Photo Girl Travels

Taking the Road Less Traveled


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Flight Etiquette…Time to Change Your Ways? ;)

It’s a few days before New Year’s Eve and I’m heading to Scottsdale Arizona where I’ll bring in the New Year with my younger sisterk and her family.  Being Papa Stan’s daughter, I am here 2 hours early. I can see eyes rolling. That’s right, I’m an Early…

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Lazy Sunday

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One of my favorite places to relax on a Sunday is Cocola which is located at the Stanford Mall in Palo Alto. The pastries are like works of art, and their lattes are rich and creamy.

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The aroma of fresh brewed coffee and pastries reminds me of sitting in a cafe in Tuscany, or Paris. You pick from an assortment of exotic salads, or throw caution to the wind and treat yourself to a pastry.

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It’s located in a piazza of sorts. As you relax outside you’ll find yourself next to a gourmet market called Sigona’s.

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This is a must see market where you’ll find exotic foods including local eggs which have shells that are green, red and blue.

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Time seems to move slower here…if you’re in the area I hope you’ll take a moment to relax, and sip your own latte.

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Jekyll Island Romance

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Jekyll Island Hotel as seen from under my umbrella

Jekyll Island Hotel as seen from under my umbrella

Recently I attended a conference in Atlanta, GA and decided I’d explore a bit before I went home. I’m actually not sure how I originally heard about Jekyll Island Club which is located off the Georgia coast, midway between Savannah and Jacksonville, FL), but either way I found myself there. In the photo above, you have a view of the resort from under my umbrella. It was overcast when I arrived and although the sun never really came out, it was gorgeous. Pure romance… from the architecture to the moss dripping from the trees…to the food and wine. Even if you’re alone it will be a magical experience.

The club thrived through the early 20th century with an exclusive limited membership consisting of many of the world’s wealthiest families at the time, most notably the Morgans, Rockefellers, and Vanderbilts. When the club first opened, hunting was a major recreational activity for both men and women. A gamekeeper was hired to keep the island well stocked with pheasants, turkeys, quail and deer. If you actually “got” something, you had to turn it over to the resort where I guess they would cook it, or send it over to the taxidermist.  As the club grew golf became an the Club’s dominant sport.

As for me? I fell in love with this place! They filmed the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance – directed by Robert Redford and starring Will Smith, Matt Damon and Charlize Theron. I stayed in the same room Matt Damon which was room 222, I believe. If you go, double check. Or request Robert’s, Will’s of Charlize’s room.

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Here are some photos from the grounds. The willow trees are dripping with moss and it’s spectacular.

Grounds at Jekyll Island Club

Grounds at Jekyll Island Club

Photo by Shelley D Spray

And some more over by the marina…

Marina at the Jekyll Island Club

Marina at the Jekyll Island Club

Photo by Shelley D Spray

Photo by Shelley D Spray

Photo by Shelley D Spray

Photo by Shelley D Spray

Photo by Shelley D Spray

There’s a great walk from the hotel over to the water. To take this photo I had to remove my shoes off and wade through some huge grass puddles. I can still remember that morning. My feet smelled of marsh and I had to take another shower when I got back!

Photo by Shelley D Spray

The hotel had fabulous food. I had room service, I was sleeping in the same bed Matt Damon slept in so I did not stray too far from that room. Here are some photos of my dinner:

Photo by Shelley D Spray

A  little wine to start – as you can see they have their own label which was very nice. My salad…

Photo by Shelley D Spray

 

And entrée…crab cakes which were excellent. Sorry, this photo is a bit blurry but you get the jest.

Photo by Shelley D Spray

And what would my blog be without a “foot” shot – my friends tease me shamelessly about this – but if you’re alone, then sometimes that’s all you can get if no one is around. And selfies are difficult to get right. Here I am sitting outside at the Café Solterra, the most casual restaurant at the Club.  It was pouring down rain and I flipped the wet cushions over and sipped a glass of wine.

I hope you’ll put this beautiful hotel on your bucket list!  For more information – here is the website: http://www.jekyllclub.com/

Photo by Shelley D Spray

Photo by Shelley D Spray

Decorating Early

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Ahhhh…yes…..I love the holidays! It’s early…and I’m owning it. Its time to crack out the decorations! 😉 Hope you decorate early too!

