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131 In Travel

A Weekend in the Cape

The Massachusetts adventure continues… in the Cape! After spending a few nights in Boston we moved to an Airbnb in Falmouth because it was a quick ferry ride to both Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, the two areas we planned to explore. The first day was spent exploring Martha’s Vineyard, which was a quick, open ferry ride.

We took a ferry around 9:00 AM so we could spent a solid day at Martha’s Vineyard and not be rushed.

After walking around for a bit we decided to grab lunch at The Black Dog Tavern. It’s an icon Martha’s Vineyard staple, so we had high hopes. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best experience. The food wasn’t very good, I didn’t bother to finish my fries or salad, and the service was minimal.

After lunch we decided to go into the Black Dog General Store. It had your typical touristy selection of hats, coozies, shirts, and sweaters. We didn’t get anything but it would’ve been a good place to grab a traditional Martha’s Vineyard souvenir if that’s what you were looking for.

After popping in a few other stores we stopped for some ice cream. I can’t recall the name of the ice cream shop but it was just your typical, run of the mill ice cream, nothing out of the ordinary. However, ice cream is ice cream and it was super refreshing on a hot day!

There was lavender all over the island and it smelled heavenly! I had to snag a few pieces which I pressed in a book later that day for safe keeping.

After wandering around and exploring a bit more we stopped for a pick me up at Mocha Mott’s for some iced coffee. It was a very simple shop that offered a variety of coffee drinks and some quick snacks. The coffee was great and well priced compared to some of the other places on the island.

We felt we had seen everything so we headed back to the Island Queen to ferry back to Falmouth.

The next day had a slightly earlier start because the ferry ride was a bit longer. It was also on a nicer ferry that was enclosed with ac.

We left Martha’s Vineyard feeling a bit underwhelmed so we were excited to see what Nantucket had to offer. As soon as we arrived we knew we were in for a great day. It was much more mellow and less touristy than Martha’s Vineyard and we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day. We decided to walk around and look at all the beautiful cottages and plants. There were so many flowers around every corner and it smelled so good mixed with the salty air.

We weren’t very hungry for lunch so we just grabbed a smoothie and a few other snacks at Lemon Press to take to the beach. The smoothies were so delicious and refreshing, which was good because the service was terrible. From the moment we walked in it was as if we had just barged into someone’s house demanding food. The staff acted as if it was a major inconvenience to take our order. I’ve worked in the service industry for years so it always irks me when I come across people that choose that line of work, yet have no interest in interacting with the customer. Rant over.

We wanted to check out at least one lighthouse while we were there and we found that Brant Point would be the easiest one to get to. It was the smallest lighthouse I had ever seen and it was so stinking cute.

After the lighthouse, we took the city bus to the beach to lay out and read. It was so nice and warm out but there was no way I was stepping foot in the ocean, it was so so cold (by Floridian standards).

After the beach we took the bus back into town then took the free brewery shuttle out to Cisco Brewers. The brewery was quite large with tons of picnic tables, a stage, food trucks, a liquor bar, beer bar, and a wine bar. Being gluten intolerant, I opted for the wine bar. I tried their original red wine sangria first then had some of the frozen sangria and oh my goodness, it was heaven.

We spent a few hours there listening to the band, chatting with some other tourists, snacking on fried food and having a grand old time!

After taking the brewery shuttle back into town we decided to wander around the side streets a bit more. We weren’t really hungry for dinner since we had done a good bit of snacking at Cisco.

Is this not the most stunning front porch you’ve ever seen?? I was obsessed with those doors.

We ended up popping into a store so I could buy a hat and my friend grabbed a few souvenirs to bring home to friends and family. We still weren’t in the mood for a big meal so she grabbed a slice of pizza and I had some ice cream. We had finished exploring the island and were beat from the busy day of exploring. We waited for the ferry for what seemed like days because the temperature dropped and we were absolutely freezing our butts off!

Once we finally boarded the ferry back to Falmouth we got settled, bundled up in our towels and put in our head phones. No more than 10 minutes after leaving port the captain comes over the loud speaker and says something along the lines of “tonight we have the honor of transporting a frequent ferry goer, Ben and while he’s use to riding alone, he won’t be for much longer.” It was really bizarre and everyone kind of just looked around staring at each other. About a minute later you could hear cheering and yelling coming from the top deck above us. Then the infamous Ben and a girl came down the stairs and he shouted “she said yes” while hoisting his fiancés hand up into the air. Everyone cheered and congratulated him. But wait… there’s more! Then a group of what appeared to be young college guys, decked in their Sperry’s and Vineyard Vine polos, jumped up and started singing acapela! Everyone was totally shocked and cheered for them when they finished and then we overheard Ben telling his fiancé that while he was waiting for the ferry and for her to meet up with him he met this acapela group in line and told them his plan to propose so they agreed to sing a song for her once they came down to announce their engagement. It was all very random and very entertaining.

