Croatia, Part II - Our Adventures

As I shared in my last post, the beach at our hotel was really just large rocks, but we got the chance to visit sandy beaches on our boat day. We were given four options for our boat day. Full day at Mljet Island national park, a full day with Korcula island tour, and a half or full day exploring the Elafiti Islands with snorkeling.

On the Mljet or Korcula island tours, we would have gone through Elafiti islands en-route, but we ended up choosing a half-day through Elafiti because J doesn’t like hiking and Mljet seemed like a lot of walking and history. We also wanted time to explore Old Town that afternoon.  We didn’t have the best weather that day, so I think we definitely made the right choice not committing to a full day on the boat.

overcast weather

overcast weather

The Elafiti islands are actually a small archipelago made up of 13 islands, of which only three are inhabited. We cruised around or swam by all the islands, but only stopped to walk around the ones that are inhabited. The first island we went to was Koločep/Kalamoto, which was historically known as a fisherman’s island, and lobster populations still love its shores. In hopes of seeing some of these lobsters, we stopped on the south side of the island to do some snorkeling.

There are caves all around the island, but the Blue Cave is the best known. It is only accessible by swimming, and since we went during high tide, you had to go under water to swim in the entrance. Okay, like barely underwater - maybe only your mouth had to go underwater, the rest of your head was above it. The entrance is the center image above, just so you can see how much I was overreacting.

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The water in the cave was bright blue and beautiful, but as soon as we got in the cave, I had a huge panic attack. I got super claustrophobic, tried to snap a few quick pictures of J, and swam out of there as quickly as possible. The pictures didn’t turn out very well…

Next, we went to the bay of Šunj on Lopud. Šunj is famous for its sandy beach. We anchored the boat and swam to shore to walk about a bit. After returning to the boat, we went around the island to stop for lunch. After checking out some shops (where I bought a red coral ring) and walking around Lopud Park, we stopped for some Aperol spritzes and pasta to share. Hashtag Spritz Life. 

View from Lunch

View from Lunch

Before heading back to the hotel, we stopped at the last inhabited Elafiti Island, Šipan. It is the largest of the Elafiti, and is known for all the different species of palm trees. But there are also olives, figs, vine, carob, almond, oranges and citrus plants that are cultivated on the island. It was adorable.  

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Our next excursion was a six-hour tour of the Pelješac Peninsula. I say six-hour to emphasize how long we were drinking. First, we stopped at the Mali Ston bay where we met a man whose family has been farming oysters and mussels in the bay for generations. We boarded his boat for a tour of the oyster farm/trays. We then went to his private island where he showed us traps with mature mussels and oysters, which he then pulled out of the ocean and carried to a picnic area with a grill. First, he gave us some homemade Mayberry grappa and shucked the oysters that he pulled from the bay just moments before. He served the oysters with a few lemon slices and they were absolutely perfect. They didn’t look or taste like any oysters I’d ever eaten in the states.  The shells were very flat and iridescent and the oysters were delicate and perfectly briny.

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While he was preparing the mussels, we were offered a pitcher of his father’s homemade wine. Since he made it himself on the island, there were no artificial flavors or preservatives, and you could really taste the difference. It was earthy and delicious with very little tannins. Then, the best mussels I’ve ever had. I’ve always been iffy with mussels in restaurants, and now I realize that they were not even a little fresh. These mussels were so fresh that they needed very little.  They were so simple – just white wine, olive oil, lemon slices, onions, and some parsley. After filling ourselves with seafood and liquor, we moved on to a winery. 

Vinrija Milos (or Milos Vineyard) in Ponikve is a family-owned vineyard and winery that basically checks all my boxes. They grow Plavac Mali grapes, which is an ancient cross between Crljenak Kaštelanski (an ancestral zinfandel) and Dobričić, and is only grown in Croatia. The vineyard is beautiful, and all the vines are grown on very steep slopes – some as steep as 45 degrees – that are full of rocks and deeply grooved sedimentary soil.  It was NOTHING like the vineyards we visited in Napa and Sonoma.

