I love a reason to celebrate – to get dressed up, go somewhere out of the ordinary, drink fancy drinks and eat some cake. You can never forget to eat cake when celebrating. So, as we approached our first wedding anniversary, I decided that it should be celebrated in style. Well, as much style as our budget would afford, anyways. I started scouring Groupon and the likes, with the hopes of scoring a cheap weekend getaway. I came across one for Niagara Falls – a destination that is close enough to drive to, but far enough away to be considered a mini-vacation.
The Husband planned our honeymoon and Aruba was planned for us. While trying to plan our first anniversary trip, I quickly became overwhelmed by the amount of choices in front of me – different hotels, different attractions, different restaurants. It dawned on me that I’ve never actually planned anything more than a road trip for us.
I opened up Excel and created a spread sheet rating the hotels by price and amenities. Eight hotels in, I realized that they were all exactly the same and totally different. I went to one of my favorite blogs, On The Edge, and asked other readers and commenters for recommendations. Someone had suggested The Tower Hotel. A quick search in Google showed me that this hotel was what we wanted – chic, modern and romantic. I researched online prices and then remembered reading somewhere on the interwebs that you can get the best price on a room by calling the hotel directly. I reserved our room for two nights and was able to get it for $60 less than the online price. High five.
So on Friday the 29th, we road tripped the 5 hour drive to the Falls, passing time by listening to a ridiculous podcast, Mike and Tom Eat Snacks (where comedians Michael Ian Black and Tom Cavanaugh literally eat snacks. They operate on the PER system – pick a snack, eat a snack, rate a snack. It’s raunchy and hilarious and informative, all in one! Check it out!)
We had a seamless check in and went upstairs to our room. The room was very pretty, with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city. Apparently, Canadians are big on windows, because there was also one in the bathroom – which over looked the bedroom. “But Heather, that doesn’t make sense. That means that if someone is on the toilet, people in the bedroom would be able to see them! That’s weird!” you say. And you are correct. The bathroom had zero privacy. I’m not even quite sure why they bothered putting a door in there. I know we’re no longer considered newlyweds, but that doesn’t mean that we need to watch either other do our bizness, amirite?! Naturally, I obsessed over this the duration of our trip, begging Jason to leave the room whenever I had to go to the bathroom (He wouldn’t. I may or may not have cried at one point. I’m ridiculous.)
On Friday, we made our way down to the falls, scoring post card-worthy pictures. It was a gorgeous spring day, sunny and 50*. While we almost left our coats in the room, there were plenty of people bundled up in boots, North Face jackets and scarves. It was easy to see who was from Canada or New York, and who was from anywhere else.
We went to Clifton Hill to check out the cheesy tourist attractions. (Side note – I love cheesy.) We paid $22 to walk through a mirror maze, which had flashing disco lights and Michael Jackson’s “The Man in the Mirror” on loop. It was horrible and awesome. We ate lunch at Boston Pizza (Are we missing something? I’ve heard of NY, Chicago and California style, but Boston?) where we ate a spicy perogi pizza which was obviously as delicious as it sounds.
Eventually, we made our way back to our room. We walked in to a bottle of white wine and an anniversary card from my girlfriend, Liz, and her family. It was super thoughtful on so many levels (especially the levels where she knows we love booze and always choose white over red!) Its little things like that surprise that take you back a moment and allow you to see how loved and blessed you are.
Because I’m a horrible vacation planner, we had no plans for Saturday (our actual anniversary) other than a fancy, schmancy dinner overlooking the falls. The hotel valet suggested we take the 20 minute drive to Niagara-on-the-lake, which has several wineries (see: our previous affections towards alcohol) and a cute little village to walk around. We decided that we trusted the valet, because his name was Tim and Tim Horton’s is from Canada and we base all our decisions on food. With no plan and barely a map, we made our way out there. We had no way of knowing which wineries we should stop at and decided that if there were plenty of cars in the parking lot, than it must be a good joint to hit up. We first stopped at Reif Estate Winery, where we did a 3-glass tasting. It was here that I was introduced to ice wine. The bartender warned us that many people dislike it, thinking that it’s too sweet. At this point, I’d like to interject to share with you a conversation The Husband and I had the day before:
Jason: Peeps are so gross. I don’t understand why you like them. It’s literally a stale marshmallow covered in sugar.
Me: Um, yuh! It’s a marshmallow COVERED in SUGAR!
Hopefully, that helps you understand that there is no such things as “too sweet” to me. Ice wine tastes like a delicious juice box, that gets you drunk quick. Needless to say, Jason was quickly declared the designated driver.