Overall, we had a great weekend. We both agreed that if we could’ve done it over again, we would spend two days in Nantucket and skip Martha’s Vineyard. There were so many nice restaurants we would’ve loved to try if we had more time in Nantucket so I definitely will be making another trip to the island. Plus, I can’t go through life knowing that the best frozen sangria is out there and not have it again!

-V

142 In Travel

NYC for the 4th

A trip around the U.S. can’t be complete without a trip to NYC! Lucky for me, this leg of the trip fell during the week of 4th of July, so I knew I was in for a good time. I was staying with a friend that had moved to the city about six months prior, so he was still a good sport about going around to all the touristy spots!

Our first day was spent walking/subway(ing) around the city, starting with a trek across the Brooklyn Bridge. We considered biking across and I am so glad we didn’t. The bridge was swamped and people weren’t exactly jumping to get out of your way. My advice, explore on foot, it’s definitely a must see. We’ve all seen this bridge in dozens of movies and television shows, so it was pretty exciting for me to see it in person.

After the Brooklyn Bridge, we walked over to see the Freedom Tower and check out the memorial. I had never been to NYC pre 9/11 so I never saw the Twin Towers in person, but standing there and seeing all the people looking up at the building that now stood in their place was a very intense moment. I looked around and found it almost impossible to imagine what that day must have been like for those standing right where we were. I really wanted to visit the museum but there were a ton of people there and I only had a few days in the city. I will definitely be planning better next time to insure I can make it there.

After visiting the Freedom Tower, we headed over to ride the Staten Island Ferry so we could check out our lady liberty without paying to walk around Ellis Island. The ferry itself was very crowded and hot, but it was worth it to get a closer (free) look at the Statue of Liberty.

We also walked through Washington Square Park where we got to watch an anticlimactic street performance. If you’ve been there,  you’ve probably seen the guys jumping over each other, as well as members of the crowd. They did do some impressive jumps but the one they were building up they never ended up doing, whomp whomp. That being said, their commentary of the crowd was hilarious so if you see them performing, stop and listen for a few minutes.

Next up was to walk the High Line. It was a really neat way to take in the city from a different perspective. There were plants, flowers, murals, and sculptures along the way so you never ran out of beautiful things to look at. Like everywhere in NYC, it was very crowded, but if you’re in the area, it’s worth a leisurely stroll. Also, there are ice cream trucks at both ends, so there’s that.

After the High Line, we headed over to Chelsea Market. It was full of neat shops, bookstores, specialty food vendors, and restaurants. We had another place in mind for lunch so we just walked through, but it’s definitely somewhere you could spend a couple hours and grab a bite to eat.

We went to a gluten free pizza place I found for lunch, but it was nothing to write home about. It was on the pricer side and it was just your standard gluten free pizza. However, I did get to try a cider I had never heard of. I had the currant flavor and it was quite interesting. It had a mild grape flavor that I enjoyed, but again, nothing to write home about.

Later on, we took a walk through Central Park. We tried to watch some older men play baseball but the one “batting” refused to swing because he claimed none of the pitches were good enough. After about 10 minutes of watching that train wreck, we decided to go watch some high schoolers play kickball, which was much more entertaining. As expected, there were people everywhere cooking out, having a picnic, playing with their kids, etc.

On the 4th of July, my friend and his roommates had a party on their roof, which was basically a bunch of people from the building on their roof, with their collective friend groups, making it a huge group of strangers sharing food and drinks and watching the fireworks- it was a blast.

On the 3rd of July we actually left the city to have a little BBQ/pool party out in Staten Island. It was the perfect calm day away from the city. It was so relaxing, that I didn’t even take any photos! The photo above however, shows the awesome views from one of the friend’s apartment building.

As always, the trip to NYC was a whirlwind full of walking, eating, drinking, and in this case, sweating and getting rained on. Looking back on the trip, I actually didn’t take very many photos 🙁 So this post is more of a highlight reel of all the touristy things I did!

If you’ve been to NYC, what would you say is a “must do?” If you’ve never been, what is the number one thing you’re dying to do?

-V

 

129 In Travel

Chicago Part Two

After spending a night in Milwaukee, we headed back to the suburbs for a few days before we made our way back to the city. However, since we were going to pass it by anyway… we decided to spend the day at Six Flags Great America! I had never been to a Six Flags before and love a good rollercoaster, so I was excited!

When we got there we thought we would spend a couple hours, maybe half a day. Boy were we wrong! We ended up spending about eight hours riding all the rollercoasters, laughing our butts off, eating all the carbs, and I almost lost my sandals on one ride! Thankfully, I realized just in time that I hadn’t taken my shoes off, but since I was already strapped in, a very kind (frustrated) worker came and took my shoes off. It was a real modern day Cinderella moment.

After spending a day indulging in popcorn and dip n’ dots, we decided to spend the following day hiking in Starved Rock State Park. The entire drive there it was pouring down rain. Luckily, once we arrived it had stopped, and also scared away most of the other hikers.

