In the Heart of the Hudson…Part 1

I took a few weeks off of writing to adjust to a new environment.  I was focusing on work and learning my new home front for six months or so.  But found I really missed my writing.  I kept thinking about all the places I’ve gone and started to become overwhelmingly homesick for travel and the awesome friends I have made along the way.  I miss my travel companions and can only dream of a trip where we can join forces again and visit a special place allowing us for good “talk” time and more adventures.

My trip to California has kept coming back to me these past weeks and then there was a program on PBS television about the Franklin Roosevelt years that moved my mind back to Hudson, NY.  Although the lure of the Hudson was not one of great magnitude at first.  I was being sent there for my job and thought this is another New York trip that I will want to finish quickly and return home.  However, I was so wrong.  I was fascinated by the beauty of the land and the people. A trip of 10 days in a valley that is so full of history, I was dreaming about it in my sleep.

Flying into Albany, I was thinking of when I had been to this area a few months before.  Not near the Hudson, but a few miles west to the Delhi area.  That trip had been rather dreary and I wasn’t looking forward to another look at winter and the cold weather that I’d felt. However, the trip to the Hudson was in May and that filled me with some sort of hope that I might be able to enjoy some time outdoors.  Driving down the interstate I was learning that the area was quite beautiful with the grand vision of the Catskill Mountains and the greener forests of trees due to the spring change.  And then I drove into Hudson, NY (the town) and my hope dissipated quite suddenly as I gazed out my car window at the poverty now surrounding me.  Really?  Was I really flown to a market that I wasn’t going to be able to sell in with such massive houses of disarray and broken down cars lining the streets?  Mind you, this is a small part of the town, thank goodness!  Upon arriving at my hotel, I was not given a spur of hope either.  I’m not sure where my thoughts were there but I felt a sense of loneliness as I pulled into this “grand” hotel that hosts all sorts of receptions, including weddings.  I don’t want you to think that these first few moments will define my stay.  Rather opposite.  It really can only take a few hours to adjust to a lifestyle that you aren’t used to.  And remember, the Hudson Valley is one of the oldest areas in the U.S., which means there is going to be a lot of structures that have been living for more than 100 years.  With the economy in disarray, it is no wonder there is a distinct look of nature taking its course before humans can redevelop.

The hotel we stayed in was the historic St. Charles Hotel.  (When I say we, my co-worker Sherri and I)  This hotel is definitely historic in looks and feel.  It is 139 years old and is located on Park Place just off of Warren Street in downtown Hudson.  Warren Street is the central location of the city with its charms of boutiques and restaurants.  I’ll tell you more about that a little later.  When arriving at the hotel we were greeted very kindly by the staff and even though I was a bit nervous about the location and the condition of the hotel, I was starting to relax as I wandered the tiny hall on the third floor and arrived in my room.  The room was very clean and had the essential amenities I needed, including a window air conditioner that filled the room with a loud hum.  I was quick to unpack and get a bit settled before Sherri and I ventured out to find our dinner.  It had been a full day since we had last eaten.

There was a little park across the street from the hotel, much like a central location of the city.  The truth, this park reminded me of Hyde Park in New York City.  The desk clerk at the hotel had warned us (and so did our sales manager) we should stay away from there after dark.  This park is the location where drug deals go down and needles are used.  Since it was still daylight, we crossed through to the other side safely and found a quaint restaurant named “Park Falafel & Pizza.”  I didn’t know what that actually meant but soon discovered the restaurant was vegetarian and kosher.  Hmmm…I couldn’t help thinking this may not be the food to fill me up since I was ravished.  But what the heck, let’s try it.  I’m really not one to try food that I don’t recognize or that doesn’t look like a meat and potato meal.  I’m from the midwest, what can I say.  With many items on the menu, we chose the “Margherita Pizza” and it was delicious!  Browsing around the room I watched the chefs whip up Baba Ghanouj (eggplant sandwich) and Falafel Ball platters for other customers.  Falafel balls are the specialty of the business.  This recipe is a fast-food novelty in the middle east and the main ingredient is usually garbonzo beans or chick peas.  I have to admit when I watched the plates being served and the customer’s reactions, it actually looked mouth-watering and I was disappointed in myself for not trying it.  I told myself next time I come here, I will make it a point to try the falafel balls.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get another chance to go there.  But I will rate this restaurant as one of the best in the freshest way in Hudson, NY.

Once back at the hotel, we were exhausted and it was time to turn out the lights.  Work will come too fast when we wake and there is so much to see and just not enough time.  I have plenty of pictures to share with you in the next few blogs of all the places we visited during our stay.  I will have to say the pictures do not give any justice to the experience we had.

Until next time….

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