Newport Doors

Where can you see some great doors leading up to Christmas? Head to Newport, Rhode Island. On the streets intersecting Thames Street in the historic waterfront area you will see some nice old houses and buildings. Some date back to the early 1700s.

Trinity Church

The doors are perfect paintings; a relief from the picture world I’ve created for myself. Gary Hume

I am partial to doors and windows. I enjoy seeing unique ones on my travels. Are you partial to doors?

National Railway Museum

Where is the largest railway museum in the world? Where would a train enthusiast be on cloud nine? The location I am speaking of is the National Railway Museum in York, England.

What’s There

To say this museum is large is an understatement. It has over 6,000 objects on display including signage, model trains, posters, tickets, nameplates, clocks, furniture and other items. Signage catches my eye, so I will include images of some of these items. The museum is massive and I think its best to not spoil it too much.

Seating for one of the locations in the museum that serves food.

There are over 100 locomotives or rolling stock on display with other stock held elsewhere. It has the largest collection of train cars and locomotives held in what formally was the North York Locomotive Depot. On display are Queen Victoria’s railway carriage and other trains such as one used by Queen Elizabeth II. They also have international holdings such as a Japanese Bullet train and a Chinese locomotive. Train displays vary and they rotate displays with other museums.

Front of one of the Royal Trains
Inside of a Post Office sorting carriage
Visiting

They are open daily through out the year including bank holidays with the exception of 24-26 of December. Their hours are from 10-5 (10:00-17:00) most of the year, however, during the summer months they are open 10-6 (10:00-18:00).

If you are a train enthusiast, you could easily spend a blissful day at this museum. If you fancy trains, this museum should be on your bucket list. The historical aspect will appeal to others as well.

Scituate Lighthouse

Are you looking for lighthouses that are readily accessible? Are you looking for one right on the ocean with nice views? Are you interested in one associated with an interesting story from history? One such lighthouse is the Old Scituate in Massachusetts (the c is silent in Scituate).

History

This lighthouse was built and activated in 1811. It has an interesting story behind it. During the War of 1812 the first lighthouse keeper, Captain Simeon Bates and his family lived at the house. During the war Scituate was attacked and some of its vessels were burned in the harbor. Months later while most of the family was away, two of the keeper’s children, Abigail and Rebecca saw two barges approach filled with red coats from a British warship. The girls sent their brother to warn the town and gathered a fife and drum. They hid behind some trees and made such a noise that they were mistaken for an entire regiment and the British made a quick retreat. The girls were credited with preventing the British from ransacking the town. The fife is said to be on display in the keeper’s house.

The keeper’s house is on the left of the lighthouse tower. I was standing on the beginning of the jetty for this shot. The harbor is the body of water on the left. The ocean is on the right.
Location

When I had trouble finding lighthouses to get up close to open one area north of Boston someone nicely recommended this one and ones nearby. Scituate is south of Boston on the South Shore. It is on Lighthouse Road on Cedar Point in the town of Scituate. The area around the lighthouse is mostly residential but nearby is the town. They have some nice restaurants and shops.

Accessiblity

The grounds around the lighthouse tower are accessible all year. It has a large parking lot which was quite empty on December 26th. You can walk around the lighthouse, but not on the property of the actual house where the keeper would have lived. Someone resides in there today and that part is not open to the public. The tower is open the few times a year they have open house. There is a stone wall you can climb which is a buffer between the house and the ocean. If someone has issues walking or is in a wheelchair they can take the path around the grounds. It is fairly flat.

You can faintly see two people on the jetty. The jetty is walkable, but I would not recommend walking it if you see water on it. That means waves are capable of going up on them. You can see a Christmas wreath hanging on the side.

There is a jetty going out from the lighthouse into the ocean. People can walk on that, but I do not recommend doing that when the waves spray up onto it.

It was windy and the waves were going over the jetty in places here.
This is Scituate Lighthouse from the other side of the harbor. As you can see, they decorate it for Christmas.

The story behind the lighthouse makes it interesting to me. Some say if you listen, you can hear a fife and drums playing in the waves. Regardless, it is one that is nice to look at and is accessible.

Newport Lighthouse

How easy is it to view New England lighthouses? I found it is not as easy to get a peak was you would think.

There are many reasons they are difficult to view. Some are on islands off shore. A few I tried to get near in Massachusetts or Rhode Island are on private land or rich people own the land with the best views of them. You have to get permission from the landowner or try to find a spot to view them from a distance. In one area of Massachusetts the roads were private in these areas of mega mansions. You were allowed to drive on some of those roads, but you were not allowed to park on them or walk in the parks in their neighborhood, which most likely gave you a good view of a certain lighthouse.

This lighthouse is on private land near Newport, Rhode Island and I asked permission to walk to it on an island. They allowed access starting around 7 a.m. That happened to be good timing sky and light wise.

