This post was rather difficult for me to write. In June we had a lovely little getaway with Porscha and my parents. Unfortunately, an experience we had at lunch stayed with me for the rest of the weekend and still causes me sadness. Portland Maine is a wonderful city, filled with sights, restaurants, hotels, and good people. We will definitely visit again and still recommend it to you.
We checked into the Hilton Garden Inn Portland Downtown Waterfront. Only one of our 2 rooms was ready but that was fine. We booked a king bed room for my parents and a double queen room for us and Porscha. We brought up our luggage and settled in Fred. My mother and Fred were hot and tired so they decided to relax at the hotel while we went out for a drink and some lunch.
Vena's Fizz House is a gem! The staff, store selections, and beverages are all wonderful. The 4 of us sat at a hightop and ordered a mixture of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. We did order a snack but the staff forgot about (we were probably better off without it anyway).
We ended up bringing lunch back to the hotel for my mother and all hung out together for a little while. Once the weather cooled down we went shopping and enjoyed a nice stroll through the city. Back at the hotel, we weren't able to sit in the bar area with Fred but the wonderful bartender said he would bring us drinks into the lobby area (where Fred was allowed to be). The front desk staff also offered to turn on the fireplace for us to enhance the ambiance. A Shirley Temple for Porscha, wine for my mother, and Manhattans for the rest of us were all perfectly made.
For dinner, we opted to order food to go and watch a movie together. My dad and Greg walked up to The Thirsty Pig to pick up the order we called in. My favorite items from the Thirsty Pig are Matt's BBQ Banh Mi, Icelandic Hot Dog, and the Potato Salad. For a casual, balanced, and delicious hot dog or sausage definitely try The Thirsty Pig.
The next morning we woke up early and walked around Portland and enjoyed the quiet. For breakfast, my parents popped over to Standard Baking Co but we headed to The Holy Donut (yay vegan donuts). Porscha is also obsessed with cannoli's so of course, she loves the holy donut's cannoli donut!
After checking out of the hotel we headed back to Kittery Maine. We stopped into When Pigs Fly Bakery once more for a loaf of sliced sourdough bread to enjoy during the week. Luckily, traffic was light and we made it the rest of the way home easily.
At 3:30 a.m. the alarm is not a happy sound but up we went. We quickly dressed, grabbed our bags, and checked out of the hotel within a half an hour. Thanks to our early departure we made it to Boston in record time. My family wanted to do lunch together since my cousin from California was visiting so Greg and I stopped for take-out.
We parked and walked over to the Gourmet Dumpling House in Chinatown. I placed our order and had a 20-minute wait. The creature of habit that I am I crossed the street and ordered a bubble tea at Tea Do and then picked up desserts for everyone at Bao Bao Bakery.
Our lunch was a lot of fun and I was so happy to see my cousin before she headed home. Finally, we made it home and started to unpack and get ready for the week ahead.
We skipped lunch so we decided to have an early dinner before checking into our hotel. We decided to try The Vault Kitchen & Market for our meal. We were seated close to the bar area and our server was warm, offered suggestions, and very professional. My perfectly balanced and refreshing cocktail was the Thai Margarita. I ended up ordering a 2nd one throughout our meal since I enjoyed it so much. For food we ordered the grilled calamari, seared shumai, duck dumplings, lao sausage, and chicken claypot.
The grilled calamari was cooked well and had a gentle seasoning. We both loved it. The dumplings were kind of a hit and miss for me. The first issue was it's the same dough and shape. The shumai was fine but the duck dumplings were too finely ground for my taste. Greg enjoyed his lao sausage entree and the flavor was bold which I liked. My chicken claypot was outstanding. The dish was comforting, warmly spiced, and the chicken was tender.
We slept in, which for us is 7:30 a.m. and stopped in the lobby for coffee. Greg enjoyed a hot coffee while i opted for a caramel iced coffee. The Kimpton Brice Hotel offers an adorable selection for their guests.
We continued our sightseeing of Savannah with a morning walk around the historic district. We love the architecture, parks, churches, and cemeteries.
After a short rest in our hotel room, we decided to take another evening stroll down River Street. We enjoyed watching the riverboat dock, purchased pralines at River Street Sweets, and tried to find a spot for drinks and snacks but nothing seemed to work for us.
We headed back to the Kimpton Brice and decided to order drinks and appetizers at the bar. My cucumber collins was refreshing and well balanced. Unfortunately, the staff was a bit frazzled again and Greg's Manhattan ended up as an Old Fashioned. Greg enjoys both drinks and didn't really complain. The octopus we ordered was very tender and seasoned well but the potatoes weren't cooked fully. The brussels sprouts were crispy and slightly sweet. Finally, the fried baby artichokes we ordered were delicious. These were the closest I've had to fried artichokes in Rome Italy. The artichokes were crispy, salty, and the dip was a good accompaniment.
