Saratoga Springs

In Saratoga Springs, a town of immense loveliness that is the doorway to the massif of the Adirondacks, we met its many affable locals. The jockey I had met the previous night at the bourban bar turned up at another bar where we sat for dinner on Saturday evening after a day of driving around the Adirondacks. We hugged like long-lost friends and Adi was stumped. ‘Who was that?’ he asked, as we sat down to pop-rock numbers played by a live band and watched a large group of women take over the dance floor. It looked like a baby shower where the men had been relegated to another table. Looking at those men who were as hulking as lumberjacks, tattooed arms and baseball caps, you would not believe that they would do namby pamby shit like dancing. Oh boy, but they did and how they did.

Later after we had snacked in Esperanto, a hole-in-the-wall affair, on a local speciality called the doughboy, a kind of stuffed puff pastry-cum-calzone, we passed by the bourbon bar where the bouncer stepped out and asked if we were going to return the evening after for BM’s birthday drinks. He had promised BM a pitcher of free drink you see. ‘No, there is the thing about the drive back home,’ we said.

On Sunday morning we had a glimpse of Saratoga Springs during the day, with its leafy promenades, grand hotels, stylish hat shops where the array of hats and fascinators make your heart plop with pleasure and then the sight of blonde hippies who have probably made their millions, so they lounge about town wearing khakis and spiritual amulets and relax with dog-eared books at coffee shops that declare that you shall experience death by coffee, my friend. Now I shall take a breath after that woefully lengthy chatter and point out that there is that independent bookstore too — Northshire Books, which I had come across in the town of Mancester in Vermont previously and lost my heart to. Adi gave into bambi eyes and bought me a beautifully bound tome of Virginia Woolf which shall always now remind me of the beauty of the day. Pristine blue skies, yellow leaves rolling across the pavement and gathering in bunches along their furrows, the scent of coffee in the air, golden retrievers with fine hair and ample bodies extracting bagels from their masters …

Saratoga Springs has an European air about it — in the way of living that it exudes. When Dutch and British colonists took over the area from the original Mahican tribe who lived there, it was developed into a spa town of great fame because public bath houses were anyway being promoted in the country by a doctor in the 19th century. Old brick buildings and stone churches, people sitting outdoors and chilling with wine in the dappled shade of tall trees, horses in stone everywhere because it is now a town known for its race meets every summer when the glitterati descend upon the town in droves and drive the prices of hotel rooms up to $400 a night – a piece of information rendered by my jockey friend. In a vintage store selling home decor and boutique-ish clothes, I met a beautiful Native American woman with chiselled jaws. There was a fair bit of admiring each other so that the woman standing behind her arranging wraps and shawls turned around and chipped in, in that American way, ‘Oh my god you guys! You should exchange numbers already. I sense a friendship here.’ It succeeded in cutting though the conversation like a scythe as we got down to brass tacks. Pay and exit. Much to Adi’s amusement because he had wanted us to get done already and get going with the morning.

Now there is a special aspect of this town that it would be amiss of me not to mention. In Saratoga Springs is a retreat for artists and writers called Yaddo. It offers residencies to the creative community. So if you show up with a valid proof of the fact that you are indeed busy writing/creating something, you shall receive half a year of stay with every kind of expense taken care of by Yaddo. The name is a curious one, you might wonder. One of the children of Katrina Trask, who started the community, indulged in neologism, rhyming the word with Shadow and hence Yaddo. The story of Katrina Trask is heart-aching. She had married a Wall Street banker, Spencer Trask, in the late 1800s. Their four children died early and then her husband died in a freak accident on a train. A life of trials and tribulations that is reflected in one of her poems:

‘Beyond the bourn of mortal death and birth,
Two lovers—parted sorrowing on earth—
Met in the land of dim and ghostly space.
Wondering, he gazed on her illumined face:
“Alone you bear the burden now,” he said,
“Of bondage; mine is ended,—I am dead.”
With rapturous note of victory, she cried,
“The Lord of Life be praised! I, too, have died.” ‘

Yet how her legacy lives on in the 400-acre estate in the spirit of the matter that your days there will be all about the heart and soul poured into the affair of making art.

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Published by

Arundhati Basu

The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.

