FLy Away to St. Pete

In mid-December, A and I took a long weekend jaunt down to Florida with my family in Massachusetts to see my sister and her family. Not only was it nice to get out of dodge for a few days, it was great to be able to attend their 10th annual Christmas party at their beautiful home. While they live outside of Tampa, A and I stayed in St. Petersburg for a night when we first arrived. I had only been through there briefly and he had never been, so it was fun to scope out a new scene together.
 
For a song, we stayed at the Ponce de Leon, a boutique hotel that was no frills, but very cute and clean with a comfortable bed and a central location. The first night, we ate (outside! bliss!) at Ceviche where we split a bunch of delicious tapas and a pitcher of cava sangria. Despite A having had sangria with me before, he never realized it also had booze added to the wine, so he was surprised when it hit him (which I found hilarious). After dinner, we walked down to the waterfront and all along Beach Drive, a ritzy street filled with a lot of restaurants, bars, shopping and pricy high-rises all decked out for the holidays. Unfortunately, we all know the struggle of capturing lights with a camera, so none of my shots quite did it justice. We ended the night at Try Wine, a wine shop that also offers the ability to pull your own pours from 88 different bottles! You put a credit card on file, they give you what looks like a hotel room key and you choose between three sizes of pours (pricing varies depending on the bottle and the sample size). We had a blast and once we found the wine we liked best, each got a full sized glass and sat down to enjoy it. We were still full from dinner, but they also offered cheese and charcuterie boards plus some other bites if you were so inclined.

 

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The next morning before leaving the hotel, we got brunch at The Mill which opened in 2015 and was named best new restaurant– in the state! Let me tell ya– it was a well deserved distinction! We shared apple fritters with a cinnamon Greek yogurt dipping sauce to start. They were a taste of heaven, but we had to take most of them to go so we could eat our meals. I ordered steak and eggs au poivre. Oh. Wow. Everything from the steak to the zucchini fritters was top notch… and believe me, I finished it all. From brunch, we walked a bit to grab a coffee at Brew D Licious, a spot that also brought us for a stroll down Central Ave, which had a wonderful artsy vibe. I really make a point not to visit chains on vacation (unless they’re unique to the area) and I’m so glad I got to try their smooth (yet strong!) iced coffee.

 

 
We made one last pit stop on our drive back to St. Pete Beach, which was so lovely. The white sand! The clear blue water! We just soaked up some sun and put our feet in the water watching boats go by and fisherman use nets off a pier. A is an avid boater and fisherman himself, so I think his only regret was watching vs doing 🙂

 

 
I’m very glad we took a little time out of a wonderful family weekend to make some memories and see a new city as a couple. I certainly hope to go back!

Steamboat Springs, CO

Earlier this month, I had the chance to attend a high school friend’s wedding in Steamboat Springs, CO. While I have been to Boulder/Denver a couple of times previously to see other friends, this was my first time outside of those two cities in such a stunning state. Even better, I was able to spend time with 7 of my friends from high school! Having gone to an all girls’ Catholic school with small classes, we all became and have remained close friends. For Moe’s (who has lived in CO for the past 8 years) wedding, we came out from MA, NY, and DC. Living states apart, the opportunities we have for quality time have diminished, so this trip was special in more ways than one!

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First we flew out to Denver, then rented a car to drive the 3.5 hours to Steamboat. The drive was gorgeous! You are actually going up and through mountains and the backdrop looks like something from a Hollywood set.

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After getting there, we rallied from a long day of traveling and everyone met at Sunpie’s Bistro, Moe and Shawn’s favorite dive bar in the area, for a welcoming party. I saw why they loved it! No frills, but funny signs, cheap drinks and sarcastic bartenders abound.

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The next morning, the gang minus the soon-to-be newlyweds headed to Strawberry Park Hot Springs. I had never been to hot springs before, but I would definitely go again! We were some of the first people there that morning, but it was already starting to get packed when we left late morning. if I had the chance, it would be fab to go at night time (they’re open late) to see the stars while taking a dip. Some of the springs were hotter than a hot tub, which is nice for a few minutes, but then we were ready to move into the slightly cooler one (think a heated pool). Since the water is moving, it feels cleaner than a pond or lake and you can still touch the bottom in most spots which is nice.