The next winery we stopped at was Peller Estates (Coincidentally, this is where the wine from Liz came from.) Peller Estates was HOPPING! Super crowded. Don’t worry though, guys. I was able to squeeze my way up to the bar, where we skipped pleasantries and moscatos and got right back into drinking MORE ice wine. (If you’re wondering whether or not I bought nine bajilliony bottles, the answer is no. Ice win is like $40 a bottle. Too rich for our blood. But feel free to buy it and send it to me. It doesn’t need to be a special occasion. Just because.)
We eventually made our way down to the village, which reminded me of Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls. It was just super precious, with lots of little bakeries and boutiques. We grabbed some coffee and sat down at a little café, where we quickly began playing one of our favorite games – Create Life Stories and Dialogues For People Passing By.
That evening, we ate dinner at The Keg Steakhouse (and, yes, before you ask, I DID get chicken.) We had a table that overlooked the falls at sunset. It was spectacular. After dinner, we went back to our room to eat our cake. (When we got back from our honeymoon, we noticed my mom saved our cake topper in the fridge. We decided it would be fine to eat a little, and then save the rest for our first anniversary. Except, we accidently ate it all because it was delicious! I called our baker, Fluffalicious, last week and she promptly made us an anniversary replica, which we brought with us. Pretty much the same thing, right guys?)
We popped our wine, ate our cake and made several (mostly ridiculous) toasts to each other. The whole weekend was the perfect way to spend our anniversary.
(I realize this is an insanely long post, but I didn’t want to deprive you of any details!! Which is why I’ll also mention that a couple hours after getting there, when we were first walking down to the falls, we passed an American family consisting of a mom, dad and a 7ish year old son. As we passed them, the father and son were walking ahead of the mom, singing “I like boobies. Boobies are like waffles…” “But, Heather! What does that even MEAN?!” you ask. Nobody knows what it means, reader. The Husband and I spent our entire weekend singing it and trying to figure it out. Nobody knows. But it’s damn catchy, I know that much!)
It’s been two months since my last post, and that is because I’m a selfish jerk. And I’m sure you’re saying, “But Heather. Nobody cares if you write in this or not, so if you choose not to, it’s not really hurting anyone but yourself.” First of all – how dare you?! Secondly – you’re so off base. I have tens of readers who look at this thing and to them, I apologize.
So, since last writing, I made the four hour trek across New York State to Rochester, to meet my precious, little Lemon and, let me tell ya, it was worth the eight hours in the car. She is so precious. Allee and Ryan selflessly let me snuggle her the whole time I was there (With the exception of one time when she started fussing. I handed her off to her Daddy and, within minutes, poop exploded out of her diaper. So, at least I know they’re teaching her manners over there, because she didn’t want to defecate on her guest.) I have taken to showing her off as if she is my own. Whenever Allee posts or sends a pic, I demand that everyone around me ooo and aahh over it. We plan on going back out in a couple of weeks, to help Caroline celebrate her first Christmas. I’m counting down the days.
In October, Jason and I also took a very low-key trip to this little place you may have heard of – Aruba. “But Heather, you guys just went on your honeymoon! Did you suddenly turn into rich jet-setters?” you ask. Rich – no. But jet-setters? Apparently. We were lucky enough to receive an all-expenses paid trip to the Riu Palace all-inclusive resort in Aruba. If we DID have to pay, it would have been worth every penny. Any place that gives me a rum punch cocktail minutes after I walk in the door can have all my moneys.
I know you must be thinking (Do you like how I’m doing your commentary? ‘Cause I do.) “Wow, Aruba, huh? It must have been gorgeous there. I bet you woke up, ate a delicious breakfast buffet, went to the beach where you started drinking frozen margaritas at 10:00, stayed there until 1ish, when you moved to the pool which is closer to a bar. Then, I bet you grabbed something else to eat, went inside to get out of the gorgeous sun for a bit, then came back out a couple hours later and did it all over again. I bet you saw amazing, romantic sunsets – both on the beach and from your room balcony. And, I bet when you were watching the World Series in the resort’s Sports Bar, you drank rum punch and helped yourself at the make-your-own-nachos bar. And, I bet you did that every day, for five days.” Wow. You are spot on. One thing you left out, though, was the horrible, worst-I-ever-had case of food poisoning I came down with the night before/day we left.
I’m hoping I never again have the privilege of spending an hour in customs and flying on an international flight while throwing up approximately every thirty minutes. If I ever DO have to do that again, I hope that we don’t land in Philly in the middle of a hurricane, and watch as our flight goes from On-Time to Cancelled.
But that’s a blog for a different day.