Posts Tagged ‘Longwood Gardens’

Old…and Amazing!

October 24, 2013

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I like OLD…old furniture, pottery and especially old hotels! The Skytop Lodge is a beautiful old building in a lovely setting. This handsome and majestic old stone lodge is nestled in the middle of the Poconos and offers stunning views of a gorgeous lake and the magnificent mountains.  I grew up in Philadelphia and we had a vacation home in the Poconos, so when I tell you it is special – it is!  Yes, the rooms are a bit dated, but I found them charming. You will be glad you stopped. Your overnight hotel in the Poconos is the historic Shawnee Inn. You will find it comfortable and totally unpretentious – try to book a massage, they’re great!

Located on the beautiful Delaware Water Gap, the Shawnee is very unique. It’s another step into the past. You’ll find a giant deck with rocking chairs overlooking the river to relax and enjoy the ambience that is uniquely the Pocono Mountains.  Breakfasts there are fabulous!! I hope you can enjoy the piano music in the bar.  Remember, it’s old, but it’s an incredibly striking location and boasts a staff that really sets out to please.

When you visit the unbelievable Asa Packer Mansion you will relish old on a completely new level. The home of philanthropist, railroad magnate, and founder of Lehigh University, Asa Packer, was built in 1861 by Philadelphia architect, Samuel Sloan, over a span of two years and cost a total of $14,000 dollars- real money back in those days!  Topped by a red-ribbed tin roof and a central cupola, or belvedere, the home was built over a cast iron frame and consists of 3 stories, 18 rooms and approximately 11,000 square feet of living space. The Mansion is original to the 19th Century and contains priceless objects that were owned by the Packer family.  In order to preserve The Mansion’s authenticity, visitors are required to observe and adhere to a few rules, specifically no cameras. You’ll think you are in a time machine going backwards in time. The guides are absolutely fabulous and you really will visualize how the family lived. The carved woodwork and unique wall designs are especially unusual. The highlight of the tour I think is the huge “music box” or calliope on the third floor, which still plays tunes from the period. (There is only one other in existence — in the Smithsonian, and I’m not sure if that one even plays any more). The chandeliers are amazing (how in the world do they keep them clean?) I love historic home tours and this is one of the best.  Old is splendidly stunning!

Philadelphia is definitely an old city – lots of old history – fascinating stories of our country’s great beginning.  The DuPont mansions are old, ornate and marvelous.  Please review the complete itinerary and prepare to see some fabulous old treasures on this tour and experience a totally new interlude.  I’ll end with one of my favorite “old” quotes.

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. – St. Augustine

Click on the link below for more details on this delightful escorted vacation.

Brandywine & the Poconos (click here for details & departure dates) 7 Days, 6 Nights

Eadie, Interlude Blog Team

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Mansions, History…and Chocolate

March 12, 2013


May is the perfect month to visit the Brandywine Valley and the foothills of the Poconos.  Spring exudes from every crevice at the formal gardens of both Nemours and Longwood which are, in a word -exquisite.  Nemours is the spectacular mansion built by Alfred DuPont on 3,000 acres in Wilmington DE. Designed in late-18th century French style, it is named after the French town that his great-great-grandfather represented in the French Estates General.  The home, though inspired by the past, features thoroughly modern technology and many of Alfred’s own inventions.  The gardens are positively splendid! Do take the “Long Walk” which features two elk at the top of the Vista, ( the work of French sculptor Prosper Lecourtier); and includes Japanese cryptomeria, pink flowering horse chestnuts and pin oaks. The Long Walk extends from the Mansion to the Reflecting Pool.  The “Long Walk” is beautifully reflected in the one-acre pool which features more French sculpture. The grounds are truly magnificent.  If you want a really good read – discover Alfred DuPont – you’ll find family problems, unhappy marriage, divorce a slight scandal and wealth beyond expectation.  I found it fascinating!