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The winery is committed to biodiversity and has begun introducing medicinal Mediterranean herbs that share their natural habitat with the Plavac Mali grapes. They plan to use herbs such as sage, rosemary, and St. John’s Wort to produce teas. The vineyards are also visited by rabbits, hawks, and ravens that love the rocky cliffs above the vineyards. 

WINE? BIODIVERSITY? FUN DIRT FACTS? TEAS!? I was sold and ordered a case of wine. 

Well, first we had a vineyard tour, where we got to try the grapes off the vine, and then a tasting with cheese and bread (yum). We also got to sample the vineyard’s olive oil. The olives are handpicked and cold pressed from 80% Oblica and 20% Pastrica.  

Like pasta, I learned that olive oil in America is just awful (also mayonnaise, for that matter - because eggs in the US are so terrible, and the other ingredient is olive oil). We were offered little shot glasses of olive oil at the vineyard, and I was initially disgusted, but the olive oil in Croatia (as well as Italy and France) was nothing like 99.9% of what is available in grocery stores here. It’s fruity, salty, bitter, fatty, and delightful. We also ordered two bottles of olive oil and I’ve been eating it with mozzarella and prosciutto as a pre-dinner snack at least three times a week. If you do want good olive oil from a grocery store, I highly suggest Cobram Estate. If you’re looking online, I suggest Brightland. 

Finally, we went to 360 Dubrovnik for dinner. First, I want to say that I did not intend to drink a bunch of wine, followed by more wine, followed by a Michelin-starred tasting menu. We were supposed to go out to dinner on our ‘leisure day’, but the schedule got messed up and I couldn’t change our reservation. 

360 Dubrovnik is one of three (now five) Michelin starred restaurant in Croatia, and the only in Dubrovnik. They bill themselves as traditional Croatian cuisine framed by French techniques with a modern twist. It’s located right inside Old Town, but the entrance does not do the restaurant justice. As the hostess walks you up the flights of stairs to the top of the wall surrounding Old Town. It’s an incredible view that the food lives up to.

view from our table

view from our table

We were greeted with a glass of Champage, which would have been divine if we had not been drinking all day. I drank it any way.

For the amuse bouche we were presented with a trio of small bites. Herb Biscuit with whipped cheese; crispy Jerusalem artichoke leaf topped with black pork meat and chili mayo; and Aubergine puree coated in liquid charcoal. Before receiving our first official course, we got a basket of house-made breads with a seaweed butter and an olive oil butter – both filled with umami. I could eat homemade bread and butter every day for the rest of my life. 

amuse bouche

amuse bouche

Our first course of the tasting menu was raw prawns with pumpkin cream, hazelnut oil, carpione sauce, and pumpkin seeds; followed by mackerel with bonito dressing, chimichurri, celery purée, and cucumber. We then received octopus with fennel, lime ravioli, and dark fish soup. Our last savory dish was sea bass with cream of garlic and potatoes, cuttlefish, lemon cream, and green sauce. At this point, I was beyond stuffed, but dessert was chocolate & coffee ganache on a bed of cocoa nibs crumble with mascarpone cream and vanilla ice cream, so I obviously kept eating. We were then given more chocolate with our bill, and I began to wonder how I was going to walk back to our hotel. 

church in old town

church in old town

Funnily enough as we were walking back, we heard a guy behind us explain “how are you nervous here, you walk around uptown Charlotte by yourself.” Sure enough, they were another couple from Charlotte on their honeymoon. There was also a girl from Duke Law in our hotel and an older couple from Germany with a daughter at Duke who we met at the bay of Šunj. It’s a small world. 

Overall, our stay in Croatia was amazing, and it is easily my favorite country that I’ve every travelled to. I can’t wait to go back and explore the other cities. If you have a chance to go, don’t think twice! Get there as fast as you can!

If you have any other questions – leave them in the comments!

Croatia, Part I - Villa Dubrovnik

I had been trying to get my husband to go to Croatia for years. YEARS! Even before the inaugural season of Below Deck Med. Initially, he wanted to swap Croatia out of our trip in favor of Greece. Our travel agent said we should swap Croatia out in favor of Greece. Multiple people told me how much they loved Greece. NO! This was my chance to finally visit to Croatia and nobody was talking me out of it. The promise of fresh oysters, lots of wine, and no ferries was enough to get my husband on board.

