5/23/13

1 Something good.


Do you love this? If so, then you can find it in a great little shop on the corner of Chestnut and Front Streets in Wilmington (of course I cannot remember the name!) . . . or you could just DIY your own. Make it say whatever you want it to say--as long as it's something good. 

5/22/13

3 I'm back.

So I sort of fell down on the whole blogging-every-day-in-May thing, but with good excuse. Tod and I headed out of town last weekend for a friend's wedding. (I don't really have an excuse for my failure to blog on Monday and Tuesday though.) We went to Wilmington, North Carolina, where we stayed at a charming bed and breakfast.
If you're in the market for a bed and breakfast in Wilmington, we highly recommend the Port City Guest House. Sophie will make you feel right at home. She'll fill your belly with all sorts of delicious food (seriously, I ate four pieces of bacon at breakfast one day), and she'll even drive you to your wedding when the mercury reaches a too-hot-for-my-husband-to-walk-in-his-suit-and-tie temperature.


We pretty much fell in love with Wilmington. It's a cool little city with a lot to appreciate. It's like a mix of Charleston and Asheville and Brooklyn and Savannah and . . . who even knows what else? 

History. Great architecture. Beautiful churches. A waterfront farmer's market. Good beer. Quirky people. Old bricks. A naval ship. Spanish moss. Hills. Ancient magnolias. Old things. New things. And pretty much everything in between. 


St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1858



The Presbyterian Church caught Tod's attention. I think it had something to do with the steeple--you know, the whole GAMECOCK thing. Does anyone know the story behind this one?

He spotted the special steeple while I was reading about Henry Bacon. Mmm, bacon--I ate a lot of bacon last weekend.


This beautiful old building is in nan plaza, because I'm pretty sure the "Ke" before "nan" is meant to be silent.
At least it's silent in this picture!

Yes, I loved this old fixture. What is it about old painted things? And beadboard? They get me every time.

I also love old brick buildings.


And daisies--I love daisies! They make me smile. 

So I guess I must be doing okay with the whole husband-training thing . . . because he pretty much knows now without asking that, yes, I do want to walk into that antiques store.


What is it about reflection pictures? I love them, although I have promised Tod I'll try to cool it with the sunglass-snaps. (I guess he's pretty tired of having his pores on display. But I think that's just what he gets for wearing such amazingly reflective sunglasses. Right? I mean, he could sport dented, scratched lenses from the Walgreens check-out counter like I do, and then I probably wouldn't take these pictures.)
We stopped for (NC) beers at Smoke on Front Street.


But the sunglass-snaps are just so fun.


Oh, you know what else was so fun? The wedding. Yes, the wedding was so fun






So fun, in fact, that the final pictures of the evening all look like this. (No, you do not need to have your eyes checked. Or maybe you do, but it's not because of this picture. And yes, we are wearing glow stick necklaces. Like I said, so fun.)


5/16/13

0 One more

One more picture from Montreux.

You definitely don't need to speak another language to understand this one: clean up after your dog.

Sorry for the lame post tonight: I'm busy watching one more episode of The Office. Finales always get to me. I remember sitting in front of the TV on the really scratchy wool rug in our living room when I was a kid and boohoo-ing my way through the series finale of Family Ties, so all bets are off for tonight.


5/15/13

0 More about Montreux

As if you couldn't tell from yesterday's post, Montreux sits at the foot of the Alps on Lake Geneva. If you've heard of it before, it may be from Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, from Lord Byron's "The Prisoner of Chillon," or from the annual Montreuz Jazz Fesitval--or maybe it's just because of Freddy Mercury. What? Well, apparently Freddy Mercury and his band, Queen, loved visiting Montreux and even recorded in Montreux. Five years after his death, a bronze statue was unveiled by the lake, and every year since 2003, fans of Mercury have gathered for Freddy Mercury Memorial Day in September. So there's that.

Anyway, I told you that Montreux is an odd but charming place. It's odd because you can't quite get a handle on the type of people who live there--and because it's so freakishly clean and well-maintained (at least the path along the lake is) that you feel a little bit like you're in Disney World. I guess that adds to the charm though. (And we decided the freakishly clean and well-maintained part had something to do with the gambling revenue from the casinos.) Oh, and then there are these odd little Raisinette-ish statues in the gardens. I'll share pictures.

Scenes from Montreux:

Freakishly clean and well-maintained.

See? The flower beds were out of control.

Here's one of those odd little Raisinette-ish statues I mentioned.

And here are some people on whose type you can't quite get a handle. Cute dog though.

Welcome to the Swiss Riviera.

Or is it Disney World?

Of course Tod posed with Freddy Mercury. I only wish I'd been able to convince him to strike the same pose.

You know I can't resist a good reflection shot. Can you find us?


And I think I'll leave you with this one: an entire family of Raisinettes. I'm still confused.
 

5/14/13

0 A Room with a View (Montreux)

From Paris we hopped on a high-speed train to Geneva, Switzerland, where we transferred to a slow-speed train that wound its way along the edges of Lake Geneva until it reached the Swiss Riviera resort town of Montreux. 

We hopped off the train, bags on our backs (and my extra bag on Tod's shoulder), and made our way to our hotel--a mystery, four-star deal I took a chance on with Travelocity. 

