I came here to support my friend while he ran the Hartford half marathon, and to learn about Hartford. I had never been here before, and the only thing I knew about it was that it was considered the insurance capitol of the country. It was evident as our bus approached Hartford why that might be, as huge signs for “Aetna”, “The Hartford” and others loomed before our view.
We arrived in Hartford just in time for lunch. First we headed towards the Civic center to sign in for the next day’s race, pick up a few goodies and get a free massage.
On the way there we had passed a sandwich place, Toasted, and decided that was the perfect place to get a quick lunch. I got turkey and Swiss with Russian dressing and coleslaw pressed between a whole wheat roll, a signature sandwich they call the “Lutzker”. I liked the gooey Swiss cheese oozing out of the sandwich. I wished they’d had more seating inside, as a cold wind had picked up, but we found a table outside and ate quickly.
We had an afternoon to kill. We took some quick pictures of the Capitol in Bushnell Park, but it was too cold to stay for long. We then decided to walk the mile or so to the Mark Twain house and museum, named one of the top ten historic homes in the world by National Geographic Click here for the list. The walk was fairly easily done along Asylum street, although it included some high traffic crossings, which aren’t my favorite (map of downtown Hartford).
The Mark Twain House and Museum is a historic landmark. This is the location where Mark Twain actually lived from 1874 to 1891, and where he wrote some of his most famous books, such as “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”. The house is the actual house he had built, which has been restored and a museum was added. (Link to website for more information)
Somewhat unluckily we found out having arrived around 3pm that day, that tickets for tours of the interior of the Mark Twain House were sold out for the day, and you can’t see the interior of the house without a tour! While they said they were unusually busy that day, perhaps due to visitors in town for the half marathon, I would suggest calling ahead or arriving early to purchase your tickets.
We had the option to buy the $6 self- guided tour which included an informative 23 minute film on Mark Twain’s life and rise to fame, and the museum, so we did that. I couldn’t leave without getting a copy of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ” from the gift shop.
We walked back to the Bushnell area and checked into our AirBnb. After getting some rest, we headed out for dinner at a great place that was just across the street. The Republic at Linden is a gastro pub serving American food in a cool, laid back atmosphere. We were lucky that it happened to be Restaurant week, so for a modest $25 I enjoyed a 10oz steak dinner. See my review on Yelp by clicking here.
The next day we woke up at 6:00 am and got ready to head out with our backpacks to the race. Our AirBnB was located close to the finish line which was great, but what wasn’t great was that the temperature had dipped to 48 degrees Fahrenheit and rain was in the forecast. We left as close to the 8:00 am race start time as we could. Nevertheless, it was pouring rain by the time my friend started the race.
Shivering in the damp and chill air, I walked with an umbrella toward downtown and happily found a seat at one of the few cafes they have, Sarah’s Coffee House. The owner was running the show that day, and with the half marathon in town certainly a bad day to be short staffed! However, crowded it was, I sat down and warmed up with some tea while my thoughts were with my friend and the other 10,000+ runners out there running in the rain. It takes a very special person to have the stamina to do what they were doing, it was an inspiration and I was proud of my friend. I joined him at the end of the race and congratulated the finisher!
We grabbed our bus back to NYC later that afternoon, this time not too bothered by having to sit and be off our feet for over three hours! Hartford is coming back after some economic downturns, and from what I saw of the downtown area it has the potential to become a bustling capitol city. I hope to come back and tour the Mark Twain house, as the film we saw about his life impressed me with his talents and good fortune in life. It is truly a treasure to have his house in located in Hartford, as a symbol of the American spirit.