Friday, June 25, 2010

Lucerne Switzerland, or: Not for me

First things first: You can apparently spell Lucerne in many different ways--Lucerne being one of them. Also, Luzern or Luzerne. Just an FYI.

The famous bridge in Lucerne, Switzerland
When I went on my Contiki tour, Lucerne was one of our two one-night stops--and unfortunately, not the better of the two. The first problem was probably that we had to board the bus at an unGodly hour for the drive from Paris to Switzerland. It's probably a good thing that I was still drunk from the night before and was able to sleep through most of the bus ride...because what normally would have been a 7-8 hour trip turned into 10 when our bus broke down just shy of the Swiss border. The bus was fairly new but supposedly it was just a cable that had come loose...I think everyone in our group handled it really well, no one whined and complained, and we were back on the road in less than two hours. Shit happens, you know?

Unfortunately, it was cold and rainy in Lucerne, which of course didn't help my impression of the city. It was certainly clean and pretty, but a combination of bad weather and the weirdest/worst hotel I have ever stayed in worked against its favor. The hotel was actually an old jail--they kept telling us that it had been a minimum-security women's prison, but after seeing the rooms, I am inclined to believe it was a psychiatric hospital and that they just didn't want to admit that to us. Also, I have to be a bit of a girl here--the plug in the room was awkward and no one could get their converters/adaptors to fit in it. That's Switzerland for ya...they refuse to be part of the EU (they'll accept Euros but give you Swiss francs as change), even when it comes to their power outlets. Good thing I had already planned to just wear my hair curly ;o)

We did the optional lake cruise excursion that Contiki offers, which was okay. Had the weather been better and had I not been so exhausted from the night before (and yes, maybe a little hungover) it would have been fun, because it included one free drink and then you could get beer and wine for 2 euro a drink...not bad at all! It was still nice to see more of the lake and the scenery considering we wouldn't have been there long enough to see much of it otherwise.
Christy trying to enjoy her weird Swiss McDonald's. (We needed hangover food)

After the lake cruise Christy, Natalie, Gordana and I went to MACCAS (that would be Australian for McDonald's). It was ridiculously expensive, tasted good but not quite the same, and they charge you for extra ketchup! Then we got a bit lost on the way home and that was when the term "serial" was born...because it was raining everyone was walking around with dark jackets on and the hoods pulled over their heads...someone made a comment about them looking like serial was shortened to "serials"...and there you go. I guess you had to be there, and in general I'm sure Lucerne is very safe, but we still felt a little skeeved out that evening.

The next morning we did a bit of shopping. I was able to purchase a really nice Swiss Army knife for really cheap--in fact, I never did figure out what some of its features were supposed to do, and on top of that it had a picture of Lucerne on the back. There were Swatches everywhere as well--also for great prices, and I was very tempted to purchase one...but I don't wear a watch and I decided to save my money for other endeavors. Such as more alcohol. (kidding...sort of) We left Lucerne around 11 AM and I was honestly not too sad to see it go. C'est la vie.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Best of the Best: Vegas Edition

Some time ago, I mentioned that I would eventually write about my best Vegas trip ever. More recently, I wrote about my best trips ever, and my best Vegas trip was, not surprisingly, one of those top three. And now that a fourth Vegas trip looms before me, I figured that it was about time to wax reminiscent about how this particular trip became tops in not just one, but two categories.

Our trip began bright and early on a Thursday morning--Thursday, September 4, 2008 to be exact. But this wasn't just any Thursday morning, or any September 4th--it was my baby sister Jenny's 21st birthday, and around 7:30 AM she, our other sister Christy, our cousin Katie and myself all piled into the car for the hour and a half drive to the Charlotte airport.

Me, Katie, Jenni (the birthday girl!), Christy & Lauren waiting for our flight

We got there early, met up with our friend Lauren (who was flying from Connecticut) and after a [very early] lunch, settled in to wait for our flight.

One thing about traveling is that if you have bad luck with the flight portion of your vacation, that can pretty much throw you for a loop and mess everything up. But from beginning to end, this trip was destined for greatness--despite the fact that we were flying on one of the worst airlines (US Airways) and from one of the top ten worst airports [for on-time departures] in the country (Charlotte, NC). We had a smooth trip out to Vegas, landed on time and didn't even have to wait for a cab.