The hotel was great--swanky in an 80's way. Our room wasn't quite ready when we arrived so we hung out in the mirrored-ceiling lobby. Yes, I took mirrored-ceiling pictures.

Because that's just the kind of thing that my camera and I get a kick out of.


Here's a better view of the swanky 80's lobby.


Our room was huge and well-appointed, with a balcony that extended the length of the room.
And the view, well, it was absolutely incredible, especially in the morning as the sun started to rise.


I sat on the balcony and literally oohed and aahed. 

I'll share more about Montreux later because it's an odd but charming little place.

5/13/13

0 A Room with a View (Paris)

When we entered our little Parisian apartment on the Ile Saint-Louis (after climbing the mountain of stairs I showed you the other day), one of the first things we checked out was the view. The studio had one large window, and it flooded the apartment with light.

When you looked out the window to the right, you could see the Ile de la Cite. (If you walked out to the intersection you can see in this picture, you'd be staring directly across to the back of Notre Dame.

When you looked out the window to the left, you looked straight up the Rue Saint-Louis en l'lle, a largely residential street with a few shops and restaurants.

Even the view directly across the street was pretty amazing.

So amazing, in fact, that my sweet mom painted it for us this year for Christmas. 

My mom doesn't really consider herself to be an artist, which is crazy because she's so talented. This painting is one of my very favorite things.


5/12/13

0 I heart mom

Happy mother's day to all the moms out there.



And to keep with the travelogue theme I've got going this month, here's an oldie for you: my mom with her girls, circa 1983, in St. Augustine, Florida. (Sorry for the weird reflection in the background. I don't have a scanner so I just took a pic of this pic with my point and shoot.) 
What's crazy is that I'm now about the same age that my mom was in this picture. I'm pretty sure I don't look that good though!


5/11/13

0 French Press (in Mexico)

Our coffee maker is on the fritz right now. (It's a Bunn that we received for our wedding, and we LOVE it. We love it even more now because Bunn's customer service has been so great; when I described the problems we were having, they put a new one in the mail to us. Now that's what I call customer service.)

I'm not a huge coffee drinker, but once or twice a week I really enjoy a cup in the morning. And a couple mornings this week I had time for a cup, but I had no way to make it. Sad. 

In any event, one of my favorite things about our lengthy buffet breakfasts in Mexico was the French press coffee I enjoyed each morning. So our current coffee maker situation actually got me thinking that maybe I ought to have a French press on hand. (I see them from time to time at places like Tuesday Morning and T.J. Maxx so I maybe I'll pick one up next time.)



5/10/13

0 Speaking of Stairs in Paris

As y'all now know, I spent a semester during college living with a French family in Paris, and I absolutely fell in love with the city. Tod had never been to Paris before our honeymoon, and so when we decided to spend some time there on our trip, I really wanted him to be able to get the real feel of the city. In my opinion, one of the best ways to get the real feel of a city is to pass on a hotel and rent an apartment instead. You want to do your research beforehand because you want to know the exact area in which you want to stay, and you want to make sure you understand what you're getting. There's obviously a lot of trust involved, but you often can save a bit of money by going the apartment route. It's great to have a kitchen or a kitchenette, as well as laundry facilities, and, as I mentioned, it's a great way to get a little closer to a particular neighborhood--to feel like you're living in another place if only for a brief moment in time.

There are plenty of websites where you can search for vacation rentals, but we chose to go with flipkey.com, which worked great. We found a wonderful spot on the Ile Saint-Louis--a perfect, central location for anyone new to Paris who wants to explore both banks. 

Our apartment was on the top floor of an ancient building very close to the Seine on a very quiet street. We had some idea of what to expect, and one of the things we expected (based on previous renters' reviews) was a whole bunch of stairs.



Looking up.


And heading down.


It actually worked out great for me because I just used all of the stair-climbing to justify my entirely-too-frequent bakery stops for pain au chocolat. If you ask me, there is nothing in the whole world that that smells or tastes better than fresh (still warm!) pain au chocolat.

5/9/13

0 Climbing Sacre-Coeur (Part 2)

If you missed Part 1, scroll down to yesterday's post.  

Now back to the climb. 



To get to the top, you climb stairs inside and outside and inside and outside, and you don't always feel entirely safe, especially if you're prone to a fear of heights like I am. And if you're American, the following will probably cross your mind at some point: "This would never be allowed in the U.S. -- too much liability -- stupid lawyers." 

At one point, you'll turn a corner and see this, making your climb just that much more worthwhile.

I was a little bit scared when we reached the top cupola (it's way up there, and it was windy), so I just sat back against the wall until I worked up the courage to get closer to the edge.

Tod sat down, too. 

But I don't think he was scared. Because he didn't waste any time before he started wandering around taking pictures.


I wanted to take pictures, too. So I stood up and took them, with my back planted firmly against the inner wall, of course.

My fears did subside a bit eventually, and I made my way to the edge.


As I said, Tod was totally comfortable going right to the edge.


We took lots of pictures (imagine that); of course, they don't really do the whole experience justice, but I'm still glad to have them.

And when we'd spent enough time admiring this amazing place, we made our way back down.



After all, what goes up must come down.

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