Before heading up to bed we ordered a Manhattan and a Bourbon and again there was a mistake and we both got Manhattans. Not a huge mix-up but a little annoying to get two drink orders wrong.
For my birthday my friend booked an appointment for a massage at the Mandara Spa at Disney World. I opted for the first time of the day so that Greg and I could spend the rest of the day together. Greg and I both drove over to the Dolphin hotel and valeted the car (which was validated by the spa). I checked in and a staff member showed me around the spa. Once inside you will find a men's and women's changing room with lockers, showers, steam rooms, and other amenities. The next area is a relaxing area for before treatments. I sat back and relaxed with a nice cup of coconut hibiscus tea. My masseuse welcomed me and showed me to my room where I enjoyed a light Balinese massage. After my massage, I was given a complimentary glass of champagne and shown to another relaxation area.
To continue the celebration my husband booked us a cabana by the pool at the Waldorf. The staff showed us to our assigned cabana, showed us the stocked fridge, menus, and helped settle us in.
The cabana was relaxing and I loved being able to get some shade since it was a hot and sunny day. There were a few things that I feel could be improved upon. The first thing is that the fridge comes with complimentary soda and 2 bottles of water. Once you drink those waters the staff bring you tap water. For the price of the cabana, I feel like bottled waters should be given throughout the day. A staff member asked us when we would like to receive our fruit plate. I don't know if he didn't tell anyone or what happened but 11:30 a.m. came and went and we ended up having to ask someone else about it after 12:00 p.m.
The poolside restaurant staff are wonderful. The server was always coming by the cabana area for drink and food orders. For lunch, we enjoyed a couple of different cocktails, the Asian salad with shrimp, the edamame, and the peel and eat shrimp. The drinks and food are pricey but we couldn't complain.
We made it inside the hotel to relax before dinner right before a pretty strong rain shower.
Room 925 is a Disney View Suite with a large king bedroom, living room, and dining area. The four of us went to check out our room and wait for the luggage before heading out to an early dinner. The room was very clean and mostly kept up. The living room couch was a little sad looking and could use a replacement. The view was terrific and let us watch multiple fireworks from the park during our stay.
Our friends dropped us off at the Waldorf before heading home for the night and we made plans to get together again tomorrow. After unpacking some of our belongings we decided to take a sunset stroll along the golf course. The weather cooled down slightly, the golf course was empty, and we had a relaxing stroll with plenty of spots for pictures.
To end the night we enjoyed a glass of wine on our balcony and watched the fireworks from Disney World.
Our alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. and we pulled ourselves out of bed to finish packing and to load up the car. Once fully awake we drove to my moms where we settled Fred in for his week's stay with grandma and grandpa. We hopped back in the car and began our drive south to Florida. I kept myself awake by snapping pictures in NY, DE, and MD.
Today's drive wasn't easy at all. We hit traffic entering Delaware and tons of traffic in Virginia. Our 16-hour drive ended up being a little over 18 hours. After shopping at Target for a few forgotten items we opted to eat lunch at Five Guys. Five guys make simple but good burgers and fries that are save for those with a gluten and/or dairy allergy (lettuce wrap). We had plans to stop at Sweatman's for our usual BBQ fix but we knew we would either get there after closing or after all the food ran out.
It was 11:00 p.m. when we pulled up to the Hampton Inn in Brunswick GA, our hotel for the night. The staff simply handed over our keys and our waters rather than a warm welcome. Our room was very clean however it was in desperate need of updating. The furniture was a little beat up, the air conditioner extremely noisy, and the bathroom was outdated. In addition to all of that the area was busy and the walls thin so we heard everyone who was coming and going. We've stayed here in the past but now agree that we won't return.
We each enjoyed a nice glass of Matua Sauvignon Blanc before getting to bed so we could leave early for Orlando in the morning.
We were supposed to be on our way to Ireland tomorrow but unfortunately, life had a different idea for us. Our plan was to visit Dublin, Northern Ireland, and then hike Wicklow Way. Sadly this trip has now been pushed off until October.
6 weeks ago I went to the podiatrist for some foot pain I've been struggling with and the response I got was quite unexpected. I assumed I had plantar fasciitis or a pulled tendon. The X-rays showed that I actually broke one of my sesamoid bones. My Dr. suggested a short walker boot for 2 weeks and then to try sneakers. When I switched to sneakers and still had pain I was put back in the boot for another 2 weeks. Last week I went back and the X-rays still confirm the break. Needless to say, I'm back in the boot. My Dr. did come up with a game plan to try and get me through the hike but with no guarantees. I haven't been able to work out for 7 weeks, I've been in this boot for 6 weeks, and I can't imagine trying to hike 5-8 miles a day in a couple weeks from now. In addition to my foot not being a 100% healed, walking in this boot has affected my knees, hips, and back. When I'm out of the boot for a little while I end up in a good amount of pain the next day.
