Charleston, SC!

 

Okay so the last and final stop of our 10-day trip was Charleston, SC! It was by far our favorite place, and so far my favorite city that I've been to. The people, the buildings, the architecture... it was all awesome! Charleston had a very old school look to it and almost all the buildings looked the same with a certain "Charleston feel." Our Airbnb hosts were super nice and the husband was a local photographer. What are the chances that he owned the same two Nikon cameras that I own?! I introduced them to Jeni's Ice Cream, which they had NO IDEA was right in their own town. I was SOO excited that there was a Jeni's there because it was our last stop and I have been craving it so badly since we left Atlanta. We rode a carriage to learn a little bit about Charleston  (which I highly recommend), visited Isle of Palms beach, saw the famous pineapple at The Battery, saw so many palm trees, and ATE A LOT OF FOOD. I miss this place the most. If there would be a town that I would go back to, it would definitely be Charleston. 

TO DO:

  • Palmetto Carriage Works: We highly recommend taking one of these carriage tours. Our hosts recommended this company for the tours and takes all of their visitors, so we tried it out and we really enjoyed it! All the carriage tours divide the city into three parts and before you leave for your tour, all the carriages line up and draw up a number and that number will correspond to the area of the city you'll be touring. It's a pretty cool concept actually because all the tour guide have no idea where they'll be going and it prevents any one company from taking over a certain area. 
  • Waterfront Park: This place has the infamous Pineapple Fountain of Charleston. It's also just a really cool place to walk around, take pictures, and see all the palm trees! 
  • Isle of Palms Beach: You have to check out one of the beaches at least once when you come to Charleston. Also, it's free (unlike here in NJ)!

FOOD:

  • Favorite Coffee: Black Tap Coffee. Iced lavender latte is the way to go!
  • Favorite Brunch: Callie's Hot Little Biscuit. SO. GOOD. but be prepared to wait. 
  • Favorite Dinner: FIG. Hands down one of the best meals of my life. They have a rotating menu but their famous gnocchi is always on the menu you don't think about leaving without trying it. 
  • Favorite Dessert: Jeni's Ice Cream. C'mon was that even a question?
  • Favorite Bar: The Darling Oyster Bar. Time it right and come during Oyster happy hour ;)
  • Wild Card: Edmund's Oast. We got super lucky coming across this place during their happy hour. I'd recommend making reservations here, because you cannot get a seat without it. We sat by the bar (the only place you can sit) and ordered every food/drink on their happy hour menu. The portions are small so you can definitely split with a friend ;)

 

 

Asheville, NC!

 

So right after exploring the Smoky Mountains, our next stop was Asheville, NC! We picked this place next because 1. FOOD (for me) and 2. BREWS (for kyle). Asheville was such a cute small town to walk around. Following my previous post, I unfortunately had one clear eye during the whole time here. My contacts didn't arrive until the last day we were in Asheville, so the two days we were there, if I closed my right eye, I could not see a thing out of my left one. What a freaking bummer. ... 

TO DO:

  • New Belgium Brewery: If you love New Belgium Fat Tire, you should definitely check this brewery out! New Belgium expanded from Colorado to the East Coast so Kyle was super excited to check this place out! The factory is so big and you might have to utilize the food trucks outside in case of the drunchies ;)
  • Asheville Pinball Museum: Okay so if you know Kyle & I, you know that we are truly kids. We LOVE arcades and we're pretty competitive so we just spend the whole time trying to out score the other. We spent at least 2 hours in this place.. no lie. 
  • Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar: After beating your significant other in the Pinball Museum, head over to this place for some relaxation. There are comfy couches, loads of books to look though, a coffee bar, and a wine bar. Grab a drink, sit, & relax!

FOOD:

  • Favorite Coffee: Double D's Coffee & Desserts. One of the most unique coffee shops I've been to! It's Asheville's version of the Harry Potter knight bus ;)
  • Favorite Brunch: Sunny Point Cafe. Be prepared to wait... but it's okay because it'll only get your appetite ready for the huge, delicious portion you're about to get. I'd definitely recommend the hues rancheros or the chorizo omelette! 
  • Favorite Dinner: Cucina 24. A fancy dinner spot in Asheville! They have one of the BEST focaccia bread I've ever tasted and their portions are just the right amount, leaving you satisfied but not overly full. The atmosphere is perfect for a date night!
  • Favorite Dessert: French Broad Chocolate Lounge. Dark chocolate liquid truffle & chocolate creme brûlée is all I gotta say.
  • Wildcard: White Duck Taco Shop. The tacos here are unreal! They play around with different sauces and toppings that just work. The pork belly or bancock shrimp are some personal favorites. YUMMMM!!
 