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Later in the afternoon, we made our way to a beautiful Catholic church for the ceremony, before heading back to the hotel to board the gondolas up the mountain in our formal wear! After the ride, we boarded buses (more like trucks with the body of a coach bus) to go even higher to Four Points Lodge for the reception — 9, 736 feet above sea level!

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The views were INSANE. Pictures do not do it justice, but did we ever try to capture just a bit of this breathtaking scenery. Because there were no bugs to speak of, the doors were open all night out to the deck so you could come and go as you pleased. The food was delicious, the drinks were flowing and the DJ was on point — although because of the altitude, we definitely needed to take regular breathers from dancing. Once night fell, I went back out on the deck and saw the most vivid stars of my life. There was the Big Dipper and the Milky Way clear as day, as well as seemingly (and probably actually) millions of stars! You felt like you were in a different world, in the best way possible.

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The next morning most of us headed home, but Katrina and I were spending a night in Boulder with friends and leaving Monday morning. While everyone else unfortunately sat in tons of traffic on their way to the airport, Google Maps took us a different route– which brought us THROUGH Rocky Mountain National Park! Being more of a city and beach girl, the mountains aren’t my usual jam, so it was a wonderful experience that I otherwise may never have had.

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We rounded out the trip with dinner in downtown Boulder with some of my oldest and closest friends who live out there as well, which was the perfect ending to an incredible weekend out west!

Day Trip to New Bern, NC

The last weekend in August, I was able to take a quick jaunt down to North Carolina see my lifelong BFF and meet her brand new baby!  Baby Andrew is so chill that we even managed to fit in a couple of activities while I was there, including a day trip to New Bern, NC. Having never been before, I didn’t know what to expect and Mad said it was a lot like Newburyport, one of my favorites places in New England since I was a little girl– I’m a sucker for a waterfront town/city. I agree with her comparison!
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We had a delicious brunch at 247 Craven (my burger was killer– quality beef, peppercorn (!) bacon and a fresh potato bun) with another friend who just moved nearby, then walked around downtown and by the waterfront. New Bern is where Nicholas Sparks calls home and also the birthplace of Pepsi. I rarely drink soda anymore, but when in Rome…
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One of my favorite parts was all of the bears (“bern” means “bear” in Swiss) all over the city, decked out in different themes.
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Very quaint, walkable place and if you ever have the chance to go, you definitely should. I would love to go back and stay in one of the many B&Bs as well. I didn’t get any pictures of those and my shots of the waterfront didn’t come out clear, so I leave you with this great reminder!
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February in Portsmouth

Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my family in Portsmouth, NH– seeing all the ships, walking around Strawberry Banke, eating seafood. Now I still love to make it up there whenever I can and it never disappoints. A had never spent any real time there, which needed to change, so we decided that our Christmas gift to each other would be a night away during the off season. We chose The Hotel Portsmouth and both could not be more pleased with our experience there. The staff was wonderful and the property both modern and charming. We cannot wait to stay there again and I was so happy to share a city so dear to me with my main man!

After a super easy check in, we had a late lunch (and the best.mussels.ever) at The Portsmouth Brewery, then walked around a bit even though it was so freezing we thought our faces would fall off. Next was upstairs at Fat Belly’s, where the bar has a strip of built in ice to keep your drinks cold because even when my face is nearly falling off, I still want my libations served frigid. After that, we went over to The Thirsty Moose to continue our walking two person pub crawl, where I got to try two new fruit beers– Wachusett Strawberry White and Seadog Sunfish– and I am OBSESSED with both. Also recommend their BBQ chicken nachos, which we got to go so we could eat them in our jam jams in the room. Heaven, essentially.

The next morning, we had some fresh (and free!) breakfast at the hotel, overlooking the falling snow. As much as I am SO COMPLETELY OVER all this friggin’ snow, it was pretty beautiful to watch– while inside with my bagel and coffee. After check out, we poked into a couple of shops, then had an early lunch at State Street Saloon (hot dog and tots!) before heading home. All in all a wonderful mini vaca and more memories made in a place that’s extremely special to me 🙂

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