The best deal in Nantucket

Granted Nantucket is known as an upscale resort with pricey hotels. The visitors read like a who’s who list from Fortune 500. Despite of all the pricey obstacles, I was lured by the four lighthouses. I was also intrigued about staying at a historic building. Star of the Sea Hostel in Nantucket was once a Life Saving Station. It had been a part of the United States Life Saving Service.


I admit to being reluctant about staying at this hostel. I mean I didn’t know to expect when I booked two nights for $80. That wasn’t exactly the going rate in Nantucket. Yet, I recalled saving a bundle of cash and being happy when I stayed at the dorms at historic Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and Suffolk University in Boston. But a dorm with 32 bunk beds didn’t seem very inviting. I wondered about privacy and the bathrooms.


But the excitement of staying where the Keepers would look for shipwrecks was persuasive. There are steps to the lookou in the women’s dorm where I would be sleeping. I finally voted in favor of the lookout, lighthouses and my pocketbook when I read all the positive reviews. 


Once I checked into the hostel all my concerns evaporated. The furnishings were modern and well kept. The bathroom had a private door. 

My bunk was on the bottom in a quiet corner of the dorm. The first night the dorm was packed. But at night the dorm was quiet because everyone observed the quiet hours from 10 pm to 7 am. I watched a movie with the free wifi and put my phone on silent. 


In the morning there was a light complimentary breakfast with cereal, coffee and assorted breads. For those who want to prepare a heavier meal, there’s a fully equipped kitchen with dishes, pots and more. 


My second evening at the hostel was extremely quiet as most of the quests had checked out. During my stay, three ladies were kind enough to befriend me and invite me to sit at their table. I learned from them that there are cabins for rent in addition to the beds in the female dorm. They also taught me the truth of hostel’s motto: “There are no strangers only friends you haven’t met.” 

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Nantucket: Where the living is easy


The cruise to Nantucket was smooth. We passed by Brant Point Lighthouse one of the lighthouses on Nantucket. After debarking, I stopped by the small Visitors Center on the dock, got a map and walked to Brant Point Lighthouse and Old Brant Point Lighthouse. When I finished sketching the lighthouses, I grabbed a falafel at Easy Street Cantina. How appropriate there was a street actually called “Easy Street.” Everything was flowing so easy. 


Before going to the Star of the Sea hostel, I picked up from some fruit from Stop and Shop near the dock. I hailed one of the local cabs lined up alongside the street. On the way to the hostel, The cab driver greeted his wife who was driving the night shift of his company.

The ride was short and sweet. Clyde the cab driver was affable and knowledgeable. He shared tidbits about the island. After checking in and paying my bill, the host gave me a quick tour and led me to my bed. There were 32 bunks in the female dorm. My bed was in a quiet corner and on the lower bunk.


The dorm and hostel were spotless. There was a community kitchen that was fully equipped. The hostel prepares a light complimentary continental breakfast in the kitchen. The dinning area was neat and modern. 


The lobby was well furnished with a variety of board games like monopoly. Outside the hostel, there were a volleyball court, bicycle racks and a walkway to Surfside Beach. 

Besides bicycling, public transportation is one of the most affordable ways to see the island. A bus stop is conveniently located a block away from the hostel and the bus runs until 5:30 pm. 

Escape to Nantucket 

After spending a few hectic days on Martha’s Vineyard, I took a two day retreat to Nantucket Island. Last year while in New York, I read about the island and its four lighthouses. So I hoped perhaps one day, I would visit Nantucket. I filed the article away on a shelf with the thought in the back of mind. 

When my cousin invited recently me to visit Boston and Martha’s Vineyard, I immediately thought of Nantucket and the lighthouses. I wondered how far it was from Martha’s Vineyard. To my delight, I discovered that there was a ferry from Martha’s Vineyard to Nantucket for a little over an hour. The round trip ticket for Nantucket was less than $70. As I researched hotels, I found them to be out of my budget. I discovered a hostel for $38 a night! The hostel, Star of the Sea, was once called Surfside Life Saving Station. 

Surfside Life Saving Station was established in 1874. It is a National Landmark. The lookout where keepers would search for distressed vessels was located in the hostel’s female dormitory. The idea of staying at a Life Saving Station intrigued me. The Life Saving Service is the precursor to the United States Coast Guard. After learning about the hostel’s connection to the Coast Guard, I decided to investigate further. After all, the Coast Guard oversees many lighthouses. The reviews I read were stellar, so I booked two nights at the hostel. I began looking forward to my stay at Nantucket a few weeks later. 

TGIF: Florida Lighthouse Celebration begins April 7

You will pristine beaches and swaying palms at this idyllic island. Explore the Sunshine state’s scenic shores and magical beaches while visiting lighthouses. The remote locations of lighthouses have been transformed into idyllic  getaways. From coast to coast, Florida’s 29 evocative lighthouses offer intimate encounters. 

