Posts Tagged by Travel
|September 19, 2014||Posted by Madeline @ Food, Fitness, and Family under Travel|
I’ve already shared where to eat in Charleston so now it’s time to start sharing some of the fun that we had! When we began planning our trip months ago one of the things we knew we wanted to do was get outside and active while still exploring the city. My suggestion to Chris was that we go kayaking. I went kayaking years ago around Catalina Island and had a blast and knew he would too. We ended up using Nature Adventures for our kayaking in Charleston adventure and booked the 2-hour tour at $40 each.
Chris and I arrived just before 8AM to the dock on Shem Creek. The staff was incredibly warm and welcoming as they got us checked in and our waivers signed. Our guide for the day was Will (hi Will!) and he was fantastic! We honestly couldn’t ask for better weather. It was actually overcast with some fog which actually makes for beautiful kayaking. The water was calm and flat and absolutely beautiful.
We started our tour by paddling out Shem Creek and around “bird island”. Bird island is actually a bird sanctuary and there is a huge fine to land on it during particular times of year. Will said that many of the birds had left but at the height of the summer there were tens of thousands of birds raising their offspring there! He also pointed out to us how to tell if a seagull was a baby (more white) or not which was interesting. In fact, throughout the entire trip Will was able to identify and tell us about the different animals we saw which made it even more fascinating!
Due to the fact that there was a fog over the water we couldn’t really see downtown Charleston but that was ok. We ended up paddling by some of the houses on Mount Pleasant which was really amazing. These houses are seriously amazing. Did you know that Charleston has one of the most expensive zip codes in the entire country? I sure didn’t. But after seeing these houses I believe it!
We were out kayaking for just over 2 hours when we headed back into Shem Creek and towards the dock. That’s when the absolute BEST part of our tour happened …. there were about 4 dolphins swimming right next to us! I mean really …. one of them came up right next to my kayak. There were 3 adults and a baby and really just an amazing experience. I have always wanted to swim with dolphins so this was a pretty incredible second best. I am pretty bummed we didn’t catch a picture but those guys are fast!
Overall if you’re looking to go kayaking in Charleston make sure to check out Nature Adventures. I definitely suggest getting the 8AM tour because it was just Will and us. The later tour had WAY more people. Also, the earlier you go the less hot it is Thanks for an awesome tour Will!
How do you explore on your vacations?
|September 17, 2014||Posted by Madeline @ Food, Fitness, and Family under Restaurants, Travel|
Chris and I are officially back from Charleston and had an amazing experience. It was a wonderful three days focusing on our marriage and having fun as a couple. Getting that quality time together was a true gift and I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate 5 years of marriage! I am planning on putting together a couple of recaps about what we did in Charleston because it is such a great place to visit. One of the things Charleston is known for is its food and it did not disappoint. We didn’t have a bad experience so this post is dedicated to where to eat in Charleston!
Low Country Bistro
The first place Chris and I went was Low Country Bistro for lunch. Low Country Bistro came highly recommended by many of our friends and I am so glad we went. We started with the spinach and crab dip appetizer. I have to say I’ve never had a spinach dip where they pureed the spinach but it worked! Then we split the chicken and waffle. It was a sweet potato bacon corn bread waffle, crispy half bone-in chicken, pecan butter, bourbon reduction. For $3.00, they split the chicken portion and gave each of us our own waffle. The chicken skin was seriously crispy and the pecan butter was divine! After living in the south for over 2 years this was my first chicken and waffle experience and I have to say the bar is set high.
Craftsman Tap House
The next place we ventured was to Craftsman Tap House. Craftsman Tap House is a restaurant focused on American craft beer and food made from fresh and local ingredients. In fact, they change their menu daily based on what they are getting in! We started with the BBQ pork spring rolls with vegetable kim chee and sweet and spicy sauce. These were to. die. for! For our main course Chris and I shared the brisket tacos with caramelized onions and peppers with salsa verde. Another winner. Of course we also had to have a beer I got the Welder’s Agave brewed on James Island. It was like a wheat beer and you could really taste the agave finish. You can find their daily menu on their Facebook page!
For dessert Chris and I hit up Kaminsky’s after Googling “best dessert in Charleston” and Google delivered! I ordered the berry pie and Chris got the chocolate chip cookie sundae. The berry pie was unbelievable and you can never go wrong with a cookie sundae. Kaminsky’s also serves a wide variety of cocktails which all looked amazing.
Lunch on Saturday took us to Fleet Landing which is one of the only Charleston restaurants directly on the water. Since the weather was nice, Chris and I sat outside on the patio. There’s just something special about sitting on the water! For our appetizer we got the stuffed hush puppies which were filled with a veloute of lobster, rock shrimp, leeks, & corn over creole tomato sauce. You guys – these hush puppies were one of the best things I’ve ever eaten! For our meals, Chris ordered the fried pork chops with homestyle mashed potatoes and gravy and southern style beans. The pork chops were delicious and only lightly fried. I ordered the flounder sandwich with cajun tartar sauce and it was also exceptional!
Halls Chop House
To celebrate our anniversary Chris took me to Halls Chop House. Halls is definitely an amazing choice if you are looking for a fine dining (and therefore $$) experience in Charleston. One of the most unique things about Halls is that when you are getting ready to order your server brings out a tray with all the different cuts of meat and explains them all to you. Now I know that a porterhouse is half NY strip and half filet! For my meal I ordered a petit file with creamy gorgonzola sauce and grilled scallops. The sides are served family style so Chris and I shared lobster mac-and-cheese and loaded mashed potatoes. Everything was amazingly delicious and we left completely stuffed.
For our last day, Chris and I walked to TOAST for breakfast on the recommendation of a friend. It was a simple cafe with excellent service. I got the order of French toast and sausage. The French toast was thick and I think had some nutmeg. Delicious! I also got a side order of scrambled eggs. If you’re looking for something fast and affordable TOAST is a great option! They also have mimosas
Lost Dog Cafe
Our very last foodie stop was on our way out of town to Lost Dog Cafe at Folly Beach. It really reminded me of the Salty Dog Cafe in Hilton Head by how laid back the atmosphere was. The Lost Dog is a popular brunch place and their brunch menu looked amazing, however, I decided on the blacked salmon BLT wrap with cajun mayo. NOM.
Other Places to Eat
Chris and I couldn’t possible attack the entire list of recommendations that we were given from friends, but here are some of the other places for you to check out:
Whew …. that was a LONG post but I definitely didn’t want to miss anything because the food was all THAT good. If you are ever heading to Charleston bring an empty stomach because you just can’t go wrong!
How do you find restaurants on vacation?
|August 13, 2014||Posted by Madeline @ Food, Fitness, and Family under Travel|
Based on the messages I got yesterday it’s good to know I am not the only one who has struggled with traveling with more than one kid Although the getting there and home part was pretty challenging our trip to Nashville was a ton of fun!
Friday morning I still had to go to school so I was off bright and early for Grand Rounds at the hospital followed by getting “checked off” on my lumbar puncture skills. So if any of you need an LP I am your girl I kid. Chris and the girls picked me up and we were off to the airport where the chaos ensued. Our first flight to Atlanta was pretty uneventful but we ended up delayed in ATL for two hours due to weather. I am a very anxious flyer so the turbulence getting to Nashville had me pretty on edge but we got to our hotel with 30 minutes to pull ourselves together for the rehearsal dinner.
We stayed at the Union Station hotel right in downtown Nashville. It used to be a train station and was by far one of the coolest hotels I’ve stayed in architecturally. It’s a Marriott hotel which is our personal favorite to stay in. Every morning there was a coffee station set up in the lobby which I appreciated Chris and I also hit up the fitness center and I used the business center to study for my test on Monday. Overall the hotel was fantastic!
The rehearsal dinner was actually held at the hotel so we didn’t have far to go. Chris’ aunt and uncle hosted it and it was really nice. There was a great buffet of food which was awesome after a day of traveling. One of Chris’ aunt’s friends watched our girls upstairs so we got to spend some quality adult time catching up with family.
Saturday morning we were up bright and early for breakfast and then Chris and I hit up the gym for a CrossFit workout. I put it together and we were both smoked after it. It left us significantly starving so it was time to find some lunch. After consulting Urban Spoon I saw that Whiskey Kitchen was in walking distance and we were off!
We got the triple dipper as an appetizer which included queso, salsa, and white bean hummus. All three were SO GOOD. For my lunch I got fish and chips. and for once there was a tartar sauce that was delicious. After stuffing our faces Chris took a nap with the kids while I got some study time in. Before we knew it though it was time to head to the church for the wedding!
It was a beautiful wedding and Emmalyne loved seeing the “princess”. A fun story – when the vocalist started singing Emmalyne said “mom, it’s Ariel” ha. Someone has watched The Little Mermaid too many times After the wedding we hit the reception for some good food and a night of dancing. Emmie wasn’t sure how she felt about it at first but then ended up twirling all over the dance floor until it was time for bed.
Sunday morning we headed to Chris’ aunts house for brunch and some more family time before it was time to head to the airport. You guys already know how our trip home went Needless to say it was a whirlwind weekend but it was worth it for the girls to get to spend some quality time with their family and to celebrate a new marriage!
|August 12, 2014||Posted by Madeline @ Food, Fitness, and Family under Parenthood|
When I first realized we would be traveling for the first time with two kids I was excited! I mean, I had traveled a TON with Emmalyne (40+ flights) so how much harder it could be? I was expecting to be able to share with you some awesome tips about how to fly with two kids. My only tip? Don’t do it. I kid …. kind of.
My mom-ego was devastated this weekend as we traveled the short distance from Savannah to Nashville. So much so that I break out in a cold sweat thinking about our cross-country trip for Christmas. It was so bad I wanted to curl up in the fetal position at the airport in Atlanta. So instead, here are some things to avoid while flying with two kids. Lessons learned my friends. Lessons learned.
1. Know you are going to have way too much stuff.
You would think we could “pack light” since we were only gone for a weekend right? Well traveling with kids means that packing light no longer exists. Since we were going to a wedding we needed a hanging suitcase for my dresses, Chris’ suit, and the girl’s clothes. We also packed a large bag for me and the girls and a carry-on for Chris. Not TOO bad until you add in two car seats. Needless to say it was a mess.
2. Tantrums happen.
I had to chase Emmalyne while wearing Bryn too many times to count while Chris checked our luggage. Then I was THAT mom whose kid was on the ground screaming because I wouldn’t let her run away. Fun times I tell you. Just know that there is a good chance that a toddler will be a toddler in the airport and tantrums are going to happen. Know how you want to handle them so when you’re faced with the inevitable you’ll be ready.
3. Avoid sugar.
Everyone says to bribe your kids with suckers or candy. While one is fine a ton are not. The sugar high is real guys. Em was out of control on the way back after getting too many sweets from grandma.
4. When in doubt, size up on your rental car.
Chris booked us a rental car with Hertz that was supposed to fit 4 suitcases. So when our 3 wouldn’t fit we were in trouble. Hertz pretty much forced us to upgrade our car to a larger one even though there were other mid-sized SUVs that would have fit our stuff and in the same category we rented. Instead our rental car cost pretty much doubled. Side note: even if you just drive a little bit fill up your gas tank. They charged us $45 for ~2 gallons of gas. Major OOPS on our part.
5. Just keep smiling.
At some point you’re going to get to your destination and be able to collapse. Keep your eyes on the prize. If all of you get there alive and somewhat sane you had a successful trip.
Needless to say our traveling did not go “as planned” and it was incredibly stressful. If we could drive from GA to AZ/NV for Christmas I think we would so we didn’t have to repeat this again. Just further proof that even if we feel like we have this “mom thing” down, our kids take the opportunity to show you how much you still have to learn. :)
What is your biggest travel tip? Moms of more than two – how do you do it?!
|April 4, 2014||Posted by Madeline @ Food, Fitness, and Family under Travel|
Yesterday we wrapped up our quick trip to Jacksonville with a trip to the Jacksonville Zoo. We loaded up the car and got to the zoo right as it opened at 9AM. I have learned over the years that the absolute best zoo experiences come first thing in the morning. We may or may not have been the first family in line Emmalyne is at an age now where she gets things and I love watching her enjoy new experiences.
The Jacksonville Zoo is organized by different trails relating to animals from different parts of the world. There is the Asia Loop, Australian Loop, Florida Loop, etc. By getting there nice and early the animals were all out and seemed to be in great moods. One of our favorites of the day was this giraffe. Her name was Naomi and we definitely ended up buying Em a stuffed giraffe that she promptly named Naomi as we were leaving.
We got the tickets that included all the additional attractions the zoo offers. This included butterfly hollow (which was kind of like Butterfly Wonderland but not quite as cool), Stingray Bay, the 4D movie, and the train. Emmalyne could hardly contain herself as we were waiting for the “choo-choo”!
We spent most of the morning hot on Em’s heels as she ran from one adventure to the next. I wish I could bottle up toddler energy and sell it for profit because it’s insane.
Luckily for all of us Bryn was willing to come along for the ride. She is such as relaxed and easy baby. Bryn loved just chilling in the Ergo or smiling at all the other people. Bonus points for me? I figured out how to nurse her in the Ergo so we didn’t even have to stop for snacks She also took some good naps while we were there and I enjoyed the snuggles.
The last activity we did at the zoo was let Emmalyne have at it in the splash pad. We didn’t bring her swim suit so we improvised
It was an absolutely beautiful day to be at the zoo and I was full of joy watching the wonder and excitement in Em’s eyes. We ended what was the perfect morning with a little treat before getting in the car for the drive home.
Em’s eyes were shut and she was asleep before we were even out of the parking lot. You know she had fun
Our fun is continuing through the weekend. Chris and I are doing a mud run tomorrow and his brother gets in town tomorrow night. I am going to soak up my last 3 days off before jumping back in to 10 weeks of chaos. Have a happy Friday!