Category Archives: newport

A Perfect Summer Day in Newport, RI

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Pretty soon I’m taking off for a crazy summer adventure that’s a once in a lifetime. While I’m so excited to be participating in the Mongol Rally and seeing one of my travel dreams come true, it’s also bittersweet. You see, summertime in New England is the best season. And I’m a little sad to be missing so much of it. So, in light of this, I decided to accomplish some of my favorite summer things before leaving for the roads of Eurasia. This past weekend, I gave myself the perfect summer day in Newport, RI.

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I enjoy Newport in all seasons but there is nothing quite like it in the summertime. The harbor is full of pretty boats, the streets are buzzing with cars & bikes, and the restaurant patios are full of happy people. No better spot to go for the day and get lost in the sights of summer. EVEN BETTER, the first day of summer!

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June 21st I took a drive from Boston to Newport, with the top down on my Jeep, arriving around lunchtime. I was going out for a sail aboard an America’s Cup yacht with 12 Meter Charters at 3 so I wanted to grab a quick cup of clam chowder and a beer at The Black Pearl – an institution of Newport albeit touristy. You know, it’s the taste of a New England summer in a cup!

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My sail aboard Heritage was actually my second. I went out with 12 Meter Charters last year too. Fortunately, the first day of summer was a gorgeous, sunshiny day, unlike my sail last year, so that made this trip even more special. Our captain was Gus, last year he was Heritage’s first mate. I was thrilled to see him again, it was like seeing an old friend even though we’d only met once before. Oddly, the sail had a small number of people aboard despite the stunning day but I didn’t mind. It meant more room to roam around the boat and a chance to make a couple new friends. Our 2 hours out on the water was awesome. I just love the action aboard a racing sailboat. So much more fun and interactive than a traditional cruise. You can assist in hoisting the sails but I prefer to just hang onto the lifeline and get a bit salty and wet!

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Post sailing I was starving and had my mind set on having a lobster roll. Another “must have” in the New England summer. Pretty soon it will be impossible for me to have clam chowder or a lobster roll so I just had to. I also reallllly wanted to have a cocktail at Castle Hill Inn and watch the sunset. I’d been told of a few places to get a great lobster roll but I needed to get over to Castle Hill pretty quickly. Fortunately, even though Castle Hill Inn is a Relais and Chateaux with a very fancy restaurant they serve lobster rolls at the bar outside. So, problem solved even if the lobster roll was going to be the most expensive one I’ve ever had. Guess what?!? It was worth EVERY penny. It truly was one of the very best I’ve ever eaten. MMMM. Highly recommend!!

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And, I got a picture perfect sunset, on the first day of summer. Thank you Newport, RI. It really was the exact formula for a perfect summer day and even though there will be many more days like this one for my fellow New Englanders, it’s the last one I will have like this until some time around Labor Day. Onto different summer adventures this year in the wide blue yonder, Lola!

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Thank you, as always, 12 Meter Charters for getting me out on one of your beautiful yachts. It made my day!


Filed under newport, rhode island, travel

My Year in Travel – 2013

This year was a great year of travel for me, hitting some brand new destinations and revisiting some of my old favorites. BUT, for me, the VERY BEST thing about this year in travel are all the wonderful people who I met or was reunited with in various locations around the world. My travels wouldn’t be anything without the people on my journey.

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January saw me in NYC and meeting friends old and new – who knew how important they’d all become in my life over the course of this year. I count my blessings for you.



In January I also skied in Verbier, Switzerland and absolutely loved my time with the legendary Warren Smith. I truly hope to see him again in 2014.


Rounding out January, I went to Copenhagen for the very first time and got to reconnect with a travel friend, Christoffer. I loved the cool capital city of Denmark.

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February saw me catching up with a dear travel buddy, Anita, in Montreal, Canada for the very first time. We had a ball doing all kinds of wintery fun things like staying in an Ice Hotel and going to Igloofest.

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March was my month for Barcelona & Costa Brava, Spain. I was thrilled to meet up with a fellow traveler, Brian, in Barcelona and was lucky enough to see him again in London in November.

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Going to Costa Brava was an incredible experience. I love that area of Spain and really cannot get enough, especially of the coast. But, the people on this trip really made it the very best. I can’t imagine a more fun press trip.

