Wednesday, August 19, 2009

VIP Weekend Getaway

Wow, have we had a weekend! My wonderful, studly husband and I had our 13th anniversary this past weekend and.... all I can really say is WOW! We went to Baltimore, which is not exactly my idea of a romantic vacation, but I was definitely looking forward to the seafood. I mean, I'm a seafood super fan. I'm, personally, not very good at cooking seafood, so I try to eat it when on a waterfront any time I have the opportunity. Aaaaaanyway, the hotel we stayed at.... the Monaco Baltimore was.... well, to be precise, DA BOMB! I've never stayed at a really four star hotel before. This hotel is all of like 6 weeks old and it was beautiful, luxurious, friendly, accommodating, and magical. We started by dropping the kids off at our friend's home a bit south of us. And can I say now, anyone who will take six children for more than a couple of hours for a friend is a keeper. I made her an apron and hubs made his bro hubs a quart of killer salsa from our garden, but I think they're gonna get another thank you, especially in light of the amazing vacation we had. We drove to Fairfax VA where hubs got a haircut and scalp, neck, shoulder massage for $13. I shopped at Nature's Yarns and bought some pretty blue yarn and chatted with some fiber ladies. (Nature's Yarns is having a workshop with Nancy Bush soon, and if I didn't pauper myself in Baltimore, I'd totally go!) One of said ladies was eating really yummy smelling food and I asked her if it was from the Vietnamese restaurant next door.... and yes! We found our lunch venue. It was wonderful food, delicate, fresh, clean, but with wonderful hints of spices that made it interesting. It was also relatively healthy for a quick lunch: lots of veggies and sprouts and bone broths.
On to Baltimore, and the drive was very enjoyable, since I got to knit my fair isle vest the whole way. We went to the Hotel Monaco, WOW! Totally awesome interior, amazing flower arrangements, and a historic building!
We talked to the concierge and he gave us several fun walking destinations, and we chose to hit the harbor, just to look at it. We got some drinks, did a little window shopping, and then walked to the hotel to check in... We spiffed up and started to think about dinner, and the bell boy brought us a bottle of wine and a signed card to celebrate our anniversary, all on his own. Hubs headed to the concierge desk to arrange for reservations while I headed to the lobby to knit in modern elegance. I met the man who had overseen the reconstruction of the building our hotel was housed in and his 90 yr old Aunt Jane (who didn't look a day over 70). He commented on my knitting, and showed off his belt, a gift from his wife in petit point embroidery... Aunt Jane thought my sock looked too small for an adult man, and I said I thought I'd have to pull it out, though hubs does have skinny calves AND she complimented my skin.

Later they asked to see Hub's ankles when we saw them at the elevator! And I got to hear a bit about the building, which apparently is the quite famous headquarters of the B&O Railroad. Who knew! Hubs returned, and come to find out, it was Restaurant Week in Baltimore and the restaurant we wanted to go to didn't have an open reservation till 10, so Hub asked the receptionist if she had an alternate recommendation. The Oceanaire, she said. The concierge walked in and says, “Oh, yeah, that's a really great restaurant, but you'll never get a reservation tonight! I know a guy, I think I can get you a reservation.... and lo and behold our concierge got us into the Oceanaire at 8pm... he told them we were VIPs and got us a car... I mean a private, black, window tinted, leather upholstered car driven by a chauffer. Well, I had to change clothes, of course!

Then: “Mr. D., your car is here.” and off to the restaurant in our private car (how much are you supposed to pay a private chauffeur?) When the host hears our name, he says, “My name is Nick, Mr. D, you let me know if you need anything at all.” Off we went, immediately, to a table squeezed into the back (it was obviously not part of the normal seating) where we were served so quickly and with eager attention, the surrounding tables complained! The food was sooooooo amazingly wonderful that I'm spoiled for ordinary calamari from now on, and the crab cakes were to die for, plus we had asparagus in hollandaise, yum. Then Jeremy called our chauffeur (he gave us his number), who said “I'll be there in five minutes!” Soon, I was handed back into the car while I saw people on the curb whispering to each other, wondering who we were. Of course, we're nobody, and I think the waitress figured that out about halfway through dinner, not that her service changed, but she wasn't sooooo much fawning over us anymore. Still, it was really fun being VIPs for one night! We went back to our world class boutique hotel and slept on a VIP cloud, which was quite restful. I highly recommend VIP clouds.
The next day it was breakfast and coffee at Caribou Coffee then a walk to shopping for sunscreen and a chunky, beady, artsy necklace to grace my VIP neck, and a tour of the USS Constellation, then a shortish walk to Camden Yards and a Orioles game. Can you say giant roasting oven? It was hot, so hot the ballpark had free ice stations set up on each level so people wouldn't die of heat stroke. I had nachos. The Orioles did not provide a particularly stellar performance, except when one outfielder jumped waaaaay up to catch a ball over the center field fence which prompted me to jump up with both hands in the air and “WoooooooHooooooooo!”. It was too hot to knit, but I was diligent enough with sunscreen that I didn't burn at all, yay! Then we left early so that we could shower and nap and go to dinner. We went to Bertha's and ate mussels and rock fish and cream shrimp and scallops. And sourdough bread. Mmmmm. Also, we met people who had just left the ball game in the 14th inning and were hot and sweaty. I'm glad Hubs was thinking of my delicate constitution. Then we went to the Cat's Eye Pub and made friends with Danny the bartender and listened to live music and watched locals do the Lindy Hop, which was really fun... then back to the hotel at 11, with a cabby that tried to run me all over Baltimore (the one bad note from a wonderful stay). We had breakfast at the Brasserie, which was wonderful, then a drive to Culpepper to look around and see a real estate agent and rescue our lovely friends from our children. Did you know that it can take 4 months to close on a short sale? Which means we need to get pre-approved for a loan and be ready to look at bargains on short notice. Our impending move date is now around 6 months away. Terrifying and exciting at the same time.