A Colonial Christmas

This past holiday season, Mr. Batch and I were fortunate enough to visit the cities where the colonies of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina were established. What a treat to get to see Savannah, Charleston and New Bern decorated for the holidays!

We flew in to Savannah, Georgia and within a couple hours of landing, took a fantastic walking tour through many of its garden squares, neighborhoods and parks:

All that walking merited a stop at Leopold’s Ice Cream, famous for inventing the “Tutti Fruitti” ice cream flavor:

Afterward, a walk by the riverfront to see the Georgia Queen Riverboat, and then our night concluded with a sunset dinner at the rooftop restaurant of our Historic District Homewood Suites hotel (which we liked and would recommend):

The next day, we leisurely strolled among the beautiful squares and streets of Savannah, until it was time to get in line for lunch at the famed Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room. We met some wonderful people in line, with whom I’m still pen-pal-corresponding! Fun! The wait is MOST DEFINITELY worth it for this delicious family-style Southern fare, served by gracious folk including Mrs. Wilkes’ granddaughter! All of us talked about canceling dinner plans, as we departed! 🙂

To waddle-off some of those calories, we toured the Owens-Thomas House afterward:

And then crossed the river to the Westin Hotel, to see their Gingerbread Village:

Before departing the next day, we were treated to these scenes right outside our hotel room window. The Port of Savannah is a major U.S. seaport. We loved our time in Savannah, and can see ourselves returning!

En route to Charleston, SC we stopped in Beaufort, SC. How could we NOT stop at the Kazoo Museum, which Mr. Batch found with his handy-dandy app for Roadside America.

Buzzing from the fun of that stop (get it? buzzing??? hahaha) … we continued our journey through the scenic town of Beaufort, SC:

Our final stop before getting to Charleston was to tour Middleton Place Plantation, an old rice plantation known for its 65-acres of landscaped gardens:

Finally …. dinner! I had done considerable research to find highly recommended, though moderately-priced, restaurants serving some of Charleston’s regional specialties: low-country fare and seafood. First on our list was The Glass Onion which specializes in scrumptious low-country cuisine using locally-sourced ingredients, served with easy, make-yourself-at-home charm:

We had Hilton Honors points to use-up, so we got checked into our next Homewood Suites (which was fine — no issues — we just didn’t like it as well as the one in Savannah) and then took a walk through town to work-off some of those calories. In the middle of Marion Square,  we got to walk underneath this massive Christmas tree of lights:

 

The next day, we took a Historic Walking Tour of Charleston. If viewing this post on a laptop or PC, hover over all of the images throughout the blog to reveal their captions:

Dinner that night was at Coast Bar & Grill — local seafood, simply prepared, and very well-done:

 

Before departing town, we visited one of the forts that has protected Charleston through its history. Our tour guide suggested we visit Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island, rather than the chilly 60-min roundtrip boat-ride to Ft. Sumter (not to mention that Ft. Moultrie has a $3 entry fee vs $22 for each roundtrip boat ride to Ft. Sumter), and we’re glad we took his advice. Interesting history of the many wars this fort has endured … and changing technology employed:

Our trip wouldn’t be complete without one last stop to see the pineapple fountain in Waterfront Park:

 

Next stop: Wilmington, NC where I grew up and my parents still live. From my previous post, you’ll see what a great time we had visiting them and getting to see my brother who was also in-town.

While there, we kids decided to play tourist for a day, and make our way to Beaufort, NC (how many people can say they visited Beaufort, SC and Beaufort, NC within a few days of each other?) … en route to New Bern … with a final destination of Kinston, NC so we could eat at Chef and the Farmer Restaurant (more on that below).