Biltmore Estate Decked Out

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People who know me know I LOVE the holidays. It starts with Halloween and my giddiness extends through Christmas. Yes, my house is the one decorated for Halloween in September and Christmas in November. Unlike many if you I gasp in delight when the Christmas decorations are decked out in the stores in September. So when I was looking into a trip location in November I was thrilled to find out one of my favorite places would be decorated for the holidays: The Biltmore Estate. The photos below are ones from my visit. The first one is of the tree in the dining room. Here’s a close up.

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The tree is a 40 foot fresh cut tree a and the smell is incredible. They said that they decorate so early that on December 3rd they will take this one down and put a fresh on up overnight. They would decorate the tree hanging the presents on the branches so the estate keeps the same tradition which you see in the above photo. It you’re lucky they will be playing Silent Night on the organ and the music will float throughout the house. Here are some more photos.

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Above are the trees across the room from the 40 foot tree by a massive fireplace. You have to stop and imagine what the room was like with the fires a blaze and the lighted and decorated trees glowing on Christmas Eve….

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The library.

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Many of the rooms have period dress which is very interesting to see. The women must have been no taller than 5 feet tall. The dresses are tiny!

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After your tour, head over to the area with the shops and order a hot chocolate and stroll through the gardens and shops. Me, by my favorite lion.

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The first day photo with my lion.

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Actually during the first photo I got photo bombed by the cutest kid 😉

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Second day… Yes I am obsessed with this handsome guy.

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And the last day the put a bow on him!❤️❤️❤️

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If you are able to tour the Biltmore Estate over the next two months I hope you do!!! You will not regret it. Also, now they are doing evening candle light tours who’s must be incredible. We will your the grounds in my next blog and also take a walk out to bass pond throughout the wooded forest. Sending everyone early holiday cheer!

Some links for more information:  http://www.biltmore.com/ and http://www.biltmore.com/visit

 

#BACON Anyone? My Breakfast at the #Biltmore

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While staying at the Biltmore Inn, I am on what they call the bed and breakfast package. I have to confess I usually don’t eat breakfast and consider the large amounts of cream that I pour into my coffee to be enough. But the Biltmore Inn has one of the best so I splurge and load up for the day. The photos below are a combination taken over the last two days.

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I personally LoVe the buffet which offers a lox area with everything you could ever want to load onto a slice if salmon.

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Fresh fruit.

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You can also have them make a custom omelet (I always order everything with extra spinach). And the bacon is some of the best I have ever had.

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And my lox plate.

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Finally, the topper is that the have cheese grits which melt in you mouth!

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Here’s the omelette bar where they will cook it to order. And some photos of the restaurant where can either sit by the window and watch the sunrise, or maybe you’d prefer to sit by a crackling fire, perfect for a fall morning.

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This is where I’m sitting right now, I’ll finish and then one last walk to the Estate. So sad this is my last day.

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Sorry, the omelette bar didn’t upload and I’m attempting all of this on my phone and can’t figure out how to insert an image above 😉

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And finally a photo of the most amazing bacon ever! (Not including Vermont bacon.) off to the Estate!

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#Biltmore Inn – Absolute Heaven

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After a 6 hour drive from the Monticello area in Virginia I arrived at one of my favorite places- The Biltmore Inn and Estate. I swear, any stress you may have is left at the door. The place is enchanting! I was here for the first time two years ago in the spring so I hope you’ll take a look at those posts (note Biltmore tab over on the right) since these include how to get there, my secret walk, etc, I’ll use these posts as a way of sharing my stay during the fall season. One huge difference is that everything is decorated for the holidays which I LOVE! But first, before I take you to the Estate I’ll share some photos of the Inn. The one above is the view from my room. You can see the pathway that takes you past the vineyards to the winery and Antler Village. Now, let’s take a look inside.

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I love this room (above photos) just off the lobby. You can sit by the fire and enjoy a drink. In the morning they offer complimentary coffee (I love when hotels do that) below are some photos of my room.

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The next photos show the veranda where I sit every evening.

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The long beautiful hallway where I walk each morning to exit the hotel for my walks.

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In the next blogs I’ll take you outside so you can see the grounds, have you join me for breakfast and an evening glass of wine. I’ll show you the farm and Antler village. We’ll wine taste and of course visit the Estate. Please click on the follow button for email updates on my posts.