We spent most of our day navigating around the many canyons and across the overflowing riverbeds. Besides an older couple and a loud family with a child in a wagon, we had the park to ourselves! Since it had rained so much we had to get pretty creative in some areas. We walked/shuffled/butt scooted our way across many logs and fallen trees and only one of us fell in (surprise- it was me).

If you ever have the chance to visit Starved Rock, I would highly recommend it. Besides the challenges from all the rain, it’s a very easy area to navigate with it’s wide open spaces and minimal steep areas. And after you leave, you’ll go through a little town that has some cute mom and pop stores and restaurants where you could grab some lunch or maybe an ice cream cone. 🙂

The next day we decided to head back into the city and spend a few more days exploring. The friend that I was traveling with was from the area so she had the inside scoop on the must-see places.

One of those places was Cindy’s Rooftop Bar. Cindy’s sits on top of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel and has a breathtaking view of the city and Lake Michigan. I had tried to visit Cindy’s the previous weekend but there was a line to even get into the elevator so we had to pass.

That being said, it was definitely worth the wait. They had a selection of creative cocktails and delicious Kombucha. They had some small bites as well but we just stuck to drinks.

After our drinks, we went outside to the balcony to snap a couple photos. It was overcast and raining on and off but the view was still spectacular. If you can get there early enough or don’t mind waiting in line, make sure to add Cindy’s to your Chicago must visit list.

Later that night we went to a few bars and played arcade games. As you can see above, this is face of the smug and unaware. I was very proud to gloat at my five million plus score but unfortunately had some bad timing.

The following morning we hit up Victory’s Banner that had some of the best breakfast carbs around. As you can see, I like to have a varied array of nutrients when indulging. I like circular fluffy nutrients, as well as crunchy triangular ones. It’s all about balance, people. This place had a fantastic menu, literally something for everyone. Whether you were gluten free, vegan, or a meat lover, they had plenty of options for you. Looking at this photo is making me want this meal all over again!

After spending two weekends in Chicago, and a few days in the burbs, I can say I definitely understand the love people have for Chicago. There was a lot of diversity from the people, to the food, and even the views! I’m so glad I put aside more time for Chicago than I did for other cities, and I definitely plan on visiting again and again!

Thank you for you patience on this last post! Due to my travels the last two weeks I wasn’t able to blog as much as I would’ve liked to, but now you can expect some more regular posting again. 🙂

-V

 

 

88 In Travel

Chicago Part One

When I left D.C. the bar was very high. Luckily, Chicago was up for the challenge. I had plans to go into the city and stay with a friend for the weekend, then leave and go to the suburbs during the week with another friend. After spending a week in the suburbs (and a one night stay in Milwaukee ) we headed back to the city to spend another weekend with a different friend. Are you following? I didn’t think so. This is why there will be a two part Chicago post, sandwiching a Milwaukee post. This entry will include my first weekend which I spent with a girlfriend that I met from living in Dallas.

Lets kick things off with a view from my friend’s living room. Does it get any better than that? I ended up arriving from D.C. a bit later than planned. That morning I woke up with an email from the D.C. airport stating that all outbound flights were cancelled-due to “weather.” I don’t want to put my foil hat on and scare you away with my conspiracy theories but… there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and I’ll leave it at that. Lucky for me, I was able to get out just a few hours past schedule from Baltimore, rather than D.C.

As soon as I got there we headed to my friends place, had a glass of wine and took in a killer sunset, then headed to dinner. Dinner was good but I was mostly excited about coming across the Oscar Mayer weinermobile on our walk there! It’s the little things, people!

When we got up Saturday morning we decided our best bet was to walk the city so that I could really get up close and personal with the sights. To put it into perspective, my Birkenstocks (ugly as they may be) carried me nine miles blister free. I don’t want to spoil my part two Chicago post, but the above photo does a bit of foreshadowing…

Since we knew we had a long day of walking ahead of us, we decided to go to Wheat’s End for breakfast. If you ever visit Chicago and are gluten intolerant this is a must! I ordered pancakes and a cinnamon bun because I’m a deprived carb queen. The pancakes were good but not the best I’ve had. The cinnamon roll tasted like Christmas morning and I could have eaten ten more. My friend had their eggs Benedict and said that was great as well. They also had good coffee. As far as totally gluten free businesses go, this one ranks high. My carb and caffeine combo kept me running strong late into the afternoon.

We started our walk from Wheat’s End, then walked down along Lake Michigan until we found our way to the bean. I had to do as the tourists do so don’t give me a hard time for visiting a reflective legume, okay? It was super crowded so I didn’t get a photo with it but I’m pretty proud of the one I did snag. Also, some lady was straight up Lion King(ing) her baby to the underside of the bean. Like, holding it up and thrusting it near the under part of the bean over and over- it was very bizarre. **Note: no babies were harmed.

After walking about seven miles at this point, we headed to Raised, the rooftop bar/restaurant on the third floor of the Renaissance hotel. It had beautiful views and was the perfect pit stop for a little pick-me-up. We had the fries and the brussels sprouts appetizer and each had a beer. It was hunger games-esc trying to snag a seat but we ended up grabbing a bench and making use of it as our table.

