Saturday, November 30, 2019

Fall 2019

We've been busy over the past three months, so I figured I'd try to wrap it all up into one post before we head off to Mexico in just three weeks!

We kicked off Labor Day weekend with our annual trip to Alexandria,VA for our fantasy football draft. Since Kevin & Lisa recently moved to Chicago, we all flew our separate ways and met in Old Town Alexandria. We met up with Jon for dinner and drinks and a good time was had by all.

The Ultimate Ultimate Fantasy Football draft is one of a kind. Live, in-person and very dramatic. Each roster is handwritten by our commissioner and a fancy trophy is presented to last year's winner. This year, Steve and I drafted Baker Mayfield, which hasn't panned out very well...but it's been fun!

We met up with our friends Jenny & Bob in Reston for the day and shared some tacos and drinks as their FOUR kids kept us entertained...I still can't believe you have four kids :) 

It was a great weekend and we're always happy to see so many of our friends in one place!

Next up, I was asked to present at the MedX Conference at Stanford in Palo Alto, CA. It was a really fast trip, but I still found good food and great oysters! Most of all, I was happy to share our story and the work we've been doing with a San Francisco based startup company. A little nerve-wrecking, but the end result was a success!

We've also had a lot visitors this fall!

Steve's parents and Aunt Lynn visited us from CT and NY. We enjoyed showing a little bit of Cleveland to Lynn and dinner with all of the parents. It's always a quick visit, but we managed to fit in a lot of activities.

Kevin & Lisa joined us for a weekend where we managed to do a few of the things they've missed most since moving away. Friends is obviously #1 on the list, but Greenhouse Tavern wings is a close second. Kevin and I were both found representing the Browns on Sunday too :)

Finally, Ron & Jean joined us for their annual trip to Lakewood. We never left Lakewood and hit up a few of their favorite places, including our beloved Angelo's pizza. Only steps away from our front door...we went to Angelo's every single day :)

In October I took a solo trip to Ireland for a conference and to visit the vendor of one of the programs I manage at work. It was an opportunity I couldn't resist.

After the red-eye flight, my colleague picked me up at the airport and we drove 2+ hours to their headquarters in Waterford, Ireland. Our first stop? Krispy Kreme doughnuts...not kidding. I guess there is only one is the country so she had to bring a few dozen back to the office. 

The 10-year anniversary of the Cleveland Clinic/RelateCare partnership happened to fall during my visit so they had cupcakes for the entire team. I toured the facilities, presented to a team of nurses and posed for a photo-op...

I went out for dinner and drinks with the team and we had a great time. They ordered me my first (of many) pints of Guinness and seafood stew. They also talked to me about the history of the oldest city in Ireland...into the wee hours of the morning. 


The next morning I woke up at the crack of dawn to take the train into Dublin. It was about 2 hours long and I enjoyed the scenic countryside. 

Side note: While traveling to California kicks my a**, apparently I can fly to Ireland on a red-eye and function for 5 days with little to no real sleep issues.

Being my first time to Europe I made sure to combine business with pleasure and visited a lot of great sites in a short period of time.

My first stop after checking into the hotel? Guinness, of course! You're able to walk through eight floors of Guinness history and when you reach the top you have 360 degrees views of Dublin and a freshly poured Guinness. 

Next up was the oldest pub in Dublin where I ordered some Guinness Stew along with a pint of Guinness. This was quite a hearty meal! I ate about 1/3 and went on the merry way...I had places to go and people to see :)

Next on the agenda was the Jameson distillery, which was close enough for me to walk. I declined a tour and decided on a quick look around and a rhubarb and Jameson cocktail. 

I walked around the city as though I was a local...easy to do, until I opened my mouth and they heard my American accent :) I stopped at the famous Temple Bar, but it was too busy so I snapped a few pics and headed over to a local pub for some more Irish whiskey.

It was time for a happy hour snack and I knew I had to have some Irish oysters and sparkling wine. I read Klaw was small, but small is an understatement! I was the first one there for happy hour and chose a table right next to the kitchen. There was probably enough seating for 15 people. Amazing. Great oysters.

