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Guest Blog: Roving Reporter La Reine Explores the Hudson Valley


Another Exciting Guest Blog From La Reine!

Since there was not a Notre Dame home game this weekend, my husband The Big Guy (TBG) and I found ourselves at home in New York City instead of jetting off to our alma mater to fill our season ticket holder seats! This meant we had a whole free Sunday to occupy. My husband decided it was a good time to see and photograph the Northeast’s colorful Fall foliage. To see the best foliage in our tri-state area, The Weather Channel was recommending a trip to the Hudson Valley.

TBG asked me to arrange a scenic car trip for Sunday up the Hudson Valley…not more than 2 hours driving time from NYC. SCORE! The NY Times had recently run an article on spending an antiques weekend in the Hudson Valley. Naturally, as every good “antiquing diva” does, I had saved this article which meant we had a great scenic route to follow north. And then we had a different scenic route to follow back to NYC. And even better, I was loaded with shopping recommendations along the way.

We left NYC early after a Starbucks stop, and crossed the Hudson on the George Washington Bridge and went north along the gorgeous Palisades Parkway until we reached route 9W North. From there we took this local road, filled with scenery, restaurants and shops, and shockingly little traffic. After several impromptu pullovers for perfect scenic photo ops, we drove slowly through West Point, the US Military School, to enjoy the beautiful campus. Then we continued north through Hyde Park, home of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), and passed many antique stores and markets (not a very pretty town). Here we also drove past the FDR Home and Library, and the Vanderbilt home… we decided next time we’d spend more time in Hyde Park and enjoy both the antiquing and the cultural stops, but since we had another 60 miles to cover, we kept going.

We continued slowly up 9W until we came to Rhinebeck and Asher House Antiques. My heart started beating faster: this is my kind of store – loaded with French and English antiques, big and small, expensive and very affordable! As I always do, I started picking out things I already own, to get a sense of pricing for what I purchased while living in Europe, and what I’d have to pay to buy them in the US… thankfully I made good purchases while living in Europe! In the end we only purchased a few small items, an aged French terra cotta flower pot being my favorite. But, after we paid and were heading out, the owner said: “It’s almost 11:00, the antiques fair is opening”.

“Antiques Fair? What Antiques Fair?” I asked!

The Rhinebeck Antiques Fair was held October 11th and 12th 2008 at the Duchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck…less than a mile up the road! Several other shoppers at Asher were on their way… they were just waiting until 11am for the Fair to open.

TBG and I were famished. Deciding to bypass the food court at the Fair, we opted instead to brunch at Calico, a cute little restaurant and patisserie located next door to Asher House. Since we were in CIA territory, we were anticipating many of the local restaurants would have CIA graduate chefs, and we were very pleased with Calico. I had smoked salmon and toast points with crème fraiche, onion and capers, TBG enjoyed a steak panini. Prior to being served we were treated with hot homemade yeast rolls. Throughout our meal we watched the locals practically buying out the pastry counter: we were too late to score the very popular chocolate chunk cookies, but we did buy a few oatmeal-with-raisin cookies for the car. The other pastries were tempting…but looked too sticky for a car ride.

Before we made it back to the car, we took a little walk around Rhinebeck: it’s a charming downtown filled with antiques shops, restaurants and boutiques. I stopped in Cesare + Lili, a women’s boutique, and now own a beautiful new cream sweater cape…I was chilled since it was much colder up north than in NYC! TBG found a pair of khakis on sale… a very pretty, walkable little downtown, we’ll be back!

With the back of our SUV rapidly filling up with bags, and not even being halfway along our route, we headed to the Rhinebeck Antiques Fair. Held entirely indoors, the Fair has a good mix of antiques and vintage, everything from furniture to Christmas ornaments to books to jewelry to dishware, leaning towards a country motif, but with plenty of goodies that even the most urban shopper would enjoy…in short, an antiquer’s heaven. And there were plenty of “mantiques” to distract TBG: he found a booth specializing in antique sports equipment, so found a sympathetic ear to discuss the tragic ND v UNC game the day before. We’re on the mailing list for this fair: the next date is sometime in the Spring, probably May. Check the website. That will be the perfect excuse to return to beautiful downtown Rhinebeck! One last stop: the food court. We had 2 very good, but expensive, cappuccinos to go!

Back in the car, continuing up 9W towards Hudson, another 60 miles north. Along the way, a few more Kodak moments and stops at a few garden centers to buy our fall gourds, pumpkins and mums. Finally, we reached Hudson. This main street is filled with antique and vintage stores and restaurants, but this is not a pretty town. It looks like it was a pretty town, and it could again be a pretty town, but the local Chamber of Commerce needs to put some thought and money into making Hudson a destination spot. We ended up buying only a book (Pierre Deux’s French Country: A Style and Source Book, 1984) at Hudson City Books on Warren, the main thoroughfare. We were both disappointed…I doubt we would make Hudson our destination in the future, although if we were in the neighborhood, we’d happily spend some time visiting the shops again.

Back in the car to NYC, this time taking the Taconic Parkway, again very scenic and shockingly car-free. In all, this perfect day of beautiful scenery, leisurely antique browsing, good food, and fabulous company took 11 hours, covering 230 miles. What a pleasant way to spend a gorgeous Sunday!

Ciao!
La Reine

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