Fast forward to a few hours later and I had my first ramen experience. The closest thing I’d had to it was Pho (which I love) so I knew I’d more likely than not, enjoy this as well. Boy is that an understatement. We went to Oiistar and had one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had. On top of that, they make their own gluten free noodles and they have amazing sangria. If you think I’m exaggerating about the quality since it’s my only ramen experience, let me share a secret with you. I unbuttoned my pants at the table. Not afterwards, at home, in a food coma. I unbuttoned them so that I could eat more since we were going out after and I couldn’t take my leftovers with me- IT WAS THAT GOOD. Was I in pain? Yes. Was this a healthy choice? No. Would I do it again? Yes, right now, in a heartbeat.

After my ramen coma, we headed out to a few bars with some of Emily’s friends. Emily is my sweet friend with the killer ramen recommendations. Emily can be seen above.

The next morning we walked to grab coffee and explore a bit more. We ended up going over to Lincoln Park and enjoying our lattes. It was the perfect end to a perfect weekend. I was sad to leave but excited to know I’d be back the next weekend. After our coffee I hopped on the metra and headed to the ‘burbs. If you want to hear about the rest of my time in and around Chicago, keep your eyes peeled for my next post!

Thanks for reading! As always, make sure to subscribe if you’d like to be notified whenever I post and feel free to share any posts you like on other social media platforms. 🙂

-V

 

114 In Travel

The Sneaky Charmer

Who’s the charmer you ask? The national’s capitol of course! D.C. wasn’t originally on the list of places to travel (more on that later) but I’m so glad things panned out the way they did. A close friend had just moved there a few weeks prior so it gave me a great opportunity to catch up with her and have someone just as excited to explore a new city as I was!

I was fortunate to be able to spend almost an entire week in D.C. so we were able to squeeze in quite a bit of exploring. One of my first day’s there we decided to check out all the monuments. This day also ended up being one of the most exciting/interesting of my entire trip. I’ll tell you why if ya keep reading!

I was staying near Georgetown so we took the Metro into the city and then spent all day walking to each monument. One of the first we went to was the Washington Monument, then over to the Lincoln Memorial. On our walk there, people kept walking into the water (gross) and a police officer on a horse was trotting around threatening to arrest people-it was pretty hilarious actually. We also saw a couple standing next to us get engaged, which was super sweet and exciting!

Once we checked out the Lincoln Memorial we decided to snap some pictures. I don’t know if the proposal that we just witnessed was rubbing off because we somehow managed to get what looked like my friend Jenn proposing to me. I can assure you that was not the case, but it provided quite a few hilarious photos. (I obviously said yes-duh).

One thing that surprised me was how small the White House actually looked up close. I don’t know what I was expecting exactly, but it was a bit underwhelming. As for the Lincoln Memorial, I was expecting something small but I was so wrong, it was massive! Also, when we went to see the White House they had a large area in front of it blocked off for construction so it took us a little while to figure out how to even get close enough to take a decent photo.

Last on our stop of monuments that day was the Capitol Building. Here come’s that story I promised you. It was supposed to rain that afternoon so we were kind of rushing to get there before it started. As you can see, these photos are a lot gloomier than the previous ones. After we took all of our photos we turned around (not pictured) and look out across from the Capitol Building and a huge wall of dark, rainy clouds are heading straight for us, and fast. We decided it was time to leave and started booking it out of the park. We’d only gotten a few yards away from the building when we see a few European men playing with a wild squirrel… like petting it and everything- it was very bizarre. We stopped to witness this and then it started to pour. It was raining men, cats, dogs, the whole shebang. We see a partially inclosed brick structure a few feet away and decide to run into it to take cover. We’re in there for about two minutes before the group of European men join us. After another two minutes an Asian tour group of about 25 people pile in as well. At this point we are all quite squished together trying to stay under the small awning.

Now that we’re all packed into this structure like a bunch of sardines, the rain starts coming in sideways. The group of people across from us had their umbrellas out straight in front of them and everyone was absolutely howling with laughter. We stayed like this for about 20 minutes, laughing until we cried along with 30 other strangers. Once the rain slowed down quite a bit, the tour group left. A few minutes later, the European men left. We waited it out just a couple more minutes and then decided to keep walking back to the metro. As soon as we come out of the structure we walk right into the Europeans who are all staring off behind us and upon seeing us just say, “girls…” We turn around and this is what we see…

About 50 feet from the structure we took cover in, and right where we had been standing with them when they were playing with the squirrel, a huge tree was struck by lightening and had fallen onto the sidewalk. We literally just stood there in shock until we decided to walk around and investigate. Thankfully, no one was under the tree when it fell. We were in a complete daze and just walked around it getting a better look and taking pictures. (I insta-storied this entire fiasco so If you ever want a more in depth view of what I post, follow along @thegreatvacate.