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April found me in back in NYC. I always love my NYC trips because I get to catch up with very special friends like Jeff & Craig – 2 of my favorites!!

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May saw me in my favorite, Miami. I cannot get enough of this city. While I had my usual fun of beach, pool, dinner, drinks and dancing, I particularly enjoyed working with the fantastic luxe swimwear company, Orchid Boutique, during this trip. Talk about a great collection as well as a staff of kindred spirits!

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June was an incredible month chalked full of fun things. Kicking off in Toronto for a conference with so many of my favorite fellow travelers, I actually wonder if we’ll ever be able to beat our #RWTBEX time here. I love you all so much!

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I also got to spend a bit of time with one of my most lovely traveling partners, Mrs. O, Ana. I was able to show her a bit of Americana in the amazing seaside town of Newport, Rhode Island. We had a ball doing Newport the luxe way.

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Wrapping up my June, I had an incredible visit to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. What a great girls weekend we had there and our host, the Bahia Hotel and Carlos, made my trip 100% amazing. Cannot wait to return.

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July found me back in Euroland – one of Lola’s favorites. Although, this was a “repeat” journey of sorts, I did manage to do a few new things. One of which was going to the Henley Royal Regatta.


Post-UK was a return visit to Prague and Budapest. Two of my favorites that I’ve never visited in the summertime. Absolutely stunning! So was hanging out with friends made on a previous trip. Always nice to share a beer with good people.

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August took me back to Montreal once again and NYC. This trip was extra special because of the time well spent with lifelong friends and a last visit with a friend that would soon depart. Anita, Montreal will always make me think of you fondly. I love you and that city so much.



September took me to two cities I wanted to know better. First was Seattle with my newly found soul mate, Erin. There is nowhere I wouldn’t go with this girl. And we both wanted to celebrate happy moments, like our dear friends, Captain & Clark’s wedding!

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Toward the end of September, Erin and I were reunited again in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. I like to think of it as the city of sisterly love! We had a blast discovering different neighborhoods of Philly & laughing with each other all the while.

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October I was lucky enough to be reunited with 2 of my favorite traveling partners again, Ana & Mary Anne along with Mary Anne’s BFF Maxine, for a GLAM LA girls weekend.

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November was a busy fun month with a visit back to the UK for a conference and reconnecting with so many fun friends from around the world. I’m so glad our paths cross from time to time.

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Followed up by a quick jaunt to France and Amsterdam for more girlfriend fun. I wouldn’t choose to travel any other way. Traveling with Ashley, Ana & Mary Anne was the very best.

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And I managed to squeeze in a last minute trip back to NYC with my girlfriends and once again be reunited with some of my favorite people.

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In December I finished off my year of travel back in Miami to celebrate Erin’s birthday. I cannot think of a better place to end my year. It is my happy spot and it was made so much better being there, laughing and enjoying life, with two of my travel besties, Erin & Esther.

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Maybe you see some common themes in my travels. Repeat places, repeat friends, repeated silliness and smiles. Traveling is my lifeline and a huge part of my heart as are all the people I meet along the way. My world is better for all of you. Here’s to many more reunions on the road and good times ahead in 2014! Happy travels…

XO – Lola


Filed under amsterdam, barcelona, budapest, cabo san lucas, copenhagen, costa brava, henley-on-thames, london, los angeles, miami, montreal, new york, newport, philadelphia, prague, seattle, toronto, travel, verbier

How to See Newport, RI Like a Modern-Day Heiress

Summertime is the height of the season for the seaside resort town of Newport, Rhode Island. After all, that is exactly when the rich elite went to this famous city by the sea and set up shop for 6 or so weeks in their “summer cottages” playing a part of high society. I’ll admit, I have a soft spot for Newport. I’ve spent time there in virtually every season and I love it always BUT nothing beats Newport in the Summer. Not only did I get to visit in the summertime BUT this go round I did Newport in true VIP heiress style and boy did I TRES ADORE IT!

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How do you start off a VIP tour of a gorgeous seaside town, you ask?! Well, if you are moi, you take a helicopter ride to get an aerial view of the place. As much time as I have spent in Newport over the years, I have never seen it from the air and I think it’s the perfect way to get yourself oriented with place. You may think this sounds like an exclusive experience but it’s actually very reasonable. With Bird’s Eye View Helicopters, you can have a private tour starting at $65. What will that get you? Approximately 15 minutes of awe-inspiring views of the coastline, the famous Newport mansions, Newport Bridge and harbor. It is simply STUNNING!