 Gasparilla, Boca Grande and Ponce de Leon lighthouses host festivities in recognition of Florida Lighthouse Day in April.

Celebrate Ponce de Leon Inlet’s Florida Lighthouse Day on April 7 from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm. Discover Florida’s rich maritime and lighthouse history through family friendly activities and workshops. 
Ponce de Leon Inlet Light is the tallest lighthouse in Florida and the second tallest on the east coast. It stands head and shoulders above Florida’s other lighthouses in statue and possibly in what it offers the casual visitor. This large campus has so much to explore. Step into the world of lighthouses and the lives of lightkeepers. 
Enjoy a delightful introduction to the lighthouse at the Woodshed Video Theater. Firewood and other supplies were once kept in this building by the Second Assistant Keeper’s family. 
Explore the original Keepers dwellings. See exhibits on the lives of keepers and their families. Race fans will revel in the exhibits on the history of Beach racing.

 View an amazing collection of lighthouse lens. The magnificent rotating first order Fresnel lens from Cape Canaveral Lighthouse is on display here.

Brace yourself for a spectacular view as you scale Florida’s tallest lighthouse. 
For more information, visit Ponce Inlet Lighthouse.

Visit my Lighthouse Art Gallery to see more of my art. 

TGIF: A Perfect Setting for “The Crown”

Queen of peace

“Queen of Peace” the perfect name for a craft at the serene Island of Tory.

Tory Island’s cliffs, mountains and shoreline are like an instant replay of the award-winning drama, The Crown. In the beach episode in Scotland, the Queen Mother escapes to a quiet shoreline to gather her wits. She got some peace of mind and a bargain on a castle. You’ll find bargains and a royal retreat at Tory Island.

Tory Island, Ireland has the distinction of having a resident, King. Besides greeting visitors, I’m not sure what his official duties are. The King of Tory rules over a small and quaint island kingdom. Tory Island has a hostel and hotel, grocery store, some shops and a post office. We spent two enjoyable days on Tory Island during John Eagle’s lighthouse tour.

A sign for the ferry.

A sign for the ferry to Tory Island.

We caught the ferry to Tory Island and checked into the Tory Hotel. The lightkeeper welcomed us. After freshening up, we headed to the Tory Lighthouse. We walked around the lighthouse grounds and posed for group pictures.

Tory island lighthouse.

Tory Island Lighthouse.

Later while the group had dinner, I scouted the nearby sights. I wanted to see and draw a few buildings before sunset. I gave a sketch of a house to one of the locals I met. The people of Tory, like the rest of Ireland, are very friendly.

A sign in Irish dialect.

The past and the present converge at Tory Island.

They are also proud of their Irish heritage and speak an Irish dialect. Tory is home to a colony of prominent artists. The King of Tory is also an artist.

Street sunset

Sunset on the streets of Tory Island.

After sketching, I went with the group on a sunset tour of Tory Island. We saw a spectacular view of the mountains, cliffs and the ocean. It was a wonderful way to close the day.

Sunset view of a cliff.

The sun falls softly on a cliff at Tory Island.

From my hotel room, I had a glimpse of the Tory Lighthouse. Before turning in for the night, I paused for a while and watched the flashing Lighthouse beam against the dark sky.

In the morning, I arose early for a final walk through Tory Island. I was glad I did. I got a close up view of a historic Tower.

Tory Island offers cultural sights and breathtaking views in a peaceful setting. It is ideal for a retreat or a quiet getaway. You’ll get the royal treatment at Tory Island.

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http://www.elainemarieartist.com

TGIF: Ireland’s Stunning Upside Down Lighthouse

West Rathlin Lighthouse

West Rathlin Lighthouse is built upside down.

The West Lighthouse on Rathlin Island is a marvel of human ingenuity. Unlike most lighthouses, the Keepers had to climb down to the light. The Commissioners of Irish Lights Engineer-in-Chief CW Scott came up with this novel idea. Because the top cliff was often obscured by fog and low clouds, a traditional lighthouse would not do.

Built in 1912 on a somewhat vertical cliff, the project was a huge undertaking. It took almost 4 years to complete. The enormous amount concert used had to be mixed by hand. An inclined railway was built for landing materials.

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http://www.johneaglephoto.com

http://www.irishlights.ie

TGIF Travels-Christmas Celebration at Tybee Island

Tybee Island Lighthouse.

Tybee Island Lighthouse.

Celebrate a lighthouse Christmas at Tybee Island Lighthouse, Dec 10 and Dec 17. Witness a spectacular view of Christmas lights from atop the lighthouse. Experience Christmas through the eyes of the last Lightkeeper and his family.The warm glow of candlelights and hot cider will remind you of the sweet simplicity of Christmas.

For more information, visit http://www.saintsimonslighthouse.org

http://www.elainenarieartist.com.