Vegas tip, here--be a geek and talk about your past Vegas trips as soon as you can, once you're in a cab. Whether it's calling someone on your cell or striking up a conversation with your driver or fellow passengers, just do it. I don't even care if you've never been to Vegas. If you haven't, lie. Two out of my three trips, this saved me from getting screwed over by a cabbie who decided to take "the long way around". I won't get into that third time and how this bit of mine failed, because that's another story for another entry.

Check-in at the Mirage was quick and painless...or so we thought. The one complaint I had from this trip is that they couldn't seem to get our room keys right. We had five girls in two rooms and at one point or another, anywhere from one to three of our keys just wouldn't work. Obviously we traveled in a pack for the most part, though, so this was more of a mere annoyance than anything.

As we made our way through the casino to the elevators (those Vegas tycoons sure know how to build a place that draws you into gambling!), we were stopped by some Mirage employees. We were, after all, a group of young and attractive women, so of course we were blessed with free passes to Jet (the Mirage's nightclub) and Bare (the Mirage's adult--a.k.a. topless--pool).

The rest of Jenny's birthday was a blur. Food and yard margaritas and a free shot of tequila for her at La Salsa in the Shops at Caesar (love that place!). Cab to downtown Vegas for $5 blackjack at Binion's and shopping for cheap souvenirs. (Speaking of which, oops--don't take a cab to or from downtown Vegas in the late afternoon/early evening on a weekday. Like any city, there is such a thing as rush hour traffic there.) Dinner at the Mirage buffet, which was probably the worst decision of the trip. Despite it being rated one of the top ten Vegas buffets, none of us was impressed with the selection or the food itself, and this solidified my anti-Vegas-buffet least in regards to dinners. Those champagne brunches are still a big GO in my book ;o)

La Salsa!
After a nap and some time to freshen up, we made our way to Jet. Free admission and free drinks for our first hour? Yes please! Unfortunately, Jet is apparently not the place to be on a Thursday night. The crowd was practically nonexistent and the music was only so-so; sometime before 1 AM we decided to find other nightlife options. Except Christy, Katie, and Lauren all made the decision to go to bed, leaving Jenny and I to either shell out money for a cab on our own, or to simply remain at the Mirage.

Jenni and I with our "Cali Boys" at the Mirage lobby bar
 So we stayed at the Mirage. In fact, we spent the rest of the night--until after 4 AM--drinking at the lobby bar, which is apparently considered a "lounge" as it is called Kokomo's Lounge. And that was probably the best night of any trip I've ever taken to Vegas. Drinks were far cheaper than they would have been at a club, the bartender was great and we even chatted it up with some guys from California who turned out to be pretty damn cool.

Katie and I with our Eiffel Tower pina coladas...yum!
Our first full day in Vegas got off to a slow start. We walked down the Strip to Fatburger, but it was hot and Jenny was sick and we ended up making our way back to the hotel immediately after what can only be considered lunch (considering the time of day we ate and the fact that it was burgers and fries and the like).She and Katie decided to take a nap; Christy, Lauren and I donned our bathing suits and made use of those free passes to Bare, which made for quite an interesting afternoon. The drinks were ridiculously overpriced, but the music was great and I'm at least glad we decided to check it out.

The rest of that day was spent eating an absolutely amazing dinner at Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris, viewing the Bellagio fountains and grabbing some gelato before heading back to the Mirage for an early bedtime. Jenny, Katie and I had tickets to a tour of the Hoover Dam pretty early on our second and last full day, and we didn't want to be exhausted for it.

The view from our table at dinner at Mon Ami Gabi
 We were actually really glad that we did the Hoover Dam tour. It was neat to see the Dam itself, and even though our tour guide was somewhat annoying, he was at least informative.

The one tip I have is that if you go through the Hoover Dam Tour Company (which we did)...just do the regular tour. The stop at Ethel M. and its "botanical gardens" (really the only actual addition when doing the deluxe tour) is really nothing to brag about...that was just time that we would have rather had as free time.

Katie, Jenni and I at the Hoover Dam
We followed the tour with a late lunch at Lombardi Romagna Mia at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. The food was good, but I don't doubt that there are better Italian restaurants in Vegas. We even caught the Siren show at TI--amusing, but definitely cheesy and not something a person needs to see more than once. Then it was back to the Mirage to get ready for our last night in Vegas.

