Friday, November 1, 2013

Providence, Rhode Island

Before I describe my trip to Providence this week, I'd like to share a brief lesson I learned about air travel on Thursday, when I was returning home:

You should not read books about pandemics on airplanes, because you will have an extremely uncomfortable trip if the person directly across the aisle from your aisle seat vomits loudly into their air-sickness bag.

Just FYI.

I was flying home on Thursday after flying out on Sunday for a really good conference with a few coworkers. The conference days were pretty busy, and I co-hosted a newcomer's reception and co-presented a session about NCAA regulations and housing for student athletes. Both went well, and I have a bunch of notes about topics like gender-inclusive housing and new laws about therapy animals that I will probably use, or at least share, at work someday, so I'm going to go ahead and call it a successfull conference.

In between conferencing, we went and explored the city with coworkers and colleagues from other schools. On Sunday, after we flew in, we were starving, so we met up with people and went immediately to dinner at the Trinity Brewhouse:

Trinity Brewhouse (1)

Trinity Brewhouse (2)

Trinity Brewhouse (3)

It was a short walk from our hotel, and I was so hungry after travelling all day that I ate a whole ten inch pizza. (Not because I'm fat. Because I'm hungry. That's the story we're sticking with, ok?)

The next morning I got more than enough exercise to make up for it, as four of us decided to walk down the riverwalk:

riverwalk (2)

riverwalk (3)

to eat at breakfast at Brickway on Wickenden, a place that had been recommended by the tourist map our friend Carling had and by the hotel staff. When we got there, it was a cute little diner:

Brickway on Wickenden (1)

Brickway on Wickenden (2)

that was almost like eating in someone's house. I had banana pancakes:

banana pancakes

and they were delicious.

Tuesday we stayed at the convention center all day, which was sort of interesting because we were sharing it with a much larger hair stylist convention (so much multicolored hair and leopard print in one place!) and another, smaller conference where this was a topic:

Inside the Convention Center (1)

I listened at the door for a minute, but heard only silence.

Tuesday night, Meg, Josh, and I decided that we were tired and just wanted something close, so we ate at the Melting Pot in the mall across the street from our hotel:

melting pot

Since there was a skybridge connecting the hotel and the mall, we didn't even go outside.

The conference wrapped up Wednesday afternoon, so Meg, John, and I decided to walk to Federal Hill, which was ten minutes from our hotel and is the "Little Italy" of Providence:

La Pigna

The sculpture, La Pigna, is not an odd pineapple. It is a pinecone, which is a symbol of welcome in Italy. Federal Hill is a mass of small shops:

psychic shop

and Italian restaurants:



We picked one at random, and I ate four cheese ravioli as big as my fist. I've never felt so full of Italian food in my life, and the walk did nothing to make me feel like I'd worked any of it off. It was fantastic.

On Thursday we weren't flying out until lunchtime (and, thanks to incompetence and outright lies from United Airlines, we ended up spending twelve hours on planes or in airports; I'm not even going to talk about it because I'm still so mad), so Meg and I decided that we were going to walk the historic Green Line:

green line

We were told that the Green Line, which passes many historic and architecturally significant buildings in Providence, was a loop, so we thought we would just join it by our hotel where we saw it and start walking. It turns out that, rather than listen to others, we should have looked it up, because the Green Line isn't a loop. It's exactly what it says: a line, and it ran out at the state capital after a half hour of fighting our way through six downtown crosswalks:

riverwalk (5)

state capital (1)

state capital (2)

(My camera couldn't decide if it was too bright out or overcast, one of the dangers of point and click photography. The two pictures of the capital building above were taken within a minute or two of each other, with no change in clouds or sunshine.)

Once we discovered that we'd picked the wrong end of the Green Line, we realized that we didn't have time to walk it to the other end before we had to be back at the hotel for checkout, so we went to Burnside Park, which was just up the street, to walk around and look at the statues.

There's a fountain dedicated to General Burnside's wife:


(Is it me, or is that guy on the right kind of giving you a "hey, baby" eye?)

a weird half boat:

the hannah (1)

the hannah (2)

emerging from the ground or sinking into it, depending on whether you are a "glass is half empty" or "glass is half full" type of person, a statue of General Burnside himself:

Burnside Park (1)

general burnside (2)

statue base (1)

statue base (2)

which was heavily chalked and marked up by the Occupy Providence movement (Side note: many of the Occupy Providence participants in the park were reportedly Brown University students, who pay about $55,000 a year to attend their school; they may want to rethink protesting big business, and protest a little closer to campus instead), and this fence art:

fence art (1)

I'm not sure how it was done, but if you looked at it straight on it didn't really look like anything:

fence art (2)

and only turned back to art when you started walking along the fence and caught it at the right angle:

fence art (3)

Leaving the park, we saw a sad drunk babydoll:

drunken doll

and the war memorial:

war memorial

After that, we came to another, smaller park (or possibly a part of Burnside Park that was split by a plaza) with another statue:

the scout

and some kinetic sculptures that had words on one side and art on the other. One told the story of Roger Williams' early dealings with the Native Americans:

founding of providence

One talked about the founding of the city and present-day events:

about providence (1)

about providence (2)

and one talked about famous Providence native H.P. Lovecraft:

h.p. lovecraft (2)

h.p. lovecraft (1)

There were others, too, but we realized that we didn't have time to read them if we wanted to make our plane.


sauty said...

Gee Joel, too bad you didn't have any internet friends from RI who could have recommended some places to visit. Just kidding! Looks like you hit all the good spots. Providence used to have a really excellent comic book shop, but unfortunately it closed. Great photos!

Marcheline said...

1. If I am anywhere and anyone vomits within earshot, I am already having a really bad day. I don't need books about pandemics - it's already horrific.

2. A drunk baby doll! EXCELLENT!

3. Those were actual, real banana pancakes, my friend. Most pancake places have "banana pancakes" on the menu and what you really get is plain pancakes with a pile of cut up banana pieces on top, covered with whipped cream so's you won't notice the fakery.

4. I rather like the overexposed capital picture... makes the trees really stand out!

5. Great fence art - I love things that have nuance. Stuff that everyone won't "get".

Thanks for sharing the trip - I like the way you make an adventure out of business travel.