Spring Break 2019 Recap – Savannah, Georgia

After five states, four cities, and over 1600 miles, we are home and back to our regular routine. We had a great spring break. While our Easter was unconventional – the kids hunted for eggs in our Raleigh hotel room – it was spent with the people I love most in the world so I can’t complain. Tomorrow will be filled with work, school, baseball, and preparing ourselves up for the last quarter mile of the school year. The kids are currently asleep and Clay and I are watching Brooklyn 99 with computers on our laps – I’m writing this blog post and Clay is researching hotels in Munich (we booked our hotel for our time in Salzburg, Austria and I am unapologetically excited to nerd-out to Sound of Music locales – eek).

Okay – let’s talk about our spring break road trip. We briefly considered leaving Friday evening after Violet’s t-ball game but we quickly vetoed that idea when we realized that traditional Friday evening traffic on I-95 coupled with Spring Break traffic would be about as much fun as being forced to watch Speed 2: Cruise Control on a continuous loop for 24 hours. We made the right call because traffic horror stories dominated the local news cycle that night.

Yes – we have coordinating monogrammed LL Bean luggage. I’ll admit that it’s a bit dorky but also very efficient and practical. We woke up early on Saturday morning and pulled out of our driveway shortly after the sun rose. Our goal was to reach Savannah, Georgia by mid-afternoon but because we weren’t the only ones traveling south on I-95 that day, Waze pushed back our estimated time of arrival throughout the day. But soon enough (it felt like days) we pulled into the Savannah Riverfront Marriott and breathed a sigh of relief – it finally felt like vacation.

The hotel choice was perfect for our family. It is located along the river – within walking distance of Savannah’s historic River Street but just far enough removed from the rowdiness. The hotel upgraded us to a riverfront room so after catching our breath on the balcony, we changed out of our road trip clothes and walked to Boar’s Head Grill & Tavern, where we had made reservations via Open Table somewhere in North Carolina. 

The kids had their first sampling of fried green tomatoes topped with goat cheese. We all agreed that the she crab soup was delicious and enjoyed the view. After dinner, we walked around historic riverfront and the kids convinced us to pop into River Street Sweets. We walked up some spooky stairwells and found ourselves caught in the middle of what felt like the World’s Biggest Bachelorette Party. We watched a steamboat leisurely make her way up the river and admired the Waving Girl underneath the moonlight.

The next morning, we walked into Savannah and admired a few of the 15(?) public squares. We went to Café M for breakfast – a little Parisian café in the heart of historic downtown Savannah. The kids had orange juice and crougnuts while Clay and I enjoyed coffee and egg sandwiches. 

Guys – this seemingly simple egg and cheddar on a baguette was probably the best egg sandwich I’ve ever had. The eggs were so creamy and smooth – well worth the wait (did you know that Alton Brown’s recipe for scrambled eggs requires 20 minutes of constant stirring over low heat?). After brunch we walked around historic downtown some more before checking out of our hotel so we could continue on our trip. We weren’t in Savannah for very long but we will be back, for sure. Next up – Amelia Island, Florida!

Advertisements

Dreaming of Spring Break

Is anyone else running on fumes? It has been a week. Because we currently live in an area that schedules Spring Break around Easter, our week-long vacation from school and regular life is extra late this year. A handful of years ago, Clay and I vowed to make every attempt to pack a suitcase and physically leave during Spring Break if our schedule allows. While neither one of us were into the traditional Spring Break scene during our college years, we appreciate the mental reset that escaping home can provide this time of year. Especially when we call the fast-paced and unrelenting Washington DC suburbs home (we do enjoy living here, I promise!).

Deremer Studios Commercial Photograph – Amelia Island
www.ameliaisland.com

We decided quite early that we’d go to Amelia Island, Florida for Spring Break this year. My parents bought a place there last year so after coordinating with my siblings last fall, Clay and I penciled our family to use it for the week. It helps with scheduling that my siblings and I don’t live in the same area – different school calendars!

