A Summer Getaway

I’ve been trying to plan our summer vacation(s), and I’m having a bit of trouble deciding where to go.

My original plan was to do a quick Jersey shore trip (probably a long weekend) in early summer, and then a longer trip for our 2nd wedding anniversary in late August. I was thinking Maine for our August trip – it’s beautiful, we’d have city (Portland) and beach (Kennebunkport or Boothbay) options, plus lobster rolls! But when I started planning, I found that it was next to impossible to find a rental or hotel in coastal Maine in late August that was both available and didn’t cost $500/night. I thought about switching the trips – Jersey in August and Maine in June – but Maine isn’t very warm in June.

So, I’ve pretty much scrapped the Maine idea. I’m trying to keep things on the budget-friendly side, so I’d like to go somewhere within driving distance (plus we love a road trip, and haven’t taken a real one in a while). I’ve considered a bunch of options (Hilton Head, the Outer Banks, etc.), but I keep coming back to New England – while southern beach towns are relatively similar to our beaches around here, New England has such a unique feel. Right now, I’m thinking Cape Cod in late June – it’ll be right before the main season so we’ll hopefully dodge the crowds a bit, but by the end of June it should be warm enough to swim. I’m thinking we’ll do Monday – Thursday in Provincetown, check out on Friday and take a quick detour to overnight in Boston, then head home Saturday. I’m waiting for Jeff’s approval, but I’m already dreaming of lobster rolls, clam chowdah, lazy afternoons on the beach, and evenings by the fire pit. (And maybe a drag show or two – when in Rome!)

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Provincetown sits at the very tip of the cape.

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Race Point Beach

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Retro Harbor Hotel on the bay

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Lobster rolls on the deck of The Canteen

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Biking through town

Universal Studios & Our Florida Escape

Oh, hey! I’ve been neglecting this blog a bit since I update The Good Food daily, but I miss having more personal chats! Let’s catch up, starting with our Wizarding World of Harry Potter Trip.

You guys…WE HAD THE BEST TIME. Universal Studios was great of course, but if I’m being honest, my favorite part of the trip was our hotel (which was a resort property) and the time we spent just hanging out.

Since our trip was so short (Friday evening through Sunday morning), we really didn’t think we’d have much time to spend doing anything other Universal Studios, let alone swim or hang out at the hotel. We somehow ended up making the best possible use of our time, though – starting immediately after we checked in to the hotel, at which point we headed directly to the bar, luggage and all, and ordered cocktails. We took our drinks to go and briefly explored the hotel, which included a bowling alley, several bars, multiple restaurants, two huge pools (one of which had a water slide, and I didn’t even see it until right before we left), a lazy river, a huge outdoor jacuzzi, and an arcade. We went up to our rooms to finish our drinks and change, and then headed out to explore City Walk and grab some dinner.

Saturday was (obviously) our Universal Studios Day, and since we were staying at a resort property, we were allowed to enter the park an hour early. Much to Jeff’s distress, we ended up losing about 15 minutes of that time due to a miscommunication about breakfast (he figured we’d eat at the park, whereas I refused to leave the resort on an empty stomach – typical me), but we still ended up easily beating the crowds. It was a chilly day in the low 60s, but coming from frigid Delaware, it felt pretty comfortable by comparison and we were both fine in t-shirts without jackets in the sun.

Upon entering the park we discovered that Jeff had accidentally bought Fast Passes in place of actual tickets – at Universal Studios, fast passes are extra (they actually cost the same amount as the ticket itself, so it’s a pretty steep add-on), but you literally get to skip the line (or rather, you get to walk past the line into a separate queue towards the entrance of the ride). The ticket taker told us we could either keep the fast passes and buy tickets from the ticket sales kiosk, or we could exchange them for actual tickets at the customer service desk. We originally intended to exchange them since this was an over $300 mistake, but the line for the service desk ended up being too long and we decided to suck it up and just buy tickets and keep the fast passes.

