Around Town: Rochester, NY

We started this blog to talk about our travels. Since we have years to catch up on and talk about, I thought it would still be fun to add in a little HERE and NOW.

This Friday and Sunday we went to Amerks games. We are big hockey fans, so we have season tickets to the Amerks. For us, it’s definitely one of the perks of living in Rochester. The Amerks, like their NHL counterpart the Sabres have struggled the last two seasons. But we aren’t fair weather fans and we LOVE hockey. As season ticket holders, we have become friends with the people who sit in our section. And even when we play poorly, we enjoy the games.  This weekend, however, there was a fire under the Amerks and they won three back to back games. We love this level of hockey. It’s fun to see players who go on to have great NHL careers. But it’s also great hockey, at a good price, and lots of fun.

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Which brings me to our next adventure! While we were out at the game Friday night I shared a photo of us on Instagram. I like to check out what other people are up to when they like our photos on Instagram. So when @rocwafflefactory liked our Amerks photo I checked them out. If it’s not clear yet, we are foodies. So when I looked at their photos on Instagram I literally yelled to Frank in the basement to get dressed because we were going out for waffles! I spent a few days in Brussels, Belgium 14 years ago, and I’m not lying when I say I still dream about the waffles. You could walk 10 steps and be at another waffle stand. And they aren’t like the Belgian waffles you get at your average breakfast place. They have this thin layer of sweetness through the middle of the waffle. And they aren’t thin batter poured onto a waffle iron. They look like dough balls that get squished. And every stand has examples of the ridiculousness you can put on the waffle. Everything from Nutella and strawberries to whipped confections of goodness.

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Photo Above: Brussels Belgium circa 2003

So when I saw that The Waffle Factory  was inspired by true Belgian waffles, I had to go. I ordered the Elvis Waffly and Frank ordered the Apple Pie Waffle.  We were a little concerned when we looked online that they didn’t have much seating, but it was fine. You go in to the counter and order your waffles (they also serve eggs, bacon and some other breakfast stuff). Once you place your order you just pick a seat and they bring it out to you. And although it didn’t taste exactly the way I remember the waffles in Belgium, it was delicious. And if I am being perfectly honest, that was 14 years ago. Some of what I remember could just be plain old nostalgia.

So if you’re looking for things to do around Rochester, we highly recommend catching an Amerks game and checking out The Waffle Factory in Webster.

P.S. We also love Dinosaur BBQ which is right across the street from the arena. Make reservations or go early, they will be crowded. And order the brisket, you won’t be sorry. Next Amerks game is this Friday 3/31!

5 Things You Should Know When Traveling With a Group

As we populate this blog on the places we have been and the things we have done for the last 8 years, I thought it would be fitting to talk about some of our experiences when we travel. So here are a few tips on what to think about when planning to travel with a group.