After all the walking and drama, we were starving. We headed to a place that I’m not 100% what it’s called. It showed up online as “Plan B” but the website says “Burger Beer Bourbon” and their menu says “b Restaurants.” You can click the link and check it out. Besides the confusing name, it was awesome! They had so many gluten free things that I hadn’t had in ages! I had the buffalo chicken tenders but they also had fried shrimp which I was really tempted to get. Their menu is huge and they have plenty of full gluten items as well. Definitely a must try if you’re in the area.

That morning I had prepped some chicken in the crockpot so we could have tacos that night for dinner. It had chicken breast, honey, sriracha, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Super simple and super delicious on some corn tortillas with salsa and lettuce.

The next morning I was dying to try out some goods from D.C.’s only all gluten free bakery, Rise. All of their products were very well marked so you knew exactly which allergens their products were free of.

I had an everything bagel with butter which was so good I bought four more to take home so I could have one each morning! My friend had some sort of egg sandwich on the same bagel which she said was great, and she’s not even gluten free! I also bought a biscuit and a chocolate croissant to take home and they were both some of the best baked goods I’ve ever had. That croissant was so, so decadent I would have never known it was gluten free!

After breakfast, we headed a few doors down to “Tryst” and each got a latte to go. I wish we had more time to stick around and enjoy the shop because it was so cute! It was a large room with a bunch of sun lights along the ceiling, a wide variety of cozy couches and chairs, and a huge wall of books with a sign that read “take one, leave one.” The book concept was one I’d seen before but never with that wide of a selection. Also, the latte was delicious. I’ll definitely be back the next time I visit D.C.

The rest of that day, as well as the following one, didn’t consist of too much. My friends and I all managed to come down with a 24 hour stomach bug, all at different times- yay! Above are a few photos I snapped when we wandered around D.C. and Georgetown. While we were home we got hooked on The Strain on Hulu. If you need a new show to binge, give this one a try! I’m not typically a big syfy fan but man it sucks you in!

On my last full day there we went to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum which was so neat! It was crazy crowded so I didn’t take many photos but we got to learn about everything from mummies, sea creatures, cave men, the human skeleton, and more. I would recommend going on a sunny Monday when school is in session as opposed to a cloudy summer day when every child in D.C. apparently likes to go to the Smithsonian. Also, maybe I was misinformed, but I had no idea that the Smithsonian wasn’t a singular museum, there’s actually about eight or so. That being said, I would love to visit a few more next time I’m in town and have a chance to plan my timing a bit better.

So why was D.C. a sneaky charmer? For starters, I had a false viewpoint that the city would be boring and solely focused on politics, etc. Boy was a wrong. During my week there we met so many kind, exciting, interesting people. One weeknight we were at a small bar, it was just the three of us and our new friend (bartender) from earlier in the day. By the end of the night, two other groups of strangers had asked to join our table because “it looks like you guys are having a lot of fun” and we were! I woke up that morning knowing two people in D.C. and ended it surrounded by eight new lovely people. I don’t know about you, but that’s not an experience I’ve had going out in most places.

We also spent an afternoon in Bethesda, Maryland. I don’t have many pictures from that day but we ate at the “Summer House Santa Monica.” I didn’t particularly enjoy my meal but my friends loved theirs! They also had a large bakery with cookies (gluten free and full gluten) the size of your head. After lunch that day we went to World of Beer where we met our new bartender friend and got my friend Jenn (or should I say, new fiancé) a job!

This trip was full of so many exciting and fun moments and I would never be able to put them all into words. I hope you enjoyed the moments I did share and please feel free to ask any questions if you’d like me to provide more details on any of the above mentioned things.

Thanks for reading 🙂

-V

126 In Travel

It Was Short and Sweet, Y’all

The title of this post sums up the time I spent in Nashville, as well as the length of this entry. You know it’s a good trip when over half of your photos are of food. Brace yourselves!

First thing’s first when I’m traveling- I research the best gluten free food spots. I was specifically searching for donuts and came across Five Daughter’s Bakery. They have a wide array of delicious looking full-gluten donuts and then about four flavors of gluten free/paleo donuts. They also had a couple gluten free cookies and I just couldn’t resist.

The donut I got was almond butter with a sea salt chocolate glaze. It was so rich and delicious. I was only able to eat half of it over the entire day! The cookie was snowcap flavor so essentially dark chocolate with chocolate chunks covered in powdered sugar. I think I actually preferred the cookie over the donut. It was the perfect crunchy to chewy ratio. If you find yourself in Nashville, definitely swing by one morning and grab yourself a box of treats!

For dinner one night we went to Rosepepper Mexican Grill. This place was recommended due to their delicious margaritas and boy was that an accurate description! They’re house made with no mix and you certainly get your money’s worth. A little goes a long way so one or two is all you’d want. For dinner I had the steak tacos which were phenomenal. The steak wasn’t over cooked and they had a ton of cilantro and lime which is my favorite taco addition.