Adriatic Sea

Adriatic Sea

There are lots of ways to get to Croatia, but I wouldn’t recommend the way we did it. We went straight from a wedding in Ann Arbour, MI to our honeymoon, so we had to fly from Detroit to Chicago, go through security again (which meant throwing away the drinks I already bought for the long flight), Chicago to Dublin, where the customs process was far more calm and civilized than TSA at O’Hare, then our final flight from Dublin to Dubrovnik, which my luggage didn’t make. 

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I would recommend the direct(!) flight from Philadelphia to Dubrovnik, which is new in 2019. There is also a direct flight from Toronto to Zagreb. For indirect flights, try to pick ones with stops in London, Munich, or Frankfurt. A lot of people fly into Dubrovnik via Rome, which I do not recommend. The Rome airport is notorious for theft. At least when I finally got my luggage, the contents were undisturbed. I couldn’t say as much for the person ahead of me in the lost luggage line who had her shoes and jewelry case stolen from her checked bag in the Rome airport. 

view from our room

view from our room

view from our room at sunset

view from our room at sunset

While in Croatia, we stayed at Villa Dubrovnik, which was my favorite hotel of the trip based on hospitality, the hotel restaurants, and the “beach”.  It was a short drive from the airport and within walking distance of Old Town, aka King’s Landing. Villa Dubrovnik is a beautiful boutique hotel nestled into the rocky shore of Dubrovnik with gorgeous water views from every room, restaurant, and lounge area. It’s so nestled into the rocky cliffs, that you actually have to take an elevator from the street down to the hotel. 

walk to old town from the hotel

walk to old town from the hotel

The people who work at the hotel are so kind and welcoming. Every time we walked by the lobby, we were greeted by name and asked if we needed anything. We stayed up far too late at the wedding the night before leaving and I barely slept an hour on the plane, even after taking two Emergen-Zzz, so I was especially grumpy when my bag was lost. But they had chilled champagne waiting on our patio and immediately took over the process of locating my luggage – contacting the airport and airline – quickly making all my worries melt away. 

Relaxing on the Patio

Relaxing on the Patio

After checking in, we went to have our first meal. Our favorite restaurant at the hotel was Restaurant Pjerin. Every night for dinner, we sat at a small table at the edge of the patio, under the bright stars, listening to the rustling of the Scots Pines and the waves crashing in the ocean. The first night, we had their tasting menu, which was easily our best meal at the hotel, and maybe of our entire time in the city. Every meal began with a small amuse bouche, and I wish I wrote down what they all were because they were the most delicious little bites. 

View of Old Town from the restaurant

View of Old Town from the restaurant

As for the tasting menu, we received:  

  • Red Prawns Carpaccio with Avocado and Seasonal Vegetables – paired with Tomac Millenium, Plešivicia

  • Spaghetti with Lobster – paired with Meneghetti, Mavazija, Istria

  • Line Caught Sea Bass with Chili Pepper Scented Mangold and Lemon Mayonnaise – paired with Saint Hills Nevina, Istria

  • Braised Veal Cheek with “Pappa al Pomodoro” and Potato Cream – paired with Tomac Crni Pinot, Plesivica 

  • Mango Parfait with Tropical Fruit – paired with Korlat, Boutique Merlot, Benkovac

Red Prawn Carpaccio

Lobster Pasta

Mango Parfait

Everything was amazing, but oh.my.gosh I was immediately hooked on the lobster pasta. I legitimately ate it every day we were there. I also learned throughout this entire trip that homemade pasta is just so much better than dried, store-bought. While I ate lobster pasta every night, J tried their veal and got the sea bass again (both delicious). 

