Another Weekend in Hudson Valley
Woodstock is my perfect cure to relax, eat, look within and reset. If that’s what you are looking for, don’t wait to travel to another Thailand or India. You can start right here. Right now.
My first trip out of New York, first weekend getaway, when Ashwin and I had just moved into the country, was to Woodstock in the Hudson Valley. I cannot say enough good things about the place and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants a quiet and calming weekend out of the city.
Having just moved from India while living on a teacher’s, single income, we hadn’t taken a holiday. Work had been demanding and was stressing me out. We had wanted a change. Up until then, we had not seen anything outside of Jersey City, Hoboken and New York City. A short break, escape of sorts needed to happen. Our criteria for a place to escape to was it had to be a budget getaway, must be vegetarian friendly, peaceful and accessible by public transport. Woodstock matched all our demands!
The road to Woodstock from Manhattan is rather uninteresting, for the most part. After leaving Port Authority, it is dull for over an hour. It gets a little better as we head into New Paltz and Kingston. But really the drive out of the city toward the little town is nothing to write home about. Ashwin slept almost through the journey.
At Woodstock, the bus dropped us outside a store called Pondicherry, on Tinker street that prides itself to be the heart of the town. My heart skipped a beat when I read the name of that store and it was spelled exactly as the name of my favorite Indian town. Pondicherry, now called Puducherry is a small town in Southern India and is home to the Aurobindo Ashram. It was ruled by the French for several years and has a very colonial French feel to its buildings and streets. The town runs on a lot of its cottage industries and for a handicraft shopper like myself, its PARADISE. I could not wait to go inside and to see if it would satisfy my craving for the India I had left behind. But first we made our way to the Inn.
A short ten minute walk led us to The Woodstock Inn On The Millstream. As we entered its gravel and pebbled driveway, we could see the stream that runs across Woodstock. Being winter, it was barely a trickle but enough to please me. We were shown to our room, which to be fair was way too small for my husband who is over 6 feet! The innkeeper and morning breakfast more than makes up for what the Inn’s cheaper rooms lack for in size. But I think everyone would benefit from an increase in the height of the shower heads.
The Inn keeper suggested several restaurants that kept us happy through our stay at Woodstock. Garden Café was one of our first times eating at a vegan restaurant. We were ecstatic! I mean, we weren’t used to finding a place where we could eat everything on the menu, except if they were Indian restaurants. Garden Cafe is always packed (over the last few years we have eaten there a few times.) Everything on their menu from the soups served with the homemade focaccia and black bean and rice burrito are just delicious. I cannot say enough good things.
There are a whole lot of other places to choose from. Oriole 9 and Joshua’s Café are supposed to be good for brunch and American food. And if you have a car, Bear Café seems to be a favorite among the locals and tourists. We ate noodles and ramen from Yum Yum Noodles one day. My first exposure to bread and pastries from Bread Alone was at Woodstock. The perfectly sweetened and savory pastries have me completely hooked. It’s fun to see photos of all the musicians who are walked into this Woodstock bakery. The only place I did not particularly enjoy was the Catskill Mountain Pizza Company. The pizza and service left us wanting something different.
I chatted with and learned a lot about the area from walking around, window-shopping and chatting with storekeepers and owners. We were told there is a Bhuddist Monastery and a Zen Monastery near by. When we said we’d have to visit them another time, as we hadn’t driven down, they simply suggested we hitch a ride. “This is Woodstock. Hitch hiking still works here.”
When we looked horrified, they added, “It’s pretty safe up here in Woodstock. No one is going to pull a gun out at you.”
The glory of the music festival may have gone, but the town still has its hippie vibe. Tie-dye t-shirts hang in several stores and the incense and hookah sticks are being sold in every second shop. We chanced upon a bookstore called Devi which had some neat books on spirituality and yoga. Apparently Jivamukti’s Sharon and David were there to launch their yoga book. Pondicherry had a lot of stuff from the Indian town and housed lots of lovely scarves and clothes from another lovely place in India called Auroville. Interestingly the owner of the store has strong connections with India and runs a center in Woodstock for followers of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. This was music to my home sick heart.
Two days in Woodstock and I was reset and ready to face the rush and life of New York City again.
Go to Woodstock. Enjoy the peace it has to offer. I would definitely look into it for spring and summer breaks out of the city.