Bette Barr, Author at Starr Tours & Charters - Page 2 of 2
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Long Island?  Yes,  Long Island!

Long Island… or, as we NooYawkas say… Lawn Guyland.

Join me for a delightful getaway that’s a shorter ride than Washington, DC or Boston (which are also great trips!) there is so much to see, so close to home.

I grew up on Long Island, and always knew that there were interesting and beautiful places to see there, but would anyone else be interested?

Montauk Point Lighthouse

In the summer, my dad and mom would take us to Jones Beach or Oak Beach on the South Shore or maybe a longer ride out to the tip of the island: Montauk Point. My brother and I would climb up to the top of the lighthouse, look out over the Atlantic ocean and made believe we could see Europe. On a clear day, it really does seem like the view goes on forever!

Other times we’d visit my dad’s cousins in Glen Cove, part of the early 20th century Gold Coast of the North Shore, where I learned about the many mansions that the wealthy industrialists had built in that area between the 1890s and 1930s.

Around the turn-of-the-last-century, wealthy industrialists like Vanderbilt, Woolworth, Phipps, and duPont, seeking a retreat from urban life, built grand country estates surrounded by acres of landscaped grounds. Often modeled after English country houses, many of these properties were the work of America’s foremost architects and landscape designers.  The North Shore of Long Island, known as the Gold Coast, was a popular and convenient location that once held the greatest concentration of wealth and power in the United States.  Only a few mansions remain today as post-war inflation, the advent of property and income taxes, the expense of maintenance, and the need for more middle class housing, brought about the destruction of the large estates.

Westbury Gardens, Photo by Vince Kish

We’ll begin our Long Island experience with a stop at one of these grand country estates, Old Westbury Gardens. Built in 1906 and the former home of the Phipps family, this “magnificent Charles II-style mansion is nestled amid 200 acres of formal gardens, landscaped grounds, woodlands, ponds and lakes.  Westbury House is furnished with fine English antiques and decorative arts from the more than fifty years of the family’s residence.”

Our hotel in Riverhead is the nicest around, right at the head of the Peconic River, hence, its name.  We’ll spend the next day exploring the south fork towns of Long Island: The Hamptons, where the rich and famous now spend their leisure time,

Vanderbilt’s Eagle’s Nest

and Sag Harbor, an old whaling village with a fascinating history as one of the main ports of entry into the United States complete with antique shops and boutiques along its centuries old streets. And, of course, a trip to Long Island wouldn’t be complete without an exciting ride on the only road to Montauk Point and New York state’s oldest lighthouse that has stood there for over 200 years and still serves as an active aid to navigation.

Our trip rounds out the next day with a visit to the Eagle’s Nest, summer home to the Vanderbilts, with 24 rooms! We’ll learn about what life was like on the Gold Coast during this opulent time and all about the Vanderbilts’ eclectic collections.

 

There are plenty of reasons to take a trip to the island and Starr does a fantastic job of including the great highlights on their tour. I hope you will join me on October 1-3!

 

Fondly,
Bette Barr
Starr Tour Director

Why New York Means the (World) To Me

Why New York Means the (World) To Me

When people hear that I am a Tour Director for Starr, one of the most common questions I get asked is what are my favorite trips.  To paraphrase an old song: “If I’m not on the trip that I love, I love the trip I’m on!”

There are so many trips that I like for different reasons and here are some examples and why: Williamsburg/Jamestown/Yorktown* or Civil War Trails* for the historical aspects, the beautiful mountain state of West Virginia* or southern charm of Savannah* for the scenery, and some are just plain fun, like Brooklyn Christmas Lights, Villa Roma Resort in the Catskills*, or the Atlantic City Overnight Getaway!

9/11 Memorial, Photo by Rebecca Wilson

But the trip I get the most satisfaction from is the day trip to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  Why is this one a top favorite for me??  Aside from being able to pay my respects to friends, and others, who perished that day, it’s also because it gives me a renewed sense of hope that the city has been rebuilt and can move on.

I’m a New Yorker, born and raised in the outer boroughs. Going back to the city provides a connection to my home, my early years, and my family, but it also gives me a connection to our country’s beginnings.

Downtown isn’t just a commercial area that evolved over time, to become a center of world trade and commerce.  It was founded in the early 17th century, as a place from which commerce would emanate.  In 1609, when Henry Hudson sailed into the harbor that Giovanni da Verrazzano first discovered in 1524, it was for the Dutch East India Company, looking for that elusive passage to the east.  Unlike Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore, which were founded on religious freedom, New York, or New Amsterdam as it was called then, was founded for commerce – freedom of trade.

I love to tell my passengers stories such as the one about the early Dutch settlers who were merchants, not soldiers, so when the British came in to take over the colony for the King and England, they went along with it, much to “Peg-leg” Peter Stuyvesant’s chagrin.  Now, 400 years later, we still have the effects of the original Dutch settlers in NY, in town and street names as well as many Dutch words.

Did you ever wonder why we eat cookies here but in England they eat biscuits? On this trip, I’ll tell you why.

St. Paul’s Chapel/Trinity Church, Photo by Stacy Cashman at RamblingTraveler.com

Another place I always visit when I’m downtown is St Paul’s Chapel, which miraculously suffered no damage in the 9/11 attacks and served as an area of refuge for the rescue workers during the trying and difficult weeks that followed.  It’s also where George Washington prayed before he was sworn in as our first president.  He took his oath of office on the second floor balcony of Federal Hall, at Wall and Broad Streets, just a short walk from there.

The early history of our country is pretty well wrapped up in that small, downtown area of Manhattan, now larger than when the Dutch and English settled there.  Years of landfill from the tunnels and subway have changed the area around the battery and Castle Clinton, which, when it was the Southwest battery, was actually out in the river.  One other tidbit, Manhattan is from the Lenape word, Mannahatta, meaning hilly island. Those are some of the of the many reasons I am so drawn to it and love to share that information with my passengers.

Come join me on the 9/11 Memorial and Museum tour on July 15th, August 8, September 23, October 14, or October 22!

Bette Barr
Starr Tour Director and licensed New York City tour guide
*I am not directing these tours this year.

Here’s a list of the other tours I am Tour Directing this year:
May 27 – Central Park & Carmine’s, NYC
June 8-11 – Vermont Favorites Spring Special
June 23-25 – Boston, Massachusetts Getaway
July 9 – Assateague Island Boat Cruise
August 4-6 – Washington, DC: Our Nation’s Capital
August 12 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
August 19 – Assateague Island Boat Cruise
September 8-10 – Boston, Massachusetts Getaway
September 17-19 – Long Island, NY Featuring the Hamptons and Sag Harbor
October 1-3 – Long Island, NY Featuring the Hamptons and Sag Harbor
October 29-30 – Atlantic City Overnight
December 3 – Brooklyn Christmas Lights
December 16 – Manhattan Holiday Splendor

The Featured Image for this post was taken by Julienne Schaer © NYC and Company