Restaurant Pjerin was also where we had breakfast every morning. It was included in our stay, but instead of a little buffet, they treated it like a proper meal. We could sit down, read the paper, and order as much off the menu as we pleased, and still didn’t have to pay a chit. Instead of seeming annoyed that we stayed so long for a meal where they wouldn’t get any tip, the wait staff seemed generally concerned if we didn’t order more food or finish everything on our plate. Smoothies, omelets, poached eggs, pastries, fruit... it all kept coming, and it was all amazing. 

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The other restaurant at Villa Dubrovnik is the Al Fresco Bar Giardino, which was open for lunch. There was also a Proscuitto and Wine bar, but it was not open during our stay. The Al Fresco Bar Giardino had a variety of dishes, but we couldn’t be convinced to eat anything but their seafood. It was so fresh and so briny, thanks to the Adriatic. It is easily the best seafood I’ve ever had. We would typically get their cold platter for two, which consisted of oysters with raspberry vingoinette, “knežev dvor” (octopus, squid, cuttlefish, shrimp and crunchy vegetables), and tuna tartar. You could also order food from the AL Fresco Bar Giardino down at the “beach” and pool. At the beach, oysters and local Croatian tuna were our go-to – Tuna Niçoise salad for me and Tuna Wrap for J. The pool was lovely (and heated), but we stayed by the beach. 

Tuna Tartare, Oysters, and Knežev Dvor

Tuna Tartare, Oysters, and Knežev Dvor

oysters at the beach

oysters at the beach

Beaches in Dubrovnik aren’t your typical beaches. There is no sand, just large rocks with more rocks in the ocean. But it is just as relaxing and, I personally think, more fun. Each rock was typically big enough for two to three chairs, which created privacy and prevented overcrowding. You could go from eating oysters to snorkeling with the cutest little fish by moving two inches. I thought I would hate that you had to swim in deep water, but the water is so clear you could see everything – all the way to the ocean floor – which was gorgeous. Plus you don’t get sand in everything you own. 

Aperol Spritz on the Beach

Aperol Spritz on the Beach

the beach at sunset - taken from Al Fresco Bar

the beach at sunset - taken from Al Fresco Bar

There are a few sandy beaches in Croatia, some of which we visited by boat. We were given four options for our boat day. Full day at Mljet Island national park, a full day with Korcula island tour, or a half/full day exploring the Elafiti Islands with snorkeling. I’ll be discussing the boat day we chose and our other excursions in my next post, so stay tuned! For now, here are some quick travel tips for Croatia…

View of Lokrum from our Hotel

View of Lokrum from our Hotel

CROATIA TRAVEL TIPS  

  • They are part of the EU and Euros are accepted in some places, but the official currency is Croatian Kunas. I chose to take out kuna (kn) from an ATM and use those the entire time. 

    • One USD is typically equal to six or seven kn.

    • One Euro is typically equal to seven to eight kn.

  • Gratuities are not mandatory and it is solely at your discretion.

    • For drivers: anything is appreciated for the airport transfers, but €10 - €15 (or 75-115 kn) is appropriate for a half day of service, and €15 - €20 (115-150 kn) for a full-day. 

    • Tour guides: they recommend €12- €18 (90-130 kn) for a half day and €18 - €30 (90-225 kn) for a full day. Boat Captains should be tipped €25 - €35 (185-250 kn). 

    • 10% is a sufficient tip at formal restaurants, but you can just round up the bill at cafés and bars.

  • Uber is new to the country and rides were not easily available when we were there. Taxis were easy to find around the entrance to Old Town and most hotels can arrange for taxis or private car services.

  • Multiple cruise ships stop in Old Town every day and thousands of tourists come aboard from these ships. For the best experience, go early in the day or later in the evening to avoid the masses. 

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 If you have any questions about our stay, let me know in the comments!

Wine Country Fun

In my last post, I talked about my four favorite winemakers in California wine country and our amazing tour guide, Barry. But we were in Napa for four days, and there was no way I could handle four straight days of non-stop wine tasting. I would either die (and by die, I mean vomit) or fall asleep in between the vines. Either way it wouldn't be pretty.

So what else did we do... 