Our first stop was for lunch at The Spouter Inn in charming Beaufort, NC. Afterward, the app for Roadside America delivered again, with its suggestion to stop at a huge statue of Blackbeard right outside of Beaufort, NC:

Our next stop was New Bern, NC to visit the pharmacy where Pepsi-Cola was born:

On to Kinston, NC. After a quick stop at the model Confederate Iron-Clad, (I had no idea they had that technology back in the Civil War?!?!?), we stopped for drinks and a few oysters at the Boiler Room:

This is the second of Vivian Howard’s restaurants in Kinston, NC. My Mom turned me on to the PBS series “A Chef’s Life” which documents the stresses and joys of Chef Vivian Howard opening a fine-dining restaurant, Chef and the Farmer Restaurant in Eastern NC — all while rediscovering and finding new appreciation for the traditions and culture of the region. I was thrilled to make the pilgrimage for dinner:

A couple of days later, Mr. Batch and I returned to the Winter Wonderland of Raaaaah-chester, NY. Our hearts were full from such a wonderful trip!

We love Winter and the snow, so we’ve had a lot of fun playing in it since we’ve returned!

Happy New Year from us to you all!!!  ❤️

 

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Mr. Batch and the Batch Bitch Do the ‘Burgh

Mr. Batch and I love to take road trips, and we adore exploring every nook and cranny of our destination — and stopping to sightsee, en route to our destination and back! We didn’t get away for Spring Break this year, but we made up for it with a drive to Pittsburgh for the long Memorial Day Weekend. Here’s what we enjoyed:

Day 1:  We drove through the Southern Tier of New York and then through the Allegheny National Forest to get to Pittsburgh.  Shortly after crossing the border into Pennsylvania, we came to the Drake Well and Museum — which chronicles the birth and development of the petroleum industry. I had no idea that Western PA was home to the first drilling for oil **in the world.** The first oil drill also acted as a pump, and operated at SIX horse-power, which is half of the power of a modern riding lawn mower! They struck oil at 69.5 feet!

Onward we drove until we got to the ‘Burgh and checked in to our AirBnB. We had the entire third floor of this lovely Colonial Revival house, located in the Friendship neighborhood, just steps from Shadyside.  This is the link to the rental — we highly recommend you consider staying there when you visit!

As soon as we were unloaded and settled in our digs, we headed to The Andy Warhol Museum. Seven floors showcase the impressive breadth of Andy Warhol’s work, making it the largest museum in North America devoted to a single artist. Rather than posting any iconic photos of Andy Warhol and his pop art, I thought I’d share a young picture of Warhol, just out of art school and having moved to New York City (below). And a photo of Mr. Batch in the Silver Clouds exhibit.

Filled with inspiration, we departed the museum and decided to walk along the North Shore of the Allegheny River to admire the skyline, as we made our way to the original Primanti Brothers restaurant in the Strip District for a Pittsburgh Sandwich (the fries and slaw are IN the sandwich). We love their mission: serve high quality food to industrious people who appreciate a good value.

We fell into bed that evening, exhausted from our travels and having walked 4.5 miles!

Day 2:

We’re early birds, so we decided to get out the door and walk the three miles back to the Strip District for breakfast, and to peruse the many shops and markets, as seen in the photos below. There’s lots of Pittsburgh pride in “Stillers” country (how Steelers is pronounced with a Pittsburgh accent).  S & D Polish Deli was a visual feast (first two pictures below) but we decided to dine at Enrico Biscotti Bakery & Cafe (last 4 pictures below).

Stuffed from our biscuits & gravy and green eggs & ham breakfast, we waddled a mile to the Senator John Heinz History Center, a very well-laid-out and enjoyable journey through the history of Western Pennsylvania. We loved learning about the coal mines & steel mills and other innovations from the area, demonstrated in part from the collection of personal historical photographs in the #Pixburgh exhibit. Heinz is from Pittsburgh! And the exhibit of words pronounced with the Pittsburgh accent was one of our favorites! “Gum bands” (rubber bands), “jian-neegle” (Giant Eagle grocery store), “yinz” (you-uhns / you-all) and more!

We continued our walk through the city to our next destination: the SouthSide to meet our Molly’s Trolley “Culture to Ketchup” Tour. This was not only a fantastic break to sit down after all of that walking while being driven around the city to see the sights, but the tour was informative and enjoyable! Highly recommend this tour, which concludes with a ride up Mt. Washington on the Duquesne Incline. The two middle pictures below are taken from the observation deck on Mt. Washington, overlooking the “Stillers” stadium, where they wave the “Terrible Towel.” The last shot below is at the base of the Duquesne Incline after we de-boarded our car.

