- Thursday 06 December 2018
Shandon Travel's managing director Michael spent a few days in Connecticut, on the east coast of America. Read his blog about the experience:
"I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days in Connecticut. I flew with Aer Lingus on their new direct flight, from Dublin to Hartford Bradley Airport. Happily, this flight leaves in the early afternoon, allowing passengers from outside Dublin to avoid an overnight stay.
This also means that many of the earlier transatlantic flights have departed and USA pre-clearance is relatively quiet and fast. The experience was all very relaxing– particularly as I was lucky to be able to turn left, not right, on entering the aircraft. Business class is excellent and the service, as with all Aer Lingus cabin crew, was top class.
The next pleasant surprise was Hartford Bradley Airport- bigger than Cork but much much smaller than Dublin. A short walk to the baggage carousel and off we went.
Our first stop was the lovely hamlet of Simsbury and a homely, warm New England inn filled with beautiful furniture.This would be a great addition to a fly/ drive itinerary if one wanted to stay near the airport (25 minutes).
Next morning,after a hearty American breakfast, we headed for the town of Mystic. I personally hadn’t heard of it before, but those younger than I remembered the 1988 film Mystic Pizza- Julia Roberts' introduction to movie goers. And yes there is a real Mystic Pizza parlour, still serving pizzas.
Our next stop was the Mystic Aquarium … just another boring aquarium? Well not really– they have a wide range of sea creatures, including Beluga Whales and African Penguins. The most interesting part was the Animal Rescue Clinic, including its own A&E for animals.
After a short tour of the area, it was time for lunch and what a treat! We ate at the S&P Oyster Bar– fish, obviously- but what a selection! It was a perfect meal, washed down with excellent white wine from the region. In fact, throughout our short stay in Connecticut the food was delightful and well presented. After lunch we visited a few historical hotels in the area and without exception, they were stunning.
Next was a tour to Foxwoods. You might ask where, and why? Well, because it's the biggest resort casino in North America. It's owned by Native Americans- the local Pequot Tribe. Foxwoods is a stunning complex and one could easily spend a full day there without gambling.
In additon to the casinos, there's a one-mile-long zip line, an excellent go-karting arena for all ages (I finished 5th out of 8), theatres, wood trails, discount outlets and of course many restaurants. Foxwoods is hidden away unobtrusively in the forest and well worth a visit. That evening we had dinner at another excellent restaurant- Captain Daniel Packer Inn- and an early night.
The following morning we headed for Mystic Seaport, which was another most interesting surprise. It’s a working shipyard and is described as the living museum of America's maritime past. Presently, the restoration of the pilgrim ship Mayflower 2 is underway. All the work in the ship yard is based on the readily available supply of timber. It is well worth a visit.
Afterwards. we headed for New Haven and Yale University. Yale has numerous pizza places (maybe the student influence) and we dined in the Bar Restaurant where there is a ginormous selection of pizzas and litres of beer– all lovely.
After lunch we went on a walking tour of Yale University- this is a must for anyone visiting the region. Tours of the Gothic-inspired campus are free and very interesting. It’s a great experience. There are also free tours of Yale Centre of British Art (the biggest collection outside the UK) and Yale University Art Gallery. Give yourself a full day to really soak up the refined atmosphere.
Next we headed for the coastal town of Madison, first settled in 1641. Here we stayed in a superb place, run by a lady from Sligo and owned by an interior designer known for some of Dubai's most iconic hotels. He is also a perfect host. All bedrooms are decorated in different styles and all have- believe it or not- a record player complete with LPs. It was comfortable luxury in the New England style. We had an excellent dinner followed by an early night.
The following morning we visited Hartford city and a recently opened five-star luxury hotel. After lunch we headed for Mark Twain House and Museum– another interesting visit full of history and good tales. Mark Twain lived here between 1874 to 1891, and it was here he wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Finally, we made our way back to Hartford Airport and our Aer Lingus flight home. The flight to Dublin, with a tail wind, only took 4 ½ hrs.
If we had more time, we could have visited the Supercharged Indoor Karting and Trampoline Park, the Submarine Force Library and Museum and the Connecticut Science Centre. Another sight we didn't have time to visit was The Dinosaur Place at Nature's Art Village- home to 40 life size Dinosaurs, over 1 ½ miles.
All in all I would recommend a week’s holiday in Connecticut. Tt's full of surprises and most of all- friendly and helpful people. In fact, the genuine friendliness of the people and a not sooo frenetic pace of living was one of the lovely memories to bring home." -Michael
After his holiday, Michael put together the following 7-day itinerary, taking in Connecticut, New York and Boston:
Day 1: Fly Dublin to Hartford and overnight in Hartford.
Day 2: Hartford sightseeing: choose from Mark Twain House, Museum of Connecticut History, Connecticut Science Centre, Yale University, Downtown New Haven; Lady Katharine Cruises on the Connecticut River
Day 3: Travel down to New York City for the day and overnight in the Big Apple
Day 4: Shopping in downtown Mystic. Visit Mystic Sea Port, take a Sunset Cruise on the Sabina
Day 5: Chose from Mashantucket Pequot Museum, Lyman Allen Museum, Dinosaur Place, Naskart; Foxwood Resort Casino; or a selection of golf courses.
Day 6: Boston
Day 7: Submarine Force Museum and return to Hartford Airport
Day 8: Arrive back in Dublin
Our team have put together a great holiday based on this sample itinerary, view it here on our website. Not what you're looking for? We can work with you to put together your ideal New England holiday.