We stayed in a beautiful villa on the golf course of the Silverado Resort just outside Dowtown Napa that I would 1000% reccomend. I loved having our own space (and fireplace!), but if walkability is important to you, definitely opt for a villa closer to the center of the resort! I'd also look into staying in Yountville. It is the cutest little town and conveniently situated between Napa and Calistoga. We sillily thought that staying there would be too out of the way, but we drove through it both days we spent wine tasting. Barry also told us that there are some amazing Airbnb & VRBO rentals available in the area.

We also had some great meals. My favorite restaurant was The Girl and The Fig in Sonoma. We live right next to an excellent French restaurant here in Durham, and this casual take on French "country" food was such a treat. I got the pastis-scented mussels and the potato gnoccchi with bacon, squash, parmesan, olives, and peppers. Yum, yum. yum. 

The barbecue at Bounty Hunter was also on point, and that comes from someone who's spent a more than appropriate amount of time eating Texas, Memphis, and North Carolina BBQ. Be prepared to wait for a table, and if you're lucky, you'll be waiting during happy hour.  They have a killer wine list and a BBQ sampler plate. I split the beer can chicken for dinner (eaten after stuffing my face with pork, brisket, ribs, and red wine).

Now, since I couldn't spend the entire vacation alternating between eating and drinking, we threw one big non-wine activity in their mix... ballooning! 

Okay, I can't even really say this was non-wine because we took off from Domine Chandon (part of Moet and producer of the absolute cutest sparkling wine bottles) and we were treated to a champagne brunch afterwards.  But it was so beautiful and we got the most amazing pictures.

...LOOK!

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Oh, and we capped off our trip with a day in San Fransisco! 

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Happy traveling darlings!

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a weekend in Baltimore

Whenever I go to a  new city, I always turn to Instagram for advice. It's a million and a half times better than Yelp, where almost all the reviews are written by people who are either pissed off or want to feel important. Its simple, just type in the name of the city and search under Places, and Instagram will give you a snapshot of what real people are actually doing in the city. I did it before I moved to Lexington (although there wasn't much to look at with that one), I did it before the boyfriend and I went to Dallas for a wedding, and I did it before I moved to Durham. Instagram is really what got me excited about Durham. There were so many local restaurants, dog-friendly events, local makers, and outdoor activities posted, I couldn't wait to move. I'm doing the same thing to plan for our trip to Napa and I'll start doing it again for Dallas when we get ready for our next move. So when I was going to Baltimore for a wedding, I couldn't help but turn to Instagram to find things to do. Sure, I grew up in Baltimore and moved back for three years after college, but the city is changing so much (in a good way). New restaurants and stores are popping up all the time, and I want to try them all. 

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Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it), Dixie always comes with me when I go to Baltimore and ALWAYS insists on sleeping on my parent's bed with her favorite human (my mom) and her always favorite sheepadoodle/sometimes favorite puppy (delilah). Every morning I'm there, the two little doodles wake up between 6 and 7 a.m., wake up their favorite human, and make her take them out to play. Normally, I would be the sad soul forced to get up before sunrise on a Saturday, but in Baltimore, I'm not. The bad part is, without my little puppy alarm clock, I will literally sleep all day and miss the opportunity to explore Charm City. When I went back to Baltimore for a wedding (for the same friend from this tropical bridal shower), I made a plan. I wasn't going to sleep my way through this weekend (okay, well maybe a little). Here's my guide for spending a wedding weekend in Baltimore!

F R I D A Y

first stop - hotel

Baltimore has a lot of great hotels, and the couple will likely have blocked off rooms in a hotel near the venue, but if your looking for somewhere to stay, the Four Seasons Baltimore or The Ivy are two great options.  

The Ivy is a  boutique hotel in the heart of Mount Vernon made up of nine guest rooms, nine suites, a small spa, and the Magdalena restaurant. The hotel is a Gilded Age mansion built as a private home in 1889. Each room has a four-poster bed, a gas fireplace, and a bathroom with a heated floor. If the heated bathroom floor isn't enough luxury for you, you can also call down at any time of the day or night, and hotel staff will bring you a pot of tea, a glass of wine, a little snack, or they'll even draw you a bath. 

