Travel Thyme: Vermont

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Ahoy, folks.

The man and I just returned from a 5-day trip in Vermonster. Somewhat on a whim, we decided a couple weeks before the departure date that this would be the perfect location for Labor Day weekend.

Lush, green landscapes and an endless supply of maple syrup? Hard to beat.

Here is our itinerary, which I hope you may find of use when you decide to one day travel to the Green Mountain Land! (still a bit photo deficient, I know)

Day One

We arrived at our darling hotel inn, Northern Lights Lodge, at around 2 PM. At around $90 a night, it was quite a good deal. And who can say no to free cookies every night?

After settling in, we rented bikes in a nearby shop so we could hop onto the Recreational Trail. It was a gorgeous 11 mile bike ride and if we had chosen to bike earlier, we definitely would have taken advantage of the “don’t-need-to-lock-your-bike” situation. No need to lock your bike at a restaurant or bar!

Along the path, we met some unexpected goats and calves hanging out by the path. As my boyfriend says: “Unexpected goats are way better than expected goats.”

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We turned in after a cosy meal at Crop, which was also conveniently a brewery, so we tasted our first beer flight of the trip. Nothing memorable, however.

Day Two

We headed out to Rock of Ages in Barre (pronounced BEAR-y), Vermont. Rock of Ages is a granite quarry and we largely went to make my Dad proud. It actually ended up being extremely interesting and the views were absolutely stunning. Definitely left with a newfound appreciation of the effort it takes to get a good piece of granite and the artistry required to shape the rock.

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After we filled our brains with knowledge on Barre Grey granite, we drove over to Bragg Farm Sugar House to dip our toes into sugary sweetness. We got to sample a few types of maple syrup (did you know that later in the season = darker syrup due to longer boiling times required?) and the boyfriend treated me to a lovely cone of maple syrup soft serve. Amazing.

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The thing that surprised me the most was how the sweetness of all the maple products hit me first, which was then followed with a slow crescendo of maple flavor and a final aftertaste of maple goodness. Definitely using maple syrup more in recipes.

Our final stop of the day was a walk around downtown Montpelier, the capital of Vermont. I loved the town was very quaint, but unfortunately everything was closed since it was past 4 PM on a Sunday. People in Montpelier definitely know what’s most important.

Forgot to mention – we did make a pit stop at a Cabot Creamery outlet, a company focusing on Cheddar cheese. We ecstatically sampled over 20 types of cheddar at the store.

Day Three

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This was the day the man and I decided to venture out into the actual wilderness. We took a somewhat tough hike (for us! hah) to Sterling Pond.

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The hike took over an hour to complete and was fairly steep, but we were greeted with this beauty at the top:

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We also got to look down a few ski slopes and sit in an inactive ski lift. Absolutely worth the sweat, blood, and tears (not really any of the latter two).

Due to our lack of fitness, we decided to call it a day after our descent and ate an early dinner at Piecasso.

Day Four

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We decided to do a much milder hike down to a waterfall within Smuggler’s Cove. Afterwards, we drove over to the Von Trapp Lodge and played a solid game of frisbee golf (where S totally kicked my butt). And if you were wondering: yes, Von Trapp as in The Sound of Music. Same family.

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Bonus photo:

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We had a short beer tasting at the Von Trapp brewery and drove over to every child’s dream: The Ben & Jerry factory.

Quite honestly, if there is one thing you can leave off this list, it’s the Ben & Jerry’s factory. I expected to be a pretty generic experience, so I wasn’t too upset. But other than the flavor graveyard, there really wasn’t much to it.

We ended our fourth day by attempting to squeeze in a cider tasting at Stowe Cider. Unfortunately, the shop was closed for the day, but the owner was kind enough to let us purchase a ginger cider. Cider in hand, we basked in the afternoon sun in the town center of Stowe and concluded our last evening there.

Day Five

For our last day, we decided to explore Burlington, as that was the closest city to the airport. Burlington is definitely a small college town, so there were a lot of cute stores and a bit of downtown hustle.

We strolled by the lakefront (which has a good number of chair swings on the boardwalk!) for an hour, then headed over to Citizen Cider for a cider tasting. This was by far my favorite alcoholic sampling we did in Vermont. Divine ciders and so much variety. Unfortunately, all my top favorite flavors were the ones they do not distribute nation-wide.

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As if one tasting wasn’t enough – we decided to spend some time at Magic Hat Brewery, which was fun as an experience but the beer itself was not too exciting.

To end our delightful five day experience in Vermont, we visited the world’s tallest filing cabinet:

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And here ends our time in the Green Mountain state.

The Quick and Dirty: for those who can’t stand reading paragraphs of travel descriptions…

What we did? Biked on the Recreational Path in Stowe, became friends with goats, hiked in Smuggler’s Cove/up to Sterling Pond, played frisbee golf at Von Trapp Lodge, Rock of Ages

What we ate/drank? None of the restaurants were memorable enough to recommend, so instead I will make a list of places where we tasted things:

Beer: Crop, Von Trapp Lodge, Magic Hat

Cider: Stowe Cider (sorta), Citizen Cider

All Things Sweet: Bragg Farm Sugar House, Ben & Jerry’s

Cheddar Cheese: Cabot

Where we stayed? Northern Lights Lodge (in Stowe), but we did day trips to Burlington, Barre, and Montpelier.