Slightly rejuvenated, we decided to walk through the South Side neighborhood after our tour. We rewarded ourselves with local beers at Urban Tap. Then took an Uber to dinner —  but didn’t get a self-driving car. Pittsburgh is the test-market for Uber’s self-driving car fleet! We enjoyed traditional Polish food for dinner at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern – pierogis, tolabki, haluski & kluski! YUM!

We walked back to our AirBnB, concluding the day with 7.5 miles walked!

Day 3:

Fully rested, we began our day by walking to Carnegie Melon University’s campus, passing through the Shadyside neighborhood for coffee and breakfast along the way. The pictures below show some cool artwork on CMU’s campus; and buildings on CMU’s campus with buildings from Pitt’s campus in the background.

Very close-by to CMU is the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which begged a visit from us. What an enjoyable experience! Made even more dazzling with the exhibit of Jason Gamrath glass interspersed among the gardens!

Traveling onward, we walked to Pitt’s campus next, for a stop at the Cathedral of Learning. On the first and third floors, there are 30 Nationality Rooms (28 of which are used for classrooms), designed by members of the Pittsburgh community in the styles of different nations and ethnic groups. The pictures below show, in clockwise order,  the Cathedral of Learning, the massive gothic Commons Room, the Armenian Room interior, the door to the Armenian Room, the Switzerland Room and the India Room:

All that walking and sightseeing merited hot dogs from The Original Hot Dog Shop — or “O’s” to yintz! 🙂

 

We’re starting to show our age a bit, and had to have a quick siesta after all that walking! Upon awakening, we headed back to the North Side to see the famed City of Asylum, “a grass-roots organization that provides exiled writers from around the world with housing — and turns those formerly derelict homes into giant works of art.”

While in the area, we stumbled upon Randyland, Pittsburgh’s Most Colorful Landmark! I hope you’ll visit the website and read the story of Randy Gilson – especially the “Meet Randy” page. I like how the page concludes: “When you do more for others, you find that you do more for yourself.  And that’s the story of Randyland.”

Our sightseeing finished for the day at Bicycle Heaven, the world’s largest bike museum, repair shop and parts store. They have close to 4,000 bicycles — vintage to new — under one roof. I especially liked the ones with holders for gear, pictured below: baseball bat, ball & glove and cowboy hat & gun holsters! Pee Wee Herman’s bike is there, and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure plays 24/7 in the background!

The day ended with a delicious Spanish dinner at Pallantia Restaurant in Shadyside. Sangria and rosé wine, ibéricos, yellow tomato gazpacho, potato omelet, mushrooms and shrimp … yum, yum, yum!!! My FitBit revealed that we had walked another 7.5 miles that day!

Day 4:

Time to return to Raaaaah-chester, so we did some sightseeing along the way home. We stopped in Braddock, PA which is home to one of Andrew Carnegie’s original steel mills, still in operation:

And a stop in Ross Township, PA where the first Big Mac sandwich was introduced, and the McDonald’s there houses a museum. We had recently watched the movie “The Founder,” the story of Ray Kroc’s creation of the McDonald’s fast food chain (highly recommend the movie, by the way), so had a particular interest in stopping here:

While stopped in Ross Township, we stumbled upon a Memorial Day Parade! It was very moving to watch the veterans drive by, and even more so to see the cars honoring the families of soldiers who had died, in service:

We drove through Harmony, PA to learn about the Harmony Society — alas, nothing was open. Then once over the New York State border, we stopped in Chautauqua to investigate a future trip(s). The pictures below are from the Athenaeum Hotel on the Chautauqua grounds — the first hotel in the world to have electric lights, installed by Thomas Edison’s daughter!

Then home to Raaaah-chester. We walked just 3.0 miles this last day. The trip kick-started our fitness program and we’ve been active almost daily since returning home. Yay!

We highly recommend the ‘Burgh! More to do than time! Great trip! Cool city! We hope Rochester follows suit with its renaissance!

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