Don’t miss the last few chances to take a magical sail on the A.J.Meerwald. This is a beautiful oyster schooner restored by the Bayshore Center at Bivalve NJ, and in Cape May only until September 3rd.
Combine the beautiful, graceful boat, the enthusiasm of the crew for their educational mission, and the graceful action of the craft slicing through the waves for a calm, transcendent, serene experience. This is not like a motorboat ride. This is unlike any other boat ride you’ve taken. Don’t miss it. Call now and chill.
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. No, I take that back. It was just the best of times – at the Cape May Dickens Christmas Extravaganza. If you like a little culture with your Victorian vacation, consider coming to the Dickens Extravaganza, December 6, 7, and 8th. Dr. Elliot Engle has had a mini-series on PBS, and is a wonderful, entertaining speaker. Sunday evening, there will be a talk about Edgar Allan Poe and Dickens. Monday is a talk about Winston Churchill and another about the Bronte sisters.
Tuesday, Jay Friedlin of the Philadelphia Dickens Fellowship will lead a discussion about Nicholas Nickelby. Later, there’s a talk about Railways in the Victorian age. The afternoon and evening are filled with a fascinating talk about Dickens and the Jews, followed by a Dickens Feast at the spectacular Washington Inn.
Come stay with us at Leith Hall bed and breakfast for the full Extravaganza package. $435 Is the cost for the three night package for one person and a room and breakfast at Leith Hall. $631 is for a room, breakfast, and two participants in the full package. Give us a call for discounts on partial Dickens packages.
Can you Swing Dance? Can You Lindy? Can you Samba? It doesn’t matter. Tom Cupp will be there to teach you how to move with the best of them to the music of 1940s big band jazz. Suzie and I have been to the Naval Air Station Wildwood Big Band dance and it wonderful ! Young airmen and nurses dance, flip, and amaze. We just do a less athletic Lindy Hop.
Dance the night away
There’s food, music, and dancing from 7 P.M. To 10 P.M. Tom Cupp will teach Swing, Ballroom and Samba for us newbies; and prizes will be awarded for great 1940s costumes. Call at 609 886-8787 for tickets or go to their website and order on line.
Yesterday, Suzie and I and my sister-in-law Rena had the extraordinary experience of a sail aboard the A.J.Meerwald. It’s an oyster schooner from the 1920s, restored and operated by a not-for-profit organization as an educational institution, but that’s not what makes it so special. When you are aboard and leave Cape May harbor, the experience is magical. I know absolutely nothing about boats, but the feeling aboard the Meerwald is nothing like a ride on a motorboat. Instead of plowing through the waves, you slice through the water; ride along pulled by the wind in the sails.
It’s very sweet that the crew are earnest young people who are eager to share their information about the history of oystering, or the protection of watersheds and avoiding water pollution. It’s charming that the staff from the Bayshore Center are wonderful, enthusiastic hosts. But the real star is the boat. The ride on the Meerwald can lift a visit to Cape May from a pleasant vacation to a transcendent experience.
There are still sailings available out of Cape May Harbor, so call them at 856 785 2060, or go online at bayshorecenter.org. Hurry, there are only a couple of weeks left and there is no other experience like it. Of course, when youi visit Cape May to sail on the Meerwald, it would be nice if you stay with us at Leith Hall bed and breakfast.
We are thrilled, happy, and delirious to announce that our new book is being published as a Kindle ebook on Amazon. It’s called Rome Secrets – Eleven Self Guided Walking Tours. You may remember that we spent a winter stay in Rome a couple of years ago because we had a book contract. That project is finally done and we are very pleased with the product. You can stay home and feel that you are wandering the sunny streets of Rome. There are lots of photographs, gossip, scandal, food, and of course, art, and architecture. Or, you can use it in Rome to guide you through the neighborhoods and make you feel like a real Roman.
And, it’s at Naval Airstation Wildwood’s Aviation Museum. This August 27th through 29th will be Airfest. The B 24 Liberator, the B 17 Flying Fortress and the B 51 Mustang bombers will be there. There will be food, fun, exhibitors, and a day-full of activities. Check out the website of the Aviation Museum to get the details.
Naval Airstation Wildwood’s Aviation Museum is one of the great places to visit in the Cape May area. This enormous wooden hangar is the size of a cathedral, and contains a great collection of planes that you can see, explore, and even sometimes sit in. The hangar is left over from WWII, and some of the planes are that old too. The museum explains Cape May’s role in WWII – so there’s an educational purpose, but the fun is to get close to lots and lots of planes.