I returned to the hotel early and decided to have some fish and chips with pea puree at the hotel bar for dinner. I couldn't leave Ireland without fish and chips! Another massive portion... 

I slept in the next morning before venturing out for another day of sight-seeing. I had big things on the agenda!

First up was St. Stephen's Green - A beautiful park right in the heart of Dublin. 

Across the street from St. Stephen's Green was the absolutely gorgeous Shelbourne Hotel. A friend recommended I go to the Lord Mayor's Lounge in the Shelbourne for the best Afternoon Tea. OMG. This was my favorite part of the trip! I was treated like a princess. 

Most people know I'm not a coffee drinker, so tea has become my hot drink of choice...and boy did I drink some tea! 7 different cups of green tea to be exact :) Pair that with champagne, white gloves service and tea sandwiches and desserts (too many to count...and unlimited!) Wow. It was an experience I'll never forget and I would do again and again. 

My next stop was The Book of Kells at Trinity College. The Exhibition displays the Book of Kells, a 9th century manuscript that documents the four Gospels of the life of Jesus Christ. 

Another "must-see" from other visitors of Dublin, I was bored...until I entered the library. The Exhibition also features access to the Long Room, one of the world’s most beautiful libraries, that houses 250,000 of Trinity College’s oldest books. Total fascination. 

I continued to wander the streets of Dublin and stopped in at a few pubs. That night I had more dinner and drinks with my friends from RelateCare and some of their other clients from the US.

The next day I attended the Med in Ireland Conference where I met with several Irish startup companies. I told you I combined work and play :) 

That night we attended the conference reception at the Aviva sports stadium complete with Irish dancers, of course!

 The next morning I returned home and am thankful for such a fabulous trip! I can't wait to return again soon with Steve.

On November 6th, Steve and I set off for a week in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida where we enjoyed time with friends and time together before I was joined by my colleagues for an extra few days of work.

We met Ron & Jean at their condo for the first 4 days of the trip before settling into another condo across the street for another 4 days. Ron & Jean's place is located right on the beach. With temperatures in the mid-80's we were happy to see sun and sand while temperatures at home were below 20 degrees. 

Jean and I set out to get some food, drinks and snow crab claws for lunch...I realized we were in our swim suits and gently asked "shouldn't we have more clothes on?" her response "this is PLENTY!" She was right...we were not alone :)

Snow crab claws for lunch? Sure!

We spent every day at the beach and we got a great tan. There was a nice breeze and the sun was hot.


We love finding places on vacation where we love the food, the vibe and prices are just right. We first found Tacocraft where they had a great selection of tacos and drinks. We went here twice and it was always busy and fun. The tacos were pretty awesome.

Our absolute favorite place was Vinnie's. Classic Italian, incredible oysters and a really great happy hour. Live music was just the icing on the cake. I'm pretty sure we stopped here every night for either dinner or drinks. I've never eaten so many oysters in my life!


They even had pictures of Cleveland's Little Italy on the wall. 

Other places on the list were The Village Pump, Billy Jack's Shacks, Aruda Beach Cafe and El Mar Cafe which were all solid options for drinks, snacks or breakfast.

On Sunday, Steve and I found the Browns Backers bar in Fort Lauderdale. It was a short Uber from our condo and it was a fun time with a bunch of transient Clevelanders. Polish boys, Brats, Stadium Mustard and a Browns victory made it a very successful day.

Steve headed home late on Tuesday night while I stayed back and was joined by two colleagues on Wednesday morning. The Cleveland Clinic recently acquired four hospitals on the east coast of Florida so we needed to do a site visit for signage and wayfinding. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it!

We drove to Vero beach and then to Port St. Lucie and stayed at the beautiful Hutchinson Shores Beach Resort. Our rooms were literally on the beach. Pretty nice!

As the designated travel agent for our team, I found us another Browns Backers bar in Port St. Lucie and another Browns win!! Maybe that should be my new gig...a Browns Backers roadie...hmmm?

It's been a whirlwind last few months as we gear up for our 13th stay at Ocean Maya Royale where we'll celebrate Christmas and New Year's. Only 20 more days!