Longwood Gardens was the home of another Dupont, Pierre. At the age of 36, Pierre bought the Peirce farm and began creating what would become Longwood Gardens. He followed no grand plan; rather, he built the gardens piecemeal, beginning with the 600-foot-long Flower Garden Walk in 1907. Although his later gardens would draw heavily on Italian and French forms, this garden reflected what he termed an “old-fashioned” influence, with nostalgic cottage-garden flowers, exuberant shrubs, rose-laden trellises, and even a shiny gazing ball. The scale was grand, the accessories quaint.  He did the same with the house.  Pierre enhanced Longwood by enlarging the original Peirce farm house, notably in 1914 when he doubled its size. The house had its share of country place amenities: a bowling alley, automatic fire doors, and counterweighted windows that lowered into the basement, and a built-in rug rolling machine – quaint at best. The attached conservatory was Longwood’s first “winter garden” and Pierre’s first experience with the aesthetics of greenhouse gardening. It would only get better.

Pierre’s other great love was fountains and you will be mesmerized by them at Longwood.  Basing his Italian Water Garden on the Villa Gamberaia near Florence, but he added 600 jets of recirculating water. At the Open Air Theatre, he replaced old waterworks with 750 illuminated jets. The result of his hydraulic masterpiece is the Main Fountain Garden in front of the Conservatory: 10,000 gallons a minute shooting as high as 130 feet and illuminated in every imaginable color- wonderful!  Longwood has many gardens, but a must see is the Topiary Garden and the New Rose Garden nearby.  Having grown up in Philadelphia, Longwood has always been a treat to visit – its breadth and depth and color and organization will astound you.  It is a wondrous place.

This lovely Interlude has it all:  a day trip to Philadelphia – a patriotic adventure to where it all began AND an immersion into the world of Hershey chocolate.  You’ll also spend time in the Poconos which are so lovely in May – I summered there for years as a child, and it is really special.  Please check out the complete tour itinerary and make your plans to head East.  This sojourn is a must for the garden lover, the historian and the chocolate addict!  Breathe deeply and plan to enjoy it all.

Brandywine and the Poconos (click here for details & departure dates)  7 Days, 6 Nights

Eadie, Interlude Blog Team

•For immediate service, please call (317) 913-0387 or email us Share your Interlude stories and photos on this blogSign up for our email newsletterRSS this blog

Plain, Fancy and Simply Fabulous – Philly

December 14, 2010

You are in for a real treat.  Having grown up in Philly, I can tell you with great assurance that THIS escorted vacation has it ALL.  If you’ve never traveled through the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside, be prepared for some of the most beautiful rolling, pristine farmland you will ever see.  The warmth of the Pennsylvania Dutch is legendary and the food – unbelievable.  Savor the moments – it’s certainly not something you’ll see or do everyday and just being there provides a gentle reminder of how simple life can and often should be.

Another fabulous stoke on this encompassing tour of my homeland is Cape May.  It is as fancy as Pennsylvania Dutch land is plain.  Gingerbread houses – ornate painted ladies line the streets and the shopping along the Promenade is wonderful.  We, as a family, still vacation along the Jersey Shore, just south of Cape May.

Just a short drive south of Cape May will bring you to the Cape May Lighthouse. There is a park with nature trails, a museum and the ruins of an old World War II bunker. The Cape May Lighthouse stands 157  feet tall. It has been recently been restored and is open to visitors. (there is a fee).  If you go, be sure to stop in the old oil shack next to the lighthouse. There are pictures and a video of the reconstruction plus a lot of lighthouse related gifts.  Supposedly, the light of the current lighthouse was first lit in 1859.

Cannot tell you how many lunches on the beach I have shared with friends and family and you too can capture that incredible feeling that happens when surf and sand and gulls surround you – sure makes me homesick!  If you get the chance, buy a slice of Mack and Manco’s Pizza – only available on the Jersey Shore – it’s one of those “gotta have it” moments.  I’ve got lots of food tips for this trip and M & M Pizza ranks right up there.