How we got around? You. must. rent. a. car. There is no public transportation to speak of.

Travel Thyme: Nashville, Tennessee

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As promised, my first ever travel review on Space-Thyme! A couple weeks ago, S and I took a short vacation to Nashville, Tennessee. We originally planned the trip for four days, but shortened our trip to 3 days due to some Southwest airline cancellations. Little did we realize that it was a blessing in disguise – three days ended up being the perfect amount of time to take in America’s music capital.

Quick heads up: Did not take as many pictures as I had imagined! Will make a note to be better about the next adventure.

Day One

After landing at Nashville’s main airport, we zipped over to our hotel in Vanderbilt and set out directly to East Nashville (thanks to inspiration from Emma Block‘s post on Nashville). We ate hearty burgers at The Pharmacy, then walked around the area to check out the scene. We did hear great recommendations to go eat at Mas Tacos, right across the street, but we never made it back to try it out.

East Nashville is fairly spread out and still largely residential. However, there are a couple tiny, adorable “outdoor malls” (like The Idea Hatchery) that displayed everything from art to antique clothes to quirky vintage items to a medicinal tea house. I’ve never been to anything like it before. I won’t go too far into the details of the stores, but there was a surprising encounter with a former California swim teammate, Gavin. Quite honestly the last person I’d imagine running into in East Nashville! But there I was with my boyfriend, walking into an adorable men’s vintage boot and clothing shop (Hello Boys), and there Gavin was chilling behind the counter. Both of our faces were in total shock and it was quite hilarious.

[Note: Most stores only open from Thursday until Sunday, so we missed quite a few!]

After fully exhausting the neighborhood, we returned back to Vanderbilt to grab a bite of delicious fried chicken at Haddie B’s and spent the night out on Broadway Ave. Though touristy, Broadway Ave was still a hoot and my boyfriend described the experience perfectly: “like changing channels on a radio station”. Three blocks with bars live music blaring out – all you had to do was pick and choose what you felt like listening to and enter the bar for no cover fee. Gloriously fun.

Day Two

S and I began our day with brunch at Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant, which was absolutely divine and the standout was my cornbread waffle with pork hash. We then checked out Hatch Show Print, which was definitely worth the visit especially for S who is a typography lover (who is also responsible of my falling in love with printing). This is the #1 thing besides Broadway Ave I would recommend anyone doing in Nashville, as it was such an amazing experience to see history through print form. The current printing blocks in use are all from the company’s archives in the 1950s, and the sets have not been replaced since.

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We toured the main printing area and were then taken to an “educational room” to complete our own quick print (we did not design it) and learn more about the history alongside a gallery of prints.

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After the tour of Hatch Show Print, S and I wandered over to the main pedestrian bridge to take some photos of downtown Nashville and of course, take some selfies. Next stop was the Gulch, an area with a vibe similar to Chicago’s west loop. We sampled beers at two awesome craft beer breweries: Jackalope Brewing Company and Yazoo. Of the two, I preferred Yazoo, but as you can see below, we may not be welcome back…

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We also got a chance to drop by Colt’s Chocolates and Barista Parlor (a wicked cool coffee shop). Tired and hungry, we dragged ourselves over to Peg Leg Porker for a final meal of BBQ. It was pretty solid and I had never eaten dry rubbed ribs before (they have BBQ sauce of their own too), but neither of us were blown out of this world by the flavors.

Day Three

S and I started our morning off with a trip to the Belle Meade Plantation. We toured the mansion which was full of vintage family artifacts, making us feel like we stepped back in time (1900’s mechanical fly trap? Who knew!). We learned that the plantation was not famous for producing cash crops, but rather, the plantation was known for being home to some of the best race horses in the world. The ancestor of Seabiscuit and the recently famous Pharaoh made its home at Belle Meade.

After several rounds of horseshoe throwing, croquet, and bocce ball, we decided to head over to The Parthenon. The hot weather forced us to retire our touring early, so we trumped over to Two Boots Pizza, an eclectic pizza parlor with amazing slices of Z. Our last bite into our pizza slices more or less concluded our trip.

America’s country music hotspot is something entirely worth experiencing. Gavin made the point that the cheap cost of living is attracting many young creatives, thus making it fun for a tourist to observe this quickly growing community in the city. I don’t have plans to move to Nashville anytime soon, but it is definitely a great place for a short vacation!

The quick and dirty (if you want just the main hit points so you know where to go in Nashville):

What we did? Explored East Nashville , explored the Gulch, explored Vanderbilt’s campus, a night out on Broadway Ave, Belle Meade Plantation, The Parthenon, walked over the main pedestrian bridge, Hatch Show Print

What we ate/drank? The Pharmacy (burgers), Haddie B’s (fried chicken), Peg Leg Porker (BBQ), Barista Parlor (coffee), Jackalope Brewing Company (beer), Yazoo Brewing Company (beer), Two Boots Pizza, Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant (brunch)

Where we stayed? The Holiday Inn at Vanderbilt (I’d highly recommend it!) They have a free shuttle service to downtown.

How we got around? Uber, uber, uber, uber, and walking (and a ride from the awesome shuttle driver at The Holiday Inn).