This trip was only about 48 hours and I was visiting with friends from the summer camp I went to last year (I did a post on my experience which you can read- here) so I didn’t get to do too much while I was there. Both nights we ended up going to Florida Georgia Line’s new bar FGL House, which was a blast. It’s one of the newer bars in Nashville and it has three stories, the first with a stereo, the second with a DJ, and the third with a live band and a large balcony. It had something for everyone and it was obviously a place we enjoyed since we spent both of our nights there!

Sorry for the shorter post but I hope you enjoyed it none the less! Next up is all about my trip to D.C. which is going to be a lot longer. I stayed for six nights so it may even be a two parter! It was one of my favorite places I’ve visited thus far and a lot of…random things happened during my visit so you’ve got some interesting stories to look forward to!

Thanks for reading. 🙂

-V

122 In Lifestyle/ Travel

Charlotte, You’re a True Gem

As I’ve mentioned, there are multiple reasons I set out on this trip. One of the main ones being that I’d like to find a new place to call home. At the start of this journey, Charlotte was towards the top of that list. Now that I’ve spent about a week there, let me tell you where it stands now.

I’m going to do this post a little bit differently than the others. Rather than going in chronological order, I’m going to focus on one place at a time, sharing with you the places I visited, the things I ate, and some of my favorite moments.

One of my first days in town I headed down the road to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. I stayed in Uptown/4th Ward so it was a very easy walk from my Airbnb.

This museum had three floors of art to explore, as well as an outdoor area with a few sculptures like you see above.

The Bechtler has different artist’s collections come through on rotation so it’s a museum you can visit each time you’re in town. For $8.00 and an hour/hour and a half of your time it’s certainly worth a visit.

The particular exhibit I saw will be in place until September 10th, so If you find yourself in Charlotte this summer, you should definitely stop on by!

I’m not sure what level of artistic sophistication you possess, but this absolutely looks like a break dancing flubber to me. Please tell me you see it…

Overall, I thought this exhibit was highly entertaining. The eclectic and wide range of artwork definitely had me sitting back and trying to figure out what exactly I was looking at. As you can see in some of his sculptures, he used a lot of random components to create his pieces and in doing so, certainly brought mixed media to another level.

If art isn’t you’re thing, let me share with you some of the meals I had while I was in town. One of the first lunches I had was at The King’s Kitchen. It was a mix of your typical American fare but with a southern twist. Those collard greens with big chunks of bacon were amazing! I also had the green beans, grilled salmon, and fries. It was on the pricier side for lunch but as you can see, it’s quite a good bit of food.

Another meal I had (twice) was the gluten free pepperoni pizza from Pure Pizza in the 7th Street Public Market. I had it multiple times so I’d say that’s sending a pretty clear message. It had great flavor and a really light and crunchy crust, which anyone that eats gluten free will know is a rare texture found in any baked product. I also did a little bit of shopping while I was there and got some really pretty earrings from CLT Find. It was a small store that had mostly accessories and local goods. The market also had other places to eat, grab coffee, a sweet treat, or pick up some groceries from the small Italian market. I would highly recommend making a visit to this market if you’re in town.

Let me start by saying this photo does not do this place justice. I had heard about Coco and the Director being a great coffee spot and it truly was an awesome find. The latte I ordered was delicious, the staff was extremely warm and welcoming and they had a really neat seating set up. They had your typical area with tables and chairs but they also had a bunch of stadium style seating with pillows where you could lounge-so neat! On top of all that, they also had a loft style second floor (where I sat) where you could look out and see the street and do some people watching. Along with coffee, they sold some local goods as well and had a fresh meat counter where you could grab a Cuban sandwich. I didn’t have anything to eat, but by the smell of the store, I should’ve!

Another museum I visited was called The Mint, and it’s located right next door to the Betchler. If I had to pick favorites, I’ve got to go with The Mint. For $12.00 you can spend a few hours exploring some of the most “out there” art I’ve personally ever seen. I took quite a few photos so hopefully that will give you a better idea of what I’m describing.

Was really confused by what the message was with this piece- feel free to provide your insight.

I loved this piece. It had a bunch of layers to it where the artist had trimmed pieces of paper out and piled them on top of one another, giving it a really neat sense of depth.

This installation was my favorite by far. The artist put different random objects on the ground against the wall and then set up different colored lightbulbs at a bunch of different angles. Then dozens of thin sheets of glass of varied size were placed evenly next to one another. I wish this photo did it better justice because it looked like a wave of glowing colors when you would walk by it quickly. I posted a video of it to my Instagram story the day I visited and if you ever want a more in depth preview of what my posts will consist of feel free to follow me there @thegreatvacate.

A desk for a porcupine, perhaps?

The Mint had quite a few other installations that I really enjoyed but unfortunately not all of them allowed photography.

This is just a small collection of some of the things I did while visiting Charlotte that I felt were worth recommending. If you find yourself in the area and make it to any of these spots, I’d love to hear about your experience!

