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CT River Itinerary -
5 days, allowing one day for transiting there and back for a weeklong cruise

Day 1: Essex

Day 2: Hamburg Cove

Day 3: Selden Creek

Day 4: Goodspeed Landing

Day 5: Old Saybrook

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East Haddam: For a little culture at the castle and the opera

We made our way upriver past Lord and Rich Islands to see the Gillette Castle and visit the Goodspeed Opera House (Box office: 860-873-8668), in the lovely historic village at East Haddam, and it's well worth a visit. The 1876 wedding-cake-style Victorian theater is considered the home of the American musical. It’s about nine miles upriver. .  Tours of the impeccably restored opera house are given on Saturdays 11 am-1:30 pm. There is a 120 foot dock on the riverfront (no services) and dockage is free with your ticket and an advance reservation for members, but they charge a fee for non-members. Docking there is a very special treat; the descent through time begins as you pull up to the dock, dress for the evening at the opera, and enter its other-era lobby with grand staircase, order cocktails for the intermission at the Victorian Bar, and prepare mentally for the theatrical performance. There is a full service marina at Harper's Landing which is walking distance from East Haddam across the swing bridge. There is more to do in East Haddam as well, with a charming village to wander and several nice restaurants to choose from, including La Vita Gustosa, the River Grill, the Tavern and the Beer Garden.

The Gillette Castle is quite an eclectic looking place at first. Built by the man who first portrayed Sherlock Holmes on stage, it actually reflects somewhat of a genius in architectural design. The grounds are lovely and the view from the top is nothing short of spectacular. Atop the most southerly hill in a chain known as the Seven Sisters, William Hooker Gillette, noted actor, director, and playwright, named his one hundred and eighty-four acre estate, the Seventh Sister. The twenty four room mansion was the focal point of his effort and is reminiscent of a medieval fortress, but a step inside the stone castle reveals the built-in couches, a movable table on a trackway, and woodcarvings of hand-hewn southern white oak. Of the forty-seven doors with intricately carved latches, there are no two exactly alike.

The Castle is now part of a State Park. Outside on the grounds, Gillette's own walking paths were constructed with near-vertical steps, stone-arch bridges, and wooded trestles spanning up to forty feet. The trails often follow a three mile long narrow gauge railroad, passing over trestles and through tunnels and pass near a vegetable cellar, the railroad station (Grand Central), and goldfish pond. There is aonly a snack bar here, so it might be worth bringing your lunch and having a picnic on the grounds.

After this adventurous stop, we could continue up the river for another several hundred miles, but it's just the right distance to make it back downriver in an easy day. So it is time to turn around and head back toward Old Saybrook.

Left: Sately home en route up river.

Right: Gillette Castle perched high above the river.

Left: The interior of the castle reveals a genious of deign

Right: The approach marks Gillette's role as Sherlock Holmes!

Left: The ferry.

Right: The ferry dock at East Haddam.

Left: Goodspeed Opera House.

Right: View from Gillette estate

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