April, 2009 – Mystic, CT

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TRAVEL BY TERRITerri Farris

 

by Terri Farris

 

It’s Not Just About the Pizza

 

At the mention of Mystic, Connecticut most of us immediately think of the blockbuster hit, Mystic Pizza, starring Julia Roberts. The Zelepos family opened a pizza shop on the historic main street of Mystic, Connecticut in 1973 and dubbed it Mystic Pizza. The pizza shop caught the eye of screenwriter Amy Jones while she was spending the summer in the area and she chose Mystic Pizza as the setting for her story of the lives of three young waitresses. After the movie’s release in 1988 people came from everywhere to try “A Slice of Heaven”! Today the movie plays continually in the dining room and the walls are adorned with movie memorabilia, but the superstar of this shop is the pizza…delicious! www.mysticseaport.org

 

Located just 135 miles northeast of Manhattan and 105 miles southwest of Boston, Mystic is a perfect destination for visitors to the New England area. This prominent east coast community is built along the banks of the Mystic River. The first settlers in the Mystic area arrived about 1654 and the town celebrated its 350th Anniversary in 2004. One of the most notable historic sights along the main street of Mystic is the Bascule Bridge. The drawbridge was originally built in 1835 and oxen opened it by pulling it to the east side. The bridge has been replaced by new and more advanced models several times since the original installation and the current bridge was installed in 1924.

 

Several shipyards lined the banks of the river during the 19th century. Merchant ships and whalers were a regular sight as were Mystic sailors venturing out to world-wide destinations. One of the shipyards is now the sight of The Mystic Seaport Museum. Mystic’s largest attraction is not to be missed. At Mystic Seaport visitors can stroll through a 19th-century seafaring village comprised of dozens of real new England buildings ranging from a post office, grocery store, churches and houses. The staff historians help to bring the seafaring past to life. Mystic Seaport is also home to one of the nation’s leading maritime galleries. One of the museum’s permanent exhibits is Voyages: Stories of America and the Sea where visitors travel through time to share the experiences of immigrants, ocean traders, explorers, fishermen, artists, and warriors. This exhibit is filled with artifacts, audio and video programs illustrating how Americans are connected to the sea. The museum has an incredible collection of figureheads and ships’ carvings which provide a dramatic look at the extraordinary skill of their craftsmen. Mystic Seaport also houses a Children’s Museum for children ages seven and under. Little ones experience the life of a sailor by swabbing the deck, moving cargo, cooking in the galley, dressing in sailors’ uniforms and lying in a sailor’s bunk! The Planetarium at Mystic Seaport demonstrates celestial navigation using the stars and planets.

 

 

Scene of Mystic River

 

Mystic Seaport is also home to one of the world’s only preservation shipyards where the world’s last wooden whaling ship, the Charles W. Morgan, is currently undergoing restoration. Launched in 1841, the Charles W. Morgan sailed for 80 years. The restoration began in 2007 and is expected to last three years. A staircase has been built to allow visitors to board the ship during the restoration period. Mary Pat, the museum’s interpreter for the Morgan, provides a lively depiction of life aboard this historic vessel. The ship is being restored with more than 200 tons of Live Oak felled during Hurricane Katrina. The citizens of Mississippi generously made the donation of the Live Oak and are thrilled to know their beloved trees will live on as part of this National Historic Landmark! www.mysticseaport.org

 

Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration is home to numerous ocean animals including rays, beluga whales, sea lions and those ever adorable waddling penguins! Children can uncover the fossils of sea creatures over 600 million years old in the new interactive exhibit Prehistoric Creatures of the Sea. The exhibit, Return to Titanic marks Dr. Robert Ballard’s historic return to the wreck of Titanic which he discovered in 1985.www.mysticaquarium.org

 

 

Penguins at the Mystic Aquarium

 

While Mystic Pizza is the most famous eatery in Mystic, there are many other excellent dining options including a tiny little place aptly named Kitchen Little. This 400 square foot restaurant will start your day with “A.M. Eggstasy”! Upon arrival hungry patrons write their names on the dry erase board outside the restaurant and wait their turn for one of the 23 coveted seats inside. It is definitely worth the wait! Ceramic coffee mugs belonging to the regular customers hang above the counter while Jimmy Woolley, son of proprietor, Flo Klewin, serves delicious entrees such as the popular “S’medley” – scrambled eggs smothered with cheese and filled with fried potatoes, sausage, mushrooms and onions. Portions are generous and prices are low. An unbeatable combination! Located a short walk from Mystic Seaport. 860-536-2122

 

 

Kitchen Little

 

Lodging befitting this quaint historic community is found at The Whaler’s Inn. Located in downtown historic Mystic, this 3-diamond AAA rated inn provides guests with comfortable well appointed rooms. The inn is one-half block from the historic Bascule Bridge, one block from Mystic River and just steps away from over 75 unique restaurants, shops and historic Sea Captains’ homes. www.whalersinnmystic.com

 

 

Charles W. Morgan – the world’s only wooden whaling ship currently being restored at Mystic Seaport

 

Sure the pizza is awesome, but this historic community is definitely not just about the pizza!

 

Terri Farris is a freelance writer who enjoys traveling. You can see more of her writing on her blog at www.terrifarris.blog-spot.com or contact her at tfarris60@hotmail.com.