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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Of New Bags & Newport

Presenting, the first of three entries on Cape Cod which should have come before ones on Boston. I finally got down to doing some tikam tikam and picked what I hope are the best photos for the blog while trying not to get distracted by two full hours of Friends episode reruns.

The best type of travel reference materials are those that walk on two legs and aren't made of paper or available online. It turned out that meeting with Ethan Kent from PPS in Manhattan wasn't all work and no play. He shared with us a thousand tips on traveling in New England, where his family hails from. How can you not get jumpy with anticipation when a local enthusiastically exclaims, "You're visiting all my favourite places! That's just awesome." and proceeds to share with you details of the seaside towns, restaurants and nature trails that he loves? He hunted down a map of New England and started walking us through the route and scribbling down his recommendations on a notepad.

We even got a couple of great shopping tips, which saved us from an unnecessary detour to Premium Outlets in Woodbury Common and thus, a huge amount of time on the road dredging through nightmarish New York traffic. At his advice, we headed for the outlets at Clinton Crossing in Connecticut instead, which were en route to our destination in Rhode Island.

And look what we scored:

The happiest bag lady I've ever seen

The Memorial Day (Monday 25 May) sales that stretched from Friday to Monday were unbelievably good - bags were going at a 50% discount on the already heavily discounted prices. We got my mum hooked onto Kate Spade bags and my dad grumbling about the extra load to cart home at the end of the trip. But when we hit the outlets at Wrentham en route from Cape Cod to Boston on Monday (the last day of the sale!), guess who sent the family into a tizzy because he disappeared into the bowels of the mall with his mobile phone on low batt and kept us waiting at the pre-arranged meeting point for half an hour? Hmmmmmm, Prof Tan?? He's always the first to get bored and would wait impatiently at the meeting point, sending SMSes to the wife and kids to wrap up the shopping trip pronto. So when he wasn't there, we were so worried that he might have fainted in the loo or outside one of the shops. We sent the guys to check the restrooms and coordinated a search mission to comb the mall (while leaving Mum to fiercely guard the shopping.) It turned out that he was in the queue waiting to pay for his goodies from Banana Republic! Parents nowadays are such a handful. Sheesh.

Ethan had recommended that we take the scenic route to Newport, instead of zooming up the (boring) interstate directly into Providence. It was really nice to have someone suggest the travel itinerary for a change, instead of stuffing my head with general information from travel guides. I'm glad we made the stop. Newport is a very pretty seaside town and the main destination for major sailing races, such as the America Cup. (Not that I'm much of a sailor myself - the last time I tackled a sailboat was during my first few months at Victoria Junior College, where my friend Penn Nee and I ended up floundering in the open sea in the middle of a tropical storm. I decided thereafter that I would stick to dry land and try out for the school's track team instead.)

Hopefully the next time I get to visit Newport, I'll be arriving in my very own boat (or rubber dinghy the size of a bathtub) and berthing at the chichi piers snootily marked with a 'private' sign. Tee hee.

Big straw hats with coloured ribbons! So summertime.

If I've no money to buy a boat, I can settle for a rubber dinghy too.

Stalking pigeons is a low-budget past-time

The perfect cranny for hiding from the chilly sea breeze

White fences + pots of geraniums! I heart.

Quaint houses lining the streets make for a delightful afternoon stroll

Newport and the other seaside towns in New England are treasure troves for art galleries and artisan shops. I find the artworks so inspiring. They make me want to be able to draw and paint well enough to be able to showcase my works in a gallery and actually have people buy them. I've considered taking art classes back home as a hobby a couple of times but the lessons are just so expensive and the price of art supplies can make you gag. Guess I'll just be sticking to mastering digital photography and uploading pictures for now.


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