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Next on my heiress agenda was to set sail on an America’s Cup racing yacht, as you do when you are in the “Sailing Capital of the World”. I was truly the luckiest gal to be aboard “Heritage” – the last wooden yacht built in 1970 for the America’s Cup. This is an experience that I cannot encourage enough when visiting Newport. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, like getting out on the water. Better still, on an incredible boat such as Heritage. To see the landscape I had just flown over and be a part of the U.S. sailing history is really something. Heritage is one of 12 Meter Charters fleet and a 2 hour sail starts at $73. Perhaps it’s not for the faint of heart…but it was UNFORGETTABLE!

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Another important part of Newport’s history is the International Tennis Hall of Fame. So, what better place to have lunch for a modern-day heiress than dining beside the posh grass courts. Such a lovely setting, the International Tennis Hall of Fame was made a National Historic Landmark in 1987. Want to know why? Oh, just that the facility hosted the first U.S. National Lawn Tennis Championships here 1881. It’s that little event better known today as the US Open. In fact, still housed here at the International Tennis Hall of Fame are the coveted silver trophies awarded each year at the US Open! You can also find on site other important tennis memorabilia and a diverse sampling of tennis fashions starting with Victorian tennis dresses to Serena Williams’ 2012 Olympic Games dress. FANCY!

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As you can imagine, with all this VIP treatment and amazing history in Newport, naturally I had to stay in a historical mansion myself. I was the invited guest of the ever gracious Vanderbilt Grace. This 33 room boutique hotel was originally commissioned by Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt in 1909 for his mistress Agnes O’Brien Ruiz. Nice gift, eh?! But take a look at the gifties Lola received from Vanderbilt Grace!! I particularly enjoyed the impeccable service of the staff anticipating guests needs while never ever being intrusive. It was like staying in a very luxurious and swanky home. Some things not to miss while on property at Vanderbilt Grace are the beautiful outdoor spaces – the Terrace Garden with cozy fire pits, fountains and a pool as well as the Rooftop Deck with possibly the best views of downtown Newport and the harbor. C’EST SI BON!

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Now finished with full day of heiress treatment touring, it was time for some tasty treats at TSK (Thames Street Kitchen). One of my very favorites, TSK is a cozy restaurant that is also popular with the locals. Read – you may need to be important to get in here. 😉 Having said that, TSK is anything but stuffy. Offering a field to fork menu with locally sourced food, like this delicious charcuterie board pictured above, my favorite thing about TSK outside of the awesome food and service is the BYOB concept. It isn’t every day you can dine out and bring your own favorite vintage of vino. That alone makes me feel like a VIP!

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Day two of a modern-day heiress adventure in Newport would have to include a stroll on the Cliff Walk beside the pretty Atlantic Ocean. Not only is it a picturesque way to get in some exercise but you can also get a behind the scenes look at the Newport mansion grounds. This is what I’d call a glamorous two-fer. A perfect stopping point along the Cliff Walk and an absolute Newport mansion must is a tour of The Breakers. A jewel of the New York Central Railroad fortune, The Breakers was Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s statement of the family’s social and financial preeminence to the world. This 70 room “summer cottage” was designed in the Italian Renaissance style and features rooms adorned with platinum leaf, marble and gilded wood. If walls could talk, couldn’t you just imagine the stories from summer soirees gone by. AMERICAN OPULENCE!

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All mansion touring aside, where better to learn tricks of the modern-day heiress trade than from a gal that actually was one, Doris Duke! Miss Duke was the only daughter of James Buchanan Duke, who founded the American Tobacco Company, the Duke Power Company and was the benefactor of Duke University. When her father died, he left Doris an $80 million estate. One of Duke’s many homes, and among her favorites, was right here in Newport. Rough Point is an incredible oceanfront estate which Doris left exactly as she lived in it to the Newport Restoration Foundation – an non-profit organization that Miss Duke founded expressly to preserve important colonial architecture in Newport. Completely inspiring to get a glimpse of Duke’s life, my visit to Rough Point was educational to say the least. I really loved that she was Renaissance woman – traveling the world, collecting art and becoming a huge philanthropist along the way. Doris Duke gave away more than $400 million to various causes in her lifetime and she left 90% of her estate to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation which today supports the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and the prevention of child abuse. Talk about one CLASS ACT!

