I’ve gotten way behind with blogging lately, but not from the lack of things to blog about. The month of April literally flew by, and I’m trying to catch up now for an even busier May. Hope everyone had a nice and meaningful Easter with their friends and families.
Instead of writing this post day by day, I’ll summarize some of the travel highlights from April as best as I can in chronological order, ending with Easter. For starters DOS and I, had a nice first weekend in April visiting friends in Flagler Beach, and later our former neighbors in Ormond Beach.
At Flagler, we had a nice lunch with two couples we had met on our 2015 South America repositioning cruise (from Valparaiso, Chile to Ft. Lauderdale.) Linda and John are ‘snowbirds’ from Ohio who have an ocean-view condo they live in the winter months, and return to Ohio for the summer months.
We stayed with them overnight back in February for one night, and this time we met them again at their condo, but just for lunch. Joining us for lunch were Cler and Carl, who were also from Ohio, but now live in the New Symra Beach area year round. We had a nice lunch, with loads of good travel stories and tips from everyone. Linda and John had just taken a cruise on Azamara to Cuba, which is something we haven’t done and would like to, so it was good to hear their tips. (You must pay everything there in Cuban cash, which is taxed at an extra 10 percent for Americans, hotels can be prepaid prior to departure via credit card though.) Here’s a pic of all us after we had lunch.
After the luncheon visit, Steve (DOS) and I drove down a half hour or so to our friends and former neighbors (Kenny and Mary) at Ormond Beach, and stayed with them overnight. We had not seen Kenny and Mary since they moved last December, and it was so good to see them again, and their dog Charlie remembered us as well!
We had a really fun visit and went to two wonderful restaurants (one for dinner and another for Sunday brunch.) We had some Chardonnay and cheese and berry appetizers at Kenny and Mary’s place before taking Uber out to dinner. Kenny and Mary are living at Ormond temporarily while their new place is being built in Vero Beach. We all look forward to getting together there later this summer in the new ’55 plus’ community.
For dinner we went to Rosevilla Southern Table and Bar, which is located in a beautiful and historic building dating back to the late 1800’s, and originally established as a Bed and Breakfast.
Kenny had done some contracting work there years ago, and noted the extensive detailing (and rarity) of the wallpaper throughout the bar area. It was such specialized work due to the multiple layers and hand set inlays that only corporate certified contractors could work on it.
RoseVilla was truly impressive and we enjoyed looking around the various rooms in between our multi-course dinner. Even the men’s room was fancy decorated with wallpaper and stained glass!
We had a wonderful and intimate outdoor seating area in a courtyard gazebo, shared by only one adjacent table, whose small group of diners ‘turned over’ twice while we were there!
We do have a tendency to linger, but we get lots of appetizers, vino, entrees, and desserts, always enjoying the food, atmosphere, and great service! Here’s some photos from our night out at RoseVilla:
The Managing Owner, Kirk even came by our table while dining, “Just to see who was drinking all of their good wine!” Really nice gent, who posed for a photo with DOS and me.
After dinner, the meal was still not over, as we had dessert at the upstairs ABSINTHE bar room. This was a different bar than the one we saw earlier on the first level, and it was elegantly and masculinely decorated in the style of the early 1900’s as well.
We had no idea what Absinthe was, but the bar tender described it as a very potent alcohol drink, and was rumored at one time to be hallucinogenic.
It was fun to watch the bartender artfully make the drinks as well as the other customers trying it. Meanwhile the four of us shared a decadent chocolate dessert at the bar.
I had a tiny taste of the Absinthe and thought it was – yuk, but then again I’m not a spirits drinker!
When we got back we googled Absinthe and saw this entry on Wikipedia. We didn’t hallucinate, but with all the vino and the sip of Absinthe, we were happy to Uber back to Kenny and Mary’s.
The next day, we went to Sunday Brunch at River Grille on the Tomaka River.
Like last night’s dinner, we had excellent seating, this time at our private table on one of the multi-decked levels outside overlooking the river. There was inside and outside seating which got quite crowded, but by going early we got an intimate table in its own little area, away from the busy main dining deck.
