For the weekend of my birthday, some friends and I went to stay in a luxury resort called The Sagamore, on Lake George in upstate New York (we got a very good deal!). On the drive up, we stopped at the pretty Victorian resort town of Saratoga Springs, which is full of lovely cafes and bakeries, specialist shops and beautiful architecture. I made a beeline for Lyrical Ballads Bookstore, a wonderfully higgledy piggedly used book shop on a side street, which had room upon room stacked up behind the deceptively small shop front to explore. I could have filled my arms with piles of cheap and lovely books, but I was very good and only bought one, a gorgeous edition of Susan Glaspell short stories, Lifted Masks. We then had a stroll down the main street, stopping for a delicious sandwich in Mrs London’s, and to taste the most impressive array of oils and vinegars I have ever seen in the Saratoga Olive Oil Company.
From Saratoga Springs we only made one more stop; at Stewart’s, the New York State (and a handful in Vermont) only chain of shops and petrol stations that sells absolutely the best ice cream in the entire world – fact! We first discovered them when we went upstate for Christmas, and frankly, the reason why I was so adamant on going upstate for my birthday was because I wanted to eat Stewart’s icecream again. I can’t even describe how sublime their icecream is; we ate gallons of the stuff over the weekend, stopping off for a mikshake or an icecream at every opportunity. It is a great tragedy that the nearest one to New York City is a good three hours’ drive away, and they don’t stock their products anywhere other than in their own stores. So, it’s a rare treat, but one well worth waiting for. If you’re ever in the area, make a stop – the stores don’t look anything special, but I promise you, you will be blown away!
We drove up to The Sagamore and took a deep breath of pleasure; this place is incredible. Originally built as a resort in the 1800’s, it is set on a little island, and is absolutely beautiful. The swimming pool overlooks the lake, and our rooms had porches with Adirondack chairs looking out across the lake too. We made the most of our luxurious surroundings, swimming in the pool, languishing in the jacuzzi and even jumping in the FREEZING cold lake, which, at this time of year, was forbidden – for good reason. I felt like I’d been stabbed by thousands of tiny knives all over my body! The little town of Bolton Landing near the hotel was also lovely, and we had the best steak I’ve ever eaten in a little restaurant, where we were treated like family. I love the friendliness of people in small town America.
The next day we set off early, had Stewart’s icecream for breakfast, and then drove on up to Lake Placid. The scenery as we drove was breathtakingly beautiful; the Adirondack Mountains dipped and rose as we wound our way through the countryside, and the views of pine trees, sparkling lakes, rushing streams and bluish, snow topped mountains enfolded before us as far as the eye could see. As a city girl, I love any opportunity I can get to see the natural world in all of its splendour, and upstate New York is a stunning place to visit. When we arrived at Lake Placid, we were entranced by its beauty, but not enough to stop us from eating first; at the delicious Lake Placid Pub and Brewery, which serves an eclectic mix of amazing and quite English inspired food. I gorged on the best sausage and mash I have ever tasted. By the time we’d finished, we were all uncomfortably full, and so we embarked on a lovely hour long walk around Lake Mirror and Lake Placid, both of which are stunning.
Then, it was time to drive home. A thoroughly lovely weekend was had, and as I drove through the night in our minivan back to the bright lights of the big city, everyone (apart from me, obviously!) gradually drifted off to sleep, full of delicious food and fresh air. If only we didn’t have to go back to work the next day!