The Four Seasons is a Four Seasons. They're great wherever you go. Although the last time I stayed at the FS in Baltimore, they were doing construction in Harbor East and accidentally hit some line that cut off the heat and hot water in the hotel. It was the middle of winter. But the summer is when the FS Baltimore really shines. Head up to the fourth and fifth floors to discover the hotel's THREE water areasoverlooking the inner harbor. The "Splash Terrace" on the fourth floor features chairs, cabanas, a bar and grill, and of course, a pool perfect for kids or early morning laps. The fifth floor has a heated whirlpool and a shallow reflecting pool. The reflecting pool is only three inches deep, which is the perfect depth for tanning. Drag a chair into the pool, and tan away without overheating. If you're traveling with kids, they can dress up in child-sized bathrobes while you take advantage of the complimentary babysitting services. 

second stop - food

Hampden has a special place on my heart. I absolutely loved living there and still miss it. There are so many great restaurants in this little neighborhood, but my absolute favorite is La Cuchara.  Okay, fine. This is technically in Woodberry, but if you aren't from Baltimore you wouldn't even know these were two separate neighborhoods. La Cuchara specializes in wood-fired cuisine inspired by the Basque region of France and Spain.

La Cuchara | Hello Darlings Blog

The menu changes daily, so I can't recommend a specific dish, but I can say that I've never had a bad dish. I've tried pumpkin soup with a delicate heat, octopus with just the right amount of char, gnocchi so delicious that I forgot I was eating a vegetarian dish, and duck that, well, I love duck... you could probably do anything to duck and I would eat it. Also, you'll want to check your diet at the door. Unless you're on an all-carb diet, because they have the most delicious bread. Bread so good that it has its own menu. Bread so good that they have a Baker on staff. Bread so good that you can and should order some to take home with you.

They also have a great wine list. Great, but long with prices upwards of $350. It can be intimidating.  Luckily,  Greg Schwab, an Advanced Sommelier,  is there to help you pick out a great bottle. If you've watched Somm on Netflix (and if you have, you should watch the follow-up, Somm: Into the Bottle), you know this means he has passed three out of the four exams required to be a Master Sommelier and, therefore, really, really knows his shit. But don't be so quick to overlook their cocktail list. Start with a cocktail, like Wilbur’s Delight (Gin Mare Gin, Green Chartreuse, Creme de Violette Contratto Bianco) and then move on to a bottle of wine.  Sure, you could pace yourself and go to a bar after dinner, but with a wine and cocktail list like this, you won't want to.

S A T U R D A Y

first stop - breakfast  

I love room service. On vacation growing up, my parents would go out to dinner  and my brothers and I got to stay in the room, order room service, and rent a movie. It was great. My youngest brother always ordered a shrimp cocktail, a love for which he still has today. But the best is room service is  breakfast room service. I love any reason stay in bed longer, and waffles and coffee just taste better in pajamas. If that doesn't speak to you, Miss Shirley's is a Baltimore staple. Try the Funky Monkey Bread (cinnamon pull-apart bread with bananas, chocolate, pecans, and powdered sugar), Coconut Cream French Toast (garnished with diced strawberries, brûléed bananas, and cinnamon), or Shirley's Affair with Oscar (5 oz. center cut filet of beef, asparagus, jumbo lump crab meat on fried green tomatoes and stone ground grits). 

second stop - shopping & refuel

You won't have trouble finding a place to spend your money in Harbour East. Sassanova is my favorite boutique, and Baltimore-based Under Armour has a brand house right on the water. You'll also find national brands like Anthropologie, J. Crew, lululemon, and Warby Parker all within walking distance. 

If you're looking for boutiques more unique to Baltimore, I'd head over to Fells Point. There are some really adorable boutiques all within walking distance of each other on the cobblestone streets that line one of the prettiest parts of Baltimore's inner harbor.

There are also a ton of restaurants in Fells Point if you need sustenance.  My top three favorites are:

  1. Slainté - their poutine fries and gumbo are killer & with it being an Irish pub, they have a decent beer selection as well.

