Considering the recent upsets in our lives (food poisoning, a torn ligament, and an unexpected trip to California), our Spring Break plans fell apart. I had to work my regular hours at work, but decided to work 3 full days instead of my usual 5 half days to give me a couple of days off. I finished work on Tuesday when the little travel bug started biting. But, I knew it was already late and I had to work again on Friday, so I decided a couple of quiet days at home might be relaxing. The next morning, over delicious coffee downtown, I decided that staycations aren’t really my style. We had to head somewhere close, dog-friendly, and new; we decided St. Augustine would be the perfect spot for our spontaneous adventure. A quick Google search and suggestion from Bringfido.com later, we had a cute room at a historic downtown bed and breakfast booked. The impromptu trip was planned in under 5 minutes, bags were packed hastily and we were headed south on I-95, Florida-bound. I’d never been to St. Augustine before (not counting stopping through quickly when I was a child), but I had always avoided visiting because my parents don’t like it. My husband and I are both so glad we gave it a chance, because we ended up loving it! First of all, the St. Francis Inn was perfect. I’d never stayed at a B&B before so I didn’t know what to expect. The owner and staff made us feel right at home and offered us everything from free breakfast, dessert, beverages and wine to bikes and lots of great advice for seeing the city. Plus, our room was so cozy and the grounds were gorgeous. We checked in at 4 pm on Wednesday and headed into the city with the ladies (Bella and Lexi). There was a lovely walkway along the water at the edge of the city and lots of small cobblestone alleys and restaurant-lined streets not open to cars to explore. It was a very walkable city, St. Augustine isn’t huge, and we stopped in at pubs and shops along the way. Most of them were very open to dogs and offered them lots of love, treats and water. The historic spanish influence separates St. Augustine from Savannah, Charleston and New Orleans. I found St. Augustine to be a less showy and more laid back version of Savannah and a Charleston without the flashy wealth. St. Augustine is quaint and romantic; the perfect weekend getaway. We got back to the B&B just in time for social hour. We grabbed a (a couple) of free glasses of wine, chatted with our fellow guests and left the girls in the room for a nap while we went out for a night on the town. It was a beautiful evening and St. Augustine was so romantic. This little city is decorated with lots of stringed lighting and was so fun. We ended up at a small cigar bar, sitting around a bonfire and swapping stories with other travelers. Time got away from us and we ended up having a late dinner at Scarlett O’Haras. The next morning we woke up early and walked along the riverfront to the Castillo De San Marcos, a monument and historic symbol of St. Augustine. We also checked out the Oldest House and Lightner Museum. Coffee from Crucial Coffee was another high point of the trip and a must-see in my opinion. The trip was over in the blink of an eye, but I’m thankful for the peace and cleared mind I get from traveling. We will definitely be going back! Also, I’m so impressed with my doggies, they were so well behaved! -A
I promise I’m still alive out here even though you wouldn’t know by my blog and social media. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been busy keeping up as life has thrown yet another curveball. Last week my hub and I had to catch a flight to attend his grandmothers funeral across the country in sunny SoCal. We dealt with 4 (4!) cancelled flights and rerouted flights and delayed flights and last minute one-way ticket purchases to be there (let’s all blame Dallas for the freak snow storms). Travel was exhausting, but it was so nice to be there with family. I met so many family members that I’d never met and saw a side of my husbands family I’d never seen. There was such an outpouring of love and support in the family. The funeral was very emotional and Eric gave a lovely eulogy; it was such a beautiful celebration of her life. The funeral was Hawaiian themed, instead of the usual dreary black-suit funeral because she loved Hawaii and bright colors. It’s a morbid thought, but I would want my funeral to be a collection of funny memories and happy stories from my loved ones, much like hers. We love and miss you grandma M!
With out internal clocks still set to eastern time, we woke up at 5 or 6 a.m. in California every morning. I didn’t really mind, because I’m becoming such a morning person. One early morning we travelled the winding roads up the San Bernardino mountains to the cozy little town of Lake Arrowhead. Lake Arrowhead, known as the Alps of Southern California, is where Eric proposed to me almost 3 years ago and is absolutely beautiful. I love the nostalgia and romance that this one small place gives us. We ate breakfast at a Belgian waffle cafe and watched the snow fall over the lake. We managed to be back before anyone else even woke up.
