Thursday, May 28, 2009

Come Take A Tour

(Sorry this is a lot, but even with cutting out so many pictures it's still long!)

Cliff Walk, Newport, Rhode Island

During the Gilded Age of the 19th century, wealthy residents of the Atlantic Coast and New York in particular came to while away the summers in Newport, Rhode Island. Eventually, they started building large homes along the coastline to accommodate themselves and their many guests. These mansions have now become a symbol of Newport. Between the homes and the Rhode Island Sound is a path that has been used since the Narragansett Indians occupied the land, it has since become known as the Newport Cliff Walk. Owners of the mansions have consistently tried to block the path in the name of privacy, but access is guaranteed in the Rhode Island Constitution that grants residents fishing rights and access to the shore. Though not over-publicized, the path has become a tourist draw but has suffered badly from poor maintenance and hurricanes. (Information from

The path was not crowded by any means, I thought the lack of tourists might be due to the fact that it was drizzling when we started out, but as we moved along I saw that it might be due to the fact that there were some rough patches along the way. There are areas of nice, worn paths, areas of cement or brick walks, but then there are areas of sharp, rocky beach, and other areas of slick, slippery rock along with steep drop-offs to maneuver. Ray thought it was a breeze, I'm very afraid of heights and did not think it was a breeze at all!

After climbing these rocks for a while I was happy that we had an overcast day, I think it would have been brutal in full sun to navigate this course! The cliff walk is a little over three miles, and then we opted to walk the streets back to our car, which was nice because this way we got to see the front of the mansions too (and I could relax and not be panic-stricken at the thought of some of those heights again!).

The mansions were stunning, the architecture was beautiful, and many of them are famous homes. The Breakers was built by the Vanderbilts in 1893 and it has over seventy rooms. There is also The Beechwood, which was owned by John Jacob Astor IV and it was where he got married (he died while returning from his honeymoon abroad, he was the wealthiest passenger to die in the Titanic disaster). There are many other mansions along here that were used in movies (The Great Gatsby, True Lies, Amistad, High Society, and The Philadelphia Story).
While I find all this interesting, neither Ray nor myself had any interest in touring any of the mansions. I didn’t used to be like that, there was a time I would have loved to see how the other half lived, but now, other than being somewhat interested in the architecture, I don’t have much interest in the rich and famous anymore. I’d much rather tour the small homes of Gettysburg, or the old tenement apartments in Manhattan that housed multiple families in three tiny rooms.
But the views of the ocean were magnificent and much appreciated by us.

This is the start of the Cliff Walk at the bottom of the thirty-nine steps. Opposite views.

Each step has the name of a servant that worked in the mansions engraved on it. This was a gathering place for the servants to socialize with each other. I thought Ray had taken a picture from the top of the steps too, but I can't find it.

These are all the sites along our way:

Salve Regina College

This tree was on the property of Salve Regina and I love how this tree took care of itself! Somehow it was split in two, and then it re-rooted itself and continued to grow in two spots!

This tree was so pretty, and the little feathery green leaves were actually a little vine that had wrapped itself all around the tree branches.

Some of the beautiful mansions we saw along the way!

Approaching the first tunnel under a sweet little pagoda.

I don't know if you can tell from this picture, but this tunnel had graffiti 'art work', and I thought that was something unique to New York (try saying that three times fast!).

Another tunnel!

Easy path!

Not-so-easy path with lots of rock scrambling along the way! I was glad it stopped raining, I don't think I could have maneuvered over wet, slippery rock!

We didn't see too many other tourists along the way, but another couple happened along and Ray asked them to take our picture. I love how she took it off-center to get some of the mansions along the walk in the background.

Another tunnel. I would imagine these would be very cool and inviting on a hot, sunny day. We actually had perfect weather for this little excursion. It was not the easy, breezy walk I was expecting! But it was beautiful and it was fun!

Rocks, rocks and...

...more rocks to scramble over and climb! Careful not to turn an ankle!

Come on! Another hill to climb! This looks like a little hill, but it wasn't, it was really steep! And keep in mind that's a six foot fence up top, it's not a tiny little two-footer.

Ahh, a plateau. A nice place for pictures and rest before we're off trekking again.

Do you think these people mean business? Notice the barbed wire atop the fence, and also the 'Beware of Dog' sign on the gate. I guess they really want to keep us out!
Do I look like an escapee from the asylum? I think so!

I don't know if you can see the fishermen in this picture (maybe if you enlarge it), but I can't imagine climbing down to where they were! Ray wanted to try but I said NO WAY!

