Savannah – Beautifully Weird

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Savannah, Georgia turned out to be a bit of a surprise for me. It had everything you’d imagine – weeping trees, old houses and churches, amazing hospitality but, what we soon found out is that the area can be quite dangerous as well.

The hotel that we stayed at was a very nice IMG_2586(the Springhill Suites) and it was located just on the edge of the historic district. We soon found out that you really need to confine yourself to this area, as the zone outside the historic district isn’t exactly pleasant.

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Serious notice, seriously bad grammar.

According to a tour driver, who took the guys on a haunted tour, crime is very high in Savannah but you are generally very safe within the historic district as it it heavily policed.  Learning this made us a little more cautious than we might have otherwise been, but it didn’t damper the trip. And it shouldn’t stop you from going there – it’s a beautiful area, full of history and most definitely a place you should see.

What are my tips for visiting Savannah? They are as follows:

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About to sample some honey wine!

#1 – Park your car and leave it. The historic area is not terribly large, if you’ve got decent mobility you should be able to walk it all quite easily. Also, you’ll be able to experience the city much better by foot – finding fun places to shop, eat and just generally browse. I’d highly suggest stopping by the Savannah Bee Company and sampling some honey mead wines (and also buying some stuff – my grandmother was a big fan of their products, I wish I could get it in Canada!)

Tip #2 – You can drink in public. As long as you liquor is in a plastic container/cup it is perfectly legal to drink in public in Savannah. As soon as we learned this we cracked open some cans of Four Loko (more on that later) and went on our way.

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I sat this one out, but two of the group went for it.

Tip #3 – Stay inside the historic district. I already said this above, but this is my strongest recommendation. On our first night there, the two guys in our group went across the road to a local gas station. They proclaimed before leaving that “if we’re not back in 10 minutes, we’re dead!” Likely a slight exaggeration, but it wasn’t the best area.

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A friendly man took this photo – and asked us for change afterward. He was harmless.

Tip #4 – Watch out for scams. That friendly man who offers to take your photo? Yeah, he’s probably going to want cash afterward. Most of these people are totally harmless, but just be aware.

Tip #5 – Take a free tugboat ride. There are many riverboat cruises you can take, but if
DSCN0274you don’t want to commit to the time and price of these, you can just hop on a tugboat and head across the river and back. There’s not much on the other side, other than a fancy hotel, but it’s a fun way to spend an hour or so.

Although I didn’t present the best picture of Savannah I don’t want you to think it’s a horrible, unsafe place to visit. Just be aware of your surroundings and you’ll be just fine!

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On the Battlefields of Virginia

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After spending a bit of time in rural (ish) Virginia we all quickly developed an affinity for the state. So much so that Dion still talks about someday moving there! What did we enjoy about Virginia? Well, a lot of things.

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The grounds outside of the Historic Powhattan Resort.

We stayed at the Historic Powhattan Resort which is just outside of Williamsburg and that was a great plus point on its own. Although it’s a part of the Diamond International group (and you may get subjected to a sales pitch) it is a great place to stay if travelling with a few people. We had a moderately sized condo with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a small balcony. It seemed not a lot of people were staying there at the same time we were (it was mid-week and in September) which was all the more great for us. The resort has a pool, hot tub, tennis courts and a large number of wildlife. On top of it being cicada season we also saw a group of deer and two skunks (we made sure to keep our distance from those guys!)

We also spent some time learning some local history. We visited Historic Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and did the driving tour of the Yorktown battlefields.

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Note: In case of war, do not replicate this pose. You will die.
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Met myself a new friend.

Coming from Canada, it was a pretty interesting way to spend the day. None of us are major history buffs or anything, but since our country has never had any major wars fought on it, it was cool to see the old trenches and cannons.

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Oh hi, local Newfoundland restaurant.

