Weekend in DC

Over Labor Day Weekend my mom and I went to visit my brother in Washington DC, another first for me! We spent our time drinking coffee, checking out monuments and museums, and exploring the different areas of the city.
We arrived on a Friday evening, and headed into downtown for dinner. Once we were full, we walked over to the mall and got to experience the Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Reflection Pool, and Lincoln Memorial at night. Seeing everything lit up was beautiful, and it was nice that we were able to get a taste of the area without the crowds.
One of my favorite things about visiting new cities is seeing the different architecture. On our way to brunch on Sunday we walked through a few different neighborhoods, I loved seeing the row houses in many different colors, textures, and styles. We made our way to a restaurant called Ted's Bulletin which was so good. My favorite part had to have been the homemade pop-tarts. They were to die for.
After brunch we headed into Georgetown and spent some time peeping into the shops (and trying to stay dry). After showing my mom into Tuckernuck (one of my favorite stores) it began to clear up, so we headed for the waterfront, then over to the Tidal Basin. We walked all the way around the circle, hitting all of the monuments and trying to avoid stepping in puddles.
On Sunday we explored the National Gallery of Art. The first exhibit we visited was furniture, and I felt so inspired by the classic pieces (especially that yellow day bed!). I would love to mix in oil portraits with large, gold frames into my modern decor.
The rest of our day was spent biking around the city. We rented through Capital Bikeshare (easier said than done), and rode our way around the mall again, this time taking in the sites during the day. We also made our way to the White House, and finally the Capitol. Despite the hassle of trying to actually get the bikes away from the docks, it was really fun riding around the city.

East Coast

For the 4th of July this year Tom and I went to the east coat to stay with his grandma on Cape Cod. We packed our bags and mentally prepared to drive 10 hours out to the coast. We visited last year as well, but I was only able to spend about a day and a half on the cape. This trip we had plans to pack our schedules to the brim in hopes of taking in as much as the area as possible. 
We drove through the night and arrived at the cape early in the morning. After getting breakfast and napping for a few hours, we headed to the tip of the cape to visit Provincetown. We spent the day wondering Commercial Street, popping into the many art galleries and interesting shops. We also decided to go on a whale watching tour. The boat took us out into the ocean for several hours where we got to see whales come up for air, and diving back down to show off their tail. The whale tails were pretty cool to see, but the best part was watching all the passengers run back and forth on the boat to get a good view 😂
The next day we took the ferry to Martha's Vineyard. We spent some time exploring Oak Bluffs and then made our way to Edgartown. I absolutely loved exploring the quaint little town - wandering around the brick sidewalks on Main Street and popping into boutiques. We walked around the neighborhood a bit, and made our way to the pier near the Chappy Ferry. We were able to take in a great view of the water and the Edgartown Lighthouse before heading back to Oak Bluffs for ice cream and the ferry ride back to Cape Cod.
Our next day was definitely one of my favorites. We again hopped on the ferry in the morning, but this time to Nantucket. We started the day wandering around brick roads lined with hydrangeas until we came to The Island Kitchen. After filling up on mimosas and french toast, we rented bikes and headed to Siasconset (the ride was longer than we thought, we were hot and sweaty by the end). 'Sconset is an old fishing town and the most quaint, adorable town I've ever seen. The cottages are tiny and covered in flowers, with winding roads along the ocean. We biked around the small town, popped into the Sconset Market, made our way to the Sankaty Head Lighthouse, then headed back to downtown. 

Our next day was spent in Boston. Tom's brother came in for the weekend, so we met up with him on his way to the Cape. I had never been to Boston, but fell in love with the quaint, old American feel of the city. The history that the city holds is incredibly interesting. We explored Quincy Market, wandered down to the harbor, and decided to take a hop-on-hop-off bus to get a lay of the land.

One of my favorite parts of the day was stopping into Bell in Hand Tavern, the oldest operating tavern in America, for a Sam Adams and a Boston Cream Pie! The large wooden bar, low ceilings, and portraits of past presidents make you feel like you're right back in 1795. I could've stayed there the rest of the trip.
Last but not least, we stopped in NYC on our way home!! Also my first time in the city, I absolutely could not wait to check things out. Time was limited, we were only staying for two nights, so we had to be quick. We arrived on Friday night, checked into our hotel, and, like moths to a light bulb, headed straight for Times Square. After spinning in circles looking up at all the screens for a few minutes, we located a nearby bar and stopped in for a few drinks (between Times Square crowds and driving into the city, we felt it was needed). We felt like such New Yorkers as we sat with the business professionals during happy hour, watching the bartenders shake up drinks while we sipped our cocktails. Our last activity of the night was dinner, what else but pizza?! We found a great little family-owed place that had true, authentic New York style pizza. We were dying over how good it was, and naturally ate the whole entire thing.
We woke up the next morning, got bagels, and headed out for our busiest day! We went to the Top of the Rock Observation Desk, 5th Ave, Central Park, the 9/11 Memorial, took a boat out and around the Statute of Liberty, and ended our night with more pizza and a quick stop into Grand Central Station. We were moving, but it was one of the best days I've ever had.