As I was driving, and we had to head back to Orlando after Brunch, DOS and I skipped the drinks, although the beer Kenny had and Mimosa Mary had looked refreshing on this beautiful Florida afternoon.
Together the four of us had a very nice and leisurely seafood meal, with great views overlooking the river. DOS had the shrimp scampi special, while Kenny, Mary and myself had the swordfish special. All were excellent!
After Brunch we took Kenny and Mary back to their place, and headed back to Orlando as I had to fly out the next day for work in the Washington area. While no time to sightsee, we did stay in Alexandria, very close to where we lived as a family until I was in second grade and moved to Roanoke. I remember as a kid seeing this giant Masonic Temple, and even today it looks as grand or grander than I remember as a child; more or less a landmark in the local area.
I also took this photo when departing from Washington National Airport, of the retro terminal there, so close to the city.
On another trip to Maryland, I even went by my old townhouse when I lived up that way for four years in the 1990’s before moving to Florida. It looks pretty much the way it was when I bought it new in 1994. It’s bigger than it looks, as it’s actually a three level townhouse with a finished basement.
The same trip I was also able to schedule in the weekend to visit my parents in Roanoke, VA, which was nice, even if it was just a couple days visit. DOS flew up as well, and we went by the Elk’s Home to visit them a couple times during our weekend visit.
My parents seem to like living there in the assisted living facility, and have there own apartment and privacy, while also getting care, meals, laundry etc by the wonderful staff there.
We also visited my brother Andy and his partner Art, and went to a couple of our favorite Roanoke restaurants; Montano’s and Frankie Rowland’s. Montano’s is an Italian family-owned gourmet restaurant with a huge and diverse menu of both food and international beers, wines etc, plus friendly service from the whole staff. Here are some photos from Montano’s, including our favorite (and always exclusive!) server, Kelly.
The next night we went to Frankie Rowland’s Steakhouse, which in our opinion is the best restaurant in Roanoke. Frankie’s is always an extraordinary night out of fine dining, great wines, and outstanding service. This night was no exception! It’s become a tradition every time we go to “Frankie’s” that we do a selfie at the entrance sign on the way in.
The next day we headed back to Orlando. Here is a photo from the Roanoke Airport on a cloudy day, but with the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.
Another weekend in April we stayed at the Hyatt Place Daytona, which is about an hour from our house in Orlando, and is located in the quieter section of Daytona at Daytona Beach Shores.
We had a nice stay and great weather while there. The Hyatt Place is located oceanfront on a wide stretch of beach. Although they do allow cars on the beach, it’s never been a problem for us as most of them are parked and the ones driving must follow the signs and are managed so there’s not too many cars or traffic. It’s actually a quiet family atmosphere beach here compared to the much busier and active Daytona Beach a few miles north.
Daytona Beach Shores even has a drive thru Church right across the street from our hotel! It must have been an old drive in theater in its younger days. What a nice reuse for an outdoor theater and so close to the beach!
For dinner one night we went once again to The Cellar Restaurant, definitely the nicest and authentic Italian Restaurant in the surrounding area.
We had eaten at The Cellar earlier in the year and I thought I had blogged about it already, but I must have been getting it mixed up with Facebook or my Trip Advisor page. Too much social media to keep up with! As The Cellar is such a gourmet treat, I will end this post, and continue on the next post with our dinners at The Cellar.
And finally, last weekend was Easter. While we were hoping to get to Roanoke for Easter weekend, our schedule didn’t allow it, so we celebrated Easter at home in Orlando. We went to our neighborhood Methodist Church and enjoyed the beautiful day at home after the service. The children had painted some wooden panels with their names or artwork which were displayed in the foyer. There was also a cross out front that was decorated by the congregation upon entry with flowers, and then moved into the foyer, and ultimately alter for the service.
The choir sang beautifully, enhanced only by the orchestra, and the Easter service was very appropriate to the season and meaningful. The beautiful flower and garden landscaping at the church just enhanced this beautiful Easter Day.
No Easter Bunnies for us this year. But most importantly, He is Risen! Happy Easter, and may God Bless you and your families!