Another random/weird experience that we had in Virginia was coming across a local restaurant chain! In the information left in our room we’d seen a brochure for “Jungle Jims” restaurant. We instantly thought “nahh can’t be, must just be a same name coincidence”. But nope, in the middle of Virginia we found the only franchise of a restaurant based in Newfoundland to exist outside of Canada. It was surreal and of course we had to go eat there. However, don’t get too excited because we discovered not long after coming back home that the restaurant closed. So there goes the chance for Americans to experience such local gems as “monkey fingers and fries” and “Jim’s chicken taquitos”.

As for tips for visiting the Williamsburg area?

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All of this cost about $45. In Canada it would be closer to $75.

Tip #1 – Save money by visiting the local Walmart or chainstore. If you want to save some money, or simply don’t want take out for every meal, I suggest taking a stop at one of these places. You’ll be able to get breakfast food, snacks, weird souvenirs and even liquor – which is something that you definitely cannot do in Canada.

Tip #2 – You’re going to need a car. I mean, it’s probably a given, that if you visit somewhere outside of a large city that you’ll need your own transport. But this is definitely true of the Williamsburg area. If you want to visit the battlefields, explore the historic area, etc. just save yourself some hassle and pick up a cheap rental.

So that’s my thoughts on the Williamsburg area. Have you ever been there? Where are your favourite places in Virginia?

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(Less than) 24 hours in Washington D.C.

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If you’ve ever stumbled upon my blog, you’ll find one of my most favourite things to talk about is travel. I could talk for days – especially if I find someone who’s been to some of the same places as I have.  Because of this, I thought I’d take some time to explore a little more in-depth some of my favourite places that I’ve been. Many have been visited while on long road trips, meaning that I’ve seen a little of a lot, but I try to make that ‘little’ as meaningful as possible.

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Shane and I being a little too overtired (also, check out the Washington Monument photobombing us).

First on my list is Washington, D.C. which is a fantastic city which I’ve spent less than 24 hours, but I managed to see quite a bit in that short span.

We arrived in Baltimore only to immediately grab our rental car and proceed on the roughly one hour drive to Washington.

After travelling on an early am flight from St. John’s (through Toronto and then through Baltimore) it was an insanely exhausting day, but we also knew it would probably be our only chance in a long time to see the city (since we would only be there for one night before heading on to Virginia). So as soon as we were checked into our hotel, we laced up our sneakers and caught the subway to the Capitol District.

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Checking out the (outside of) the Smithsonian.

Tip #1 – Everything is further away than you think it is. When you’re in front of the Washington Monument, gazing toward the Capitol Building you may think “wow, this really isn’t too far!” Do not be fooled, it is. You’ll walk for probably 40 minutes or more to get there. But the walk is very nice and you’ll pass the Smithsonian and a bunch of other interesting buildings along the way.

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The Capitol Building at dusk.

 

Tip #2 – Don’t be afraid after dark. No really, Washington is surprisingly quiet after dark. As dusk hit, really the only people that we saw around were joggers, which actually comforted us, because we figured if they felt safe enough there, so should we.

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The subway station seemed pretty fancy to us!

Tip #3 – Use the Subway. While we had a rental car, we didn’t want to be worried about driving in downtown DC, so we decided to take on the subway system and you know what? It was super easy. When we first arrived, we had to ask for help (which people were very okay with providing) but after a quick lesson we were on our way. It was very quick and timely.

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Arlington National Cemetery – white stone grave markers for as far as the eye can see.

Finally, although the majority of our ‘visit’ was spent outside of buildings, on our way to our next destination we did make time to stop at Arlington National Cemetery. I’d basically consider myself to be a pacifist, but there’s something about seeing the graves of thousands and thousands of people that have died in protection of their country that can bring a tear to your eye. It’s a huge place, we only saw a part of it, but still it was most definitely worth the stop.

So there you have it! Are there many, many more awesome things to see and do in Washington? Most definitely, and I recommend you check them out. But if you only have a few hours to spare, you can see some great things. Should I find myself in the city again, I would probably arrange to take a few tours and eat some local food, as all we had time to ‘indulge’ in was McDonalds! 

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Shane checking out Obama’s pad (from a distance, of course!)