Mischief Managed

Growing up I was never much of a Harry Potter fan. Actually, I wasn't at all. I remember my parents reading The Sorcerer's Stone to my brother and me before bed, and also taking us to see the first two movies. Aside from that, I was never very interested in fantasy. 
Flash forward about 16 years, I'm a junior in college, and have finally realize everyone in the world loves HP except for me. I had no idea what the big deal was, but I was interested in finding out. One of my friends had all of the movies at school with her, so I spent the next few days catching up on all that I missed out on.

Fast forward another few years. After seeing all of the movies and absolutely loving them (I know, seeing the movies first is not the way to go), I decided I was well past due to read the books. I headed to Half Price Books, bought the set, and dived into the fantasy world of J.K. Rowling.
Now here I am, just last week visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. Tom and I have been wanting to go, so when we booked a spring break trip to Sanibel we knew we'd have to make a stop. Orlando is about a 3 and a half hour drive from Sani, so we booked a hotel, got up bright and early, and headed to Universal. Luckily Tom is the best and drove the whole time while I napped :) (Hi Tom!)
We started the day in Universal, which is the Diagon Alley part of the park. I was actually surprised how small Diagon Alley was, and how many people there were there. It was so crowded it was actually hard to walk through. We did a quick once over of the shops and Gringotts, then sneaked away inside to grab a butterbeer. I got two butterbeers for us (frozen - the best), and Tom grabbed us two actual beers, Wizard's Brew and Dragon Scale. Wizard's Brew is a porter that I liked best, but Tom liked the Dragon Scale which is a lighter and slightly hoppier lager.
We sat outside Gringotts in the sun trying to stay warm (it was actually a chilly day), then began 
exploring the shops. We popped into Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions (I especially loved the dresses on display, but it was so dark in there that I couldn't get a picture), Sugarplum’s Sweetshop where we bought a pumpkin pasty, chocolate frog, and Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans (stay away from ear wax and vomit - seriously), Quality Quidditch Supplies, and lastly Olivander's. We also went down Knockturn Alley and stopped into Borgin and Burkes. It was dark and creepy but pretty cool to stop into. I really loved how detailed each of the stores were, they were just like the movies, but they were so small and SO packed. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if everything wasn't so crowded that you couldn't get through a store.
We then lined up for the Escape From Gringotts ride, which was probably my favorite part of Diagon Alley. The line starts outside the bank, and as it moves up you move into Gringotts. Holy crap - Gringotts blew me away. It was identical to the movie. The high ceiling had three huge, elaborate chandeliers hanging from it and goblins sat along the sides working on their paperwork. They looked so real I couldn't believe it. As the line moves along you then go into the vaults under the bank, and then onto the ride. I found the ride itself a little underwhelming because it is about five minutes long, but getting to see Gringotts made it worth the wait. 
Next we boarded the Hogswarts Express to take us to Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure. The train had a screen in each box to make it look like you were driving through the county to Hogwarts. There was also some kind of screen on the door of the cabin that showed the outline of Harry, Ron, Hermione and some Dementors as well. I actually preferred Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley. I loved the snow covered roofs and crooked chimneys, and the view of Hogwarts in the distance.
I found that the shops in Hogsmeade were basically the same as the shops in Diagon Alley. Zonko's had the same things as Weasley's, Honeydukes the same as Sugarplum's, there is another Olivander's, etc. I have to say that Dervish and Banges was definitely my favorite shop. As tiny as it was, it was the only store where I saw they sold the Harry Potter books. They had the hardcover books along with the illustrated books which I enjoyed flipping through. They also sold wand sets for the Tri-Wizard champions and Dumbledore's Army, and the Tri-Wizard Cup. I thought the wand sets would make the best souvenirs. I also liked stopping in the owl post and seeing all the owls, including Hedwig!
After exploring the shops we got in line for the ride in Hogwarts, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. This was my favorite part of the whole trip. The line takes you into the Herbology green house and through the castle. When you enter the castle you walk through the hall of talking portraits, Dumbledore's office, the Dark Art's Classroom, past the sorting hat, and then into the Great Hall where you get on the ride. Walking though the castle was the best thing ever, it was so detailed with everything you can image from the movie. The ride was so fun, too, it really feels like you're flying. 
By this point in the day we were starving and decided to stop into the Three Broomsticks for dinner. It's legitimate English pub food - I ordered a piece of rotisserie chicken with potatoes and corn, and Tom had a half rack of ribs with rotisserie chicken, potatoes, and corn. We also got more beer, we both had the Hogshead Brew which we both really liked. We also got dessert obviously, a chocolate trifle that had layers of strawberry and cream.  Nothing has ever tasted better in my life since I was so hungry! 
It actually got really chilly once the sun when down, it was in the 60s all day but then got down to the 40s. After dinner I was pretty ready to head back to our hotel, I was tired and freezing, but Tom wanted to ride the Dragon Challenge. There was no way I was going on since I was so cold, so I went back in the Three Broomsticks to order hot butterbeers and wait for him. The park had basically cleared out at this time since it was about to close, and Tom was the last person to get on the ride. 
Once Tom got off the ride we headed back to our car while sipping our warm butterbeer. I'm pretty sure I was asleep before 10. We both loved HP World despite the crowds and chilly weather, and I'm already craving frozen butterbeer (I was actually just looking up recipes and will probably make some this weekend!). Going for the day was the perfect amount of time, but next time we're in the area I'm hoping we can maybe spend some time at Disney as well. It was truly magical!