What do you do on a gloomy late-November Monday? A day trip to Connecticut is probably not top of everyone’s list, but we had some Amtrak vouchers to use up and I hadn’t been to that state before, so we settled on New Haven as our destination of choice.
Had we thought about it for longer, we may have realised that we hadn’t necessarily picked the ideal day to visit a university city with a selection of excellent museums, as Monday is typically a closed day in the museum industry, but as often happens logic failed to prevail in time. That said, I had made sure that the Beinecke Library would be open to visitors, so at least we had one place to go.
Of course, as the train pulled into New Haven station we noticed that it was raining quite hard, which had not been forecast and for which we had therefore failed to prepare. In our first stroke of luck, we discovered a free shuttle bus from the station into the town centre, and by the time we reached our stop it was merely drizzling.
Our first impression was that New Haven looks very much like a cross between Oxford and Cambridge (albeit a rather newer, cleaner copy), so we felt right at home (especially given the weather). Fortunately the Beinecke wasn’t far away, so it wasn’t long before we were admiring its iconic architecture and enjoying their current exhibition of rare books and manuscripts.
One aspect of the trip which we had made sure to plan in advance was where to eat lunch, so once we’d finished in the library we walked back to the delightful Claire’s Corner Copia. Suitably stuffed we retraced part of our route and then struck out towards the Peabody Museum, which was pretty much the only other place we could find that was open.
As it happened the Peabody was rather more interesting that we were expecting, and we spent a couple of hours enjoying the displays and being entertained by their idiosyncratic label writing style. Then it was back to Claire’s again for coffee and cake (I’d spotted some gf vegan cupcakes I was keen to sample, and they did not disappoint!). That was followed by some more wandering around, a trip to a supermarket to collect supplies for a picnic on the train home, and then a surprisingly lengthy search for a bar.
Having attended university in England, the concept of most undergraduate students being under the legal drinking age is entirely foreign to us, and finding ourselves in the heart of a university city with no bars in sight was an interesting moment. I have no idea where the postgrads and lecturers go to drink – they’re clearly keeping their haunts well hidden from the rest of us.
Fortunately, just as we were giving up hope and reconciling ourselves to the prospect of a coffee shop, we stumbled across not just any old bar, but a brewpub. Imaginatively named Bar, this excellent establishment boasted a range of their own beers (of which Tom sampled a flight of 5) in addition to a wide selection of bottles and other drinks. They also served the most epic pizzas either of us had ever seen – the large ones were about the size of a small table – and people all around us were tucking in enthusiastically. We passed a happy hour or so people-watching from the bar (or perhaps that should be pizza-watching) before it was time to go back to the station and catch the train home.
All things considered it really was an excellent day out – despite the potential pitfalls of poor planning, and the inevitable inconvenience of inclement weather, we had a lot of fun. And I got to tick off another state, which is always nice.