There were a few other places I visited and would like to mention, however I don’t have photos to accompany them. The Cellar at Duckworth’s was a really cool spot that I would highly recommend. Duckworth’s has your typical sports bar vibe/food but if you go downstairs to “The Cellar” it’s a totally different experience. Think modern day speakeasy with amazing cocktails (I’m looking at you Smoked Peach Margarita) and delicious food. I just had a couple appetizers but they were all so, so good. The jalapeño candied bacon was to die for. It’s just as good as it sounds and had a pretty intense heat to it.

I also grabbed a drink at The Workman’s Friend which was a quick seven minute uber from Uptown. They had a bunch of different beers and some really unique cocktails that you could either enjoy inside or out back on their patio beneath some twinkle lights.

While I managed to do a lot during my week in Charlotte, it somehow didn’t feel long enough. I never made it to the U.S. National Whitewater Center, the Lenny Boy Brewery, or over to Crowder’s Mountain so I’ll definitely be needing to make another trip back. I’m not sure if it’s going to be the next place I call home, but my visit there certainly helped confirm that it’s a place I’d like to spend some more time in. I’m about 1/3 of the way through my trip so I’ll have to see what other potential options that brings me!

Thank you for being patient during my mini hiatus, but I hope you enjoyed this post and found it worth the wait!

-V

 

 

 

 

 

122 In Travel

Three Days in Raleigh Will Have to do

After spending a relaxing week with my Aunt and Uncle, it was time for me to head out on my own. I booked a rental car and drove the four hour trek to Raleigh. Upon arriving, I got settled into my Airbnb then decided to walk closer to downtown for dinner. The area of Raleigh I stayed in was called the Mordecai district and it was full of cute, historic homes.

I wish I could’ve taken photos of all the houses, but I had to draw the line somewhere. They all had so much charm with their porch swings, gardens, twinkle lights, etc.

I ended up having dinner at this place called “The Station” which was about a mile down the road from me. It was mostly your typical bar food but with a bit more variety. I had a roasted veggie salad with grilled chicken and a Gluten Free beer.

I was wiped, so after dinner I walked home, worked on a blog post, and called it a night. The next day I decided to wander downtown in the direction of a restaurant called “Living Kitchen.”

Along the roughly two mile walk I passed more homes, government buildings, parks, restaurants, and shops.

I stopped in my tracks to turn around and take this photo. I love a statement door and blue is my favorite color, so coming across this was exciting. It doesn’t take much people.

The next day I decided to visit the North Carolina Museum of Art. I had heard it was a nice museum but I have to say, I think it just may have been my favorite museum I’ve ever visited. To start, there’s an indoor and an outdoor museum. They have walking and biking trails, all well marked, and not to mention- it’s free. That’s right, free! I toured the permanent exhibit, which including the outdoor portion, took me a couple hours. They also have another building that has traveling exhibits, which you do have to pay for, but I didn’t make it over there.

 This piece I found particularly moving. The artist behind it wanted to create something to honor the African American pilots that (up until recently) didn’t get the recognition they deserved for their part in fighting the war. He took a body cast of himself to create this piece in 1991, which he then transformed into what you see above. Those are planes flying into a fighter pilot in case it’s hard to tell from the photo. Two years later in 2001 he was killed in his studio, which was located in Tower 1 of the World Trade Center. It gives me chills to even type that out. It was striking as soon as I walked up to it, but then after reading the story behind it, even more so.

The outdoor portion has multiple trails, as I mentioned, but they have the statues mapped out so you can make sure you don’t miss any. My sense of direction is sub par at best so I definitely missed some, but there was still plenty I did see and love!

This metal tree was my favorite of the outdoor pieces. I loved the simplicity of it. There was a bird sitting on the top of it which took me a moment to release was not a piece of the sculpture.  You can see the bird in the photo at the top of this post.

They also had a children’s area with sculptures that were meant to be climbed on. This pig was one of those pieces, which reminded me of a blimp.  

I lucked out with the weather that day, as you can see. It was really hot, but I didn’t mind.

If you find yourself in Raleigh I would highly recommend coming to this museum. It was definitely the highlight of my time there.

As always, please let me know if you have questions! Thanks for reading. 🙂

-V

125 In Travel

North Carolina Hikes

One of the reasons I wanted to visit the Asheville area was to get in some good hiking. In total I spent three days hiking a variety of trails. Below you’ll find a compilation of photos from my treks!

If you’re planning a similar trip I would highly recommend doing it in the spring. Everything was so lush and vibrant. Plus, there was a lot of shade from the thick tree tops so it kept things cool.

My two musts: Hydroflask and my Keen boots. I was really happy with how sturdy these boots were. I walked on a lot of slick rocks/leaves and never once slipped. I did have to stretch out one boot since one foot is slightly bigger, but it was smooth sailing after that!

A completely natural, undoctored photo…

This trip did not have a shortage of wildlife! I saw a ton of deer, chipmunks, squirrels (both brown AND the elusive white), and thankfully only one snake.