We’re driving to Florida because it is not in our budget to fly – especially since we’re going to Germany and Austria this summer. We are able to travel as much as we do because we are willing to drive to a lot of our destinations. Would it be easier and faster to fly to Florida? Yes. Would we still like to be able to contribute to our kids’ 529s? Also yes. We are incorporating a brief stay in Savannah, Georgia into our road trip to Florida. We’re staying right on the river and we’re looking forward to exploring the Hostess City of the South.

We don’t have much of anything planned during our time in Amelia Island beyond relaxing on the beach. We will be bringing our stand-up paddle board with us to Floria so we’re excited to take her on her maiden voyage. I have a stack of books to read without guilt and we’ll be sure to eat at some of our favorite local places – like Timoti’s (pictured)!

My parents will be meeting us there towards the end of our stay and watching the kids for a night while Clay and I escape to the Casa Monica Resort and Spa in St. Augustine, Florida. We’re looking forward to staying in one of the oldest hotels in the country and enjoying the Moorish and Spanish Revival architecture on the property.

Yesterday was dreary, rainy, and cold – it made it easy to daydream about our upcoming trip. Thankfully the sun is shining today – perfect weather for the first Little League games of the season. And soon enough we will be breathing in the salty air and eating fresh seafood. What about you? Has your Spring Break already come and gone? Did you go anywhere? What are your Spring Break plans?

Our Cherry Blossom Cruise Experience

Eyes are watering. Heads are pounding. And noses are being tickled throughout the national capital region. It’s peak cherry blossom week! This time of year, visitors flock to the tidal basin in hopes of seeing the delicate and fleeting Japanese flower for themselves. We’re not immune to the splendor and beauty of what is known as sakura in Japanese so when friends mentioned they bought tickets for a cherry blossom cruise out of Georgetown for Sunday afternoon, we decided to join them.

Despite the shining sun and blue skies, it was windy and cold – especially out on the water. It was our first time on a cherry blossom cruise so we weren’t quite sure what to expect. But like most things in life, we kept an open mind and made the best of our chilly hour on the Potomac.

It’s interesting how the cherry blossoms came to be in the tidal basin, which is part of West Potomac Park. The Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, and the cherry blossoms all surround the tidal basin in Washington DC. Back at the turn of the century, First Lady Helen Taft became enamored with Japanese cherry trees when visiting Japan when her husband (future President Howard Taft) was the governor-general of the Philippines. Soon after her husband became President, she received a letter from Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore from the National Geographic Society, who wished to transform the tidal basin by planting cherry trees.

David Fairchild, a food explorer with the United States Department of Agriculture, also campaigned for importing cherry blossoms into Washington DC. President Taft viewed the trees as a tool to improve international relations with Japan. David Fairchild brokered the initial deal, which unfortunately involved faulty trees. But after Yukio Ozaki, the mayor of Tokyo, met with Fairchild, a second shipment of trees was organized and described as a memorial of national friendship between Japan and the United States.

The cherry blossoms represent a time of renewal – one of the first signs of spring in this part of the country. The delicate flowers also represent the fleeting nature of life due to their short life span. When appreciating their beauty, you can’t help but be reminded of life’s ephemerality.

The cherry blossom cruise was okay. We likely won’t go on another one – we much prefer to walk about the tidal basin. Being on the water felt too far removed to really appreciate the peak bloom. I’m not upset that we did it but after experiencing the cruise, I wouldn’t categorize it as a ‘must-do’ in the area. We were able to snag a deal on Groupon for half-price tickets – I certainly would not pay full ticket price ($30/person) for the experience.

Prior to going out on the water, we finally checked out The Berliner in Georgetown, which classifies itself as a modern German beer hall. The food was delicious, and the beers were awesome, and it was kid-friendly. How can you not love a place like that? We still have a handful of months before our trip to Germany so we will definitely be back!

