[From Andy: everyone welcome Brittany, this is her first post on the blog! Leave lots of comments and love for her!]
Valentine’s Day is for lovers suckers TRAVELING!
This is my second boy-less Valentine’s and I’m ok with it. Really, I am. I wasn’t the first time but I’ve come to appreciate it and here’s why. I’ve gone on two Valentine’s Day trips over the years; one by myself and the other with a group. There were no mushy-gushy cards or looking lovingly into someone’s eyes but there was skiing, getting passport stamps, seeing new sites, meeting new people and there was still chocolate, wine and champagne. Score!
A group of friends and I went on a Valentine’s trip to Breckenridge – one of my favorite ski resorts for many reasons including relative ease of traveling, low cost, great lodging options, nicely groomed (and a variety) runs, yummy restaurants, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I love Telluride, Beaver Creek, Vail, etc. but Breck is easy, chill, closer and cheaper. I’ve stayed a couple of different places when visiting Breck; a friend’s home, the Marriott hotel in town and VRBO rentals including one ski-in/ski-out house. All great lodging options but ski-in/ski-out is the way to go – you can find any number of these on VRBO at various price points and sizes. I also really enjoy the town not just because of the great restaurant options but there’s also a variety of ski shops and other great shopping. My favorite restaurants that I tend to return to again and again, in no particular order are:
- Mi Casa (white queso and a skinny girl margarita? Yes please!)
- Crepes A La Cart (holy Crepes – I always special request mine – chocolate, banana, cream….NOM!)
- Eric’s where I was first introduced to eating pizza crust with honey!
- Blue Stag Saloon (formerly known as Whales Tale)
- The Maggie for some quick lunch after skiing
- Empire Burger because sometimes you just need a burger
We even decided one day not to ski and get massages at Sol Impressions Massage Studio – heavenly! One of the more fun experiences I had was a karaoke/bongo-using-your-partners-behind night (I luckily found an unknowing soul in the crowd that was more than willing to let me use his bottom as my bongo). Bottom line (no pun intended), is that Breck is a great option to skip the traditional Valentine’s Day shenanigans and go with a small or large group and have all kinds of experiences and fun – especially this year with all the fresh pow pow brah.
Seattle and Vancouver
I went on my very first solo trip (ever) to Seattle and Vancouver for a quick and short weekend around Valentine’s Day; one night in Seattle and one in Vancouver. I had never been to either, let alone Canada, and just decided I needed to get away and go somewhere sans other humans and explore.
I got a great recommendation from an old friend for a restaurant in Seattle called The Walrus and the Carpenter and so I ventured over in a cab and got a little nervous because the area wasn’t hoppin’. That turned out to be a great thing because it wasn’t super overdone and out of control. It’s an area called Ballard which has a sort of industrial vibe. Even though I was a party of one (womp womp) there was still an hour wait to get into the quaint, teeny and fairly hidden hot spot. I decided to have a drink and an appetizer at the bar next door, Staple & Fancy Mercantile, which turned out to be a fantastic idea. I met another lone traveler who gave me a great recommendation for some spots in Boston for my visit there. This is probably one of my favorite things about traveling – meeting other folks along the way and exchanging stories and recommendations.
Before I knew it my table was ready and off I went to my bar stool seat in front of the most fragrant and varied oysters I’d ever seen – super fresh. Everything I had was good and I’ve since returned and sampled more of the menu and have never been disappointed. IF they are serving The Drinking Caramel when you go, do yourself a favor and get it – O.M.G. Of course, I made friends with two other girls sitting at the bar and they were so friendly just like everyone I had met on this trip so far – they invited me out with them that night, but alas, I had a 7:00 am train ride to Vancouver the next morning and had to decline (lame I know).
The next morning came early but I was excited for my first Canadian adventure. It was a relatively quick and inexpensive train ride over the border. Vancouver was great and easy to enter, although it was kind of strange as an American to have some other very ‘American’ looking border agents asking why you’re entering the country. When asked the purpose of my trip I was like, ‘….umm, because I want to see Canada!! And because we’re practically the same country right haha?’ I was informed that, in fact, we are two separate countries….learn something new every day, right?
Anyhow, it was fairly cold and so I didn’t get out as much as I had wanted to by foot (I had to skip Stanley Park) to explore but I did take the water taxi to Granville Island for lunch. I ended up sitting by a warm fire overlooking the water and the beautiful marina and indulging in some delicious grub at Bridge’s Restaurant. After lunch I walked around the Granville Island Public Market and took in the sights. For dinner the one night I was there, I went across the bridge over to Vij’s for some famous Indian food and it didn’t disappoint. They have complementary (and delicious) appetizers in the waiting area where patrons can mix and mingle while having a glass of wine. Vij personally greeted me when he saw I was solo and gave me a recommendation upon my request of another bar to check out while I was waiting the long hour and a half for my table (this place is seriously in demand). Vij’s ended up being amazing as expected and I filled my belly with enough marinated lamb popsicles in a fenugreek cream curry sauce to give me a good night’s sleep. The next morning for brunch I walked over to Twisted Fork and holy moly…so good. I would definitely recommend it and the part of Vancouver (Yaletown) it is in is a great walking area – lots of people out and about but get there early – the line forms before the doors open and there’s always a wait!
All in all, taking a solo vacation (be it alone or without a significant other) can be daunting especially on or around what is supposed to be a couple’s holiday, BUT it builds a confidence, character and self-sufficiency that will surprise you and of course, make you more well-traveled than you were before (plus you don’t have to worry about buying a super expensive gift for someone and can spend it all on yo’self)!