Another favorite of mine, and soon to be of yours, is Longwood Gardens.  My sisters and I typically go over the Christmas holidays, but it is absolutely lovely any time of year.  Longwood Gardens is sure to delight anyone who loves exquisite flowers, majestic trees, and opulent architecture. Here, amid 1,050 acres with 20 indoor and 20 outdoor gardens, you’ll find beauty at every turn.

In 1906, Pierre S. du Pont purchased the Peirce Arboretum to save its trees from being cut for lumber. Over the next nearly half century, Mr. du Pont developed Longwood Gardens into what it is today, a magnificent horticultural showplace of gardens, woodlands, and meadows and a wonderful travel experience. By the way, there are more fountains at Longwood Gardens than any other garden in the US. During your trip you will be delighted with lovely spring blossoms from the gardens. The Flower Garden Walk features tulips in a rainbow of color, and spring annuals such as pot marigolds and snapdragons. In May, Peirce’s Woods abounds with native azaleas, columbines, Virginia bluebells, and foam-flowers as well.  Take your camera – the flowers are fantastic.

The Peirce-du Pont House dates from 1730 and is the oldest building at Longwood Gardens. It was the family homestead of the Peirce family until 1905 and then became the weekend residence of Pierre du Pont from 1906 until his death in 1954. It is now open to the public and is included with your admission to the Gardens.

This spacious country home resulted from five major periods of construction covering nearly 200 years. The original two-story brick farmhouse was built by Joshua Peirce in 1730 to replace a log cabin built in 1709. The brick pattern was Flemish bond with dark glazed headers and unglazed stretchers. The roof had a simple cornice and pent eaves protected the first floor windows and doors. In 1764, a two-story addition was made to the east end of the house and included a new dining room.  The house was enlarged in 1824 adding a large addition to the north of the original structure. This building campaign doubled the size of the Peirce’s house. In 1909, Pierre du Pont modernized the house with a two-story addition to the north. Plumbing, electricity, and heating were added throughout the house and it’s come a long way from its humble beginnings.  You will love the ambience of the house and thoroughly enjoy your day here and throughout the Brandywine region.

Schuylkill, (SKOO-KILL) still have to double check my spelling and wish I had a nickel for every time I was on “hold” coming and going from my Nonni’s home in South Philly on this road that boarders “center city”.

Historic Philadelphia is simply amazing.  You will be surprised at how tiny Betsy Ross’ home is and the sight of the Liberty Bell renders one speechless. See it all, do it all – our patriotic forefathers gave us so much and Philadelphia showcases it beautifully.

Other pure winners on this tour are the Philadelphia Mint and the Mummer’s Museum.  The Mint boggles the mind, but the Mummer’s Museum boggles your eyesight.  Every New Year’s Day, from the time I was old enough to stand on my own, we, as a family, would bundle up and stand along South Broad Street to watch and glory in the Mummer’s Day Parade.  The colors, the music, the costumes are fabulous and just the words “Oh, dem golden slippers” make me want to get up and strut!!  It’s uniquely Philadelphia and a great tradition.

Ooooh Soooo Goood!!

You cannot leave town without relishing a true Philadelphia Cheese Steak.  When I went home this Thanksgiving I had two – just because I could!  Do Not get the ones with Velveeta – not authentic!  My favorite actually is a steak sandwich, no cheese, smothered in sauce and onions…mmmmm. It’s the bread that makes it so wonderful!  If you can, buy a soft pretzel off the street vendor – not at all like those in other parts of the globe. On your free night, find a little Italian trattoria – preferably a basement variety, where Mama cooks her heart out and the food is to die for.  If you like something different, visit the markets on 9th Street – Little Italy and you will see things you’ve probably never seen before.  I truly loved living there.

Interlude has really done a great job in assembling a true smattering of all things good about the Philadelphia area, so check out the itinerary and go East – you’ll have a terrific time.

 A Philly Gadabout (click here for itinerary)
(7 days, 6 nights)

– Interlude blog team

•For immediate service, please call (317) 913-0387 or email us
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