The girls all dolled up for our last night in Vegas
We chose Body English at the Hard Rock for our Saturday night excursion, and it was great. We were chosen out of line when we arrived, which meant no waiting and no cover--so yes, that probably helped our experience. Regardless, it was a great club filled with beautiful people and rocking an awesome DJ, which meant that we partied 'till the wee hours of the morning and stumbled back to the hotel for just a few hours of sleep before our flight back home. (Which was thankfully another easy trip.)

Back in our matching t-shirts, running on fumes after an amazing trip!
As I mentioned in my best trips entry--there are many things that go into making a trip one of the best. In this case, we had an amazing, fun place (Vegas), the perfect mix of people (there were always at least two of us who wanted to partake in the same activities, and when the five of us went out together...), and we just did our own thing(s) and had fun. I truly believe that there is no better way to see Vegas than with a group of fun-loving girls! And that is how this trip became not only my best Vegas trip to date, but also one of the best trips I've ever taken, period.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ahhh, Paris...

Yes, it has been nearly three years since my one and only visit to Paris...but thankfully, I kept a journal while I was on my Contiki tour.

Our Contiki bus left Amsterdam for Paris early in the morning (okay, it was sometime after 8 AM, but when you don't even know what time you went to bed the night before...). It was about a six hour drive through the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, but certainly one of the better drives of the trip as my sister and I wake-and-baked (can I say again how much I love Amsterdam?) and slept for basically the entire bus ride.

Christy and I with the Eiffel Tower

Thankfully, we arrived in Paris early enough to get the Eiffel Tower out of the way that afternoon. Because we got to go in the group line, the wait to get up the tower wasn't that bad. (Otherwise, we probably would have waited for hours!) The highest observation deck was closed because of the weather, but I didn't much care...we did have to wait next to forever to get back down to the bottom, where we walked around to take some pictures, until it started raining. At this point it was cold, so we waited miserably under some trees for the bus to finally come get us. Christy and I were really tired that night, so after the included dinner at our hotel, the Kyriad Porte d'Ivry Paris (the dinner was actually better than the one in Amsterdam, but still nothing to brag about) and driving around the city at night (of which the highlight was driving around the Place Charles de Gaulle at the Arc de Triomphe) we decided to call it an early one and go to bed. Two nights in a row of partying in Amsterdam had left this old girl just plain exhausted ;o)

The next morning the bus took us all into the city for our group picture in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was a very good thing that we had visited the tower itself the afternoon before, because we still didn't have enough time to see everything we wanted! After the group picture they dropped us off at the Arc de Triomphe, and from there a group of us walked down the Champs-Elysees to the Place de la Concorde to see the Obelisk of Luxor, where Marie Antoinette was beheaded. We had crepes there and then walked over to the Opera district for a little bit of shopping, and we also had lunch at this cafe across from the opera house. I think it was called something like L'Entracte d'Opera, but I had the most amazing Croque Monsieur and the prices weren't bad at all.

From the Opera district we took the Avenue de l'Opera down to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. There was a Vermeer painting that I wanted to see as well but we got lost twice trying to find it and finally decided to leave so that we could go to the Ile de la Cite to see Notre Dame. We got a little lost on the way there as well--we were basically going in the right direction, we just weren't on the little island. No big deal--we found it but unfortunately didn't have time to go inside the cathedral, because it was already 4 PM and we had to catch the metro back to our hotel in order to get ready for the cabaret dinner that night. Let's just say that if we had been at a metro station where we could have taken one train straight to our hotel, we would have been fine, but as it was, we weren't. We had to make two changes, and although we never got on the wrong train, we had to ask way too many people how to get to each next train we had to catch, and this got very, very annoying.

Moulin Rouge, Montmartre
Still, we finally made it back to the hotel safely, and after touching up hair and makeup and changing, made our way to Montmartre for the Nouvelle Eve cabaret dinner and show.

The cabaret was a lot of fun, and the food was good--plus we, being sweet pretty American and Aussie girls, were able to get at least two extra free bottles of wine for our table ;o) From there we headed over to the bar next to the Moulin Rouge, where we had an absolute BLAST. Most of the music they played was older stuff (to me, anyway), and it was expensive (6 euros for a beer!), but it was more than worth it. One of the kids in our group literally ripped his shirt off and eventually got kicked out of the club, and then somehow five of us crammed into a cab to go back to the hotel. The cab cost about 17 euro, but between the four of us that actually paid it wasn't that bad.

