Cliff-Hugging On the Chesapeake
Sunday, June 6, 2004; Page P04
B&B: The Cliff House in Prince Frederick, Md. -- 35 miles from the Beltway on the Chesapeake Bay.
BEST FOR: Water lovers who don't mind sharing their space with bald eagles and Mackie the shaggy resident mutt.
DRIVE TIME FROM BELTWAY: 50 minutes.
I left downtown D.C. on a stifling, surprisingly busy Monday afternoon, crawling along Pennsylvania Avenue for nearly 40 minutes before ducking under the Beltway at 4:15 p.m. From there, I was evidently a few steps ahead of the afternoon rush, as Route 4 south to Prince Frederick and the Cliff House front door was a breeze, with few traffic lights and no traffic jams.
THE INN: Cliff House owner Christine Ferrandino grew up on Borkum, a resort island in Germany, and her parents were innkeepers, so the combo of water and hospitality comes naturally to her. She and her husband opened the B&B -- a tree-shaded, cliff-hugging clapboard home refreshingly free of country-innish froufrou -- in 1997, as much for the income as for the camaraderie.
And you'd better be camaraderie-ready. Ferrandino is a charmer and -- more important -- she's a listener, so don't expect that innkeeper-only blabbering that drives so many to the Ramada. At breakfast, we sat for hours on the deck overlooking the bay, fishing boats plying the water, their occupants' conversation audible hundreds of feet away.
Guests commandeer the home's second floor, and Cliff House only takes one couple at a time. I was spooked at first, as I don't even like to bunk at relatives' homes. But at Uncle Al's place, I don't sleep in an elegant queen bed covered in fine linens or lounge around in my own living room with plush couches, a TV and hundreds of back issues of National Geographic. Both rooms, separated by a bathroom stocked with enough towels for the Waltons, have panoramic views of the Chesapeake.
There's also a deck-top hot tub for stargazing and birdwatching; it's right next to the warm-weather breakfast table (on cool or rainy days, guests eat in a pretty solarium off the kitchen). During my stay, I dove into an egg-and-sausage souffle, homemade scones and a fruit salad. Mackie sat next to me, waiting for something to drop, but there was no way that was going to happen. Everything was just too good.
WE'D GO BACK FOR
THE . . . view from the Cliff House decks. It's amazing how easily the Chesapeake could pass for the Pacific when all you see for miles are cliffs, water and squadrons of birds.
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