We said goodbye to family after 4 days in California and boarded a plane (3 actually) back to Savannah. The return trip was a blur of smelly airports and more delayed flights, but I got lots of reading done! Reality hit hard after missing class and work for so long. I had a test the day after getting back and a slew of assignments due. I’m really ready for Spring Break next week! I’ve really got nothing planned at this point from all the last minute traveling last week, but a small weekend getaway might be in the planning stages.
This last weekend away was amazing! My husband took me to Charlotte, NC to see the Black Keys for my birthday and it couldn’t have been better. It was one last trip before my surgery and weeks of lying in bed. Also, check out my birthday bling from my lovely hubby.
On Thursday, I took my last two finals (killed them!) before heading North to Charlotte. We got there around 6 and checked into the hotel, which was right in the heart of the city. I got all dolled up, bundled up in a scarf and hat and headed to 5Church with the hubby for my birthday dinner. It was only a few blocks away from the hotel and I had scoped it out as one of the best restaurants in downtown Charlotte.
5Church did not disappoint! The decor was amazing and it had a hip, upscale and sexy vibe (also, we decided that you must have to be gorgeous to work there). Waaay too much money later, we were full of calamari, the best crab cakes I’ve ever had, the perfect crisp brussel sprouts, and the most delicious and intricate chocolate pretzel dessert you’ve ever seen (not to mention house lychee cocktails). Dinner was followed by live music at RiRa Irish Pub and enjoying the city.
On Friday, T-minus 10 hours before the Black Keys, we had brunch at my favorite restaurant, the Tupelo Honey Cafe. I’d been to the location in Asheville, so I was looking forward to it. The food was fabulous as expected, I had the homemade chicken and biscuits. The rest of the morning and afternoon we just got to know the city. We checked out the parks downtown and walked up and down the streets, which are impressively immaculate. It’s truly the cleanest and most well kept city I’ve ever visited.
I was widely impressed with the 7th Street Public Market. It’s a little market downtown that promotes local food and culture. You can get anything from fresh squeezed juice to wine to meats. It had a laid back and fun atmosphere. Also, it was the location of Charlotte’s famous Not Just Coffee. I’ve been super interested into coffee and the science of brewing the perfect cup (nerdy I know), and it was fascinating watching the talented baristas at Not Just Coffee. They truly know the art, not just science, of pulling the perfect shot of espresso and crafting a delicious beverage. The barista sold me on the special right away. It was called a Foggy London Town, and was espresso, house-made mocha, vanilla, steamed milk infused with earl grey and topped with a lavender dusting. I loved it so much that I went back the following morning for another. My husband ordered the house-made caramel latte, which was also fabulous.
In the evening we ventured northeast of Charlotte to the popular NoDa art district. There was definitely a hipster vibe and you could tell that it’s a real up-and-coming neighborhood. We hit up Amelie’s French Bakery, which was super eclectic and delicious (though sadly, the macarons just didn’t compare to LaDuree in downtown Paris). After that we hit up the NoDa Brewing Company. They had a taproom that was open to the public from 4 to 9. We sat there and shared some pints and laughs until the concert. We also got a tour of the brewery which was interesting.
The arena was less than a mile from the hotel, so we headed there around 8 when the concert started (we weren’t too interested in the opening act, St. Vincent). We did catch her show and her music isn’t my style, but she definitely did her thing. Our seats were great and we had a blast. The Black Keys are absolutely amazing in concert, even better live than recorded. Their fans are so diverse; everyone from teens to middle-aged parents love the music. We jammed out all night before heading back to the hotel and ordering pizza for dinner at 1 am. Needless to say I’ve been bitten by the concert bug and started looking up other shows for next year.
Charlotte, you were so wonderful and have a great place in my memories.
I’m back from my cabin getaway with the husband and kids (actually dogs). It was perfect. The cabin was relaxing, secluded and beautiful! We spent the days walking the dogs, soaking in the hot tub, window shopping, indulging and enjoying the fresh air.