The lemons didn't easily turn into lemonade but we have found a brighter side to the story. We were able to (at a cost) change our flights, change our hotels, and thanks to Hillwalk Tours change our hiking plans. Considering we already had the time off and in need of some R&R, we decided to go on a relaxing road trip.
We'll be loading up the car and heading south to Florida. Our first destination in Florida will be Orlando so we can visit friends, say hi to Mikey, and relax at one of our favorite hotels. Our second destination will be Savannah Georgia for unique sites and southern hospitality. Our final stop will be in Washington D.C. for either a view of the mall or a museum as well as a nice dinner.
We're grateful for these opportunities and can't wait to share our adventures!
Every summer we take Porscha clothes shopping for the upcoming school year. Last Sunday we decided to head to Newbury Street with my parents. We were a little too early for the shops to be open so we popped into the Nespresso Boutique Bar. The staff welcomed us and let us push together two tables by the window. We all ordered beverages, mine being a delicious dairy free Turmeric Latte. I didn't get to partake but we also ordered a few macarons for a little treat.
After our beverages we hit a few shops. In the area we visited we love All Saints, Lush, Nordstrom Rack, and Zara. Porscha found so many pieces that were perfect for her at the Zara sale.
Walking back to the car my mother needed a bit of a rest and so we decided to get lunch in town. Greg and I wanted to try Snappy Sushi for a while now and here was our opportunity. The staff were friendly and helpful. My mother couldn't make it down the stairs and luckily they have an elevator in the restaurant. Unfortunately, the restaurant was using the elevator as storage so it took a few minutes to get it functioning.
We were seated downstairs by the sushi counter and our server brought over waters for us. To start our lunch we decided to try the Karaage (fried chicken). The chicken was hot, crispy, and not overly seasoned. My mother ordered the chicken don which she enjoyed but kind of wished she ordered the karaage for her entree. I ordered the cold ramen. My entree was very flavorful with two types of sauces. Porscha ordered the chicken sushi and was very disappointing. The dish was bland and unappealing. The restaurant was out of the first 3 ramens on the menu so my father ordered a different type the waiter recommended but it was a bit too smoky for my taste. Greg ordered sushi and enjoyed it.
If I could have continued walking it would have been great to pick up some dessert at Georgetown Cupcake or the new FOMU pop up. Instead, lunch we picked up our car and made our way back to my parents house where Fred and Beefy were waiting for us.
Our plan was to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum but we had a few issues come up and so we didn't leave the house until later in the day. We decided to enjoy a late lunch at Shojo in Chinatown. The staff was super nice when we asked to sit at a lower table instead of the high top they showed us to. With this air cast on my foot, high tops aren't very easy!
We ordered a couple of cocktails and I fell in love with the Don Papa Daquiri. The drink was light, sweet and yet still refreshing. We decided to order a bunch of dishes to share. We ordered the duck fat french fries, kimchi fried rice, pig bao, sesame charred greens, bulgogi bao, and pork belly dumplings.
The kimchi rice has a great texture and isn't overly tart or hot. The duck fat french fries are hot and crispy, the dumplings were nicely done but the sauce was a little too tangy for my taste. Both of the baos were soft with tender meat and fresh toppings. The star for me was the sesame charred greens. The greens still had texture but were tender and the sauce was a great blend of savory, sweet, and nutty.
Our next idea was to get Bubble Waffles to go but once inside the shop we couldn't find anyone to work the booth. We were disappointed for a minute but then I remembered a bakery following me on Instagram that looked interesting. Just a block away was Bao Bao Bakery. Inside the shop, we were met with meticulous displays, welcoming staff, and stunning pastries. We purchased several individual pastries, walnut cookies, and a traditional egg tart to go.
With dessert in hand, we made it back to my car and drove to my parent's house (who were watching Fred for us). The pastries from Bao Bao Bakery were beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. Each pastry was creamy, not overly sweet, and offered bold fillings. Our favorites were the creamy and decadent caramel and the smooth and balanced raspberry cheesecake.
Porscha and I went for a ride with my parents and came across The Scotty Dog. The hot dog stand with car service was adorable and unexpected. The staff welcome you with a smile, are friendly, quick with orders, and make sure everyone is happy with their food.
We've now dined twice at The Scotty Dog and can't complain about anything. We've tried everything from a plain hot dog to a Reuben dog, to sweet potato fries. My personal favorite hot dog is the BLT dog. The BLT dog is a jumbo hot dog wrapped in bacon, topped with lettuce tomato and mayo and served in a french bread roll. It is savory, soft, and has a bit of bite to it. A perfect bite!
Whether dining in your car, sitting at their tables, or taking food to go you can't go wrong with the casual and tasty hot dogs.