  2. Stuggy's Hot Dog - the crab mac and gyro dog are my favorites, but the Bruce lee is really popular too

  3. Abby Burger Bistro - You build your own burger, but the possibilities are endless. To give you an idea, here is the list of meats you can choose from: bison, roseda beef, smoked angus beef, kobe beef, chicken, lamb, kangaroo, turkey, duck, and the meat of the month. There's not enough space to get into the cheese and topping choices.

 third stop - pampering  

The Ivy and the Four Seasons both have great spas, but if you're just looking for some light pampering, treat yourself to a blowout and a glass of champagne at Haute Dry Bar.

If you're traveling with a date, take him with you to The QG. You both can treat yourself to a facial, manicure, pedicure, and/or massage. If that isn't quite his thing, they also offer straight razor shaves, beard trims, and quick haircut "tune-ups". If this still isn't speaking to him, then he can check out their retail store or smoke a cigar in their cigar lounge. There's also a ladies retail sotore if you need to add a new Barbour to your wardrobe. 

pit stop - drinks

I personally love a good lobby bar, and my mom is the same way. Whenever she would visit me in Memphis, we would always meet in the lobby of the Peabody and grab a drink. If you're staying at the Four Seasons, you're in luck because Wit & Wisdom is also a great bar! Magdalena at The Ivy is also a great place to grab a pre-ceremony cocktail!

 

t h e   m a i n   e v e n t 

(i.e., a wedding, gala, party, or holiday meal)

 

last stop - munchies

The Local Fry actually serves wings,sandwiches, and rice bowls in addition to fries... but let's talk about those fries. Anything you could ever want on fries, they have. They have the classics like poutine, Irish fries (fish and chips), and buffalo chicken fries. But they also have killer dishes like kimchi pork belly fries, bulgogi fries, and Korean short rib fries! Your belly will thank you. 

At Grilled Cheese & Co., they have, not shockingly, a wide selection of grilled cheese. Go for the Crabby Melt with ooey gooey crab dip topped with Monterey Jack between two slices of toasty ciabatta or The Sweetest Thing with Brie, raspberry mascarpone, and chocolate chips. You can also stick closer to the original with their BCT or bacon-cheddar-tomato. Now, the crabby melt should be on a bagel or a baguette with some of the bread scooped out of the bottom slice so it doesn't spill out as much, the Sweetest Thing should be on French toast, and the BCT should CLEARLY be a BPT - bacon, pimento cheese, and a fried green tomato... but it's still pretty good, and after a night of drinking that pretty good becomes great. 

S U N D A Y  

first stop - brunch

Before you leave charm city, make sure you get one last meal in. 

Sushi lovers should venture into the county for Umi Sake's unlimited sushi brunch. Try to get there as close to 11 as you can. That's when it starts and you'll have first pick of all the sushi options. They don't always label the sushi, so if you're not feeling adventurous, you can also order off their regular menu. I can't get enough of the lemongrass hot & sour soup, the tuna tataki, and crispy spicy tuna. 

On game days, sports fans should head over to Cross Street Market in Federal Hill where Ravens or Orioles fans will be flooding the streets. It's also great for groups that can't decide what they want. You can basically get anything at across Street - sushi, wings, breakfast plates, crabs.... they have it all. 

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Fans of The Wire should head over to Pulaski Highway and grab lunch at Chaps Pit Beef. Obviously, their Pit Beef sandwich is a Baltimore classic and my personal favorite. Just remember that you're not Wee Bay and nobody needs THAT much horseradish. You definitely need a little though, and the Tiger Sauce has just the right amount. While you're at it, the cheese fries & mac and cheese are also a necessary component of the meal.  

And finally, if you think you can never have too much of a good thing, Little Havana is the place for you.  For $20.99 you get one breakfast entreé (like huevo rancheros or a hamburguesa) and BOTTOMLESS mimosas and bloody mary's. Try to sit outside if you can; it's right on the water and dogs are allowed on the back deck! Miss Dixie Doodle is a fan.

 last stop - airport

I hope this helps you make the most out of your time in Baltimore and charm city never stops charming you! 

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