Archives For Stew Leonard’s

The original plan last weekend was to attend a colleague’s birthday party, but then said colleague was under the weather and the festivities were cancelled. Suddenly, my final weekend in October was wide-open.

Last year, I spent almost every fall weekend on the road. This year, I was looking to do the exact opposite; minimal planning, light travel and lots of free time. Fall is my favorite time of year, and although I enjoyed all of last year’s adventures, I wanted to try and relax a little more.

New York, and its surrounding areas, is also pretty scenic during autumn. I felt that I didn’t really have a chance to experience that last year. But now a weekend to do exactly that presented itself.

And so, off I went on Saturday morning in a rented Zipcar. I jetted up the West Side Highway, over the George Washington Bridge and on to the Palisades Parkway with an inadvertent detour in to Fort Lee.

My only set-in-stone plan was to make it to the Bear Mountain Bridge, where according to the “I Love NY” tourism website, I would witness fall foliage during its peak weekend. I was about 10 minutes out when I noticed a sign advertising an Oktoberfest happening at the nearby Anthony Wayne Recreation Center, right off exit 17.

I mean, it’s not like I had any other plans.

The quick detour proved to be a great decision. Apparently the celebration happens in this park every weekend from September through the end of October. Beer, German food and live music were plentiful. The views through the wooded valley of the mountain were spectacular.

After scoping out the scene and treating myself to a hot dog, I hopped back in my car and up to the Bear Mountain Bridge. There was parking about a quarter-mile up from the bridge in a scenic overlook area, so I stopped there and took in the view. Then, I made the not-so-smart decision to walk from my car down to the bridge. It was an ill-advised move because on that particular stretch of Route 6 the shoulder is at times non-existent.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on

Thankfully, I lived to tell the tale and witness the Hudson Valley in all of its glory.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on

I capped off the day with a trip to Stew Leonard’s in Yonkers and a pit-stop at my buddy’s house just to drop off his gift and make sure he was doing alright.

It also worked out well because I was able to tell him about this cool Oktoberfest where we should celebrate his birthday next year.

I wanted to see more than one date on Coldplay’s “A Head Full Of Dreams” tour. I was looking for a reason to travel back up I-95 to Rhode Island. And, I had never been to Gillette Stadium before.

So last weekend on Saturday, the last Saturday of July, I booked a train at midnight to Providence. I then reserved a one-way rental car from the T.F. Green Airport to Manhattan for Sunday. Then, via the Hotwire app, I grabbed a room at The Omni in downtown Providence.

A few hours of sleep, some quick packing and a shower later and I was on the subway to Penn Station and off to Southern New England for a quick but exciting jaunt.

I arrived before 11 a.m. to a sun-soaked downtown Providence. The weather was simply fantastic; so much so that I had to stop and document the moment as I walked from the train station to my hotel.

After dropping off my bags, I walked from the hotel to the Providence Place Mall, which is actually connected to The Omni via a walk-way. Like other shopping centers, the mall is a bit antiquated (i.e. the H&M does not sell men’s clothing) but I welcomed a trip in to suburbia, even if only for an hour or so.

I snagged a new Yankees snapback, a couple jackets from Zara and a venti coffee from the Starbucks kiosk before returning to The Omni and checking in to my room. Wait, I have a fridge? Perfect. Even if for only 24 hours, one of my go-to moves when traveling is stocking up on essentials from a grocery store or convenience mart for my room so that I’m not left to pay coffee house or room service prices the following day.

But before I addressed that, I dressed in to my workout clothes and went for a fantastic five mile run downtown – through the square, up College Hill and across the campus of Brown University, over to the Newport Ferry and back.

I then grabbed those essentials from CVS (no grocery store downtown!) and showered. My colleague Barbi Jo picked me up around 4 and we made the 40 minute drive up to Foxborough. We parked and walk to “Patriot Place,” the surrounding area outside of the stadium which is lined with outdoor shopping, bars and restaurants. Barbi and I met Jess (and Jess) inside Toby Keith’s “I Love This Bar and Grill.”

Again, a bit of suburbia but I didn’t mind one bit. We chatted, drank and eventually grabbed a table so we could eat before heading inside Gillette for the concert.

The lineup: Foxes (she sang on Zedd’s “Clarity” and won a GRAMMY for it), Alessia Cara (who is fantastic) followed by Coldplay a little after 9 pm. We made our way to the gate and attempted to get in but ran in to a small issue: Barbi’s purse BARELY didn’t fit inside this grey container that security provides you, so they wouldn’t allow her inside.

So, back to the car, dropped off some belongings and back to the gate.

Now inside, we grabbed our light-up wristbands and “LOVE” buttons and walked up to the 300 level where we were seated. As we attempted to walk around the upper bowl of the stadium we were met again by security. A portion of the stadium behind the stage was blocked off until the first three songs of the set were finished due to (spoiler alert) Coldplay’s fireworks. The issue was that this happened about 20 minutes before they took the stage and with no warning. So we either wait in place or walk all the way around the other part of this massive football stadium, probably not reaching our seats until the third song anyways.

Then our fortunes, albeit briefly, changed. We were approached by Live Nation and told that they were upgrading people from the 300 level to unsold floor seats.


We grabbed our new tickets and wristbands and flew downstairs just in time for the opening notes of “A Head Full of Dreams.”

The only other issue: by the time we reached our seats and attempted to buy drinks, alcohol sales were cut off. It was only 9:30 and Coldplay had just taken the stage!

Whatever. Beautiful night, fantastic concert and a lovely impromptu after-party/night cap at Bar Louie in Patriot Place all occurred before I retired to my room in Providence around 2 am.

The next morning, I checked out of my hotel at 11 am and was on the go non-stop. I took an Uber to the airport, picked up my rental, drove to Eli’s On The Hill in Branford to grab lunch with my colleague Bartley, hit up both the Clinton Crossings Outlets and Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk and visited a friend in Bronxville before dropping off the car and plopping on my couch around 9:30 am.

It was a busy weekend, which probably explains why I am writing this, a week later, in the midst of a lazy Saturday on the aforementioned couch.