I went up to the room at a decent hour--maybe a little before 2 AM?--but who knows what time I went to bed. All I know is that we had an early morning the next day for our drive to Switzerland, and it was far too early. We were supposed to pack an overnight bag, because we weren't going to be able to lug our suitcases to our hotel in Lucerne, and let's just say that I packed all my toiletries, and my pajamas, but forgot clothes for the next day. Smart one, huh?

As for Paris as a my was beautiful in a classic sort of way, but that's not really my thing. The people were nowhere near as friendly as those in Amsterdam, either. The staff at our hotel was absolutely ridiculously rude! Our first night I had to go down to the front desk and ask for another towel because for some reason they had only left one in our room, and the guy at the desk had to get the manager, and then she played twenty questions with me ("how many people are in your room?" "what's your room number?" "are you sure there is only one towel?")! It's a FREAKING TOWEL. She finally gave me one, but the point is, I shouldn't have had to go through all that trouble, right? Then, on our final morning, Christy was running late and wanted me to bring her ONE croissant and a glass of water. I asked the girl at the front desk if I could do so, and she said it was okay...but when I went to bring it back up to the room, the morning manager stopped me and started harangueing me in French! I caught that I wasn't allowed to bring food up to the room, and I said, "that's fine, but the girl at the front desk told me I could, which is why I was doing so". The manager then went and started yelling at the girl at the desk, who then looked right at me and said "I didn't tell you you could bring a croissant up, just a glass of water". WHAT? Whatever, that's what. Needless to say, I was ready to leave Paris at that point, and whereas I would love to go back to Amsterdam someday, I will only go back to Paris if I can have the chance to go to Disneyland Paris...and that's that.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Our First Prom (with...Hawk & Tom?)

Eleven years ago this month, Steve and I were at the same prom; of course, we weren't there together.

Prom '99 for Ellington High School was, in general, a disaster. A party boat cruise on the Connecticut River probably sounded like one hell of a great idea at its inception, but picture this: a couple hundred teenagers wearing long dresses and tuxes. It's June in Connecticut, which means it's fairly warm (probably in the 80s) and humid. Now, take those teenagers and place them on a crappy old boat with a dance floor the size of a cubicle and understand that they have nowhere else to go. They got on that boat; they are stuck there for hours. And sometime during the evening, the mosquitoes start to swarm.

Does that sound like fun to you?

I thought not.

On top of all that, Steve and I had our own [very good] reasons why Prom '99 sucked. I still count it as one of the worst nights of my life, and although his night wasn't quite as bad, he has plenty of his own complaints--and that's all I will say on the matter. Because this entry isn't really about Prom '99--it's about our first prom, which occurred this past weekend. Eleven years after Steve's high school graduation, and ten years after my own.

The local top 40 radio station, B-93.7, has a morning show called Hawk & Tom. Every year, Hawk & Tom host the "Hawk & Tom Prom". From what I recall, it's always had a theme, but this is the first year I was actually able to go. Fittingly enough, the theme this year was Mardi Gras--perfect for us thanks to our recent Mardi Gras-season trip to New Orleans. And as always, I love a good theme party, so it was neat to attend a themed prom--something I thought only happened in the movies.

Even better was the fact that my youngest sister Jenny and her friend Heather were able to come with us. It was a last-minute surprise, and considering Jenny's penchant for bringing along her dinosaur hand puppet Krohn, some interesting adventures ensued ;o)

We were also pleasantly surprised at the music that was played. Normally I can't listen to B-93 constantly; they tend to [like all top 40 stations] overplay really bad songs a la "Down" by Jay Sean or anything by that awful band 3OH!3. Thankfully, however, Prom apparently calls for a different kind of entertainment. Sure, there was some current top 40 music in there, but in general most of what was played took us back to those middle school and high school dances that we all loved so much. Seriously, one can never have enough "Jump" by Kris Kross, or enough of any song that would have been on an MTV Jock Jams CD.

Also, there was a photo booth. And it was free. 'Nough said.

The only real complaint we had was the drinks. They forced you to use a ticket system: 22 tickets for $20 (if you bought less than that, they were $1 each), 6 tickets for a "cocktail" (read: one shot of liquor mixed with some soda in a tiny plastic cup). Do the math--that's about $5.50 for a drink. Doesn't sound like much, but...drinking at a bar downtown, that will almost always get you a bigger, stronger drink. Therefore, lesson learned: next year we will pre-game more, arrive a little later, and avoid that ticket system like the plague.

