Wilmington…if you ever get the chance…

7 May

Ahhhh, vacation.  Jason and I spent Friday and Saturday in Wilmington, which may not sound like much of a vacation to most, but to us it was a welcome escape from  what’s become an incredibly hectic spring.  We’re relatively low-maintenance as far as vacations go, typically we’re just happy being away from home.  Give us a clean bed, and access to a clean bathroom, and we’re pretty much set. Throw in a bed and breakfast housed in a building that was erected in 1922, interesting conversation with other travelers, a perpetually begging dog and an innkeeper with seemingly few other interests than feeding us homemade cooking at every turn…well, then we’re just over the moon.  This weekend we stayed at the Port City Guest House run by a lively lady named Sophie whose sole purpose in life was to ensure we didn’t go hungry.  Before last weekend, I didn’t know it was possible to make waffles without using Bisquick, but let me assure you, it is.  And once you’ve eaten a waffle that’s been lovingly made to order and topped with blueberry syrup (also homemade), there’s no way you’ll look at your waffle-maker the same again.  Who knew the little machine that someone gifted us with several Christmases ago had so much potential?  

We were enchanted by Wilmington and were sad to leave.  Even though we only had one full day in the city, we made the most of it by turning it into a 12-hour tour that touched on just about everything but Wilmington’s status as “Hollywood East.”  Apparently Wilmington is where chick lit goes to to be made into chick flicks, and where Dawson’s Creek was filmed, but we turned our attention to things that for us were just slightly more captivating.  Like food, drink, and nature.  And ghosts…but more on that later.

I used to work for a woman who traveled relatively frequently to Europe, and who delighted in regaling her staff with stories that usually began with, “if you ever go to the south of France…”  It was insufferable, especially considering that most of us were making salaries that felt roughly equal to the cost of one of her European excursions.  She’d go on and on about the best croissants, cheese, escargot you’ve ever eaten, and it made us insanely aware of our lack of resources.  But since Wilmington is more accessible to most of us than Provence, and I’m assuming you’re reading this voluntarily, I’m just going to say it…”if you ever go to Wilmington…”

So here’s what we jam-packed into our one full day in the Port City:

1) Airlie Gardens.

Patrolling for swans…

Beautiful formal gardens and natural space.  Amazing sculpture madeout of wine bottles. A slow-motion throw down between a Canadian goose and a swan – think Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal…but with feathers and no Belgian accent.

2) BlueWater Grill. After waffles with Sophie, there was no way we were eating lunch.  But that didn’t stop us from having our obligatory Cinco de Mayo margarita while overlooking the intercoastal waterway.

2) Blue Moon Gift Shops.  Our dear Couch Kitty passed away a few weeks ago, and we have yet to find a suitable container for her ashes.  She was a cat, but a very special cat…whatever container we find has to have some personality.  Blue Moon had nothing resembling what we needed, but they did feature custom comics by Mark Weber which were great.  More on Mark later.

3) Ivy Cottage.  An antique store split up between three different cottages.  No go for a Couch Kitty container, but some really fun antiques all the same.

4) Cape Fear Wine and Beer.  After all the walking and shopping, we needed to hydrate.  This place did the trick.  We met a dog with wheels for back legs named Lou Diamond Phillips, I tried Andy Capp Hot Fries for the first time ever, we saw some real and some not-so-real ghost photos, and we got to chill with Mark Weber, the illustrator whose work was shown at Blue Moon.  It’s a small world apparently, and we had no idea that the guy we struck up conversation with at the bar would turn out to be the one artist we enjoyed at the Blue Moon…we should have asked him for leads on a suitable Couch Kitty box…

5) Front Street Brewing. After several drinks at Cape Fear, it was time to carbo-load.  Which we accomplished with the best gravy cheese fries ever made and some pulled chicken nachos.  Entertainment was supplied by a gal at the table next to ours who ordered a $13.99 ribeye and then proceeded to send it back twice when it wasn’t cooked to her liking.  Not sure she understood what “medium” meant, because from where I sat it looked medium both times, but she finally settled when they brought it back well-done.  We were drunk enough to be obnoxiously appalled by her behavior – not because she didn’t deserve to have a steak cooked medium, but because she didn’t seem to know what medium meant and insisted on referring to the server as “sweetheart.”  Good thing we had those gravy cheese fries sitting like a brick in our stomachs…we were too full and sluggish to get too out of hand.

6) Old Wilmington Ghost Walk.  An overly-long ghost tour that seemed to take us to the far reaches of historic downtown to stand in parking lots and ogle at historic buildings that were reportedly witness to some spooky happenings.  We saw no ghosts, but did get caught in a downpour that threw our poor tour guide off her script, prevented us from trekking to the last building on the tour, and essentially put an end to our evening on the town.  Our clothes were completely soaked through…and it was extremely funny.  Except for our poor guide…I think she probably missed out on a fair amount of tips that night.

7) Port City Guest House.  We ended our evening where we began our day, back at our B&B.  Sophie had pecan pie and cabernet waiting for us, even though it was well after 10p.m. by the time we got back.  We chilled on the front porch, ate our pie, drank our wine, and watched the rain come down.  How lucky we are.

If you ever get to Wilmington, I hope you have a perfect day like we did.

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