How We Chose Our Family Summer Vacation – 2019 Edition

Last year – I wrote a post about how we chose our summer vacation. It was a big hit on social media and prompted a lot of discussion about planning family vacations with a lot of people chiming in on what works best for them. So I thought I’d do it again this year. Back at the end of January, we started to seriously discuss where we wanted to travel this summer. We had our ill-fated New York City trip already planned, we knew we were going to Amelia Island for Spring Break, and while we penciled in trips to Williamsburg and Hershey Park and possible trips to see our parents in Lake Lanier and Wilmington, we had yet to narrow down our big summer trip. So one night at dinner, the four of us brainstormed possible vacation ideas.

Our kids were campaigning hard to go to Disney World this summer. We said no. But we are entertaining the idea of going there in November. Over Thanksgiving. Yes – we’re apparently masochists. As you can see, our list was all over the place. For as much as we’d love to travel to all of the places tossed around at dinner, our wallets and schedules say otherwise. So how did we narrow down our list?

First to be scratched off the list was a Caribbean cruise and any Caribbean island. We reasoned that because we’re going to Amelia Island for Spring Break and likely visiting Clay’s parents at their new place in Ocean Isle, North Carolina this summer, we will be able to get our beach fix at those places. We haven’t ruled out a cruise in the future but right now, it just doesn’t really appeal to us. This picture isn’t helping.

Truth be told, we researched traveling to Hawaii fairly extensively. We found some decent prices on airfare and hotels but most of the deals involved us staying on one island the entire time. When we added island hopping into the mix, the end result was more than we were comfortable paying. We also looked into Costa Rica, which actually appealed to us more than Hawaii and was cheaper. But since our desired travel time was smack dab in the middle of the rainy season there (hence the lower prices), we decided to save that trip for another year.

We also very briefly considered South Africa because we came across a fantastic deal on a vacation package but ultimately decided that we’d rather go when the kids are just a little bit older.

We then got a bee in our bonnet about taking a road trip throughout the eastern shore of Canada. We throughly enjoyed our New England road trip a few years back and thought it’d be a great way to save a few pennies while seeing some of the most remote areas of North America. Hahahahaha. When we started pricing car ferries to the various remote islands of Canada, we were met with sticker shock. Sorry Cape Breton Island, we won’t be seeing you this year!

{source}

And then before we knew it, we were pricing flights to California. We sketched a rough itinerary of four days in Disneyland (we even reserved a hotel room!) and then taking a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway into Northern California. We told ourselves that California was the destination for our big summer trip and began to plan accordingly. But then the more we thought about it, the more we realized that we both wanted our next Disney-related trip to be Walt Disney World instead of Disneyland again. We don’t see ourselves going to either park multiple times over the next decade so we reasoned that it makes more financial sense to do our Walt Disney World trip in the near future, rather than spend money going to Disneyland again. So we cancelled our hotel reservation.

{source}

We were eating lunch at Old Brogue in Great Falls when we seriously began discussing going to Ireland this summer. We loved Scotland and England so we had no doubt that we’d love Ireland too.

{source}

Italy was also high on our list, as was Germany. The more we entertained the idea of going to Europe again, the more excited we became at the prospect. So few weeks ago, we became absolutely determined to make it happen within our budget. We were somewhat flexible with dates (a huge difference from last year due to Clay’s previous position) so we started looking at flights to almost every major European city in July. We were also flexible with the location. We spent a little time each night researching flights and tracking on a spreadsheet the price to fly to various European cities.

{source}

And before long – we came across a fantastic deal on airfare that almost seemed too good to be true. So we bit the bullet and booked four airline tickets to Munich, Germany!

Yup – we’re going to spend almost two weeks in Germany this summer and we couldn’t be more excited. Both of our ancestors hail from Deutschland and beer and Bavarian pretzels are practically our love language so I have the feeling that we’re going to feel right at home in Germany. While we don’t have the details hammered out yet, we plan to visit Munich, Berlin, multiple Bavarian villages, the Alps, and more.

As you can see, our process for choosing a location this year that worked within our budget wasn’t exactly linear nor easy. Would we love to go on multiple trips throughout world this year? Of course! But that isn’t our reality. But with some flexibility and good ol’ fashioned research, we came up with a summer travel plan that has us excited.

Have you planned your summer travel yet? If so, where are you going?