  1. It’s very hard to get a group of people to all move in the same direction at the same time: When I was in Europe we travelled before school started as a group of three. After the first day in Paris we agreed that it would be much easier if we split into two groups. Some of us were happy to wander aimlessly to a destination and experience the city around us. While others wanted to get on public transportation and arrive quickly at a set destination and move on to another set destination afterwards. So be aware of who you are traveling with and what their travel style is.
  2. Just because they are your friends or family, doesn’t mean they should travel with you: People often comment on the places we have been and the things we have done. But when they start inquiring about joining us on our next adventure we have to buckle down and say no sometimes. We’ve been on a couple of trips where people’s expectations were not met. Our friends and family are way too important to us to have tensions flare and feelings get hurt. To the same point, we work hard so that we can enjoy our time traveling. To be away and not enjoying yourself is just not what we have in mind when we travel.
  3. Gauge the participation levels of your travel buddies: My husband and I love to dive, we love to climb things, and we love to explore. We went on a cross country trip across Costa Rica in 2016. We failed to ask one of our travelers if they wanted to drive. Which it turns out, they did not. Oops! Luckily for us we had plenty of other drivers, but if you don’t cover that base before you leave, you could find yourself stuck! We also have people who are very active and people who are less active that travel with us. So it’s really important to discuss the level of activity you plan to do and who wants to do it. We have had several successful trips where people did different activities. It worked for us because we were very clear that we were going to do a certain thing and that anyone was welcome to join, but no one should feel like they have to. We are very good at going off and doing our own thing. But we have been on trips with people who are not, so don’t plan to go on a trip and do your own thing if you haven’t discussed that with your trip buddies.
  4. Food: This is a big one. My husband and I have a travel budget when we go, but we don’t stop ourselves from sitting down at a restaurant that looks nice and eating. We have travelled with people who want to walk for an hour to find the best deal, and we have travelled with others where we ordered the special and unknowingly paid for the most expensive thing on the menu. I’ve also travelled with people who said they would only eat hamburgers (challenging when you’re in a foreign country) and people who were willing to try anything! On top of that, we have also rented villas where you have to purchase your own groceries. This can be challenging if you have travelers in your group who are watching every penny, who eat less, or who don’t drink. Tensions get high when you split the bill evenly, but they think they haven’t eaten or drank as much as others. So if you’re going to travel this way I recommend everyone putting money into a kitty that is used to buy groceries. If you go out to dinner and they won’t let you split the check, have one person pay and divi everything up after the trip is over. And ask people before you decide to go on a group trip like this how they want to handle the breakdown of expenses. For us, we don’t really care. We’ve been traveling with some of the same people for awhile now and we feel like it all washes out in the end.
  5. You can only manage your own expectations: This may sound harsh, but it is the truth. You can only control how you feel about the situation and what you personally are going to do about it or willing to deal with. Frank is a pleaser, he often goes along with things he doesn’t want to do because someone else wants to do it and they should get to. Everyone on the team is happy! I, on the other hand, am not. And if I don’t want to do something, i’m a lot less inclined to do it. When we went to Europe a couple years ago, I was the only one that had been to Italy. I thought people would put in their input on what they wanted to see and do. We picked a couple of cities and a couple of must see destinations. It turned out our travel companions didn’t want to hurt my feelings, so they wouldn’t put in any recommendations. Bummer, that wasn’t what I wanted, but I didn’t speak up enough to let them know that recommendations were welcome. At one point Frank even refused to walk next to me. I might as well have been a tour guide, and that was no fun for me. Since then I’ve learned to speak up. This is what we are going to do, anyone is welcome to join us, or if you’d like to do something else that’s great too. And I no longer worry if people don’t want to or can’t do the things I want to do. There are so many things to do when you travel there is no shortage of things for other people to do. But it’s great to have at least one buddy that wants to do the things you want to do. Luckily for me I won’t do much traveling without Frank, and he likes to do a lot of things that I like. Although, if he asks me to jump out of an airplane, he will have to find another buddy to join him! And I don’t have to be with him all the time, I’m perfectly okay with saying “no, I don’t want to do that” When we were in Costa Rica, 5 of them wanted to go 4-wheeling. I didn’t want to go, I needed a break (as an introvert I like to be alone and we had been together for days). So I opted not to go on the tour with them. There were some in our group that thought I was scared, or worried about the activity. While there were others that weren’t sure about me being on my own. I promised not to wander off alone, but I needed that time, and I spoke up. And I am really glad I did. So remember, when you’re traveling, not all of your travelers will have the same mindset as you. And you have to be okay with that. In the words of one of my best friends “Let them have their feelings”. It’s okay to feel differently. But you can’t manage other peoples expectations. Only your own. And if you need a few hours alone, make sure you take it before you turn into a grumpy traveler!

Black and Blue Steak & Crab, Rochester New York

This is the second year in a row that my husband and I have celebrated our anniversary at Black and Blue! When we got married in March we thought we would get away every year to somewhere warm and celebrate. However, that doesn’t always happen. For the last two years we have gone somewhere warm in January and chose to celebrate dinner out on the town.

We love Black and Blue, but it won’t be for everyone.  My husband and I are foodies. We love a great meal and we don’t care what it cost. When we go out for our anniversary we split a bottle of wine, we order the cut of steak we want (or in my case the blackened mahi mahi special), we order appetizers, we look at the dessert menu and we leave the evening happy, no matter what it costs. We don’t eat out like that every day, so when a special occasion comes up, we don’t worry about the bill. That being said, we thought the dinner we had last night was worth every penny. But if you’re scraping together pennies, Black and Blue is not for you.

The wait staff is very friendly and professional. I love that they swing by the table every once and awhile and top off your wine glass. We ordered a bottle of wine that neither of us ever touched. A lovely Pinot Noir from New Zealand! Here’s a little tip we use when we don’t know which wine to pick – Pick a wine from a place you’d like to travel! I spent a semester in Italy in 2003 and I learned a ton about wine. The most valuable tip was, the most expensive wine doesn’t mean it’s the best, it just means they didn’t make that much of it. So don’t feel bad about picking a wine that isn’t $100 a bottle. Sometimes the wine you’ll like best isn’t the most expensive. On the same note, mass produced gallons of wine that they can sell for dirt cheap could be like everything else you get that’s dirt cheap…

The atmosphere is very nice at Black and Blue. You feel like you’re in a classy place. The chairs are enormous, I actually wish they were a little smaller because it makes the tables feel cramped. You get up to use the restroom and you have to do a little dance with the wait staff to get around the room. But it’s clean, the light level is nice for an evening dinner, and there is soft piano music playing somewhere. I did wish there was a jazz piano player in real life, but maybe that’s not the atmosphere they wish to promote. And it was Monday night, so maybe on a weekend there is a different vibe.

But for us it’s all about the food. When they say their cuts of steak are premium, they really mean it. And the rosemary rub, delicious. The blackened seasoning is done perfectly and the sea food makes you feel like you’re on the coast even when you’re in a parking lot in the middle of Rochester. Yes, their location in a strip mall feels a little odd, but some of our favorite restaurants have been in strip malls. Once you’re inside you forget where you are. This night transported us to a different place, somewhere that we could forget about everyday life and just enjoy the evening. For that, we would go back every year.