Friday, September 30, 2011

Saratoga Springs - A One Horse Tow...oh wait

See, because it's known for it's horse races you know. So there must be many, many horses. Not just the one. Oh nevermind.

I love, love, love this place. It is one of those clutch-your-hands-to-your-cheek-with-glee towns, and should be immediately commissioned for a snow globe. My camera is not good for nighttime photos, but please picture (if you will) a Broadway Avenue (which is really not at all broad - it's just two-lanes) with all the main stuff you'd want to find in a town, which is why it should be Main Street. Saratoga does have a Main Street, but it's not the main street. Anyway, Broadway is flanked by clouded-glass street lamps, and lively shops and restaurants with colorful awnings and Christmas lights.

On my genealogical quest for ancestral amazingness I dragged myself far out of my way in order to suss out a few ancient gravestones, in inconvenient, microscopic cemeteries that are not on the map. Not my map, not Google maps, not any maps. The harried ladies at the gas station hadn't even heard of the road I was looking for. I drove three hours in the wrong direction of Saratoga Springs (my eventual destination for today), only to find that the teensy cemetery (located off the mysterious County Route 7 in Montour Falls, New York) must have grown hungry, out there in the middle of nowhere, and eaten my ancestors' gravestones. I could only see very tip-tops of most of them, and the engravings had worn away. Sad Gretchen. 

The resulting extra-long drive to Saratoga Springs left me a little fussy and a lot hungry, but I was rewarded with the adorableness of the town, and as I dramatically threw my belongings on the bed of my B&B I wailed to the empty room, "PLEASE have a wine bar! I'm sure they have a wine bar. I really need a wine bar."


There was even a projection of the bar's name onto the sidewalk in lights. Two blocks down the street from my charming, cozy B&B, which was charming and cozy in both real estate-speak, and regular-speak:






The Saratoga Arms is just like Granny's house, if Granny had an endearing fixation on horse racing, and smelled like Irish Spring. These are both things I enjoy.

Other things I enjoy:


And I totally earned the pear and cashew crisp for dessert. That road trip was exhausting. It was like I was a horse in a big, long race. 

See what I did there?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Glamorous Life

I am in Syracuse, New York, and have found that while it does not rank amongst the top vacation destinations, (I mean for you people pfft, what do you know, taking the family to Albany all these years), it does have its charms.

In the interest of doing my amateur genealogy research, I've rented a sassy little Hyundai Accent from the Comb-over King at Alamo, and plan to toodle my way across New England, searching for proof of my existence (am actually writing book about ancestors, which sounds profoundly boring, but my ancestors are FANCY - I think...)

This hotel would be my favorite hotel ever, if it had fierce water pressure (it does not), and fluffy bath robes (it does not):


But look at how cute! Hotel Skylar is all sustainable and stuff. They recycle and use recycled materials, and I'm pretty sure could procure some recycled-material robes if they really wanted to. The low-flow shower-head just encourages me to condition my hair with its "natural oils", which means it's hat time. Does anyone else wonder if people just changed the spelling because the original (and I think British) spelling of Schuyler seemed too confusing? Hooked on phonics? Anyone?

Just in case you think I am just indulging in my typical vagabond slacking, I went here yesterday:


And a very nice lady in the research room pulled files for me and I did research. Tha's right, research. Research is one of those words that you only need to say five times before it becomes nonsensical.

After the research (probably not a word) I accidentally found this awesome place for lunch called The Mission, and the menu made me order too many things:


It had items that spoke to me in naughty whispers. Words like "plantains" and "sweet potato fries" and "tres leches cake". And I felt like I was doing something helpful by eating at a place that used to be a church, which used to be a stop on the Underground Railroad. I'm very philanthropic that way.



PHILANTHROPY! 

And research.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Still Here, and Still Lazy

I haven't been updating the TravelGretta so much. Mainly because I was all "Oh, no one is really reading it anyway", and then I got an email from someone I rarely hear from who said "And I'm still reading your blog!" Then I felt guilty.

Another reason I haven't been updating is because I've been busily editing my book (tentatively, but almost confirmedly titled "I Have Iraq in My Shoe"), which is slated for publication in April 2012.

AND I've also been working on a couple of other books. I'm all about the books now! But I have been taking a bunch of domestic trips, and really should have been popping in here to share a photo or two. Here's where I stayed (one night) in Palm Springs over Labor Day weekend:


The Colony Palms hotel is totally Old Hollywood - like '30s and '40s Old Hollywood. I know you're probably saying "Um, it's Palm Springs, not Hollywood", however, the little tour we took explained that in the early days of movie-making, the studio contracts stipulated that the actors could travel no further than 100 miles from Hollywood, in case they were needed for emergency movie stuff. Palm Springs is 90 miles from Hollywood, so many, many old-timey famous people bought homes there: Clark Gable & Carole Lombard, Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, Dorothy Lamour. Old Hollywood. 


My favorite meal was lunch at Cheeky's. The menu is constantly rotating, so you might not be able to order the most awesome sandwich ever (yams with cilantro, red onion, feta and tomato), but everything else looked great too. We went with my friend's uncle, who wasn't the most adventurous diner. He wanted IHOP or something with a sneeze-guarded buffet table. When he saw that the burgers were "grass-fed" he asked the waiter "Does that mean it's turkey?"