Of course, this was all probably a small price to pay for being able to drink at Prom ;o)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Favorite Vacations/Trips

Recently, someone asked me what my favorite trip was...ever.

My answer? "There's no way I can choose just one!"

I was, however, able to narrow it down to three. I will certainly, eventually, write long drawn-out descriptions of these trips, of why they were my favorites, etc. But for now, I'll say this--for me, what makes a trip one of the best is a combination of things.
  • The place
  • The overall experience
  • And above all, the people I travel with or meet along the way.

So without further ado--my three best trips ever are ::drumroll please::

3) July 2007 Contiki tour, "Amsterdam to Barcelona". I wanted to take my sister to Europe for the first time and have a blast doing it...needless to say...mission accomplished. Here is my quick review of Contiki tours in general.
Me, Natalie, Christy and Gordana enjoying Nice
2) February 2010 trip to New Orleans for Christy's birthday--"The Perfect Storm of Parties". We were there during Mardi Gras season and by chance had scheduled our trip for Superbowl weekend. If you don't know the rest...then you're just missing out ;o)
Christy and I with some NOLA locals, all dressed up for the Superbowl

1) September 2009, "Winner Winner Chicken Dinner Birthday Extravaganza" in Las Vegas. We took my baby sister to Vegas for her 21st...what more is there to say?
First Vegas toast to Jenny's 21st birthday!
I've had some amazing trips, but these three stood out from the rest for so many on the lookout for these stories, coming soon to a blog near you ;o)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

In Which There is too much Fondue

Excuse the rhyme in the title, and all that.


Thanks to the big 80s bash that we threw on Steve's birthday, we didn't do the fancy birthday dinner with his parents until the day after his birthday. No big deal, though! He had been jonesing to try The Melting Pot, and I love that place anyway. Reservations were made (5 PM--I know how long a four-course Melting Pot dinner takes) and the four of us arrived hungry and ready to ingest copious amounts of fondue.

Now...having worked in the restaurant industry, I understand that they are methodical about seating people. But sometimes, there just has to be a better way. And this was one of those times. When we arrived there was maybe one other table that was occupied...yet the hostess walked us around a corner, up a step, around another corner, and down a step...and sat us in a booth in the far back corner of the restaurant. It was so dark back there that even my young, spry eyes (ha! yeah right) couldn't read the menu. And the booth? Holy crap. Just imagine four people, the shortest of whom is 5'8", squeezed in a space that from one booth back to the other is no more than four feet wide. With a giant block table and a hot fondue plate and pot in between.

No. Thank. You.

We requested to be moved, which normally I wouldn't do. Normally I would suck it up and not want to screw with their system. But this was bad. So bad that I'm not even sure why those tables existed in the first place.

But I digress. Because this isn't about the crappy back corner booth of The Melting Pot, and anyway, they moved us to the front room and a nice spacious table with far better lighting.

This blog is more so about the food, and about what we learned on this particular Melting Pot trip.

For those of you who have no idea what The Melting Pot is, exactly--it is a fondue restaurant. And I'm not going to go into what fondue is--if you want to know, look it up. But the most popular meal option at Melting Pot is "The Big Night Out". Cheese fondue for two, a salad for each person, a giant plate of meats and seafood for two, and dessert fondue for two. This usually runs $75-90 per couple. So, not cheap. You can do the meal a la carte, but that actually ends up being more expensive--at least if you're planning on still getting one of everything.

Which I kind of...thought you had to do. There you go, my blonde moment for the month of May, brought to you by The Melting Pot. I'll give Steve and his parents the benefit of the doubt--they were new to the Melting Pot phenomenon, and it wasn't until I overheard the couple behind us ordering that I can go to the Melting Pot and only get cheese fondue. Or only get a fondue entree. Or only get a combo of cheese and dessert fondue. You can do whatever you want--just like any other restaurant.

As Homer Simpson would say, "Doh!"

Of course, as our story goes, we had it all. First things first, drinks--and you have to order the Strawberry Basil Lemonade. Sounds weird, but it's delicious, trust me.

Then, cheese fondue. This being Steve's first time, we just chose the Traditional Swiss and had apples, veggies, and bread cubes for dipping. Anything with Gruyere makes me melt (pardon the pun) so I have nothing bad to say about this particular cheese mix.