Welp…this ended up being the BEST DECISION EVER. Seriously. By the time the crowds arrived at the park, lines for some of the more popular rides were 3+ hours, but with our fast passes, we were on them within 10 minutes. We decided that from here on out, we’d be building fast passes into our budget any time we visit Universal Studios. Highly, highly recommended – especially if you only have one day. We ended up being able to enjoy every attraction we had interest in, with time left over.

The park was pretty much everything we imagined – both Harry Potter worlds were perfect, like walking right into the movies. The rides were great – much more intense than I had predicted, but very thrilling and full of incredible affects. My favorite rides were the virtual reality rides – the indoor ones where you’re strapped in and the drops and spins are simulated. We ate lunch at one of the Harry Potter restaurants (the food was fine, but the standout of the day was the hot butterbeer – I’m still dreaming about it), and ended up leaving the park completely exhausted an hour before close (I think the park closed at 8, so we left around 7).

According to my iPhone, we had walked over 10 miles over the course of the day, so our feet and legs were killing us…but we were determined to make the most of our trip, and rested in our hotel room only briefly before heading back out for dinner. Our original intention was to go back to City Walk for a sit-down meal, but we noticed that despite being pretty chilly, the pools were all open and there were quite a few people in each of them, so we decided to take a quick dip before eating. Well…one thing led to another, and we ended up at the pool bar, talking to some other guests. The pool cocktails came in souvenir plastic tumblers, and we found out that not only could you bring your drinks into the pools/lazy river, but there was a huge hot tub (we hadn’t discovered this yet). Obviously we couldn’t pass up a huge hot tub with cocktails on a chilly night, so we ended up spending several hours in the hot tub, and deciding to order room service for dinner. After retiring from the hot tub (several cocktails in and trying to avoid the hangover of a lifetime for our 6 AM flight), we went up to our room and Jeff ordered pizza while I ventured out into the hotel in search of additional junk food (which I found at the bowling alley snack bar in the form of soft pretzels and mozzarella sticks). We feasted in our room and immediately passed out.

As silly as it may sound, that evening was the most fun I can remember having on vacation in a long time – just being spontaneous and not feeling like we had to follow an itinerary, and relaxing and enjoying each others’ company and chatting with fellow resort-goers. I almost want our next trip to be to another theme park, just so we can stay at a resort property (haha). All in all, it was a trip for the books and I’m itching to plan our next getaway.

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And we’re off!

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View from our room (pardon the glare)

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City Walk at night

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Accio Luggage!

Guys…the Raums are being spontaneous!

Last Thursday, I woke to a text from Jeff (he leaves for work earlier than me) asking if we had any plans this weekend. I answered negatively, and asked him why he was asking…to which he responded by asking if we had any plans the next weekend.  A bit exasperated (keep in mind I had just woken up three minutes earlier), I responded, “?? I don’t know. Why?? Are you going somewhere?”

Then came the big reveal: Jeff had tentatively planned a trip to Universal Studios Orlando to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter the following weekend! He told me he had originally planned to keep the whole trip a total surprise – like, “Pack your bag, we’re going away” style – but thought better of it, not wanting to take the joy of researching things beforehand away from me (what he really meant was, “I know you’re a control freak and completely surprising you could be a disaster,” but to be fair, I do love me some vacation research).

It’s going to be a very quick trip – we’re talking, arrive Friday evening, spend the day at the park Saturday followed by dinner somewhere, go to bed, leave at the crack of dawn Sunday morning. The way he had originally booked things was to fly in AFTER 11 PM on Friday, but we ended up changing the incoming flight to put us there just after 6 (ahem…*control freak*). This way, we can at least spend some time exploring City Walk and our resort, rather than literally arriving and hitting the hay immediately. Ideally, we’d leave a little later on Sunday, but our flight options were limited and we’d need to check out of the hotel by 11 AM anyway (Jeff hates not having a “home base” when we travel). But we’re super excited – neither of us has been to the Harry Potter attraction, and I’ve never been to Universal Studios, period. We’re not really “theme park people” typically, but we both love Harry Potter and Jeff’s been dying to go for a long time (he sneakily had us watch all the movies last weekend during the most recent snow storm). Plus, it’ll get us out of the cold for a couple of days – I think it’ll be the perfect quick getaway.

