Saturday, August 04, 2007

Rhode Island

The thing about RI is that you take it for granted if you live there. It seems that people who grow up in RI are excited to leave for college or for a job in a big city, basicaly looking to move onto bigger and better things. I spent the better part of 22 years in RI before moving out. Now that I am on the outside looking in, I realize what was normal for me is not normal for the world. First of all, the beaches. Some of them were crappy but at least RI has beaches and a wide variety of choice so you do not need to spend your days in the crappy beaches. Then there is Block Island. I didn't take my first trip to BI until college but it really is a little bit of Paridise in your own back yard. It is a summer vacation hotspot that RIers have the benefit of visiting on a day's notice and w/o the need of an overpriced hotel becasue you can drive to the ferry from anywhere in RI in under an hour. On top of beaches, there's Providence. Okay it is not a big city from most perspectives but it is compatible with many different audiences. V once learned in her city planning class at URI, who knew you could major in city planning?!?, that Providence is a very well planned city. Since I'm guessing most of you, like m, have never taken a city planning class, I'll explain. It all comes down to the city functioning during the day and at night in the same districts/location. A good example of this is the area near the Biltmore, there are offices but also night party spots in the same block. Provicence has the businesses and some pretty nice office buildings, the Providence Place mall, a favorite of locals and tourists alike, the skating rink in the winter (maybe it is a cafe in the summer), all your typical food chains, and above all parking and driving in Providence are generaly not disasterous. For the inner tourist, Providence has the Statehouse with the 2nd (or 3rd, i forget) largest unsupported dome in the country, the RISD museum which attracts some pretty decent exhibits, historical landmarks and a great view of the city from Prospect park. Additionaly, if you're more into the funky college crowd there's always Thayer St. with cute restaurants and odd shops in addition to normal stores such as CVS and the stupid semi-new sporting goods store. On top of it all Providence has a shore line where summer concerts are often held (more of the kind that attract high school and college students as they are free) but also other outdoor summer events such as Water Fire provide free outdoor entertainment. If it is entertainment you are looking for there's Lupo's where you can catch decent bands while they are still playing in venues small enough that you really can stand anywhere and get a great view. The convention and civic centers cater to larger audiences. The best part of Providence is that since RI is so small, if you get bored with its offerings, you can just find something to do in a nearby city or cross the boarder to MA, you can even hop on a train and be in Boston in one hour! I should also mention Dunkin Donuts, since RIers hate driving long distances it makes sense that DD has positioned themselves on almost every major intersection, this may also have something to do with the company being from the area. Either way it is nice in the summer when you are craving that french vanilla iced coffee. I really wanted an iced coffee yesterday, of any variety really, the only option was McDonald's McCafe but it did not live up. If it is the ocean you are into, there's Narragansett but there is also Newport, famous for its Mansions, Newport was once the playground of the rich. It is still a bit more uppity than most of the state but not unwelcoming. Whatever the season, there's always a reason to appriciate Newport. In the summer the tourists are in town and there is lots of entertainment, the outdoor variety with various festivals and shows most with a nautical focus (i.e. Boat Show, Tall Ships Festival). As the fall comes around the Oktoberfest is the one last hoorah before the island calms for the winter but this is also when the bars pick up as Salve students are back and a good deal of URI students make their way scross the bridge. What better way to pack out a bar than to attract college students. There is always the Brick Marketplace and the Warf for great restaurants, cute shops and amazing views. I really think I am in love with RI. I realize things seem more ieal when you step away from them and there are downsides like the fact that I would need a car to enjoy RI and I'm sure I would soon miss Germany but right now, I really appriciate my home state. I eally miss the beaches, esp. Narragansett and Newport and the summer weather they are experiencing as we have cold, rainy days. The biggest downer, I haven't been in the ocean or a pool yet this summer :( I also miss shopping at the mall and nearby Wrentham and I miss RI restaurants like Spummoin's and Cheese Cake Factory and good Sushi!

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