I was a little apprehensive because this was the first time we’ve rented a place to stay that wasn’t a hotel. After Googling and reading a ton of reviews we decided on the Morning Song Cabin. The reviews were good and the owners were friendly. It ended up being perfect. The kitchen was fully stocked, it was spotless, and they thought of everything from books to boardgames to directions.
Since check-in wasn’t until 4 p.m. and I’m a morning person (sorry husband!), we set out super early and headed to Amicalola Falls. It’s the tallest waterfall in Georgia and has a hiking trail that leads to the southernmost point of the Appalachian Trail. So far my travels have led me to many different points along the Appalachian Trail, perhaps this is a sign! I was unable to hike or climb the almost 500 stairs down the waterfall because of my uncooperative knee, but the views were breathtaking. The trees were nowhere near as beautiful as they were last month in North Georgia, all the colorful leaves had fallen leaving the trees barren.
My sis and her boyfriend joined us on the second night for a night of mischief. In the morning I filled the cabin with the aroma of bacon and coffee to get everyone out of bed, and then before we knew it, it was time to leave. An awful 6 hours later we were finally home and had managed to escape Atlanta holiday traffic!
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving with the fam, and I’m ready to cook up a storm and then gobble everything down. I’m in charge of the macaroni and cheese and green bean casserole. I’ve found a gooey, creamy macaroni recipe and I’m making the green bean casserole from scratch because the traditional method of plopping a can of Campbell’s soup on top of green beans is kind of gross.
I’ve finally made it to Thanksgiving break! I’m only 1 presentation and 4 finals away from my last semester of my (second) undergrad degree!
Besides being an excellent student, I’ve been trying to get out with the dogs as much of possible and enjoy this beautiful weather. In the South, it goes from air conditioning to heating in one week, so we’ve got to soak up the good weather while it lasts.
Today: I’m going to the outlet mall with my sister and I WILL finish Christmas shopping. I’m getting it out of the way early this year! No Black Friday shopping for this girl.
Monday: The husband and I will be journeying north to the mountain cabin we rented for a couple of nights. We’re going to do some hiking and relaxing in the hot tub! Plus my little sis and her boyfriend are joining us the second night for some shenanigans.
My birthday is approaching and we are going to see the Black Keys in concert! We have a classy hotel room in downtown Charlotte booked and I can’t wait. Did I mention my birthday is the last day of finals??! Drinks all around!
Also, I still have a big trip in the works. Maybe I’ll announce it in the New Year?
If I wrote about all of our adventures in Paris, it would be overly wordy; so here is what I did Paris in a nice clean list:
- Ate lots of bread: baguettes, croissants, etc.
- Art gawked at Le Louvre
- Saw the Notre Dame
- Sipped cafe au laits in little cafes
- Devoured famous Laduree macarons
- Strolled along the River Seine
- Took lots and lots of photographs
- Got lost
- Relaxed in the Jardin des Tuileries
- Spoke a little french
- Took selfies at the Eiffel Tower
- Smelled some amazing cheeses
- Rode the Metro
- Drank French wine
- Touched the love locks (didn’t participate)
- Walked until my legs and feet hurt
- Soaked in the history
- Admired architecture
- Dreamt about moving to Paris
Honestly, I wish we had longer in Paris. There are so many things that we didn’t get to do and Paris, I know we shall meet again.
Paris. What is there to say about Paris except that it’s amazing. Paris was one of the stops on our trek across Europe and the city I was most excited about; I’ve dreamt about visiting Paris for years. I feel so fortunate that I visited the most romantic city in the world with the man I love (I really owe him so much for taking me to Paris!)
We drove from Amsterdam to Paris, through the countryside, and my excitement built as roadsigns for Paris began to appear as we got closer and closer. It was early August and the weather was cloudy but lovely for the 2 days we were in the city. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Paris Boulogne in the wealthy suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt about 7 km from central Paris. We stayed outside of the city because Paris is very expensive, but I ended up being very happy with the location; it was very quiet because Europeans are often on vacation in August.
