I was so excited to spend my 20th birthday out in the world. It had been so long since I had traveled beyond just going back and forth from school and it really gave me new life.

    On the day of my birthday, we drove out to Alexandria Bay, New York to visit the thousand islands and the castles that live on them. We left really early and stopped to get coffee, and the lovely baristas made me smile by giving me a free drink and wishing me a happy birthday. When we got to the bay we boarded our ferry, which took us on a boat tour down the beautiful St Lawrence River past many historic islands, eventually dropping us off at Singer Castle on Dark Island. 

We went on a tour of Singer Castle, learning about the history of the sprawling mansion with tucked away secret passageways and furniture dating back to the early 20th century. 

Singer Castle

The castle was beautiful and definitely haunted, and I enjoyed walking through it and imagining what it would've been like to live in such a place. 

I've always been fascinated by what people did with their Gilded Age dirty money. This castle was quite the dream to walk through, but I imagine it must've been very lonely to live in, isolated from everything else and surrounded by water.

beautiful old library

My favorite part of old houses like this one is seeing the small, everyday things that have changed everyday people's lifestyles. The library had lamps that doubled as fly catchers, and hidden passageways throughout the house allowed servants to travel unseen as to not interrupt parties.

window seats in parlor

    When our tour was over, we took the ferry back towards Alexandria Bay, stopping first at Boldt Castle, the larger of the two estates. Boldt Castle on Heart Island is a perpetually unfinished mansion whose construction was halted after the wife of its namesake tragically passed away. The mansion was unoccupied for years before being restored, and was never actually lived in. For this reason, much of the mansion is much more sterile and staged-feeling than Singer. Guests are welcome to explore the castle on their own, including the top two levels which are unrestored and covered in graffiti, some of which dates back to the 1930s. 

the view from the top floor of Boldt

George Boldt, who built the castle for his wife, apparently had the land of the island itself shaped into a heart. The heart motif continues throughout the inside of the mansion, as well as on the grounds. 

     If this castle had been lived-in and styled to completion, I think it would rival my love for Hearst Castle in California. I can't help but wonder how it would've looked had Boldt's love story not been cut short. 

    After walking through the castle we visited its boat house on a separate island, which housed some beautiful old boats that you would've seen on the water during Boldt's time. Finally, we made our way back to dry land, had a local burger, and then drove back into Rochester where we had a nice Italian dinner before turning in for the night.

    I had a wonderful birthday with people I love in a place that felt ripped from my wildest dreams. I'd definitely like to come back when there is more freedom in the world for exploration, so that I can cross over the river into Canada and see the other side of the thousand islands. 

Talk to you soon,

-Celina Carra

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