Published: November 19th 2006November 18th 2006
“The idol of today pushes the hero of yesterday out of our recollection; and will, in turn, be supplanted by his successor of tomorrow.” - Washington Irving
Famous words by a famous man. Yet Washington Irving himself lives on in the psyche of America and his cottage is one of the Historic sites in the Hudson valley. Its called Sunnyside and is on the banks of the Hudson in a village called Tarrytown. Irving (1783 - 1859) is known as America’s first internationally famous author and is best known for “The legends of sleepy hollow” and Rip Van Winkle.
In fact the Historic Hudson valley includes famous estates and mansions including the Rockefeller estate ( which we unfortunately couldn’t see as it shuts down for visitors in the beginning of November). Since the valley just happens to be less than 10 miles from white plains, we decided to see it the American way …by renting a big, black shiny Chevy that is and driving on our own.
Coming back to Sunnyside, we were taken on a detailed tour of the premises by a very lively guide (who was dressed in formal hoop skirts belonging to Irving’s era). The
cottage was designed by Irving.A bachelor himself, he lived there with his brother, nieces Katherine and Sara who looked after him and also his nephew.the guide told us many amusing anecdotes from the everyday life of the “inmates” ( as Irving used to refer to them).not very grand in its interiors, the cottage has a warm appeal and a beautiful countryside charm with winding paths, the exotic wisteria vine enveloping the house, the Hudson flowing by the side, and the pond called “The Little Mediterranean”. Oh , and the house contains many ingenious devices for the period, what could qualify as our washing machine, geyser, oven , boiler today. For all this and more, Sanjit named him “the gadgets guy”
Adjacent to Sunnyside is the Lyndhurst property, a huge Gothic Revival mansion built in 1838, and a masterpiece of stunning architecture and grandeur. The estate itself is spread over 67 acres. It was owned by three prestigious New York families before being willed to the National Trust and is today very rightfully, a National Trust Historic site. Once again, we were taken on an elaborate tour of the mansion. There are living rooms and parlours, many libraries and an
the guide in her hoop skirts
she reminded me of my English - singing teachers from school
art gallery inside. many many beautiful bathrooms, exquisite pieces of furniture, specially very ornate mantelpiece clocks. In one of the libraries we noticed a book called “Laili and Majnun”, we think it must be a version of our very own “Laila and Majnu”. Oh and the butlers pantry was something of a revelation. It was directly above the kitchen and there was a makeshift elevator running between the pantry and kitchen called the “Dumb waiter”, used to carry food by an elaborate system of ropes. Also the floor of the butlers pantry is made of cork. So that if accidentally one of the dishes falls, it doesn’t break !!!! very, very impressive indeed
We ended our tour and discovered that a wedding was going to take place there. (god knows how they would’ve obtained the permission and exactly where would the ceremony be conducted ‘coz visitors aren’t allowed to touch anything inside or even click snaps) the bride was looking exquisite though and I wish I could ‘ve clicked her but I didn’t want her to be surprised by loony requests from strangers so I just let it be….
From Lyndhurst, we just followed the Hudson river up
north into the New York state for nearly 30 miles. We crossed many villages along the way, ( my concept of village has changed forever after seeing these very swanky places) we finally reached Cold Spring State Park . which is really a great place for a trek along the Hudson. I suspect the place would be truly breathtaking if we came even a fortnight ago…as right now all the trees have shed their leaves….
By now it was nearly 4:30 and we suddenly realized we had’nt eaten at all. So we headed for a Mexican eatery in a place called Ossining on our way back. Well, just as we were congratulating ourselves on our successful drive-around venture,smack in the middle of the highway we got lost , by virtue of not being able to take the correct turn when it presented itself !! round and round we went as we incredibly kept taking one wrong turn after the other ( and exiting on highways is not an easy thing ) so nearly an hr later we ended up again in Tarrytown and retraced our steps…finally managing to reach home !!! the jury is still out on whose mistake
The Man Himself
it really was ;-)
At long last, the temperature is now dropping rapidly and even Sanjit with his never-feel-cold attitude today admitted to the chill.
Hey, something about the people here, we have had really nice experiences so far, people are very polite and friendly and scores of strangers, maids, cabbies have greeted us pleasantly. Its quite a done thing to exchange a word or two about the weather while meeting strangers in the elevator. Sometimes people do look at you ( different skin colour) but never obtrusively or offensively. Amen. May the good experiences continue to roll.
There are more photos below