A Midweek Respite.
Several weeks ago, my partner and I had a midweek mini-vacation. Our destination was Northampton Massachusetts, part of the Five-College area in Western Massachusetts. Months earlier we had bought tickets to a concert at the Calvin Theater, and decided we would spend the night rather than risk a late-night drive home.
Splurging a bit, I booked us into the Hotel Northampton, which is across the street from the theater, very convenient for these cold November nights. The hotel is a member of the Historic Hotels of America, and it has plenty of ambience. We especially appreciated our balcony room that gave us a terrific view of downtown, and would be a very pleasant place to sit, in warmer weather.
I have enjoyed shopping in Northampton for many years. A
dear friend and I used to drive our sons to the Six Flags amusement park, then
swing back north to shop in our favorite bookstores and galleries
before picking them up at the end of the day.
There are plenty of stores to visit, mainly independent. In spite of many visits to this charming town, I had never seen the statue to Vermont's own, Calvin Coolidge, who graduated from Amherst College and spent many years in various government positions in the area.
Arriving in Northampton in the early afternoon, my partner and I split up, I to shop for family gifts, and he to check out a few music stores, as he has begun playing guitar for the first time in many years. He spent several happy hours in Birdhouse Music, and ultimately found a great deal on a used resonator guitar.
I spent my time looking at shops on Main Street, popping into Thorne’s marketplace which has a wonderful two floor bookstore, clothing stores, and a great home store too. Another must go is Raven Used books which always has a nice mix of unusual books, many of which are new remainders or classics.
Before heading to our hotel to get ready for the concert, we grabbed dinner at the Northampton Brewery. This is the 2nd time we have eaten there, and the food and beverage are both good and the college crowd is lively. On Tuesday nights there is a small Farmer's Market right next to the parking garage across from the brewery. I was pretty impressed with these vendors, it was a very cold night.
For those of us of a certain age, Bruce Cockburn has been a fixture in our music scene for many years. With a new album, and a family member joining him on stage, he gave us his usual stellar performance, well worth the trip. Wide awake and a little hungry, we had a late night snack at Fitzwilly’s another Northampton treat.
With plans to meet a relative in college at Hampshire the next day, we lingered in town to do a little more shopping, and had an early lunch at the Amanouz Cafe, a delightful place to eat Turkish cuisine right on Main Street. Before getting into the car we made a final stop in one of my favorite galleries in New England. The R. Michelson gallery is a wonderful mix of original illustrations from children’s books, fine art, and for you Star Trek fans, an assortment of Leonard Nimoy’s work. They also do framing, and are very happy to let you browse throughout the gallery, even though your bank account will not allow you to purchase any of the artwork.
Heading towards Hampshire College, we made a quick stop at Amherst Books, another favorite independent bookstore. Amherst is another lovely town to visit, and if you have never toured the Emily Dickenson museum I highly recommend it.
We ended our journey with a pleasant visit with our Hampshire student sharing a meal in Hadley before heading home. Who knew that taking a midweek vacation had all the same excitement as playing hooky from school?!