They were here last in 1976, for the bicentennial,
and we saw them on parade from the Kroll's apartment on Goat Island. Now
we have our own condo, and they are back for the millenium, scores of tall
ships from all over the world--barques, barquentines, brigs, brigantines,
cutters, full-rigged ships, ketches, schooners, square-rigged ships, 12-meters,
yawls. There is the Russian Kruzenshtern, 376 feet long, the second largest
sailing ship in the world,
the Brazilian Cisne Branco (white swan), the Portuguese Sagres, the
Spanish Juan Sebastian de Elcano. Most of them are replicas of 15th century
explorer ships that serve as showpieces and training ships for the navies
of the various countries. But most of them were made in Nazi Germany during
this century, and have had name changes. Only the Russians keep the German
name. They are all anchored or docked in Newport Harbor, near the Newport
Bridge, off Fort Adams, all around us. Watching them round the point at
Fort Adams in full sail, to a cannon salute, is absolutely thrilling.
We came down on Wednesday afternoon to find the harbor and bay abuzz with boats like a beehive.
We went out for dinner with the Landys and the Lerners, as Tanya had a paper to deliver at a conference in Newport. We went to the Conservatory at Vanderbilt Hall. To our astonishment, no one was there, and we were the lords and ladies of the manor, with our very own English serving girl. We sat on sofas in the parlour, sipped martinis and cosmopolitans, and reviewed the menu. Then we adjourned to the conservatory, a glassed room with wicker furniture, looking out on the steeple of the Unitarian Church. We were the only ones there, as well. It was delicious cafe food, lobster rolls with big chunks of lobster, beer-battered fish and chips, fresh salads, astoundingly cheap. But they get you on the drinks and dessert, which cost as much as the entrees.
Thursday was a gorgeous day. I biked out to
a nursing home visit, stopping first at the Boulangerie for a fresh croissant
and coffee. On the way home, I stopped to visit the Cisne Branco. Then
home for a perfect lunch of hummus, Carol's doctored taboulieh, baba ganouzh,
and lavash bread, all washed down with a crisp cheap French wine. We ran
between our decks to watch the ships come in. I biked out to the Aquidneck
Lobster Company on the docks to buy a piece of swordfish. It's a dark and
dank warehouse at the end of a fish pier, where the boats tie up and unload
their harvest. My friend, Mike, who works there, looked at the huge side
of swordfish from which he sliced a chunk for me, and said, this fish is
so fresh, it's still alive. He was right. We grilled it for dinner, and
it was the best we ever had. We ate on the deck, watching the boats and
In the evening, the parade of lights took place. Hundreds of boats,
all decorated with lights on their masts and rigging, paraded single file
through the harbor in salute to the Tall Ships.
Friday, I went for a bike ride, and we had
breakfast on the deck. I rode over and visited the Sagres. It was fun watching
the Sagres tie up at the dock. All the sailors were in dress whites, standing
in line on deck at attention.
Suddenly, they burst into the Portuguese national anthem, a capella. Rhode Island is full of Portuguese people, who were crowded on the dock, and they all began to cheer and sing along.
We had lunch on the deck--Willy Krauch Nova Scotia Danish smoked salmon, hummus, taboulieh, pinot noir. We hung out, read, wrote, worked on projects.
We had drinks on the west deck to watch the sunset over the Kruzhenstern. We came in for dinner: Kiddush, Hamotzi, Ayshet Hayil, a first course of ripe avocado with crumbled bleu cheese and balsamic vinegar, Carol's incomparable fresh mushroom soup, and then we heard the fireworks begin. We watched them from the gazebo, over the Kruzenshtern, in front of the illuminated Newport Bridge.
They were short, twenty minutes, but well-orchestrated, with a good finale. Back to the table for Carol's Silver Palate melted brie, basil, and tomatoes over pasta. One of the world's great dishes. Pinot Noir. A taste of a fabulous Carol creation: black and white cheesecake, and then to bed, to await the arrival of our children.
The kids came in at 10:30 PM and 1 PM. This morning, Andy and I biked out for croissants at the Boulangerie, which Marjorie pronounced the best she has ever had. How wonderful to have our family together here. Now we can be summoned by maitre d's all over the world, "Phunn family...party of six!"
Downtown Newport is a zoo. There is no room on the sidewalks. They say
there are 250,000 visitors here. The National Guard is out, directing traffic
and preventing riots. Here on Goat Island, all is tranquil. Everyone but
me walked downtown and ended up shopping. Carol served a stupendous lunch
of Willy Krauch smoked salmon, wild mushroom soup, Silver Palate brie,
basil, tomato, and garlic over pasta, and black and white cheesecake. We
drank a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir that Andy and Neal brought back from
their recent vacation there.
Marjorie and Jonathan gave me my birthday present: a hand-painted wine-chiller done in her inimitable style.
We sat at the pool,
had drinks on the west deck to watch the sunset, and ate a dinner of barbecued hamburgers, hot dogs, soy dogs, and veggie burgers, with potato salad. For dessert, a divine strawberry rhubarb pie, made by Carol with strawberries that we ourselves picked in Middletown.