines had called our complimentary hotel shuttle that was to take us and another couple to the Comfort Inn. Here a glitch developed: the van never showed after 45 minutes! The American Cruise Lines representative made a great executive decision: he hailed one of the waiting taxis and prepaid our fare in full! We thanked him profusely and returned to our hotel.

There were still food left from the Comfort Inn's continental breakfast buffet, so we made lunch before taking the RIPTA bus downtown for our major afternoon event: Grand opening of the
Chace Center at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum of Art.

It was not raining, but still looked threatening, so we dressed in full raingear, including galoshes.

We joined the crowds at the gala opening of The Chace Center, a brand new wing of the RISD Museum. Admission was free, but we had to obtain timed passes under a tent shelter across the street, and walk over to the exhibit.

Dale Chihuly is considered one of the premiere contemporary glass sculptors, known for his large-scale installations, such as the ceiling piece seen here. Chihuly graduated from RISD in 1968 with a Masters in Fine Arts degree, and established a glass department at RISD in 1969. He now calls Seattle and Tacoma, WA home.

We wandered among the installations and saw several documentary films about his collaborative approach to glass sculpture. See Biography, for more information.

After visiting this gem of a museum, we walked back to Kennedy Plaza, to catch a bus back to our hotel.

While we waiting, the skies opened up and a torrential downpour engulfed us. We seemed to be the only ones with rain protection! We were fortunate to be able to catch the Route 14 bus, an express run between downtown Providence and T. R. Green Airport without much of a wait. It was only drizzling when we reached the hotel and it stopped raining by dinnertime.

We made Bertucci’s Italian Restaurant our nightly "pub" for its tasty comfort food and beer on tap. This place was convenient, being only five minutes away by foot from the Comfort Inn. Bertucci’s is a family-oriented restaurant chain concentrated in the Northeast. Although we usually seek out an independent eatery in preference to a chain restaurant, we found its comfort food, consisting of pasta and minestrone, tasty and filling. They had Samuel Adams and other New England brews on tap for reasonable prices.

Despite its challenges, we were pleased how the day went, and were looking forward to our farewell tour of Providence with the Ewens!

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