So, we leave this coming Friday – we’ll be staying at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort (it’s a retro-themed resort with two huge pools and a lazy river – it’ll probably be a bit cool to swim at a high of around 73, but we won’t really have time anyway, so that’s okay), and Jeff purchased park-hopper passes for Saturday, which means we can go between Universal Studios – where Diagon Alley is – and Islands of Adventure, where Hogsmeade is located. The only attraction our tickets don’t include is the water park, but again, it probably won’t be warm enough, and we’d be a little short on time anyway. Jeff’s also excited to check out the Jurassic World exhibit, and I’m pumped for the Simpsons attraction. If anyone’s been and has “must do” recommendations, I’m all ears…we’re also open for dinner recommendations for Saturday evening. We’ll probably grab food at City Walk on Friday, but we’re undecided for Saturday – should we stay within Universal Studios, or venture out? What’s good in Orlando? Any and all recommendations welcome!

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Our Vacation in Pictures: New Orleans

Our trip to New Orleans was a work trip for Jeff (he was attending an IRA conference – thrilling!), but I opted to take the entire week off (after debating working remotely from the hotel) and wander on my own during the day…good decision, me! We stayed in the business district, which feels more like a modern city, but we were only a 5 minute walk from the French Quarter – and what an experience that is! It’s pretty much exactly what you picture – people of every age wandering the streets at every hour, drinks in hand, vendors and street performers vying for your attention. The architecture is beautiful – very similar to Savannah, with iron railings, lanterns, and lots of color. We had lots of good food, LOTS of drinks, and a little relaxation – all in all, it was a pretty great week (despite HOT temperatures, a ton of construction, and me getting lost multiple times – half the streets aren’t labeled!!). Bare with me…although I took my “good” camera, I didn’t use it once – all the below pics are from my (pretty old) iPhone.

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And we’re off!

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Sipping cold brew in the Ace Hotel

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Rooftop pooltime

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One night we went to eat at John Besh’s Italian restaurant, Domenica, and they gave us a complementary dessert because our food took forever to come out (we couldn’t have cared less). IT. WAS. DELICIOUS.

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The night gets a liiiittle blurry after this…

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Huge Ass Beers

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lol

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If you order an acai bowl, you have to photograph it. It’s the law.

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Lunch at Cochon Butcher

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Muffaletta!

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Jeff stood these on end and declared it “art.”

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Our vacation through pictures: Savannah

I finally got around to uploading and editing my photos from Savannah! Despite some shaky weather (it rained almost every day we were there), our trip to Savannah was one of my favorites yet, and it was definitely the best food I’ve ever eaten, anywhere. If you ever have the chance to visit Savannah, don’t pass it up…there’s just something about it that feels different than anywhere else I’ve ever been. The Spanish moss, the squares, the cobblestone streets with real gas lanterns on every building…it’s really a dreamy place. There are ordinances in the city preventing historical buildings from being altered, and any new building needs to match the architecture and design of the older, Antebellum buildings. All of this combined with the quirky local history and countless ghost stories makes Savannah unlike any other city. I’d love to return some day!

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As magical as horse-drawn carriages all over the place feels, I actually felt really bad for these horses 😦

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The waving girl!

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This fragrant garden was designed for blind people!

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Love the color of our AirBnB’s door.

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We LOVED this place.

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Fresh off the plane with a to-go-sa 🙂

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The coolest underground cocktail bar – the menu was an actual newspaper, and they make every cocktail you could possibly imagine. Jeff got to bring that glass with the weird guy on it home.

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Old, old haunted brewery

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Chillin’ out max in our hotel room.

 

Hold, please!