Evidence of a white squirrel! They loved chasing the brown/grey ones all over the place.

Nature’s stair master. 

I know it’s a short one but I took too many photos not to share!

Keep your eyes peeled for my next post sharing all the details of my days spent in Raleigh!

I’ll be in North Carolina for another week or so- any must hike trails? I’m going to be wandering around a bit so I’m open to any suggestions. 🙂

-V

120 In Travel

The Biltmore House

In case you haven’t noticed, everything Biltmore is crazy beautiful. For those of you that aren’t familiar, let me give ya a little history lesson. The Biltmore was built in 1895 and is located in Asheville, North Carolina. It was the home of George Vanderbilt and his family. It’s currently still owned privately by the family and is run by the fourth and fifth generation.

The Biltmore has 34 bedrooms and over 100 rooms in total. As you may be shocked to know (hopefully not…) there is no ac. Keep that in mind when picking the time of year you choose to visit. They had fans set up when we were there and it was in the low 70’s so it felt really nice indoors but I’ve been told it can be quite uncomfortable if you tour it in the summer.

To call it grand would be an understatement.

As soon as you walk through the front doors you’ll be in a large entrance hall, but just to the right of that is the stunning, Winter Garden. This was the first room I saw and one of my favorites. All of the plants were real and are maintained (along with the rest of the plants in the building) by a staff of florists.

There were paper lanterns, a statue, and little areas to sit. It was the definition of whimsical.

The next room we walked into was the Banquet Hall which would host an array of dining events. This is where the Vanderbilt’s would have holiday parties such as 7-10 course meals, with each guest getting five crystal wine glasses each. I’m sending in my RSVP just in case they ever choose to reenact such an affair.

In the same room you’ll find the Organ Loft which you can see above. It’s a 1916 Skinner Organ and that’s about all I have to say about that! Just look at that thing!

Mr. Vanderbilt was a huge fan of classic literature, and his library houses over 22,000 books, many of which are first editions! It was quite dark in the library so I don’t have many photos, but they also had huge wooden ladders to get to the second floor books, which is the level you can see behind the railing above.

Next came the music room. I would like to rename it to “room with the coolest ceilings ever.” It has a ring of sophistication to it, don’t you think?…

There were also multiple living areas which had displays of some of the outfits of the characters in Mr. Vanderbilt’s favorite books turned into films. I can’t recall what book/movie this was from but it was too stunning not to photographic. I’ve got my halloween costume inspo for next year!

This is one of the many staircases in the home. All I can think of is what a pain it must be to be the person in charge of stringing that with lights during Christmas. I feel dizzy thinking about it.

Because there was no air conditioning, you could find many tiny windows around every turn. This helped the air circulate through the house, and not too mention, let some light in. Some rooms were so dark.

The one and only, Mr. Vanderbilt’s bedroom! Can we take a moment to appreciate how tiny that bed is? It was pretty much a full size, which for that time period I’d imagine was quite big. It was certainly the largest bed we saw on the tour.

Most of the rooms had fireplaces and each one was more beautiful than the next. I loved the contrast of the green and white flowers against the ivory and wood.

Again with the ceilings. Why have we stopped giving them any details??

Next comes the recreational areas. This was an indoor pool, which I found hard to imagine. There were no windows in this room so it felt a little spooky-but it was neat to see none the less!

This is the bowling alley and it was one of the first to ever be installed in a private home. There were no mechanical components involved so someone had to manually line the pins back up and bring the ball back. Not it!

This was one corner of their gym. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate how tiny/light those wooden weights are. I would love to see a side-by-side comparison of what a man viewed as “strong” looked like in the early 1900’s versus today.

Next up was the kitchen. This had to be my second favorite room. It had so much natural light and so much counter space! I get that the staff was often cooking for dozens and needed the space, but I’m still envious. Also, note the copper pots hanging up-those were the originals!

This was their Pinterest supply room where they’d make their mason jar salads. GOTCHA! This was their canning room as well as where they stored their lamps. The organizing obsessed part of me loved this room.

I believe this was in the billiards room but I just took it because I loved the contrast. The detailed cream ceiling looked so nice against the classic wooden walls (insert heart-eyed emoji here).

I’m not sure if this room was always the home to their pottery collection or if it belongs to the present day florists, but I loved it none-the-less. I’m a sucker for some blue pottery!

All in all, the entire day touring the Biltmore and it’s grounds couldn’t have been any better. Aside from the house and the gardens, they also offer a complimentary wine tasting, have many cafe’s and restaurants, along with some of the best ice cream you’ve ever had. The ice cream is made from the cows they have on sight and it is so fresh. I recommend the moose tracks flavor if anyone’s asking!

They also have a petting zoo with chickens and goats and they actually had two, two day old goats when we were there. They were sooo cute! They looked like small, weird puppies and I wanted one so badly!

If you have an questions I’d be happy to provide the details. If you have the chance to visit the Biltmore-go!

Thanks for reading. 🙂

-V