One balmy summer day while I was shopping at Wrentham Outlet Mall in southwestern Massachusetts, I noticed a young lady and older man sitting on a bench intently pouring over a map. Two road bikes stood nearby with bulging panniers thrown over the fenders. Helmets were dangling from the handlebars.
I approached them and asked if I could assist them. They nodded gratefully and in slightly-accented English told me they were trying to figure where to go next. “A nice hotel would due,” they said. Ed and his daughter Maaike from The Netherlands explained that they were at the end of a cross-country bike trip.
Thinking they might enjoy the camaraderie and coziness of a small hostel, I suggested they come to Newport, Rhode Island, and stay in the Newport International Hostel. Intrigued, they asked if Newport was on the way to New York City. “Sort of,” I said hesitantly.
I pointed out a good bike route to Providence on their map. From Providence I suggested they take a hi-speed boat to Newport. After selling them on the pleasures of the historic seaside town, they agreed to stay at the hostel for a couple of days.
The story of their cross-country bike trip made the front page of The Newport Daily News a few days later. They had biked 60 days and more than 3700 miles with a 110 lb. payload. The journey started in Seattle and continued through Montana and the Midwest on the way to Cape Cod where they planned to take a vacation. Those vacation plans changed on arrival in Newport. Two days turned into nearly a week – relaxing, shopping, walking, beachcombing, reading, and socializing with the hostel’s international guests.
They departed for New York City on a bus, their bikes strapped to the front. A few days later they would be back home in Holland.
Later I found the following comments in the hostel guest book:
"It was such a coincidence we ran into you and started talking about our bicycling trip across your beautiful country. I’m so happy that we stayed at your place. It’s been so much fun. Thank you for getting us in the Newport Daily News as local heroes! Most of the time the things you did not plan on your trip are the most fun and so I will remember this. Our stay at your hostel was the whipped cream on a cake. Thanks very much for showing us around and making us feel very welcome." -- The bicyclers, Maaike & Ed, The Netherlands.
Maaike and her Mother enjoying a sail in Newport
A year later Maaike brought her Mother to Newport for a visit. She wanted her to come under its spell as she had. Newport worked its magic - her Mother was equally charmed.
--Written by Merrilee Zellner, Manager
This is the story of the visit of one of the many international guests who pass through the doors of the Newport International Hostel. Come be our guest sometime and share in the joy!