Hubby and I tend to avoid looking and feeling like tourists. But the reality is, you have to visit a place often enough to get to know what it has to offer–and then you can proceed to getting to know some locals and getting their feedback about life there.
Mystic, Connecticut is a place we love to visit.
Our introduction to the seaport area was a birthday surprise for me from hubby dear. He knew I like to play the slot machines on occasion, so we stopped for a couple hours at Foxwoods Casino and played the pennies (with our $50 limit).
Then we left Foxwoods on that sunny July afternoon to meander the winding back roads leading to the seaside town of Mystic. We were headed for the only thing strangers have ever heard of there: Mystic Pizza. It was a great surprise. The pizza was wonderful, the service fun and friendly, and the Julia Roberts movie–of which the establishment says: “We’re the pizza that made the movie famous,” was playing on looped closed circuit TV’s around the dining area.
Our next visit was, in spite of our best intentions, as tourists, where we researched “things to do” in Mystic and found quite a few. We visited the oldest steam-powered cider mill still existing in North America, http://www.bfclydescidermill.com and afterwards, went to Mystic Seaport, http://www.mysticseaport.org, had fried clams, and noticed (for another time) the Mystic Aquarium. And, of course, we returned to Mystic Pizza for our evening meal.
The next few times we found wineries, B&B’s, and by then had obtained a membership to Mystic Seaport, so we could enjoy a whole day there, and we also discovered Bartleby’s, http://bartlebysmystic.com, one of the local coffee shops, which became another destination for us.
We joined Mystic Aquarium, http://www.mysticaquarium.org and tried that visit the next time, but halfway into touring the place, I became so dizzy and “seasick” from the parabolic glass surrounding me, we had to leave. Aquarium’s are fun, but evidently not for the alternating dominant visioned, in spite of the grand colors and displays of exotic fish.
Subsequently we watched the progress of the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaling ship in the world, as it was being restored, having been in the Seaport’s shipyard since 1941. In six years, we have enjoyed boarding the ship, watching the craftsmen restore her, and were excited to know the ship was reading for launching in 2013. Now the CWM is sailing Coastal New England in summer of 2014. The historical restoration is fascinating, and quite remarkable. http://www.mysticseaport.org/visit/explore/morgan.
1841 and March, 2014
I even bought Jay a day of sailing for his birthday–which took him to Newport, Rhode Island for the day, even though sponsored by the Seaport in Mystic.
But since we are now in the process of buying a home in Connecticut, our travels have been curtailed except for California, Florida (usually business but we work in visits), and of course my semi-annual trips to Rockford for my client there, and because we are still selling a home there. And, since we have done the tourist thing, we are ready to call Mystic more than a place to visit. It is a weekend destination, for more than a couple of times a year.
What that has done for us, strangely, is to make us interested in the tourist attractions, familiar enough to get to know people there. Now, instead of touring the Seaport, the Aquarium, getting Mystic Pizza, and seeing the Cider Mill again (although its wines and ciders are worth stopping by), wonderful as these places have been. we have decided to explore like locals–even though we’re still either doing a day trip, or finding a hotel.
Last month, we got to Mystic on Thursday evening and combed the Internet for reviews of coffee in Mystic–deciding that maybe Bartleby’s, great as it is, wasn’t the only brew in town. Sure enough, we found it wasn’t even the shop with the most stars. My daughter has convinced me that Yelp is a must, so we perused the reviews and decided to try a place more off-the-beaten-path on Steamboat Wharf because they were also local roasters.
We arrived at the wharf but were stymied about where the roasters were. At the address we had, we only saw the Green Marble Coffee House. We grabbed a local walking that way and asked him where the roasters were. He smiled and said he was on his way there–and we realized it WAS the Green Marble. Come to find out, the Green Marble is the consumer cafe where the roasters serve their coffees, teas, and many other goodies. Our local told us The Green Marble had hundreds of coffee choices–unlike only several at Bartleby’s, which is good, but limited. And the Green Marble coffees, he assured were really fresh.
http://www.greenmarblecoffee.com. (read about their beans.)
Wow, were we glad we found Green Marble. Not only was this amazing, freshly roasted coffee, but the clientele, all local, were fun.
Table space on this Friday morning was sparse, so we sat down next to another couple, who lived in the area, but had formerly lived close to where we are, and he was a fellow employee before retirement of where my hub works. So we had a lively conversation, and really felt like we had made friends. We even shared church stories, and were delighted to say Happy Easter to those who shared this celebration. Thai food seems to abound in Mystic, so we did Thai for dinner, which was on the early side, since three hours at a coffee shop tends to merge into lunchtime. Saturday morning we repeated our coffee find and spent some time driving around the area, enjoying the sea area homes. Our Green Marble friends suggested gelato at Mystic Market, http://mysticmarket.com since we had complained no gelato shops were found yet by us. So we headed over there.
We found Mystic Market East on the hill, on Route 1, and enjoyed perusing the food cases of extensive gourmet grocery and bakery items. We went to the gelato counter, ordered from friendly staff, and sat down to our pistachio and chocolate treats. Here is where I have a major complaint. This gelato had been made fresh, but then was stored and brought out in rotation so that the really fresh ice cream could be stored next. What a disappointment. It tasted a little less wonderful than the containers we get from Big Y grocery store. If we wanted gelato that has been stored, we can buy that at home.
Word to Mystic Market: Make yours special!
Saturday afternoon, we headed for home, looking forward to Easter in Southwick.
But all in all, Mystic had become ours, more so than we had imagined. We shall return