Monday, May 12, 2008

Brooklyn on the Road Again: The 60th Annual Albany NY Tulip Festival

We hit the road again for My Better Half's Birthday and of course Mother's Day. We picked up our oldest and her pal at their college campus and drove up yonder on the Thruway to Albany NY with our 3 younger kids. Rented a couple of cozy, reasonable 2bedroom suites at a great motel near the SUNY Albany campus. Having set up our headquarters, we proceeded to paint the town pink, and purple, red, and yellow: after all, we were in town to check out the 60th Annual Albany Tulip Festival which our daughter had visited before and was the prompt for this Mother's Day weekend away.

Located in Washington Park, a lovely preserve located in the center of downtown Albany, designed by Olmstead and Vaux, designers of Central and Prospect Park, the Tulip Festival is a local tradition that includes the washing of the streets of Albany, followed by a weekend of fleurs and frolic, and capped by the crowning of the Tulip Queen.

The Tulips are lovely, numerous plantings on a hill in the center of Washington Park (which is about 4 blocks by 3 blocks in size), resulting in fields of lavish color. Lots of photographers out there. But, as Jerry Garcia used to say about the Grateful Dead, and Jagger said about the Stones in Gimme Shelter, the center of attraction, while cool and loads of fun, is really more of an excuse for folks to get together, listen to music, eat food from a variety of vendors and shop like crazy from artisans, craftsfolks, etc. who are set up throughout the park.

The music was great, especially The Black and White Years, produced by Talking Heads' Jerry Harrison, a band that reminded me a little of Danny Elfman's Oingo Boingo, crossed with TH. Performances concluded with an appearance by The Spin Doctors, of the multiplatinum "Pocket Full of Kryptonite," who have a new album coming out soon.

The Tulip Fest was also the site of a Wellness Green, health care and organic foods providers, yoga lessons, etc. Finally, Grannies for Peace held a demonstration for world peace, in which they invited participants to help produce "Peace Soup" by working for a better world. We walked away with great freebies, including organic dog food, too.

Later that night we were invited to fantastic home thrown pizza fest (baked on the barbecue grill)at the home of friends in Albany, plus vino and homemade desserts. It was a fun, lovely and warm evening with a delightful family.

The next day, we celebrated Mother's Day/Mom's Birthday at a great place, Provence, in town. Funny, we were originally trying to find its sister restaurant, Milano, in Latham NY, but got hopelessly lost, and we were heading back into town when we stumbled on Provence, which we had scoped out the night before for its lovely sounding brunch buffet, but which we gave up hope of getting into because of the lateness of our reservation. But, out of sheer desperation we ended up in Provence, its sister bistro, and the manager took pity on us Out-of-Towners, got us a table, where the six of us enjoyed the warm ambiance and great brunch. Just shows you never can tell. Then we headed back to New Paltz and back to the City, thinking about our great weekend away and looking for excuses to visit Albany again

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