When we finally arrived at the hotel after navigating the very narrow roads in Paris, we dumped our bags, changed and headed down to the metro station. It was only a 5 minute walk to the subway which ran directly into Paris. After a confusing 10 minutes, we finally figured out how to buy the right tickets and we were on the train. I must say, my rusty high school French helped us more than I imagined it would. After a 15 minutes ride, we located the metro stop closest to all the action and headed into Paris!
After emerging from the subway, I was immediately mesmerized by the Parisian architecture. The buildings are beautiful; TV or photographs really don’t do them justice. We rounded a corner and I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time. I couldn’t help but smile. I was so happy. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot more to Paris than the Eiffel Tower, but to me it really made it sink in that we were in Paris.
We joined the hoards of tourists in taking terribly stereotypical selfies in front to Eiffel Tower. How could we resist??
We walked the streets of the 7th arrondissement until our feet hurt while I created a fantasy life in a lush Parisian apartment in my head. Then we finished off the evening with a glass of wine and a small dinner at a cafe while we watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle. It was only a short metro ride and stroll back to the hotel in the City of Lights! Perfection.
Happy travels x.
In your 20s buy experiences not stuff. I wish I could find the article where I read that last year because it really stuck with me. In your 20s you generally have a lower income, more time and less obligations. I think it’s incredibly important to collect your pennies and experience life and find out who you really are; buy that plane ticket, go to a concert, camp in the woods, hike that trail, travel the world, sign up for that dating website, road trip with your friends, rent that cabin for the weekend with your girlfriends. Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping, but there will always be stuff: bigger TVs, fancier phones, trendier shoes. One day, we will hit our 30s and 40s and have kiddies to chase after, deadlines to meet, and older parents to help. Yes, I should probably be paying more towards my student loans and our carpets REALLY need replacing, but that can all be dealt with later; we will buy a house that’s bigger and has lovely wood floors for our future family. Until then, me and the man I love and my friends I adore will be learning and experiencing life together.
Since reading the article, I have:
- Travelled Space-A
- Visited 5 countries
- Taken numerous road trips
- Explored my city
- Learned (am learning) photography
- Reunited with my besties numerous times
- Bought concert tickets to my favorite band
- Stayed in an oceanfront hotel
- AND have a major trip in the works!
Obviously I have a lot more to experience, and thankfully I have 26, 27, 28 and 29 to enjoy! What experiences have meant the most to you in your 20s?
My youngest sister visited last weekend for her 21st birthday, yay! …but her birthday isn’t until later in the month, boo! We still celebrated with the fam and went out for a fabulous dinner at Public Kitchen (highly recommended). I owe her a chocolate martini when she actually turns 21!
I forgot to take pictures-all I have is this blurry one of us at dinner.
Today was Wednesday: my favorite day. I have no class and the husband has no work, so we get to sleep in and get brunch and catch up. We ate outside at J Christophers for breakfast and slowly strolled the streets of Savannah in this perfect 70 degree “fall” weather with hazelnut lattes in hand. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, but I got a few snaps on my iPhone.
We’ve made some health goals together and I’m pretty excited about them. I’ve been slowly strengthening my knee by doing my PT exercises and riding a stationary bike that I bought on Amazon. My husband is getting back into running and having our chubby husky join him (she’s such a trooper!).
Also, I’ve got some exciting travel plans in the works. It’s going to be big! Stay tuned!
Back in July my husband bought me this shiny new Nikon DSLR for our trip to Europe. I’ve wanted to get into photography for years now, and the trip was the perfect opportunity. We left in August and I didn’t really have time to learn and understand camera “language.” It’s actually really hard to grasp; ISO, aperture, shutter speed, how does it all work??
I know I didn’t take the best photos possible in Europe, but I tried. I’ve realized that photography is definitely a hobby that I’ll have to be patient with and actively learn. After all, I don’t want to be THAT person walking around with a fancy camera just using the auto setting or preprogrammed scene modes. I was inspired last night by a variety of photography blogs I found on Pinterest. I found this 31 day series to learn how to shoot manually. Day 1 doesn’t require you to take any photos, but Darcy tells a story about the importance of photographs. I can’t begin to imagine her pain from the loss of all her photos.
Today I headed downtown, camera in tow, to snap some pics in scary “M” mode. Let the adventure begin!