Weekend in Hudson Valley Region, New York

Hudson Valley Region, not often is this what comes to mind when I think of New York. When I think of New York, images of the city’s bustling streets, neon lights, Broadway musicals, top chef restaurants, and shopping at 5th Avenue fill up my head.

However, The State of New York is actually incredibly vast and has a lot more to offer than Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs. For the first time, I took a train starting at Grand Central Station to explore the surrounding areas of downstate, New York.

Hudson Valley Region, NY

Hudson River Bridge, Poughkeepsie, Hudson Valley Region, NY
Hudson River Bridge

The Hudson Valley area is roughly 150 miles long and covers various counties. It is easily connected to New York City by train and makes for fun weekend getaways. 

Poughkeepsie, NY

A 2-hour ride on Metro-North Railroad took me along the Hudson River to the city of Poughkeepsie in Dutchess county. A short walk from the train station to the elevator led to the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge, spanning 212′ above the Hudson River and 1.28 miles across. This is a great place to get a good view of the river and the surrounding foliage, especially during spring and fall. During the season, there are concerts, open-air movies, marathons, and festivals taking place in the historic state park.

Vanderbilt Mansion in the Hudson Valley Region, NY
Vanderbilt Mansion

Poughkeepsie has several restaurants, hotels, and shops that sustain tourism in the area. Shadows restaurant offers a great view of the Hudson and is often used for large events, such as wedding receptions. Also, nearby is the Franklin D Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park.

Here, you can visit the Roosevelt family home, burial site, see the president’s personal library, and an interactive museum. Just a few minutes drives away is the Vanderbilt Mansion, one of the smaller homes owned by the family. After spending an afternoon in the area, you begin to picture what affluence and stature the neighborhood had up until only a few decades ago.

Vanderbilt Mansion Interior, Hudson Valley Region, NY
Vanderbilt Mansion Interior

Food lovers can take a break at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) for dinner. The oldest and most well known culinary school in the country offers four student-run restaurants. Here when you dine, you will become part of their classroom experience. The CIA’s new 800-seat, state-of-the-art Ecolab Auditorium in the Marriott Pavilion makes it possible for visitors to experience one of Half Moon Theatre’s New York-style theatrical productions after enjoying a meal at The Bocuse RestaurantAmerican Bounty, or Ristorante Caterina de’ Medici.

Rhinebeck, NY

Rhinebeck is a charming city to stay overnight. Check into America’s oldest continuously operated hotel, Beekman Arms, for luxurious accommodations in a historic setting. Next day, stroll around the downtown area, shopping for antiques, clothes, and local products, as well as boutiques and dining at historic taverns. Not to miss is Oliver Kita Confectionaries for hot chocolate, cupcakes, and handmade chocolate truffles. Terrapin Restaurant features farm-fresh organic cuisine under the guidance of award-winning Chef Josh Kroner. There are over 30 wineries in this area and many of them are offered on the menu, paired with locally raised duck, venison, and chicken.

Oliver Kita in Rhinebeck NY, Hudson Valley Region
Oliver Kita in Rhinebeck

Early December is a good time to visit Rhinebeck for the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas, where a local resident dresses up in a Santa-bishop like attire, accompanied by his long-time sidekick, the Grumpus, as well as the entire town parading through the town.

Overall, the Hudson Valley Region is a historical and culturally intriguing place to explore, just a short way outside of the city!

~This trip was coordinated by I Love New York, the state’s official tourism board.

Read Part 2 of my upstate New York experience in Westchester.

The Artisans of Old Quito

Quito is not just Ecuador’s political capital but also a beautiful city with colonial architecture, well preserved Catholic churches, Spanish squares and cobblestone streets. While its easy to get overwhelmed by the must-see attractions Old Quito offers, it is also important to take a behind the scene look into Quito’s artists and traditions.

You may pass by these tiny stores, not realizing they hold a part of Ecuadorian history, so make sure to pay attention and watch out for these highly recommended stops.

Restauraciones Carrion

(Carrion’s Restorations), Imbabura 823 y Rocafuerte

artist in Quito restores Baby Jesus dolls

Here you will find hundreds of chipped, burned and discolored statues of Baby Jesus of all sizes. It is a tradition in Ecuadorian households to keep a Baby Jesus in the living room, typically dressed in the occupation of the family members. You can see Jesus doctor, farmer and even a soldier carrying a gun. 

The statue is considered to be a part of the family and instead of throwing of replacing a broken one, Ecuadorians bring it in to the restoration shop, sort of like they would take a family member to a doctor if something was wrong.

Some of the statues are made from paper mache, others are ceramic or plastic. The artist, Gonzalo Carrion, uses a special family secret recipe to create the color of skin that makes the dolls looks natural. He says this skin color is also good for treating human skin diseases, so he bottles them up and sells it in his store, although it is not used as make up.

Baby Jesus dolls in Quito, Ecuador

 

Colociones Cruz Verde (Sweets in Green Cross Area)

Bolivar 8-97 y Chimborazo

candy shop in Quito, EcuadorThe traditional candy shop run by Luis Banda, makes sweets the same old fashioned way that his family has been doing for generations. He uses a heavy bottomed wok heated with charcoal and continuously rocks it with a rope. Molasses, nuts and coloring are added to it to make different concoctions. The locals eat these sweets as a midday snack between 10-11am and pack them for road trips.

 

Sombrereria Benal Cazar

Av. 24 de Mayo

hat shop in Quito, EcuadorCesar has been running his family hat shop for over 50 years. Hats have always been an important part of the Ecuadorian culture, as different ethnic and social groups were identified by their hats. The porters wore a flat white hat, while the countryside folks wore another rounded style. Rich landlords wore tall black hats.

Cesar hand makes every hat in his closet size work room behind the store using traditional ways. The shop sells hats, costumes and sandals that are worn during carnival and festivals. At new years eve, people wear masks, mostly faces of previous presidents.

traditional hat shop in QuitoRead more about Ecuador.

Southern traditions continue in coastal Georgia

Most people don’t see Georgia as a vibrant tourist destination. Yet Georgia has beautiful scenic mountains, beaches, lakes and small towns; the crowds are not overwhelming and southern hospitality is abundant. The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort at Saint Simons Island is one such place in Georgia where generations of families have been vacationing, keeping it sort of a family secret. Continue reading “Southern traditions continue in coastal Georgia”