Mystic, Connecticut, or how to stroll through an 18th-century whaling villa


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Who has never heard of the movie Mystic Pizza ? The film that launched a very young Julia Roberts to stardom, just a couple of years before Pretty Woman made her known worldwide, takes its name from a real pizzeria in the heart of the town of Mystic, Connecticut.

Forty-five years after its founding, the pizzeria of the Zelepos family continues to serve its “heavenly flavor” triangles in the heart of the village on the banks of the Mystic River .

Little has changed the essence of its old town since then, and that is that one of the things that this town boasts is its independence from the almighty American chains . Family businesses, both restaurants and craft establishments, clothes, toys or books are the protagonists of the main street , flanked by the same drawbridge that appears in the film .

A shared post by Andrew Steinthal (@schmooey) on Nov 26, 2017 at 7:09 PST

But the true claim of this fishing village goes back a long way, to the period between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when Mystic was an important port in the bay of New England, with an economy focused on the construction of ships and the shelter of big sailboats during strong storms.

In 1929, Mystic Seaport was founded , one of the most important maritime museums in the world and the most prominent in the United States: an entire fishing village recreated in the traditions of the eighteenth century, where you can visit four historic sailboats, including merchant whaler more old of the country and the only one that can be accessed today.

Charles W. Morgan

Charles W. Morgan © Getty Images

The Charles W. Morgan, of 1841, is the jewel of the museum, and entering into it an interesting journey through time, without the pestilent smell that a ship dedicated to such a business should offer in its day. Actors dressed as sailors keep the ship in action up to the main mast, descending to a boat, singing period songs and explaining to the visitor stories and anecdotes of the ship, which made 37 expeditions to hunt whales.

After its restoration, the whaler sailed again in 2013, making a three-month journey through the most emblematic ports of New England, before returning to the museum.

In addition to the Charles W. Morgan, in Seaport Museum you can visit the interior of many other centenary ships of greater or lesser size, in addition to admiring the construction work of the second replica of the Mayflower, the first ship that records the arrival of immigrants from Europe to the United States, and whose construction is expected to be completed in 2020, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the original on the North American coast.

Museo Seaport de Mystic

Myport Seaport Museum © Getty Images

Throughout the town, with its bank, string factory, nautical instrument shop, printing press, pharmacy and home for sailors open to the public among other buildings, you will find actors to talk about on any given day in the century XVIII in the villa.

In addition to walking, there are multiple ways to enjoy the water, from sailboats that you can rent for hours, to different rare and historical boats that you can fly yourself (with credentials) or join an excursion. You can ride, for example, aboard the Sabino, the last steam ship that uses 1908 coal, completely restored and in which you can cross the Mystic river .

Barco Sabino

Sabino Ship © Getty Images

Among the traveling exhibitions, from May to September 30, Mystic Seaport offers 'The Vikings Begin', one of the best collections of Viking objects in the world, from the Gustavianum Museum of Uppsala University in Sweden.

Exposición de vikingos en el Mystic Seaport

Viking exhibition at the Mystic Seaport © Mystic Seaport

If all this time travel has opened your appetite, do not miss the opportunity to try the local seafood, well prepared in corners like S&P Oyster Co, with a delicious menu and river views. Engine Room, American style, is also a good option, with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes. For beer lovers, it is worth the visit to the only craft brewery in the town, Barley Head.

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There are many small hotels with charm to stay in Mystic, but if you are looking for some old splendor, and good views, you could spend the night at the Mystic Inn, the corner that Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart chose to spend their honeymoon.

Before leaving the area, it is interesting to revisit the most recent, albeit military, past of the United States. In the nearby Groton is the Submarine Force Library & Museum, which houses everything related to the US marine submarine industry, including the visit to the authentic USS Nautilus, the historic nuclear submarine that was active between 1954 and 1980.

Mystic Inn

Bay views from Mystic Inn © Mystic Inn