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Taking Doris’ lead to enjoy a sweeping ocean view, no visit to Newport would be complete without a cruise down Ocean Drive and sunset cocktails at the gorgeous Castle Hill Inn. Castle Hill is my most favorite spot in Newport and arguably the best place to see the sun set. Once a private summer residence, Castle Hill Inn still retains its 19th century charm. Castle Hill is so special that 5 years ago it became the first Rhode Island property to be invited into the prestigious Relais & Chateaux family. Regarded as the foremost authority on luxury hospitality, Relais & Chateaux recognizes hotels that combine one-of-a-kind accommodations with exceptional cuisine. I couldn’t agree more that Castle Hill qualifies! Luckily for me, I was able to confirm the exceptional cuisine status and enjoy an unbelievable multi-course tasting including scallops, an heirloom tomato tart and lobster risotto all paired with different wines. PERFECTION!

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With my VIP visit to Newport coming to a close, how do think a modern-day heiress would bid this famous summer playground adieu? Oh, with a local radio interview about my visit is all! It was so much fun to share what’s so great about Newport over the airwaves of WADK. I loved reminiscing this visit on the “Talk of the Town” show and all the many previous times I’ve come to Newport.  You see, it’s a place that you can enjoy repeatedly and find new things to discover every time! Heiress or not, Newport is not overrated as FABULOUS!

A huge heap of gratitude to Discover Newport for creating such an incredibly glamorous itinerary to experience Newport like a modern-day heiress! I was treated like a VIP with the helicopter tour, 12 Meter Charters sail, lunch at the International Tennis Hall of Fame and dinners at TSK & Castle Hill. My chariot to Newport was made possible by Argus Car Hire. Best of all was my VIP company, Ana – AKA – Mrs. O Around the World! As I already confessed, I love Newport and so I completely ‘Lola Approve’ this trip from beginning to end! The views here are mine.


Filed under newport, rhode island, travel, USA

The Great Escape – Newport, RI Edition


Welcome to “America’s First Resort” Newport, RI

The sailing capital of the world, Newport has a vast history, much of which has to do with it being a “City by the Sea”. Known for its Naval Academy as well as being home to bootleggers in the Triangle Trade, Newport was also a place for practicing religious freedom. Later, in the 19th and 20th centuries, Newport became the summer playground to the elite.

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Today Newport remains a beautiful location to visit for all kinds of interests. Only a 1.5 hour drive from Boston’s Logan Airport, it’s an ideal place for a ‘Great Escape’. Whether you choose to visit during peak Fall foliage, the Winter holiday season when the city is decked out with lights or in the height of the beach and sailing season, late Spring & Summertime, Newport is always a perfect coastal destination.


Franklin Spa

An old standby known as ‘The Best Greasy Spoon in Newport’, Franklin Spa is a great spot for a diner breakfast. You may have to wait a bit and it’s cash only but it is worth any possible hassle.

Salvation Cafe

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Fresh, funky & fabulous, Salvation Cafe is a local favorite with its eclectic cuisine and just reopened in late 2012 after renovations. I can attest that the locals must be glad this institution is back. Located in the revitalized area of Newport – Broadway, which – BONUS is a little off the touristy path!

TSK – Thames Street Kitchen

A buzz word in Newport, TSK is a quaint spot a bit removed from the “tourist scene” of Thames. The concept is true farm to table with TSK’s menu changing weekly. Another bonus is it’s BYOB making the experience more affordable. PS – the staff are incredible.



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Sunset Cocktails

A long time favorite of visitors and locals alike is the stunning Castle Hill off Ocean Drive. Not only is the view amazing but they mix some delicious drinks. I tried the ‘Oyster Martini’ a house specialty made with tomato-basil puree & organic Crop tomato vodka. BEST cocktail of my weekend in Newport!

Bar Hopping

Over on the local happening scene of Broadway can be found many fun spots to “bar hop” such as The Fifth Element with its industrial atmosphere and great nightlife. Across the street is Malt on Broadway with a nice selection of Scotch and Bourbon and next door is Norey’s Bar and Grille, a lively bistro with a strong following.

