18 April 2015

Wilmington, DE: Not As Bad As People Said It Would Be

The Wilmington Public Library, shot from my taxi window
I've been neglecting this poor little blog for almost three weeks now.  Part of this is because of REASONS and LIFE and WHATNOT, but part of it is also because I'm still in a bit of a book slump and haven't felt like writing reviews about books that I have not finished.

But wait!  I sometimes go through spells of forgetting that this is both a book AND a travel blog, and I have some exciting times in Wilmington, DE (said no one, ever), to share with you.

Haha. Just kidding.  I actually enjoyed Wilmington, but it does seem to be viewed a little bit like the red-headed stepchild of the region, and I'm not sure why...

Portrait of Oscar Wilde, engraved by my DH
My husband was invited to deliver a talk at the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington on the topic of Oscar Wilde's Salomé, which he had illustrated a few years ago. Being the agreeable person that he is, he accepted, not least because our oldest granddaughter lives in Philadelphia, a scant few dozens of miles away, and thus last weekend we did the old kill two birds with one stone routine.

We departed by train from Springfield, MA, very early on Thursday morning, which enabled us both to practice the fine art of dozing for the next several hours.  We arrived in Wilmington about five hours later to find that the museum hadn't sent anybody to meet us at the station.  Not being without resources, we caught a cab to the Hotel DuPont, where we settled in for the afternoon in digs that were far swankier than our usual accommodations.

The lobby was stunning, with gorgeous molded ceiling and furniture that somehow managed to be both elegant and comfortable. Our good fortune continued when we walked into our room, only to discover that we'd been given a suite instead.  Very nice, indeed, and it made us feel bad that we were essentially only using the room for a few hours as a comfortable stopover for the afternoon.

After freshening up, we grabbed our coats and umbrellas to head out to find lunch nearby.  We didn't ask around, so we wandered a little farther than we would have preferred and were just about to double back and dishearteningly settle for a Qdoba we had passed, when we spied a place called Cavanaugh's.  Lucky for us, they were still serving lunch at 2:00, so we settled in to enjoy a couple of their specialties: open face crabcake sandwich platters.

Waiting for lunch
Cavanaugh's had a very pretty bar
Yum -- crab cakes!
The food was fresh and tasty, and most important of all, pretty fast.  An iced tea brought our bill to just under $30, so it was a pretty good value, too. Despite being so hungry, it was so filling that I only ate one of my crabcakes, plus a handful of fries, and if we'd had a way to keep our leftovers fresh, we would have happily taken a couple of doggie bags.

Walking back to the hotel, we shivered against the wind. The rain had stopped but the temperature had dropped.  If you had told me that I would not be warm enough in my three-season jacketin Delaware in April, I probably would have scoffed at you.  'Cause I'm a jerk like that.  But you would have been right and, more crucially, I would have been wrong.

I made this photo of the lobby ceiling from the mezzanine level.
I dozed for the better part of an hour while DH tinkered a bit more with his talk to make sure it was perfect, but before long, it was time to change clothes and get ready to meet Isabelle and her friend Holland down in the lobby.  We'd decided to meet for an early dinner and a cocktail before they drove us to the museum.  This time we did ask around, and folks recommended a place just up the street from Hotel Dupont called Deep Blue, and it was just the thing.

The Sassolito Gimlet, made with grapefruit
juice and St Germain
We ordered some salads and raw oysters and settled in for a nice visit.  Holland and Izzy regaled us with tales from work while Bubba and I tried not to sit with our mouths agape to hear about their world of high finance.  Or at least what passes for high finance to someone like a bookseller.

Before long, it was time to head to the Delaware Museum of Art, where a gentleman named Alfredo whisked Barry away to prepare for the talk while Izzy, Holland, and I had a bit of leisure to explore the museum shop and the Salomé exhibit.

The talk went well and the Q&A was even better, but all too soon, the museum folks indicated that it was time to leave. I had just enough time to be introduced to a woman named Marcia Reed, a woman who owns a gallery in southern Delaware, and to discover that we have a mutual love of the Caribbean.
L-R: Izzy, DH, me, Marcia
Then it was time for Izzy and Holland to drive us back to Philly for the night.  After admiring Izzy's new home, greeting her various animules, and having one last nightcap, it was time to say goodnight.  Barry and I were exhausted from being up since 5:30 that morning, and Izzy had a very full itinerary planned for us the next day: eating, walking, and museum-ing like a boss across the city.

Next up is Philadelphia, the City of Granddaughterly Love.

NB:  I have to take a moment here to gripe, because I had just previously spent about two hours writing up this post and inserting the photos and trying to make it moderately interesting.  Then when I hit the PUBLISH button, it all disappeared.  All except the first two paragraphs, which I wrote two nights ago. Eff you, blogger.  I'm not too happy with you right now. So now I've done the quick & dirty version, without any witty asides.  Just pretend like it was good, m'kay?  


  1. It WAS good, but I do wish we'd gotten some witty asides as well. Damn you blogger!

    Does that bathtub have a wire rack to rest a book on?! I think a hotel would be guaranteed my repeat presence if they showed that kind of bookish foresight.

    1. Kayleigh, that bathtub was one of my favorite things about the room; it's just a pity that I didn't get a chance to use it. And yes, that is a wire rack. They used it for displaying their bath menu that you could customer order from (various scents, bubbles, oils, etc), but I would definitely have used it for my book if I'd had time to take a bath!

  2. It was good just like that. You so talented. <3 Belle

  3. Dammit REASONS and LIFE and BOOK SLUMPS.

    That hotel is so fancy! Who knew Delaware had that?

    1. Life is often a jerk because of REASONS.

      That hotel was damned lovely. And right -- who knew?


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