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

 

So the next stop of our trip was the Smokys and we could not ask for better weather. It was PERFECT I tell you... the three days there were mostly overcast with the sun peaking out from time to time. Kyle and I also stayed at our very first hotel together (since we've been staying at Airbnb on every travel) and it was... weird. haha! It was also the cause of my worst experience on this whole trip combined. After hiking from 10am until 8pm on the second day, Kyle was dragging me into the hotel's pool which was HUGE and had this crazy big slide and jacuzzi and all this fancy stuff and I swear that was the reason why I woke up the next morning with my eyes tearing. My contact got irritated and I couldn't even open my eye. I didn't bring glasses or a new pair of contacts so... it was the worst. I immediately called my parents to overnight ship my contacts to the next destination we'd be at, which was Asheville. That whole day, I couldn't hike, I could eat because I felt nauseas, and I had the worst headache. Although it was slowly getting better, I still could not see out of one eye and that was making me SOOOOO dizzy. So much so that I decided to buy an eyepatch. Yep, I walked around the Smokys with an eyepatch, and since this was on the last day, I also walked around Asheville the same way. Boy did I get the craziest looks. I went two and a half days either one eye blind, or with an eyepatch on. #adventure .. right?

Anyways, on a positive note, the highlight of the entire stay had to be sunset on Cingman's Dome, which was 6,644' up there. We decided to climb up about an hour before the sun came down, and underestimated how high and how cold it would get. The temperature dropped about fifteen degrees and it was such a steep walk up that although we had plenty of time to get back to our cars to grab a sweater, we decided against it because I don't think my calves would have made it back up a second time. So, it was FREEZING. I was sitting up there in my tank top and shorts and poor Kyle was shivering the entire time. He went up and down the walkway a few times just to warm up and even stayed at the bottom of the dome until it came closer to the sunset. As I was setting up my camera next to all the photographers, the man right next to me happen to be a professional photographer working on the most visited national park in the whole United States... The Great Smokys! He was doing this piece for a British company and also shot pictures for National Geographic in the past. He shot with all Nikon cameras and was lugging around this backpack that was about 25 pounds filled with three tripods, 7 or so lenses, and two camera bodies. When he saw what kind of camera I was shooting with, he let me shoot a few of my shots with his lenses and I just about screamed. How lucky did I get?! Also, he explained to everyone up there (who was complaining about the cold) that this was his third and final opportunity to climb up Clingman's Dome for a sunset. He said that the past two days were too overcast, the sun didn't even make it out, and that today was perfect. So again... how lucky did we get to be able to witness that beautiful sunset and exchange words with this man?! Pretty darn lucky. After the sun came down, we lingered for about 15 more minutes, while everyone went running down, and caught some beautiful colors. And although it was about 45 degrees at this point, I felt a little spark of warmth when I thought about how much this climb was worth it and how lucky I am to be on this trip with Kyle. 


 

Atlanta, GA!

 

So this past summer, Kyle & I took a 10 day trip to the south and road tripped around a few states. We flew out of the Atlantic City Airport to Atlanta, GA, where our trip began. We rented a car (a mini coop to be exact ;) ) and we toured around Atlanta for two nights. Two things: 1. traffic 2. JENI'S ICE CREAM. For those of you who know me, know how much I just LOVE ice cream. So much so that I am constantly on the search for the best in any area I go to. Jeni's has to be my favorite to date. I can't even explain how good it is but if ever you're around Atlanta, you MUST try it out. 

Here are my recommendations for Atlanta:

TO DO:

  • Georgia Aquarium: I'm not even a huge fan of aquariums but we visited the largest one in the whole U.S. and it was worth it.
  • Atlanta BeltLine: I always think one of the best way to explore a new city is on a bike. I'd recommend renting them and riding them on the belt line while admiring the views of the city.
  • Centennial Park: We walked around Centennial Park right around the same time the Summer 2016 Olympics was ending, so it was pretty cool to see where the Olympics was held in 1996.

FOOD:


 
 

 

Firefly Music Festival

 

So Kyle and I went to the Firefly Music Festival this year at Dover, DE! We went two years ago for only a single day, but last year they stopped selling single day passes, so we missed out. When the lineup came out this year, we knew we just had to go for it and buy the 4 day pass... and THANK GOODNESS WE DID! I seriously had one of the best weekends of my life at firefly. It was just filled with good company, positive vibes, and GREAT music. We got to Travis Barker's drum solo session an hour early and was honestly like 15 feet from him... unreal. And of course, Kyle just about peed his pants when he saw Blink 182 play. Last time we saw them live was about 6 years ago and we'll see them again in Atlantic City this summer. Mumford and Sons & Florence and the Machine were AMAZING.... gosh they had me in tears.

Firefly was less than week after the tragedy at Orlando and the death of Christina Grimmie, and at first I felt so guilty having such a blast at a time where the world was filled with so much darkness, but after almost every band paid tribute to Orlando and the LGBTQ community, I realized why I was really there. Music is SO powerful - it unites, speaks to, and moves people. There were times when bands dedicated a song and a moment of silence to the tragedies that are going on in this world, and I cried. I cried on more than one occasion actually and I closed my eyes and thanked God for music. At a time when I was filled with so much anger, frustration, sadness, and heartbreak, music brought me a moment of happiness. I hope that at this time of darkness, people see the light. I hope that people remain aware of what's going on in this world, open up to differences, be supportive and helpful to those who mourn, and speak up when needed. Although it may be hard, try to remain fearless in this fearful world we live in.