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Beer, Wine & Rum Tasting

Greenvale Vineyards located just 6 miles outside of downtown Newport in Portsmouth, offers regional wine tastings from their own family’s Victorian farm dating from 1863.

Home to Newport Storm Beer and Thomas Tew Rum, Coastal Extreme Brewing Company & Distillery uses a recipe that’s over 200 years old in their rum making methods and in doing so Coastal Extreme revived a bit of history from Newport’s rum distillery heyday when it was the rum capital of the world.


Vanderbilt Grace

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Living history + legendary service = luxury reborn. That is Vanderbilt Grace‘s motto and I couldn’t agree more. Breathing new life into a Beaux-Arts style mansion formerly owned by a member of the Vanderbilt family in the Gilded Age era, Vanderbilt Grace has been transformed into a lovely 33 room boutique hotel. Just opened in mid-2012, as a guest at Vanderbilt Grace you have the best of both worlds, stepping back in time within its historically charming walls yet with all the modern-day sophistication and attention to detail you can expect from Grace Hotels. And, it’s all within minutes of Newport’s waterfront and other attractions.

The Attwater

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Since 1910, the building that now houses The Attwater has had its hand in the hospitality business. Mostly known as a bar and boarding house as well as a B & B, now the revived and most hospitable The Attwater is your home away from home. 12 perfectly furnished rooms with chic decor and pops of color, this hotel provides deluxe amenities, designer linens and is situated in the heart of Newport. Truly, The Attwater offers you a sense of place with imagination and a touch of mischief. Newport Unconventional is their tagline and I say, it’s about time for a new game in Newport. LOVE IT – Well done!

Hotel Viking

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A classic mainstay of Newport’s landscape, Hotel Viking, also has its place in history. Hotel Viking’s doors have been open for over 80 glamourous years and has hosted many of the world’s socialites, celebrities and dignitaries in its 209 handsomely appointed rooms and suites. Situated in a prominent spot of Newport, Hotel Viking is known for its New England charm and hospitality. And, on top of it all and no pun intended, Hotel Viking offers a chill, atmospheric space with its rooftop lounge, Top of Newport.


Cliff Walk Stroll

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This 3.5 mile path wraps along the Atlantic Ocean with its one-of-a-kind sneak peeks of Newport’s mansions is mixed with the beauty of the Rhode Island shoreline. It’s an enjoyable way to take in the oceanside while viewing the manicured grounds of mansion estates but keep in mind it can get treacherous at points and is currently being rebuilt in spots from the most recent hurricane damage.

Mansion Tour

The Breakers  (Patrick O'Connor)     Marble House (John Corbett)     The Elms (John Corbett)

The glorious Newport mansions have been a part of the United States history since the early  2oth century. “Summer Cottages” acting as the playground for the wealthy summering elite, it would be criminal to visit Newport and not step inside the mansions of the glory days gone by. Cared for by the Preservation Society of Newport County, the mansions have been restored and maintained to reflect the time of their owners of the past. Even in the Wintertime, where The Breakers, The Marble House & The Elms are the lone mansions opened, you will not be disappointed. These three are the triumvirate of ultimate “golden age” living. Having once lived in Newport and spent time there visiting, I can honestly say you get a taste of the elite Americana from these three estates.

Boutique & Gourmet Shops

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With all its glitz and glamour, of course, there’s also great shopping to be had in Newport. For a start, there is gourmet row is located on Bellevue Avenue with its wine & gourmet shops. Then there’s the name brand shops and boutiques all around Newport that make it a shoppers delight.

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And in the warmer, seafaring weather there’s the opportunity to partake in a harbor cruise or a sunset sail. There’s plenty to choose from be it 12-metre sail or upon a famous legacy yacht with America’s Cup Charters. That’s right, yet another thing Newport is famous for, we can all experience.

Thank you Newport for keeping your history alive and for allowing us to truly experience it with all our senses.

A note of thanks to Discover Newport for arranging my visits to the mansions, Salvation Cafe & Vanderbilt Grace. I always love discovering new finds worth mentioning and if I didn’t ‘Lola Approve’ them I’d say otherwise. The views here are mine, merci beaucoup!


Filed under newport, rhode island, the great escape, travel