72 thoughts on “Saratoga Springs

  1. Wonderful historic notes on Saratoga. Such a sad story of Katrina Trask! Her poem certainly reflect her feelings of grief and longing. The photos are lovely and I especially like the sculpture of the glittery ballerina foot – standing en pointe forever. – Neek

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That morning I was a bit more relaxed than usual or I would have caught the other painted ballerina foot too. Thank you Neek. Next time I want to step into Yaddo and have a look in there to sate my curiosity and find out more about Katrina Trask. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Saratoga looks like a nice place. You greeting the jockey and Adi wondering who he is rang home with me. Only yesterday at a school event, my wife was greeting a group of people like long lost friends. Despite doing the school run every morning, I’d swear I’ve never seen any of them before in my life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Lorelle, I love the name too. It is evocative… there is something about it. Katrina Trask. She makes me curious too. I came upon a book on her when we were driving through the Adirondack mountains, in a small village. Unfortunately we were in a bit of a rush (had to get back home) or I would have thought about buying it after scanning a few lines. After all books demand merit before they are added to the library. What I gather is that she did marry years later but died within a year of the marriage because she had suffered a few heart attacks previously and was rendered invalid. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your words and photos are very evocative. Saratoga Springs looks an interesting place to visit. I may add it to my (ever growing) bucket-list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My list keeps growing too with every place I read about Sheree. But as Adi and I were talking about it while we were there — it is amazing is that as we were growing up none of us could imagine that we would be in Saratoga Springs someday. But that is life and sometimes it is just so unbelievable. xx


  4. I love what Yaddo represents and I’d like to visit there one day. Of course, if you get there first I’ll look forward to reading your post about it. The requirements to get in made me laugh- just prove that you’re an artist. What, no entrance exam or essay about why I should be accepted? Lovely. I find it incredible that such places exist. Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to vacation there for one or two weeks? I’m in dream land now…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did think if you Lyz. You should go there. I think you would love the sylvan surroundings that I espied as we drove past it… artists are put up in Victorian buildings. I guess they are working on goodwill. It is indeed a dream 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I would totally run away there, but I doubt they’d want to put my kids up too, haha. I could see you creating a beautiful piece about your experience there, the environment and the people. Maybe we can sneak off together for a spell. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Absolutely I am ready! Consider this first that the kids might throw a fit if they knew about this idea of being spirited away to a quiet retreat like Yaddo.


      1. My pleasure. Wish there was more time to read more. 🙂 One of the things about the US, is that most think about the – big -cities, but they also have an incredible space with Nature. Woods, prairies, forests… And easily accessible. (The South has amazing Nature too.)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. He is totally right. I went to Alabama. (Roll tide) Traveled a bit in the south. Geawgia. Mis-sipee. Lu-zi-ana. Ten-esseeee. Nature is grand. You just need a few days to adjust to the local way of speakin’. It is a different language though they claim it is English… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I am a fan of the southern drawl, slow and irresistible, as good as the pies they make down south (I am sure). I would embrace it in a heartbeat though they might wince and want me to shut up like the French do when you dare to speak their tongue in Pari.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Truth is, I love accents… And tiny differences in vocabulary. I also tend to involuntarily mimic the other person’s accent. Happened to me once with a Swiss French client. He thought I was mocking him… I watch myself now… Enjoy your Sunday.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Any story that includes the line “the jockey I had met the previous night at the bourbon bar…” is on to a winner.

    Oh, and that Saratoga Coffee Traders looks like the place for me. Excellent!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, neither of the two as it happens. They just sound like the kind of incongruent ingredients that might lead to a memorable night out!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I always look forward to your posts because they’re genuinely like reading a book – I love the mixture of history and wittiness in every one of them. I definitely need to visit this place because it seems like something a coffee lover like myself would not want to miss;) happy Friday! xox

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That makes my heart thrill, Maria. Cupcakes for you and yes Saratoga Springs has excellent coffee and gelato and cantinas. Quite a chic place to add a spring to your step if you happen to be in the States. Have a wonderful weekend you. xx


  7. […] above our heads, release the vivid blue that teased us once awhile as we started on our drive from Saratoga Springs. The dying embers of brilliant reds, flaming oranges, pinks, lime yellows they might have been but […]


  8. As always, in love with this post – and what a brilliant idea Yaddo sounds like! I’ve always wanted a retreat to escape to and create in… how perfect that someone created one. Also, I am in LOVE with your new blog design!xx

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t….but (as crazy as this may sound) I watched an episode of Ghost Adventures investigating a location in Saratoga Springs and there was this big deal made about the mineral water there. So, I always wanted a real persons perspective on it lol

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ahahaha now let me tell my beloved that and see what he does (he shall refuse to go anywhere near that lovely town). But I bet they would be friendly, healthy spirits in any case. Of course I am conjecturing!


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