A pretty rock beach.

This was a nice easy path to climb with beautiful views!

It was amazing to find this little patch of grass growing among these rocks and boulders!
And then we came across a tree too!

Ray went off the beaten path to investigate the beach bricks. Looking for approval on his brick/ egg find.

My find! And I didn't even have to climb down to hunt for it, it was right at my feet! I thought a pretty little heart-shaped beach brick was a very nice find, like an Anniversary gift from Heaven!

I loved the pop of color the red brick gave against the beach rocks!
I think these 'beach bricks' are Rhode Island's version of Long Island's 'beach glass'.
The bricks were so smooth from being tumbled by the sea just like my beach glass. But beach glass is much easier to carry than bricks are! We found a few little treasures to take home though.

So pretty!

At last! Steps to climb and not rocks!

Uh-oh!! More rocks to maneuver over!

I love these grounds much more than I like the house that sits on them! It looks like Ireland or Scotland.

The end of the walk before we hit the beach had this pretty little trail.

There's something so appealing about this old gate, I was glad the owner opted to keep it instead of replacing it with a chain link gate.

My favorite mansion was the last along the walk with it's weathered look and it was vine-covered (you can't really see them in this picture, maybe if you enlarge it). It must look so pretty in the summer!

Ahh! Now this is the type of beach I'm used to with sand and no rocks! I took off my shoes and socks at this point and my feet were grateful!

We walked along the streets on the way back and got to see another view of the mansions.

Beautiful iron gates and fences, many in disrepair, but I really liked the look of faded glory.

I, of course, love the piece of the gate with the flower missing that is old and rusted.

The very famous mansion The Breakers. I like the old Victorian better, but it wasn't open to the public.

Here's another interesting tree that we spotted on the front property of one of the mansions.
This tree is such a beauty!

On the way back we stopped in the town of Mystic, Connecticut. Here's where the movie Mystic Pizza was filmed. It's really a pretty little town with lots of little unique shops, lots of antiques, and lots of beautiful old homes.

Here's a few goodies I picked up:
This shelf I found in a little craft shop. I'm not sure yet where it will hang, but I'll find a spot for it!

And this sweet little dress I picked up for $6.00 in another little shop. I thought it was a nice compliment to my grandmother's old washboard.

Ferry ride back to Long Island, it was cold and windy, but nice!

We stopped at a beach in Orient Point on the way home and I collected lots of nice driftwood.

It was a wonderful trip and I'd definitely do it again!


  1. I really did enjoy your tour. You came back with some great pictures. I also am afraid of heights so I wouldn't have gone down near those fishermen either! Also what I found interesting is how you would rather see how poorer simpler people live, than the ones in those mansions. I agree! The mansions were beautiful though.

  2. This seemed to be a very nice trip Eileen. I know I would have loved it! My husband and I decided last week that if we win the lottery, we are going to live on the ocean so we are scouting out sites! Thanks for your tour of the east coast, I will put it on my list of possibilities!

  3. You thought this was going to be too long or with too many pictures and I was so enjoying myself that it seemed "short", but then you are such a good guide and writer!!
    I love how you love old or falling apart that why you like me??
    I read about a lady who treasured her chipped china and remember each event when it got chipped, so I keep our chipped dishes (drives Michael nuts) even though I can't remember squat about how they got chipped.

    blessings my sweet friend,


  4. Thanks for all the comments. The pictures really don't do it justice at all, but I hope you get the idea of how wonderful it all was.
    Diana, I would recommend the California coastline instead of the East Coast, I see they all have wonderful outdoor kitchens and living rooms! The weather there is so much more conducive to that then here. Here there are lots of screen rooms, and three season rooms, but not many 'outdoor' rooms. I'd love that!

    Jill, I am so much more attracted to the poorer, simpler people, and I especially love the ordinary everyday life of ordinary everyday people!

    Marcy, you are too funny about the chipped china, and I'm the same way about forgetting everything too!
    I used to love everything in it's place and everything pristine, and now I'm the exact opposite! Every chip and crack is a thing of beauty to me now!

  5. I enjoyed reading your post. What a fabulous trip you had. I love all of the pictures of the ocean, the rocks, the paths, and the mansions. The arcitecture is beautiful. How cool is it that you found that pretty heart shaped rock! Thank you for sharing your trip with all of us.
    p.s. I got my dolls at Hallmarks about 15 years ago. Thank you for your lovely comments on my post.