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!

Cruising: On the ship

Since Frank didn’t talk much about our time on the ship in his last post, I think I’ll write a little bit about being on the ship!

As he mentioned, and much to our dismay, there were kids everywhere on this ship! Don’t get me wrong, I like kids, but we don’t have any and I don’t want to spend my vacation watching while other peoples kids get up to shenanigans! And no, I don’t want to watch Sponge Bob do some silly dance at the pool!

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But there were several fun things that we did do on the ship! Especially since we made the mistake of leaving out of New York when it was still cold, we spent a lot of time indoors. One of the best things we did on this whole trip was Martini Tasting for the ladies and Whiskey Tasting for the men. I say that because that is how we signed ourselves up, but we all went to every tasting (I think there were 4 days worth) and we pretty much all tried everything! I don’t remember the best whiskey, but the dark and stormy martini was excellent!

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Here are a few of the whiskey selections that we remembered to take pictures of. They had Canadian Whiskey, Scotch, Irish Whiskey and Kentucky Bourbon I believe…

There were several days of tastings and there were several tastings at each setting. Maybe 4 different whiskeys on 4 different nights. And 4 different martinis! I personally don’t like chocolate (I know, it’s shocking, but you’ll get over it!) And apparently my mother in law doesn’t like olives!

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I do, however, get motion sickness. So if you’re one of those people who gets sick in the car, plane or boat, I highly recommend staying out of the room at the top of the ship or taking motion sickness meds. Best thing to do, take it the night before and again in the morning everyday you’re on the ship.

And splurge for that balcony room! We watched the Statue of Liberty go by from our balcony, we saw people getting on and off their excursion rides, we watched the sunrise in the Bahamas while we had breakfast, and we took in the fresh air without all the other people on the ship!

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Cruising: Our first should have known better moment

Being the world travelers that we were, we decided that we were ready for whatever travel deals we could find. So the winter after we got married, we booked a trip through some discount travel page. I had decided that I wanted to try a cruise, Emily and her family had been on a couple and talked about them all the time. We were still young and didn’t have a ton of money so we booked a cruise with Norwegian out of New York City traveling to the  Bahamas in…..March.

I know….I know the writing is in the wall, how could we possibly have not thought this through but, we didn’t.

The start of the trip went really well. We travelled down from Maine to New York with no problems. My mother and her husband came with us. We met up with my in-laws and my wife’s aunt and uncle traveling up from Pennsylvania, again with no issues. In fact we timed it so well that we both arrived on the Marina parking deck within 10min of each other.

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Getting on board from what I was told was pretty standard. We hadn’t paid for any upgrades or higher end rooms so we had to wait in line with everyone else. “So what? We are on and adventure.” This is when I started to notice it……lots of backpacks…….small backpacks…..with small people attached. Oh no. Emily and I do not have children of our own, so things like “school break” elude us. Oh well it’s a big ship with lots of adult only entertainment, casinos, shows, bars, and the like everything will be fine.


We got on board with no incident, the crew had taken our bags and tagged them and let us know that they would be in our rooms later. We set off to check out the ship, we made our way to the top deck, which housed a couple pools and couple bars. WOW! Drinks on the ship not cheap. We picked up a bucket of Sam Adam’s and relaxed in a couple loungers near the pool. This is when the second realization hit me….we were dressed for winter, drinking cold beer, in the sun, and shivering……oh well it’s an adventure, the Bahamas will be warmer.

After awhile we went up to the front of the ship to watch as we pulled out of harbor. OMG. No warning to that horn!

Most of the trip went really well. The food was okay, the temperatures got warmer after a day or two, much better than the New England winter we were having, and we were on an adventure!

Our first port of call was in Port Canveral and our small group got split up trying to go on an excursions. We couldn’t get off the ship at the same time, ended up on different buses and ultimately Emily, my mother(Edie), her husband(Fran), and I went on a airboat ride with the crocodiles while the rest of them were 10 minutes or so behind us. We got to try deep fried crocodile, had a great boat ride on a nice day, got within 10′ of some rather large animals, and finished off with a reptile show. It was definitely a nice break to the cold breeze on the deck of the ship.

 

Our next port of call was a private Norwegian island. The island didn’t have much in the way of entertainment, but we got some food and some drinks. Emily and I snorkeled nearly half way out to the cruise ship around a small rock island that was there. Unfortunately there wasn’t really anything to see, but at least it got us out of the hot sun and in the water for a bit.


Our final port of call was Nassau. We spent the first half of the day on a snorkeling excursion that turned out to be a bit colder than we had hoped. We saw a lot of fish and even got a few good photos with out rudimentary underwater cameras and housings. The second half of the day we walked around the port, checked out the shops, and got a chance to stretch our legs, before getting back on the boat to begin our journey home. That is definitely a down side in my mind to taking a cruise, once you get back on the boat for the final port of call, you are already headed home. It kinda makes it feel like you are cutting the trip short.

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A couple things to note about the Bahamas in March. Yes it is much warmer than a cold winter, but water sports are still pretty cold. Secondly and what to date has turned me off from another cruise, was that there were kids everywhere at all hours of the day. You would have thought that a show at 11pm would have been adults only, but no. Kids crying, five year olds staring at you as the couple on stage talked about the first time they had sex, while driving down the highway towards Atlantic City. I don’t know if it was the value cruise, the timing of spring break, or maybe just Norwegian, but wow.

All in all this trip truely was an adventure. One we will never forget. But we definitely cemented in our minds, you get what you pay for. I would definitely go on another value vacation again, anything to travel really, but some more research before jumping in would definitely be warranted.

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.