My Next Escapade? River Cruising!

River Cruises ~All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

You’re at a milestone birthday, celebrating a “big” anniversary, built up an additional week of vacation, or you just want to do something super special. What’s the new “in” vacation?  You’ve got it! River cruising! Wait, you don’t know about river cruising? Well, friends,  let me broaden your horizons.

Over the last few years, travelers who appreciate diverse cultural experiences, luxury accommodations,  inclusive excursions, and experiencing regional cuisine, as well as wines and beers have discovered the value of a River Cruise.

River Cruising gets you up close, and right into the cities that were the heart of Europe, Southeast Asia, South America and Africa.  Castles and Bridges, Vineyards and Medieval Villages.

 

I’m extremely excited about my own upcoming river cruises with Avalon Waterways  Yes. I’ll be doing TWO this year as part of my training.  In April, a friend and I are taking advantage of Avalon’s Single Supplement Waiver and will each have our own cabins without paying for double occupancy.   We’ll be lucky enough to be in Amsterdam for the King’s Day celebration the day before our cruise. Our focus for the trip will be tulip gardens and art museums (van Gogh!), as well as the Jewish Cultural centers. We’ll be cruising throughout the Netherlands and Belgium,  so beer will definitely be part of the appreciation. I’m currently using the DuoLingo app on my Samsung to learn Dutch, then I’ll work on my German and French for the summer!

In addition to spending a few extra days in Amsterdam, we’ll do a two night layover in Dublin where we’ll hang out in the Grafton Street and Temple Bar areas. Pretty darn stoked!

In July, Mike will get his first taste of Europe when he and I fly to Zurich. We’ll board Avalon’s Artistry II in Basel to cruise the Rhine and Moselle Rivers and end in…you guessed it…Amsterdam! Did you know the Rhine is the number one River Cruise destination for first-timers?  Beer, Wine, and Castles, how can you go wrong?  Now let’s talk about where to go for YOUR first River Cruise!

 

Tot ziens!

Bitter January Brings Oh So Sweet #52Breakfasts

The bitter cold of this January has not deterred Mike and me from beginning our 2014 #52breakfasts quest!

We started off the year with a pleasant experience at the Hi Life! Diner in Mechanicsburg.  I was in a “sweet mood” and the specials board had “Cranberry Banana Pancakes” So I looked no further.Cranberry & Banana Pancakes w/ Two Eggs & Bacon They were really good! Mike opted for a Turkey & Pastrami w/Asparagus Omelette which may have actually been “turkey pastrami” because there was no actual pastrami to be found in it. He enjoyed it otherwise. Hi Life! does breakfast 24 hours a day.  It’s a safe bet with nice service.

 

Week Two we joined our friend Sue at The Gas Station in Hummelstown.  They do a Sunday Brunch from 11-3 each week. It’s $10.95 for each dish and INCLUDES your choice of Bloody Mary, Mimosa, Screwdriver or Non-Alcoholic beverage.  Great prices and clever menu.  I had the Petrol, which was  sort of a bennie done with Shortrib on Fried Potato Skins w/ a truffled Mornay Sauce.  It was pretty yummy, and I was super pleased with the bloody!"Petrol" at The Gas Station  Sue had a crab cake benedict w/ roasted tomato hollandaise, which was one of the specials. Freakin’ delicious! Crab Cake Benedict  Mike had already scoped out the “Full Service” which was a crocque Madame reuben-style!

Full Service-Crocque Madame reuben-style

All in all, The Gas Station was a deliciously sound value, although the food could have been warmer!

Now week 3 brings our winner of the month:

Last winter, Shakedown BBQ began a Sunday Breakfast Series for about 8 or 9 weeks.  We missed it, but this year we were right on time!  They post that weeks breakfast menu around noon on Wed via twitter &  facebook and then reservations for their 3 seatings opens. Seating is at 8, 9:15 and 10:30.  BOOK on a Wednesday ASAP (but not for Super-the Big Game-Sunday) They only have about 16 seats indoors.

We met our friends Ryan and Stefan for Shakedown’s opening breakfast week on Jan 19th.  UNBELIEVABLE!  Because we love to eat and our friends are always happy to share we could pretty much taste the full menu. 

We started by sharing the Tomato Pie w/ Bacon Jam…yes. BACON.JAM.

Shakedown's Tomato Pie w/ Bacon Jam

 

The big breakfast item was Chicken & Waffles.  We weren’t sure what to expect because that means different things to different people, but this was the best of all worlds! Chicken & WafflesA waffle beautfully friend boneless chicken breast, smothered in a creamy chicken & bacon gravy.

Mike went with the Shakedown SunRise & Shine which is two eggs, breakfast meat, sunrise spuds and grilled bread.Sunrise & Shine   We’re not sure if it automagically comes with bacon and sausage, but what a good solid way to start the day!

Stefan and I both went with the Creme Brulee French toast w/ berries and Creme Anglaise. Creme Brulee French Toast It had a delightful crunch from the burnt sugar but was not overly sweet, so it was PERFECT!  I love that they serve their sweet dishes with breakfast meat as well, because I adore sweet, smoky, savory combinations and this fits the bill!

The fact that Shakedown is a barbecue joint and is BYOB makes it one of our favorite nice weather spots.  We brought Mimosas to begin our Sunday! How to find it? Make a right by the Hollywood Casino and Race Track in Grantville…and follow the smoke!

Mike’s and my last spot this month was a traditional greasy spoon, The West Shore Diner by the West Shore Farmer’s Market. This place is in one of those old metal diners and it’s right out of the 50’s, complete with old album covers decorating the inside. West Shore Diner Not for the claustrophic or someone who likes everything spic & span!  Sausage Gravy over allThis is a working man’s joint! Good food and a lot of character!  Mike had a Philly Cheesesteak Omelet,  and I had sausage gravy over biscuits and homefries (with onions!)

 

Our list of places to go within 30 miles of Harrisburg is growing!  Don’t forget to tweet , facebook, or otherwise contact me with your suggestions, and perhaps join us!