Next, salad. I tried to convince everyone that Caesar was the way to go (Melting Pot has great Caesar dressing, and the parmesan-encrusted pine nuts are to die for), but only Chas, Steve's dad, listened. (Good man!) Whatever, I enjoyed my Caesar salad and pooh to those who didn't order it! (::ahem:: Steve and Julie)

Then the main course. Chas and Julie did their own separate entrees, but Steve and I chose the middle version of the Big Night Out. Don't ask me what it was, something Hawaiian themed for summer with bits of steak, pork, chicken, shrimp, lobster, and pot stickers for us to cook in our traditional oil fondue. The meats and seafood were all just too seasoned for our taste, and honestly, this being my third trip to Melting Pot...I doubt I'll ever order the big meal again. Just cheese fondue and dessert for me from now on, that I know that's possible. (I am literally rolling my eyes at myself right now.)

Now, I will mention that Steve did enjoy our waitress's hint to stuff the mushroom caps included with the entree with something, and then dip them in some sauce, and then fry them in the oil. Numerous jokes about stuffing the finest dish with the second finest dish a la Moe from The Simpson's were made.

Fact: I have no idea when I became a Simpson's fan. Maybe it's just for this entry.

Finally, dessert. I really can't decide which I get more excited about, the cheese fondue or the dessert fondue. Regardless, we chose the S'Mores (milk chocolate with marshmallow cream swirl and a sprinkling of graham crackers) dip and it was heavenly. And then we practically had to roll ourselves out the door, and Steve had the revelation that when one has eaten too can't drive fast. It sounds weird, but next time you're stuffed with too much holiday or restaurant food, pay attention to your speedometer on the drive home and think of us.

And we seriously didn't think about eating again until about two in the afternoon the next day...but that's another tale for another time ;)

The Melting Pot on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wedding Planning for the [not so] Travel Savvy

This is going to be a somewhat different blog...mainly because I've been thrown into planning a wedding--my wedding--and due to past experience, I've learned that just sending out invites and hoping your out of town guests show up is simply not the way to go.

This goes hand in hand with my previous entry about how important it is to know where you live...but it's not just about knowing what there is to do, where to eat and drink and how to choose the best hotel, it's about sharing that information. In this case, with your wedding guests.

Your first order of business should be to put together a wedding website. I used The Knot because it has a few more options than, say, Wedding Wire, but to each his or her own. I knew that I wanted our wedding site to be more than just the bare bones of "the ceremony is here at this time, the reception is here at this time, here's the hotel we suggest"--so while we of course included the usual pages on ceremony and reception times, locations, and directions, we also put together a "Staying and Playing" page. This page not only includes information on the hotels where we have our room blocks, but a list of nearby airports as well as descriptions of our favorite restaurants and bars and other things to see and do in the general Greenville area. It took a little extra time, but I'm happy to report that I've had numerous people say that they are actually excited to come check out Greenville and all of the great places I mentioned on that page. This feels good--even though this is an awesome little city and we love it here, it's not like we live in some great tourist destination a la NYC, Boston, or even Charleston or Savannah.

Another thing we spent some time on was researching and deciding on hotel room blocks. Obviously we wanted the hotel or hotels that were most convenient to the ceremony and reception location; unfortunately, these are not exactly the least expensive hotels in the area, so even though we reserved two blocks we are also providing information on other nearby hotels that may have cheaper rates. Of course, it's important for guests to know how these less expensive and less convenient hotels will effect their budget once they consider the possibilities of having to rent a car and/or paying taxi fares to get around.

Finally, as much as I hate to admit this and ruin the surprise, I have to express my excitement at the out of town bags we are putting together for our guests! I won't say what they include, but we will definitely be filling them with things such as snacks, bottled drinks, a map of downtown Greenville, a schedule of planned wedding activities, and a list of restaurants and bars similar to what is posted on our Knot page.

Basically, the point is that people will probably be spending a lot of money to get to your wedding, and who wants to leave their guests with a sour taste in their mouths? You don't necessarily have to plan activities for everyone (although we are--bachelor/bachelorette parties will be two nights before the wedding; there will be a Southern-style barbecue at our home in lieu of a fancy [and pointless] rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding; and then of course the wedding itself will take up most of the afternoon, evening, and night the day of), but at least make sure that your guests know there are things to do other than twiddle their thumbs in the hotel room and wait for The Big Event.