The plan was to explore the South Fork of Long Island, the true Hampton’s. A place where the super rich of New York have their holiday homes, spend long summers and big dollars. It’s a place of pretty little towns, South, East and West Hampton and grand estates. Jay Gatsby lived in the South Fork…
Sag Harbor, on the other side of the bay from Shelter Island would be our destination. Jane knew of an interesting restaurant there and thought it would be a good place to stop for lunch. We’d had a week of glorious weather, hung out by the pool during the day, been to a few of the local haunts at night and survived the crowds of the Labor Day weekend by keeping out of town. Labor Day marks the official end of Summer in the Hampton’s and things start to calm down a bit. Today at the beach it was rainy and grey. A perfect excuse to jump in the car and do a bit of sight-seeing.
Like all good travelers we started the day with a hearty meal…breakfast bagels from Goldberg’s in East Quogue. Fueled up, and with a plan to checkout SouthHampton, drive through a few of the towns and end up at Sag Harbor for lunch, we were ready to go.
Immediately things were different. No quaint churches like the North Fork but bigger buildings, libraries, grander places of worship…an air of wealth, history and exclusivity.
I’d planned to take photos of the massive estates but was thwarted by high hedges and security guards. Originally this little place was probably the caretakers residence, but it gives you some idea of the scale of the properties. We rushed past on the busy road, reluctant to stop, when the only pictures we could take were of blurry greenery and winding drives to hidden mansions…not very interesting so we gave up.
So if I couldn’t get shots of where the rich live I decided to show you where they spend their dollars. The town of South Hampton was a good place to start.
Pretty shops selling high-end merchandise.
Boutiques selling…I’ve got no bloody idea what? But then again, if you have everything, a clever retailer will create a demand for the next big thing…perhaps that’s what the rabbit was?!
Or perhaps customised water bottles to sip from? I sat and watched as Jane picked up a few post season bargains and wondered about the rich Sugar Daddies who’d claimed these seats before me and waited, patiently as their trophy wives spent their hard-earned cash!
All this shopping was thirsty work. We found a chic little wine bar, had a glass of French Rose and eaves dropped on the ‘ladies who lunch‘, debriefing after the madness of the summer… and I don’t mean dancing on tables swinging their panties in the air. I mean gossiping with the gals about who’s in, who’s out and whose marriages and fortunes remained in tact after a season of too many parties, too much food, sun and extra dirty martinis!
Jane and I headed back to the car…
And as we walked past the local realtor I finally got to see what one of those Estates actually looked like…$39 million anyone?
The bathroom signs are done differently but luckily we understand and they point us in the right direction… the wine has forced us to take a quick detour! Definitely more comfortable and now very hungry we veered east and headed to Sag Harbor.
About a twenty minute drive away we reach the 300 year old Sag Harbour. It was a town that started as a whaling port but was now home to super-yachts…no whale oil needed just lots of a different kind of currency to fuel a very different kind of vessel.
We were hungry and impatient to eat. The American Hotel was what Jane had in mind. A little bit of old school, old money and old-fashioned charm. This article in The New York Times best sums up the place…
We wanted a table out front, under the veranda, but the tables were all taken. The hostess directed us to the bar where we order another Rose and wait till a spot on the veranda becomes free.
John, the amicable barman (direct from central casting) fills us in on the gossip, who’s been in, what’s good on the menu and where we should go next.
We didn’t have to wait long, the season was in fact over, and we were soon directed to this beautifully set table. Fresh roses, pretty porcelain and a brilliant view of the goings on of Sag Harbor…charming!
The menu is fairly traditional which is good because I am keen to try the crab cakes.
Jane opts for the more contemporary Chicken Palliard and we both agree each of our meals hit the spot perfectly.
After lunch we go for a walk along the water front and see smaller boats like the one I went sailing in a few weeks ago.
There are pretty little clapboard and shingle houses that have been converted to restaurants and boutiques.
This brick residence was a now a florist shop and I could well imagine the thousands of blooms that had been sent out from here during a season of high teas, weddings and fabulous garden parties.
Out front a pick up truck is loaded and heads off…it’s cargo presumably destined for a grander place.
I see the swing and think of generations of children playing in the gardens, carefree, having fun. I walk a little nearer and see the sign… KEEP OUT- PRIVATE RESIDENCE and I step away! Oops gotta know my place!
The famous Hamptons Jitney, luxury bus, is dropping off another load of jaded New York travelers and we are feeling a little weary too.
The afternoon traffic is beginning to build and I’m reminded that the ordinary people and the school kids need to return home as well.
Back home at the beach, the sun is shining and it’s time for Jane to kick back and relax. I prepare her a bowl of berries.
And for dinner that night we settle for a simpler American treat, toast a pleasant day with a cold beer and relax by the pool wondering how the hell we are going to get rich enough to afford that estate by the sea and invite Gatsby over for a very dirty Martini!!!
Cheers, Anna xx
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