Monday, December 14, 2015

The Last Getaway

Although we weren't able to travel to Ireland in November as we originally planned, C & I did want to plan one last getaway, just the two of us, before Baby W makes his grand appearance. We decided to extend Halloween weekend, and travel somewhere Sunday - Tuesday. That way, we got Saturday at home to do various housework and such, and also hand out candy in the neighborhood (we had over 100 trick-or-treaters!), and then had a few days off work for our mini-vacation.

We tossed around a number of ideas of locations, knowing that we wanted something A) close by (sitting in a car for several hours isn't my idea of fun when I'm not pregnant), so within a few hours of our house, and B) somewhere we had never been / stayed before. That meant we eliminated our go-to "getaway" locations of the lake house and Williamsburg, which are places we truly enjoy and are able to go to and relax, but aren't new and different.

After lots of googling and time spent looking at the map, we settled on a long weekend at Boar's Head Inn in Charlottesville, VA. We've driven past it lots of times on our way to the lake and other places, but neither of us had ever really spent any amount of time in Charlottesville (it's the home of UVA, arch-rival of Virginia Tech - so why would we?!) It turned out to be a fantastic location, and we had an amazing trip! I'm so pleased that we were able to find some time to relax and fill up our "quality time" banks, just the two of us.

The goal of our trip was to unplug, recharge, relax, and enjoy ourselves. We intentionally did not set agendas or make plans, other than a few suggestions of things we might like to do if we had the time and desire. C's request was to find somewhere to watch football on Sunday afternoon, and my request was a little pampering via the spa at the Inn. Other than that, we were completely free. That meant Sunday night's dinner end up being Zoe's takeout in our room because I couldn't stand the thought of getting dressed and going to a restaurant, and Monday afternoon naps in the peace and quiet of our room. We didn't feel obligated to pack the time we had with activities, and instead enjoyed a few days of leisure. We visited the pedestrian mall and sat in a coffee shop reading. We walked around the property of The Boar's Head with cups of coffee and tea. We went for bagels for breakfast in our pajamas (what, the college kids were doing it!).

Sunday and Monday were cloudy and damp, but Tuesday was a sunny, beautiful autumn day. We took advantage of the sunshine to visit Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, for a tour, which neither of us had done since grade school. We were pleasantly surprised to find an all-new visitor / education center, which was really great, and a nice gift shop and cafe. The tour was interesting, and it was a perfect day to be standing on top of a mountain, with views for miles! We also stopped by Carter Mountain Orchard before heading home - not to pick our own fruit (another time), but to get apple cider donuts and a few already-picked apples. I turned them into a delicious apple cobbler later, which was a great by-product of our trip. Yum!

All in all, it was just what we were hoping to get out of our "last" baby-free vacation. I'm so glad we took the time to plan a little trip, and made it a priority to get some "us" time before we become a family of three. I know lots of people plan big, extravagant "baby moons," but that really wasn't what we were looking for. We just needed a few days to unplug and connect, which is exactly what we got. Perfection!

Where We Stayed
Boar's Head Inn, Charlottesville, VA
C picked this place, and it was wonderful. Just a few minutes from "downtown" Charlottesville, so we had easy access to anywhere / anything we needed, but felt like an oasis of calm. It was beautiful and rustic, which we love, and, because we were staying at the beginning of the week at a non-peak time, practically deserted. I think we were one of just two or three cars parked outside our section of rooms, and we hardly saw another person other than groundskeepers and other staff. We opted for a room overlooking the lake on the property, and enjoyed sitting on our deck for morning coffee. The staff was friendly and welcoming, and the amenities were great. We would definitely splurge to stay at Boar's Head again!

Where We Ate
The Virginian - this restaurant is right by UVA's campus, and touts itself as "a Charlottesville Tradition Since 1923" and Charlottesville's oldest restaurant. The menu has some really delicious-sounding things on it, but, to be honest, I really wasn't impressed. It was cramped, dark, kind of dirty, and had rather gross bathrooms. C had really good fried chicken, but my Reuben sandwich was sub-par.