This lighthouse was decorated for Christmas, which made it all the more special.

I am glad they do allow access to this one if you ask during certain hours but I wish more were accessible to view. If you get to Newport, Rhode Island, check this one out, but ask permission first.

Rockport New England Christmas

Most small towns have their Christmas celebrations in the weeks leading up to Christmas. With the exceptions of some church services, there is not much going on Christmas week in most small towns. I drove around Rockport on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and found out they were the exception.

I was surprised many businesses and restaurants were closed December 24th as I was traveling in Massachusetts. From locals that sounds typical. For many stores and restaurants in New York December 24th is important and they stay open at least part of the day. I found that some Rockport businesses were open on December 24th.

Santa arriving in the back of a vintage Chevy truck.

I also discovered that Santa arrives to visit the townspeople by the tree on Christmas morning. He arrives in vintage Chevy pick-up and passes out bags of fruit and candy to everyone. He even poses for a picture. I was told this is a favorite yearly tradition.

People in Rockport welcomed Santa on Christmas.
Santa gave out bags filled with fruit and candy.
Santa’s helper
People and their pets arrived in festive attire.
This dog has his own Instagram-Whatnorthseas. He is a very friendly border collie.

No businesses were open on Christmas as expected, except one, a coffee shop. The owner would not accept payment. Coffee, tea, and a pastry was free that morning while she was open. Many were leaving tips in the jar regardless.

The shop that had free coffee, tea and pastries. I believe this was Helmut’s Strudel.
Most painted building

Rockport is a wonderful little coastal town. It has many shops with a vibrant art community. One fishing stage in the harbor is said to be the most painted building in art classes in the United States.

It was fun walking and driving around town looking at holiday wreaths and decorations. Some used local plants or shells.

Many visit Rockport in summer. It is also a nice destination in winter, especially during Christmas.

French Christmas Market in NYC

New York City has several Holiday/ Christmas Markets that are currently running, but did you know this year there is one straight from France? It’s the Christmas Market of Strasbourg, Colmar and Mulhouse. This was the first year this market was held in the city.

Each stall was in a little chalet style hut.

This market was sponsored by the cities of Strasbourg, Colmar, and Mulhouse. The Alsatian tourist board set up the market that included 30 chalets brought over from the French region of Alsace. The city of Strasbourg actually holds the oldest Christmas market in France.

Location

This market was located in Bowling Green Park in front of the entrance to the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan at Broadway and Whitehall Streets.

What Was Available

This market had a variety of foods and crafts from the Alsatian region of France. Unfortunately today was the last day. It ran from December 5-22nd. Drinks included mulled wine and other alcoholic drinks such as champagne. Other food items included jams, chocolates, pastries, chestnuts, soup, and tarte flambé among other things.

Some of the handcrafted items for sale. Other craft items included ornaments and pottery.
Jams- some of which I was told include the ingredients commonly found in fruit cakes.

Tarte flambé is an iconic Alsatian dish. It had a very thin crust with a mixture of cream and soft, smooth cheese. You could choose to have onions and bacon on it or cinnamon apples. This was wood fire grilled in an outdoor oven. Everyone who bought it seemed to be very pleased with this offering. This booth had a long line.

Tarte flambé with cinnamon and apples.

Santa was available in a tent. Most of the people I saw posing with him were adults. Most of the items in the market were geared towards adults, however, I did see some families with children who seemed to be able to go outside the box on food choices.

Posing with a French Santa , Father Christmas or Papa Noel

They did have a seating area near where the alcoholic drinks were served with tables.

Payment

This market only accepted credit cards. That was a disappointment for me as I like to pay cash. I feel others need to be aware of that.

This market was a nice way to have access to another culture and its offerings. It was a good way to experience a European Christmas market on a small scale. Let’s hope this one returns or another region from Europe brings in their own products and experiences next year. For those of us who have always wanted to experience the European Christmas markets, but are unable to go, this was a nice introduction.

People of New York- Holiday Spirit

The residents of New York get the reputation of being rude. Are they all Grinches at Christmas time? I saw plenty of locals in the holiday spirit.

This couple sells Christmas trees on 8th Avenue. They are from London, England, but now call New York home.
This is part of their stand on 8th Avenue.
This is the doorman at the Playwright Tavern- a pub on 49th Street. They have a great vegetable curry. He is a very friendly chap. I had a nice conversation with him and plan to return. Incidentally this pub has four TVs playing different games. If you are visiting NY and want to catch your game, this may be the right spot.
This fellow is an actor on a tour bus. The tour is called The Ride. It is an interactive tour.
This gentlemen I caught near Rockefeller Center. He was full of holiday cheer. He has lived in Manhattan most of his life.

Sometimes New Yorkers get a bad wrap. Manhattan is one of the best places to get some holiday spirit and the locals contribute to that.