A new painting of Castelo São Jorge in the parlor at Leith Hall
This is just a brief post to tell you about a change in our parlor atLeith Hall bed and breakfast. A few weeks ago, I went to a yard sale with a neighbor and found a great late nineteenth-century gilded frame for five dollars – and amazing price for a very fancy frame. The outermost molding was broken, so I replaced it and gilded it and ended up with a spectacular frame. Of course, it isn’t a standard size and I had no painting that would fit it. Fortunately, I wanted to make a picture of the Castelo São Jorge in Lisbon, which we visited during last winter’s vacation. The castelo sits on top of the Alfama hill, which was the old Arab city before the Christians conquered Portugal. We were staying on a cliff-top on the opposite side of the old city and could look across the lower town (the Baixa) to the Alfama and the castelo.
The Castelo Sao Jorge is the highest point in Lisbon. The Romans may have built a fort there on an Iron Age site, but if they did, it was obliterated by later building. The Arabs built a medinat (city) or al-qasaba (fort) on the same site, populated by “people of the book” – Christians, Moslems and Jews. The kings of Portugal kept and extended the fortifications until 1755 – the year of the terrible earthquake, tidal wave, and fire that wiped out the center of Lisbon. Much of what we see now was restored in 1910.
Suzie and I took the little yellow number 28 trolley from one extreme end of Lisbon to the other, ending in the Castelo neighborhood. It is a wonderful and sometimes exciting ride, as the trolley just missed hitting buildings in the narrow twisted alleyways. Of course, the trolley is on tracks, so it always just misses the buildings, but it plunges down the face of the cliff and up the hillside lke a cross between transportation and a roller coaster.
Cape May’s Chalfonte Hotel has been hosting guests for 137 years. And, Karen Fox has documented its fascinating history in her book and in this season’s show at the Carriage House Gallery at the Emlen Physick Estate. Henry Sawyer built the hotel – and his story is unforgettable. He was captured by the confederacy and held in the infamous Libby Prison in Richmond Virginia. He was condemned to die by chance in the cruel “Lottery of Death”, but his wife Harriet would not let that happen. She got to President Lincoln through Secretary of War, Stanton, and Lincoln ordered Henry Sawyer and two other prisoners exchanged for Robert E, Lee’s son plus two others. Harriet saved her beloved Henry, and Cape May got back its Civil War hero and hotelier.
The exhibit opens today, April 26th, and will run through the whole summer.
Do you love Downton Abbey? Wish you could live in one of the stately homes of England and hob-nob with the nobs? Come to Cape May for an afternoon tea presented by the Friends of the Physick Estate called Upton Abbey. There will be prizes for the best British accent, and for the best period costume. Downton Abbey Trivia will test your knowledge of the shows details.
While you’re in town you can immerse yourself in the period with trolley tours of out twelve hundred Victorian and Edwardian houses, tours of the Emlen Physick Estate (the richest guy in town in those days), and stay at Leith Hall with our period rooms and furnishings.
The Upton Abbey tea will be Friday, April 19th at 3 P.M. at the Physick Estate Carriage House Café and Tearoom.If you miss this time, keep in touch – it will be offered again.
This past winter, Suzie and I went to Iceland to see the Northern lights. We stayed in the Northern Light Inn on a lava field in Southwestern Iceland, very close to the Blue Lagoon. We toured around our corner of the country and spent a few days in Reykjavik as well.
The Blue Lagoon was formed by the runoff from a geo-thermal electricity plant set in a lava field. The runoff contained so much white silica mud that it clogged the pores of the lava and created a shallow warm lagoon. Now it’s a spa and heaven to soak in. As you can see, it’s baby blue set in a landscape of black lava – very dramatic.
The weather at the Blue Lagoon changed every fifteen minutes or so. The sky would be bright blue, then huge hail would fall for a few minutes. Then the sky would be blue again, the rain. Then blue, then snow. All within a couple of hours.
We hired a car and driver who took us on a tour around the Reykyanes peninsula, that is Southwestern Iceland. We visited Gulfoss – a huge waterfall about a third the size of Niagara.
Iceland also has the oldest parliament in the world, running for a thousand years. This is the site of the original parliament – the Althing – where Vikings came together to vote.
Geyser is one of the few words in English that comes from Icelandic. The original Geyser is dormant now, but only a few yards away is Strokkur, which erupts every few minutes.
Reykjavik is the country’s only city, and its historic district resembles a more urban version of Cape May. It’s all Victorian with very similar buildings and gingerbread, only in Iceland the traditional siding is not clapboard by corrugated iron.