Lazy Parrot Backyard Barbecue - found this one during a Google search for barbecue (C's request), and we were pleasantly surprised. It's a dive bar, and there were some sketchy-looking people sitting inside drinking in the middle of a weekday (you do you, I guess!) but the food was really good. I had a pulled pork sandwich and C had ribs - both were fantastic.

Bodo's Bagels - another local Charlottesville favorite! There used to be a bagel shop in my hometown when I was little, and I still remember the amazing, fresh bagels (anything else is NOTHING like a fresh bagel!). We chose Bodo's for breakfast both mornings, and were very happy with the simple menu, quick service, and, of course, homemade bagels.

Mudhouse Coffee Roasters - we hung out at Mudhouse one evening reading and relaxing, which we never get to do. Located in the Pedestrian Mall, the coffeehouse is tucked in among other shops and restaurants. Totally hipster (not exactly my thing) but with a laid-back, college vibe. I had an individual pot of tea (so cute) and C had a latte. I also had an oatmeal raisin cookie - stick with the drinks; the cookie was dry but okay.

Wild Wing Cafe - since we got to Charlottesville on Sunday afternoon, C wanted to find somewhere to watch football and hang out for a bit. A Google search led us to this bar, located (somewhat confusingly) right next to the train station. We snagged a booth and settled in for a bit. We shared some appetizers and C tried a couple things off their beer menu (always love local beers on draft!). Particularly delicious was "David's Chicken and Friends," which I expected to be a shredded chicken dip, but it was not. Instead, diced grilled chicken is just topped with cheddar and broiled til melty, then covered in bacon, scallions, and ranch, and served with tortilla chips. So simple - a total "why didn't we think of this?!" item. Try it!

What We Did
Boar's Head Inn Spa - my single request for the "babymoon" was to go somewhere with spa so I could indulge a bit. The spa at the Boar's Head totally fit the bill. I enjoyed a manicure and pedicure before a prenatal massage, and absolutely loved the pampering. The spa staff were so sweet and accommodating, the amenities were lovely, and the services were wonderful. It was the perfect way to spend a morning!

Charlottesville Historic Downtown Mall - we parked in a garage and wandered around the Pedestrian Mall several times, ducking in and out of various shops and reading restaurant menus. We had good walking weather, so it was nice to just stroll and people-watch. Personally, I love that many of the restaurants have large outdoor seating sections lining the center of the mall. Such a great way to use the space.

Monticello - our one "touristy" activity for our short trip to Charlottesville was a visit to Monticello. Neither of us had been there since field trips in grade school, so we were basically seeing it with new eyes. There is a gorgeous visitors' center that was built a few years ago, and a bus to take you to the top of the mountain for your tour of the house (MUCH appreciated by me at 8 months pregnant - not sure I would have made it if we'd had to walk!). The tour is led by extremely knowledgeable guides, and I found it very interesting but also just long enough. They kept the groups moving quickly through the house, offering facts and stories about ol' TJ and his home, without overdoing it. Following the tour, C & I wandered a bit on our own and enjoyed the same views Jefferson did. It was picturesque!

Carter Mountain Orchard - we drove past the orchard on our way up to Monticello, and I knew I wanted to stop on the way back down. I've seen lots of friends head to Carter Mountain for apple picking, but had never been myself. Other than the fact that it was absolutely packed on a Tuesday afternoon (who were all those people, and why weren't all those kids in school?!), it was a great place. We opted to fill a bag with already-picked fruit rather than go off picking our own (another time!), and I made sure to have a fresh apple-cider donut... SO good. Bonus: Bold Rock Hard Cider, a company local to the area, has a little nook where they doing cider tastings and sell their goods. Definitely a fan! I look forward to taking a trip back to Carter Mountain when we have a little bambino who will enjoy apple picking and running around.

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