Are we too old for this trip?

The sun is shining, lost tourists are breezing around on bicycles and seagulls are chirping as we finally pull into the Quarterdeck Motel in Wildwood, New Jersey for the almost-seventh year in a row (one year skipped). However, even after the fitting relief that comes from arriving from your destination after a three-hour drive, something is definitively different.

For all of these years, Sandra and I have been coming to Wildwood for two or three nights in the summertime. It began as a couples’ trip with our then-boyfriends – two breakups later, we now do the same itinerary, minus two people, despite both of our new ‘taken’ statuses.

There’s something incredibly comforting about this trip. Usually, I spend the before-days of my other vacations reading guidebooks, planning restaurant outings and checking out reviews online. But when we go to Wildwood, our itinerary remains pretty much the same, with a few safe detours.

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We go to Cape May for the day, where we visit the Cape May Winery and Cape May Brewing Company, before stumbling our way to The Lobster House for a casual meal on the deck. We watch the sun set at the appropriately named Sunset Lake. We spend the rest of our time in Wildwood, where we go on a few rides – always including the log flume and Ferris wheel – hang out on the beach, consume way too many fudge samples, eat at the Boathouse and go out on the town. It all culminates the next morning with a leisurely bike ride down the boardwalk. And through it all, we stay at the charmingly seedy Quarterdeck Motel.

However, this year, the Quarterdeck Motel isn’t charmingly seedy – it’s just plain seedy. We’re sober walking down the boardwalk on Saturday night, and the drunken antics of the tourists are no longer something we want to join in on, but look down upon. The boardwalk pizza has lost its comfort and just tastes cheap.

Now don’t get me wrong here – as we always do, we still have a great time. Sandra and I dance to the live music at the Wharf after dinner, laugh at the tacky grills of our henna tattoo artist and spend the night drinking at Keenan’s North Wildwood with our Uber driver (who, I’m assuming, had to call an Uber home). But maybe, just maybe, we’ve outgrown our Quarterdeck stay.

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This isn’t easy to admit. Hell, half the clothes I packed are the same ones I packed seven years ago. We still laugh at the long pilgrimage from ‘under the boardwalk’ to the ocean. But, at 28 and 29-years-old, we’re not 21 anymore and we don’t really fit in here.

So next year, the trip will get an upgrade. I won’t be killing any grasshoppers in the bathroom or sleep in a bed that’s filled with sand from its previous occupant. Maybe we’ll go straight to the top and stay at Congress Hall, America’s first seaside resort in the heart of Cape May. Maybe the trip needs to evolve, just as we did.

Is there a trip that you’ve outgrown? Let me know in the comments. 

Down with foofy food

As a food writer, the restaurants I hear about most are the ones with dedicated PR teams, high-resolution press photos and a constant barrage of events that make for quick and easy stories for our news site – the most expensive and upscale restaurants that the Garden State can offer.

To not much surprise, then, I’ve always been a little infatuated with these five-star eateries that, as a teen living with my single mom, I could only drive by. Hell, I didn’t even have something to wear to these types of places even if I could go.

Objects in photo may be smaller than they appear.

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Saying goodbye to Eastern Europe

I’m much less excited to get up for our morning tour now that I feel I have already given myself a pretty good Prague tour thanks to my Lonely Planet guidebook, plus I’m exhausted and it’s about 20 degrees colder than it was during our wandering yesterday. Luckily, the rain holds off for our two-hour tour, which also shows us the Municipal House, Powder Tower and the Jewish Quarter.

Wandering through Prague.

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Prague, a labyrinth of cobblestone and chimney cakes

After a pretty pleasant six-hour bus ride from Vienna, we have arrived in Prague, which is bittersweet since this will mark the last destination of our Eastern European journey. However, it’s hard to still not be excited when driving into a city marked by centuries-old cobblestone streets, sky-scraping cathedrals and rolling hills.

The Old Town Square in Prague.

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A surprise trip to Bratislava

This morning, I’m excited to take the one-hour bus ride to Bratislava, the capital of Slovenia, adding another city and country to my growing list of 26 visited countries that I wasn’t even aware when we booked the tour that we would be going to. Although I’m so exhausted in Bratislava after days of sub-six hour sleep, I still truly feel richer having visited so many new places on this trip.

Mike and I in Bratislava.

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From imperial palaces to outdoor brews in Vienna

This morning, we finally get a chance to really see Vienna in all of its glory, as the sun is shining and we hop on the bus bright and early to check out Schonbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the Hapsburg emperors. Since we get here early with our tour group, we avoid the daily influx of 12,000 tourists and we have a place to ourselves for a bit, seeing the insane opulence of the palace and its even more impressive and expansive grounds with winding trails, secret gardens and over-the-top fountains and statues.

Me at Schönbrunn Palace.

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My return to Budapest, six years later

When I studied abroad in Florence, Italy in college, one of my last trips was to Budapest, Hungary, where I spent a long weekend with my college roommate, Alex, and her family after she came to visit me from the States.

However, after a few months of traveling to six other countries and 15 Italian cities, I was feeling tired and a bit homesick. So, when Alex and I trekked to Budapest, we spent more time than we probably should have hanging out in our beautiful hotel room at the Marriott (I was used to questionable hostels and bunk beds), eating American food as we celebrated Thanksgiving and taking dopey pictures that only best friends take.

Me at our hotel, Danubius Spa in Budapest.

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6 items to always bring on your journey abroad

As anyone who reads this blog is probably already aware, I’m going to Prague, Vienna and Budapest on Monday and I am counting the minutes until I can escape from the winter wonderland that is New Jersey right now.

However, before I hop on a plane – and before any of you do, either – I have to do what I dread doing most – packing.

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My very personalized backpack.

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After 26 years, a place to call my own

Growing up in Long Valley, a small, one-traffic-light town in northwestern New Jersey, I had a real penchant for sleeping out.

No, not like that, but it seemed like in a effort to quell my boredom and my discomfort with being in yet another new home (and one that was constantly in jeopardy as that one sat on the market for years), I would often sleep at friends’ houses, where I felt more comfortable and more at peace than I did in my own bed.

A glimpse inside my humble abode.

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