Thursday, February 20, 2014

#125 He Hates Surprises

When Hubby was away in LA, I decided I was fed up with him getting to stay in hotels and me being stuck with the normalcy of our home.*

*Note: I do realize the nonsense of that statement.  I'm sure Hubby would have preferred the normalcy of our home to working a 90 hour work week in LA.

I decided it was time for a mini vacation.  It didn't have to be anywhere too fancy or spectacular, just somewhere for us to get away to for a few days.  When I started to plan and saw that Valentine's Day was on a Friday, I knew that was when we needed to go away.

Then I realized that just about every other couple in the world was wanting to get away that weekend as was reflected in the limited vacancies and roof raised prices.

Fortunately, I stumbled upon a somewhat decent priced Groupon for the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court in Baltimore.  However, to get the harbor view it would have been double the price.  I decided we could manage with a view of the courtyard. 

Of course, I forgot this when we entered our room and instantly walked over to the window.  The view of the valet was a rather depressing one.  Finding out that my Groupon covered parking costs, however, cheered me up.

I quickly got over my view issues when I saw this in our room:


This may or may not have actually been the highlight of my trip.  What a relief it was to find a Keurig and k-cups rather than the travel baggies of coffee filters and prepackaged grinds.  I was just a tad ecstatic about this.

And this...


I don't know how I've managed to return to my ordinary bathroom.  Bathrooms with TVs are where it's at.  I'm sure I have major issues that haven't been diagnosed yet, but between the Keurig and this, I was giddy with excitement and we had only been in our room 1.27843 minutes.

That night, I opened a cabinet door which I assumed was hiding the refrigerator.  Not only did I find the fridge, but, beside it was a spread of candy and goodies similar to the ones Kevin McCallister finds in Home Alone 2 upon entering his hotel suite.  I shrieked, then stared at the bounty of goodness, mesmerized by its beauty.  Then I decided it must be one of those eat-it-and-you-pay-for-it deals.

Hubby later found out that it was complimentary.  There may have been a chorus of 'Hallelujah' sung out at that very moment.   

I don't know what it is about hotels, but I love them.  I love scoping out the different layouts, the horribly patterned carpet, the lack of clutter everywhere, the ice buckets, the tiny bars of soap, the room service.  A few years ago, Hubby and I ordered room service for our first time.  I felt like royalty, and was absolutely hooked.

It was only reasonable that we order room service as our Valentine's Day meal.  We got in around 9:00 pm, and knowing ahead of time that this might be our arrival time, I could only imagine that any decent restaurant in the area was going to be packed.  

I had to weigh out our options.  Let's see, making a reservation to a restaurant that we will more than likely still have to wait at least 30 minutes for, then dining elbow to elbow with strangers to a menu that has been doubled in priced and chosen to the stereotypical desires of Valentine's Day diners or a meal delivered to my room where I can eat on a cozy chair, with no other people around, in the comfort of my thermostat controlled room?* 

*Hubby kept it at a whopping 74 degrees during the day and 68 at night.  If you know my home, that there is the definition of luxury.

I'm sure you can guess what we planned to do for dinner...but this picture says it all:


I was in heaven.  I'm not going to get into the meal here, I'll save that for The Orange Strainer.

The 'where' of the trip was a complete surprise to Hubby.  He only knew that we were going away.  It wasn't until we got in the car to drive that he wanted to guess.  I was going to make him hold out until we got closer, but I'm not that mean.  

Because of the whole surprise factor, I didn't plan out anything for us to do.  I merely searched a few things in the area and gave him my findings.  I also hummed the first three words of the opening song from the show Hairspray several times: 'Good Morning Baltimorrrrrre'...I'm pretty sure it's impossible to visit this city without singing this at some point.  At least, it was for Hubby and me.

I'm going to attempt to leave all our delicious food excursions our of this post in hopes of saving them for my other blog.  It is going to be difficult though because that is, of course, how we began our first morning.*

*I'll give you a hint, we went to a bakery and had pastries, but mine wasn't exactly one you'd normally eat for breakfast.  Think Italian.

To my surprise, or possibly not because I probably have been told this at some time during our marriage, Hubby is a bit of an underwater geek.  When I mentioned the National Aquarium as one of my "Things to Do" choices, he picked it before I could finish my sentence.  We had a few hours to kill before it opened, so we drove around and right into (literally) Fort McHenry.


Although I'm sure when there isn't snow on the ground it is more accessible, I thought the snow added a nice touch.


We went into the museum to discover that it was free to the public for the day and that a tour group was there.  We were able to catch the tail end of their talk.  I learned just how massive the particular flag was that Francis Scott Key was referring to when he wrote "The Star Spangled Banner".  There was a replica of a piece of it in one corner of the museum, and the information explained that the whole flag would have covered one quarter of a basketball court.  The Americans wanted the British to have no difficulty recognizing who they were approaching for their fight.

How very American of them.

As we drove a little more we saw this in the distance...


I knew right away that I liked Baltimore.  How can you not like a place that has a Domino Sugars factory?  


There was also a McCormick's seasonings superstore around the corner from the aquarium that must have had every single seasoning ever created.  I kind of regretted not buying one of everything in the store just so I could have every seasoning I would ever need on hand for the random recipes I tend to make.


I'm going to the Camden Aquarium on a field trip with my class in March.  I'll save most of my aquarium pictures for a post comparing the two aquariums.  Most people in New Jersey swear that our aquarium is better, and based on the last time I was there, I think I agree.  

This was the point in our morning where I realized that my boots were soaking through to my socks, due to the lack of shoveling on the sidewalks down the way from our hotel. 

Keep in mind it was bitter cold out.  

On our way to the aquarium we had to stop in an H&M to get me dry socks because I was already considering my toes a goner.  Don't worry, they're fine now.

At the museum, right away I was mesmerized by the "Dory" fish* which were in the first humongous reef that visitors pass upon entry.

*Note: That is totally not their fishy name, but I'm too creative to call fish by their scientific names.


This turtle who was missing a flipper tugged at my heartstrings.  I wanted to take him home.


That night we went to Hampden which is a neighborhood in Baltimore with a street of cute shops.  We enjoyed ourselves and the different shops, however, the wet and cold of the day did keep us from taking in everything this little town had to offer.

On this trip, we ate more seafood than I think I have ever eaten in my entire life.  Our hotel room had a copy of Baltimore magazine which had an excellent spread on local places to get donuts, candies, cakes, etc.  

Is it bad that when I visit different cities I care more about the food and shopping they have to offer than anything else?  That is basically what our remaining 24 hours in Baltimore involved.  We searched out bakeries and dining locations while incorporating stops at different shopping areas.  Is it bad that while we were at one meal I was already scouring the internet and planning for where our next meal would be?

I hope not.  Because I loved every minute of it.      

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