I’m still playing catchup from vacation, so I haven’t had time to post. I’ll be back soon…until then, here’s a shot of one of the 5 bajillion beautiful houses in Savannah.

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Don’t rain on my parade

We’re getting ready to head south tomorrow, and the forecast is looking pretty shaky – rain predicted for both Thursday and Friday, with cloudy days Saturday and Sunday. We won’t let a little rain ruin our good time, though – we’ll just have to get a little creative. Some ideas I’m kicking around:

Check out the SCAD Museum of Artscad-msm-art_540x242

Watch the rain fall from the covered deck of a riverboatriverboat

Shop the downtown design district949724b3732a9bc222a1f7db1a1c0680

Indulge our sweet tooth at Lulu’s Chocolate Bar328998ba9d870d4b224c841352b6f19d

Take a tour of Southbound Brewing CompanySouthbound Brewing Co. Savannah Brewery

Lounge over coffee & pastries at Le Cafe Gourmetls

And of course, some of our already-planned activities are perfect for a rainy day – a covered trolley tour is perfect for sub-par weather, and some drizzle will make our ghost tour all the more spooky! Bring it on, rain – we’re ready for you!

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Happy Friday

Happy Friday, friends! We leave for vacation next Thursday, so we’ll probably keep this weekend pretty low-key. Work gifted me some VIP tickets to a local minor-league baseball game for tomorrow night, so we might check that out if the weather’s nice. Other than that, I see a lot of lounging, probably some cleaning, and possibly a pool day in my future. I also downloaded “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by John Berendt last night – it’s a novel about Savannah, and my mom insists that I read it before arriving. Apparently there are tons of landmarks and even a few people still around the city that she all but guaranteed we’d see at some point. So I’m going to dig in to that as well – possibly poolside! Have a fantastic weekend!

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Our honeymoon – Mallorca

After departing Barcelona, we arrived on the tiny island of Mallorca for the second half of our honeymoon. We landed in the capital city, Palma, and drove the 30 or so minutes through lush, mountainous terrain to the Port De Soller, where we spent the remainder of our trip. Port De Soller is a tiny port village, and a top travel destination for…Germany. We actually encountered more German people than Spanish during our stay, and a lot of the restaurants offered kind of a German/Spanish fusion. It was interesting, to say the least!

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Not too shabby for an airport

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Rugged terrain

Our hotel room had been listed as a “partial ocean view,” but upon arriving to our hotel and stepping onto our balcony, I had to catch my breath – right in front of my eyes was the most crystal-clear, turquoise water I had ever seen, littered with luxury yachts and fishing boats. It was truly incredible. We spent our days wandering the tiny, hilly town, lounging by the pool or on the beach, and sipping on tropical drinks. One day, we took a boat out to an untouched, natural beach (a Unesco World Heritage site, which means it’s protected from being altered), stopping along the way to take a dip in the crystal clear water. Once on the beach, we hiked up a (steep, kind of scary!) cliff to a restaurant overlooking the sea, and dined on Paella and wine. It was one of the most magical afternoons I’ve ever had.

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Our “partial ocean view”

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My husband, the movie star

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Haha…a bit of familiarity, overseas

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This hilarious German guy on our boat trip insisted on taking this pic. Thanks, German guy!

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Paradise

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I mean…

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Casual lunch view

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Steep terrain

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This view was totally worth it

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Toes in the sand…er, pebbles.

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Beach pup!

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Trolley to Soller

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Don’t mind if I do!

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Padron peppers with bacon -YUM

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Sleepy boo at breakfast

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Newlywed lovin’

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Funny little bathroom signs

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Could not get enough of these views

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Fresh orange juice

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Every restaurant in this village is outdoors…many of them literally didn’t have indoor seating.

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Stray gato!

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Dinner views

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Last dinner ❤

It really and truly was a week in paradise. Looking at these pictures is making me desperately wish I was back in Spain right now…maybe one day we’ll be lucky enough to return, and maybe explore the rest of the island.