I am really such a homebody. But I also adore traveling. Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile those two needs. This past week and a half, I moved between Toronto, Key West, and a good old favorite, Chicago. We had to first drop off our two girls to spend some time with their Nonna and Nonno and cousins in Toronto, drive home 8 hours (ugh) and then fly out a few days later to attend a wedding in Key West ( I know, don’t cry for me) and the very next morning to Chicago for more nuptials. Every summer, at least two of my husband’s former players (he is a college hockey coach) decide to get married, and every so often, it’s a place worth making the effort for.
I was really looking forward to these trips. I had never been to Key West, and although I expected sweltering heat in July, I was underprepared. It was so humid, I felt like I was wrapped in Saran Wrap in a greenhouse. But I trudged on and forced my husband to take the Trolley tour through the island (seriously, great history lessons in Key West – it ain’t all just debauchery).
And of course, as I always say, the best way to get the feel of a new city (or island) is to run it. So we did. We must have looked pathetic, because it was unbearably stuffy at 9 A.M and my new running shoes were tearing holes in both my Achilles’ tendons. Lesson learned. The markedly better idea, was to take the jet ski tour around the island, which we did later that day. Now that was a great way to see the island!
We spent a few days trying not to look impossibly uncomfortable, resorting to literally camping out on the pool steps, or at the bar (there were fans there). The wedding festivities were outstanding, with parties at private homes and sunset cocktail hours on the pier. The ceremony was in an old, beautiful, historic church (thankfully with AC) and the reception was no different. We did bow out early, however, to catch an early flight to Chicago for round two.
A very welcome, cool breeze greeted us as we navigated via Über to our boutique hotel downtown. It reminded me of our hotel in Rome, with tiny elevators and unique,cozy spaces. Our room was a beautiful suite ( we don’t remember booking a suite, but thank you!) with a huge balcony, big enough to fit a table and chairs for four and more, with a breathtaking view of the skyline. Too bad we had to rush to the ceremony!
The two weddings couldn’t have been more different. Suddenly the pale blue suit and plaid bow tie seemed comical in downtown Chicago, where women have absolutely no problem wearing white or black gowns to a daytime wedding! The chapel was exquisite and the reception at the Four Seasons, exceptional. One of our favorite Italian hockey families (and some of the boys) kept us entertained for hours!
And as much as I loved exploring and just existing in these two very different places in such a short time, I missed home. A lot. I’ll say, that I never used to feel that way. The more I could get away from home, the better. But more and more, I miss my kids (who text everyone but me) and my dog when I travel. And my bed. And my food.
One of my favorite parts of travel is the cuisine! I am unabashedly a foodie, and I pick the best restaurants in every city and enjoy every morsel and drop.
I don’t often have a hard time choosing healthful dinners, because at higher quality restaurants, they generally use fresher ingredients, frying is rare and vegetables do play a bigger role than they used to, especially with the farm-to-table trend. Breakfast and lunch, I find more difficult. Maybe because after sharing a great bottle of wine the night before, I really just want a bagel or a croissant in the morning. And a sandwich for lunch sounds so easy and yummy (I don’t really ever crave salads). And when I indulge in those things, I often feel worse, days later, when consistently poor habits finally catch up with me.
I now what I SHOULD do. There are countless blogs describing how to travel and eat healthy. Request a mini fridge, stop at the grocery store and stock up on healthy snacks and breakfast foods, bring a collapsible water bottle. Blah, blah, blah… I got it. I just don’t want to do it. I refuse to cook on vacation – because I cook at home virtually every night ( that’s my husband howling in the background, because he often is the cook). And I despise the grocery store, so I protest going there on vacation as well.
And I shouldn’t complain because there are many good choices now. The coffee shop in the hotel in Key West (ok, it was a Waldorf property, but still) had tons of options including some fresh fruit (too tart for me in the morning – I have issues) and gluten free snacks. I just don’t want them when I see chocolate croissants and banana bread. Besides, more and more, my body dislikes grains, so even gluten free pre-packaged foods generally aren’t as exciting for me anymore. Not only do grains impart heftiness and poofiness (you know what I mean), but I also feel sluggish, disinterested, anxious and depressed. Least of all of the problems, my digestive system seems pathetic, and I constantly feel full but hungry (what?).
I always say I’d gladly lay off the wonderful person who mows the lawn (sorry, Sherman) and the detail-oriented woman who cleans my house (sorry, Angie) and many other services and/or products if I could have a personal chef. She wouldn’t even have to work that hard. Good, simple, nourishing food ready to go when I need it. Nothing fancy. The truth is, I feel crazy good when I eat this way, and at my home I control which temptations are in the house, and we have no quality take-out food, thankfully. But new cities and islands are fraught with poor choices and poison apples. I’ve gotten much better at saying no, and it gets easier the more I am in touch with how food makes my body and brain feel. I wish I had found this out a long time ago, but sometimes I am viciously angry that I have to think so much about food. But then I remember why I do, when I come home from vacation with an extra eight pounds, dark circles under my eyes and am exhausted, cranky and depressed.
What a whirlwind trip, but I’m happy to be home with my supremely strong coffee (although the Cuban coffee was killer in Key West), totally unorthodox breakfasts ( sometimes leftover dinner from the night before), my fresh organic vegetables and simple but tasty (non-grain) dinners. Someday soon I will do what those bloggers are suggesting, and hopefully fall in love with travel again.Share This: