By Ashley Pierce at Emmanuel College
NEWBURYPORT — At times, living in the city can take a toll on almost anyone’s mental health. From the noise, dirty air and visions of cement in every corner, it’s easy to yearn for refuge away from the chaos.
For those living in Boston, it’s sometimes hard to remember that it’s a city within an entire region that is New England; a region known for it’s natural beauty, rich history and many tourist attractions.
However, you don’t have to travel far, or even go out of state for a New England experience. A mere forty-minute drive up interstate 95 is the only thing separating you from saving your sanity from inner-city blues.
Or if you don’t have a car in the city, like me, the Commuter Rail runs directly to the city’s train station from North Station.
Newburyport, only 35 miles north of Boston, is the perfect coastal destination escape. Though anytime of year looks beautiful in this North Shore town, the fall is perhaps the most perfect time for a drive up. To some, the drive may be worth the whole trip.
If you prefer the scenic route, take the exit before Newburyport, exit 53-b, Rowley. From there, route 133 East will lead to you route 1A- a quiet and winding road, dotted with colonial homes, radiant orange and crimson hued foliage, alternating with landscapes of salt marshes and small boatyards along the river.
You know you will have reached Newburyport when the Colonial houses become more numerous, closer together, and larger in size, with 18th century old cemeteries appearing in-between.
While the smallest city in Massachusetts has a lot of history to offer, it also has a great natural resource to escape to.
Maudslay State Park is a state reservation of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the former home of the late Mosely family estate.
Though the park is beautiful during any season, autumn is especially flattering. With paths winding through rolling meadows and shadowy forests, stretching all the way to the Merrimack river-such natural elements make it a leaf peeper’s paradise.
As we walked the perimeter of the park, I found that not only was I enjoying nature at its finest, but I was getting a work out as well.
After our “cardio session” in the park, I appeared to work up quite an appetite. So, we packed up the car and headed downtown, to the heart and charm of the city.
While walking along the red-bricked sidewalks of High street, it was clear that there was no shortage of places to grab some grub. We were even suggested by a local to get a lobster roll at Bob Lobster, just outside downtown, for a real taste of New England flavor.
However, one glimpse at “Agave Mexican Bistro,” had me persuaded that burritos or fajitas could be the only cure to my insatiable appetite.
I thought it most logical to order the fajitas, since it was almost guaranteed to be a decent portion. I was mistaken. “Decent” was an understatement.
My plate was heaping of yellow rice, refried beans, sautéed peppers and onions, perfectly seasoned chicken, guacamole with notes of cilantro (which I’m partial to) and their -not too mild, not to spicy-house salsa; all accompanied with soft flour tortillas, perfectly warmed.
I ate most of it, with the exception of a single flour tortilla and small clumps of rice and beans.
We skipped dessert and instead washed our meals down with one of their tasty libations. Though the menu offered up to six different flavors of margaritas and 70 varieties of tequila (all along shelves back dropped by a cascading waterfall), I decided to go with the house sangria priced at six dollars, while my “research partner” went with a bottle of “Negra Modelo”, a Mexican beer with hints of honey.
After we paid our bill, which ended up to be a little pricey for our college budgets, we headed back to the car with our bellies full.
On our walk back, we peeked in the windows of the quaint boutiques and coffee shops until we came across one selling products of our interest: wine and beer. As we walked in the door of “Grand Trunk Imports”, the smell of artisanal cheese alerted us that alcohol wasn’t the only product sold here.
As we surveyed the various types of wines from all over Europe, we ended up at the grandiose beer selection, which included brews from local and European breweries. We ended up choosing “hoptimus prime”, a dark, hoppy brew, which tasted as good as the name was clever.
Jeremy, co-owner, along with his wife, offered us a taste of cave-aged cheddar, a hundred times more delicious than the grocery store offerings. He pointed us to the glass case, filled with a considerable variety of cheeses ranging from camembert to gruyere to manchego, all imported from all over Europe.
Although we only ended up purchasing the beer, we thanked Jeremy and left the charmingly rustic looking store, and headed back to the city to toast to a great day, with our new, delicious brew.