For the past month, we’ve enjoyed the hospitality of the wonderful people of Newburyport, Massachusetts. Paul has been filming here, and tonight’s our last night, so I thought I’d let everyone know about this treasure of a small city near Boston located on the Merrimack River.
I’ve truly enjoyed our New England stay, and I can honestly say I’m going to miss it.
Newburyport is a good place to visit if you want a small town feel yet still have culture, history, and access to a big city if you need it. The town is all maritime all the time. In fact, the U.S. Coast Guard was founded here. There is a great maritime museum designed by Robert Mills who was also the architect of the Washington Monument. Both are magnificent. The town’s Presbyterian Church boasts a bell tower with the bell cast by none other than Paul Revere. Very cool.
Being a seaport, Newburyport boasts many beautiful homes owned by the ship makers back in the day. Downtown is a perfect picturesque spot located on the Merrimack which is known for its dangerous currents making it difficult to get to and from the Atlantic Ocean. At many of the restaurants, you can see the entrance to the ocean and lighthouses along the way guiding sailors on their sometimes dangerous voyages through those rough seas.
New Englanders are a hearty bunch. They all wear vests—not coats—vests. I felt like a wimp, and I live in New York City where full-fledged coats are the norm. These New Englanders are a tough lot and they’ll have none of that. Now when I go back to New York if I try to wear a vest, they’ll probably toss me a life preserver.
During my time here, I’ve observed that there are two types of New Englanders. The first group are gentile, preppy people whose ancestors probably were those shipbuilding magnates or Mayflower descendants. They’re the old money, old tradition types. After a few days here, I discovered another completely different sect of people in our home for the month.
These people were loud and raucous. They actually make the average New Yorker seem quiet and soft spoken. Yes—you read that right. How can this be you ask? After all, the prototype New Englander is Calvin Coolidge (aka “Silent” Cal). And this behavior wasn’t a fluke—it was consistent. These people were very loud and animated even though there was absolutely no need to yell in a place that was basically quiet and fairly small. It was bugging me for a week and then I figured it out. These must be the descendants of those salty dogs who risked their lives to bring the ocean edibles home to the land lovers. Why wouldn’t they throw back some whiskey and blow off some steam? Of course!
I love history and being in Newburyport reminded me of why I enjoy it so much. As we took our Thanksgiving Day dinner trip, over and over we’d see buildings dating back to the 1600’s, and when we took a day trip to Salem to visit the witch museum I was reminded that some things change in this world and some things stay very much the same. George Washington spoke fondly of Newburyport, and I can certainly see why.
One thing I’ll miss here is the incredible seafood. Folks, there IS a difference. There are great restaurants in NYC and elsewhere, but you can tell when something is fresh and when it isn’t. We had lobsters in Maine that had just been caught and boiled. They were delicious. Whenever I want wine, I ask for the freshest bottle of the restaurant’s best red. Sometimes the waiter will come back with a bottle opened the night before. That’s not what I want. The same goes for seafood. Shipping it overnight is not the same as bringing it out of the ocean and cooking it.
The history, seafood, and hospitality of the people made our trip memorable. We’ll definitely look for excuses to come back to New England, the land of so many firsts in this country. And for me there were definite firsts including the first time in my life that people actually cheered for Tom Brady and the Patriots. Now that never happened before!
Newburyport is a place where you can appreciate our American roots and eat all the clam chowder you want.
So all ye land lubbers, get ye to Newburyport! If George Washington loved it, you know it’s worth the trip!