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Continued from Part 1
My second base of operation in The Berkshires was in Williamstown. From Stockbridge, all I had to do was take road 7 north for 45 minutes. But in The Birkshires, it's all about meandering so I took the scenic driving Tour 2 - Central Berkshires to discover the area some more.
Again, all you have to do is try not to follow the route that is suggested carefully. Honestly, follow your instinct. I deviated from the mapped course often. Something was telling me I could take a picture here or take a small hike there, and it usually paid off. Locals probably recognize a tourist quickly. He is the ones who slows down when a lake or nice a farm is in sight. They probably cringe when they know the road is about to swerve, fearing the tourist do not pay attention enough to what is going on in front of him as he drives. It happened to me a couple of time. After driving by a beautiful landscape, I looked at my mirror to realize someone was tailing me very close because I was driving 20 or 30 miles below the limit. But never I was honked. It look like they are happy to let our eyes meander to their beautiful lakes, rivers and mountains while we are in the area.
I finally arrived in Williamstown, in the Northern Berkshires, to check in at the Williams Inn. In a colonial-style decor, they offer 125 rooms, an indoor swimming pool, a hot tub and saunas.
Again, a fast Internet was available in my room and, before going to bed, I enjoyed some Netflix movies on my iPad as I sat in the comfortable chair. The footstool was a nice addition. If you need to work, a nice desk is also available.
I tried the restaurant the first evening for my dinner. Reuben sandwich is not easy available where I live so when I saw one on the menu, I jumped on the occasion. It was juicy and tasty. On tap was available another craft beer for the area. I tried the Berkshire Brewing Company IPA and it was a great pairing with my Reuben.
Williamstown is a small town that consist mainly of Williams College. Within the campus lies the Williams College Museum of Art. They offer a mix of modern arts and historical artefacts. Two major pieces alone are worth the (free) visit by themselves. First, an Assyrian brick with cuneiform writing (859-840 BCE) from the ziggurat of Ashurnasirpal II's son and a massive "Guardian Spirit and Winged Guardian Spirit" from the Palace of Ashurnasipal II (880 BCE).
Secondly, Williams College own one of the 26 known copies of the first printing of the Declaration issued by the Continental Congress. It is even more special since it was previously owned by George Mason, a friend of George Washington, who annotated its pages. Many of those handwritten grievances later became constitutional amendments. If you are not already planning your trip to The Berkshires to see that, I don't know what will.
Well, maybe I know after all. What about a drive to the highest point in Massachusetts? Mount Greylock peeks at 3,491 feet and you can drive all the way up for free. It will only cost you $2 if you need to park at the top. The drive is very scenic, and the view from the mountain top is even more. You can enjoy a 360 degree view of about 60-90 miles around. At the summit, you can rent a room and sleep overnight at the rustic 1930's Bascom Lodge or, more simply, have a breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The summit also hosts the Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial Tower. Just like the Mount Everett, Mount Greylock is part of the Appalachian Trail. You might not want to walk the 2,200 miles long trail, but you can use the mountain as you playground for a day or two with the numerous trails that scatter the area. If you prefer shorter and easier hikes, The Berkshires offers many opportunities.
I drove down the mountain and headed to Mezze Bistro + Bar for a last meal in the Berkshires. And what a meal it was.
Coleman Cooney welcomed me in his bistro-style restaurant. When asked if I wanted to start with a cocktail, I asked him to bring me his home cocktail he was the proudest of. He brought me a Solstice: some Nardini Amaro, some Rye, but more importantly some Laird's Apple Brandy. Laird's Apple brandy goes back to George Washington era as it is the oldest American brandy distiller. I really liked it.
I started my feast with an East Mountain Farm Country Pâté, served with rye toast, pickle farm vegetables and onion confit. I blindly trusted Coleman when he said he had a rosé that was made to be paired with it. At this point, my only thought was: English language lacks words to describe how good the food is.
My main course consisted of an East Mountain Farm smoked ham steak, served with yellow corn grits, braised green, Cricket Creek farm egg, and Red Eye Gravy. Coleman sold me the idea when he described it as "ham that taste like corn beef." He was right, and it was good.
I was full, but with such a good meal I also wanted to try their dessert. Yes, the moon pie tart was up to the challenge and the Improved Whisky cocktail was a nice way to wrap this meal. And this trip.