Start of Summer

I know I’m very lucky, in that I have a fairly large group of friends who are always ready to do things/go places/generally be weirdos.  It’s even better when the majority of us decide to go places as a massive group. This post is a little delayed, but I just thought I would share a few snaps that I took over the long weekend we had in May.

12 of us piled into our cars and drove to the town of Eastport for the weekend.  Eastport is a bit of a rarity in Newfoundland, in that, it has quite a few sand beaches.  These aren’t the norm around here (except I’m spoiled to have a pretty great one in my hometown of Elliston as well). The town is pretty small, but it was what we were looking for, for a weekend away.

We rented what used to be a B&B that is now rented out as a full unit. It was really great for everyone to have their own space – with 7 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms there was plenty of beds to go around!

IMG_6659The inside of the house. It was a little dated (think mid-90s) but very functional and had wifi.

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A stereotypical “let’s go to the beach and jump in the air shot” – some of us are obviously more talented than others!

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Brunch for 12 includes: 2 dozen eggs, 3 packages of bacon, 3 packages of touton dough, about 24 slices of bologna and (not shown) about 10 potatoes cut into hash browns. Quite the feed!

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Corn hole tournament, anyone?

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You probably haven’t acted out charades like these before.

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As with any old house, we assumed this one was haunted. We named our ghostly friend Stanley. He seemed pretty friendly. Probably because we kept his cup full of beer over the weekend.

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Talent? I think yes.

Those are just a few shots from our weekend. There’ll be more over the summer as we excursion more together.  Though, you know you’re really becoming an adult, when our next cabin outing involves children!

 

Wanderlust

For as long as I can remember, a travel bug has been firmly lodged deep within me.  Even as a little girl, I always loved geography and studying new places and new people.

Until I graduated university, and started making my own money, I never really had much of an opportunity to get very far from home. I made a few trips to Alberta (to visit family), had a school trip to Montreal, but air travel was limited and far between.

You could say, I’ve definitely been making up for lost time. Since 2009 I’ve been to Europe twice, Toronto/Montreal a few times each, and I’ve road tripped through about 20 USA states.  And that isn’t even the tip of the iceberg of what I want to see.

I think I get my “world lust” from my grandmother. I wish she’d had more opportunity to see the world when she was younger, but that wasn’t really an option in those years. She’s been spending a bit of her golden years on various seniors tours in Europe and she absolutely loves it.

So, what is the point of this post? I guess really just to try and figure out what’s next. Sometimes the day to day seems to dull and bland that I have an insane urge to jump on a plane and just go.  I mean, if not now then when? But do I really have the balls to do that?

I do know that I’ll never fully be able to stay in one place and be all “this is it, I never want to go anywhere again.” Thoughts of that actually make me a little sick to my stomach.

This world is big, it’s beautiful and it’s meant to be roamed.  What’s next for me, I’m not entirely sure yet. But what’s for sure, is there WILL be a next.

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One of my favourite photos – taken in Biarritz, France in September 2011.

Be a Tourist at Home – Brigus Edition

I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s pretty easy to get a case of the extended winter blahs. I have a love/hate relationship with my province, in that it is spectacularly beautiful, but at the same time very finicky when it comes to the weather.

With our spring feeling more like late fall, myself and two friends were dying for a bit of fresh air and sunlight, so we decided to take a brief day trip to a small town about an hour from where we live.

We chose Brigus because Shane had never been there before. He fell in love with it right away. Brigus is one of the oldest settlements on the island of Newfoundland and although I didn’t get any great pictures of the town centre, it’s definitely worth a visit to see the vibrantly coloured houses and small quaint streets.

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For me, it was just what I needed for a little introspection. The blue sky, fluffy clouds and rugged landscapes reiterated what I love about this big province and just put me in the best of moods.

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Sometimes a trip doesn’t have to be fancy and elaborate, just getting out of your normal zone for a few hours does the body and mind good.

Please note that all we’re taken on an iPhone 5S with no filters or editing applied. Gorgeous, isn’t it?

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