Monday, October 11, 2010

Virginia is for Lovers

Back in July we went for a break (and quick tourist visa renewal!) to Virginia to visit Simon and Meredith (Mark's bro and his girlfriend for those of you not in the know!). It was the middle of summer and it was HOT. We also arrived perfectly in time to celebrate one of the biggest days on the US calendar: 4th July.

Having arrived with my glass of wine in 1st class (yes, they bumped me up, and no they didn't award Mark the same pleasure!), I was feeling chilled and relaxed and fully ready for the next day ahead, which consisted of drinking all day long at a pool party at one of Meredith's friends houses complete with grill and good ol' Southern hospitality. Angela and her parents were lovely, I had a long chat with her mum about her book club and writing. She wants to write a book some day and I hope she does. So many people think that they have a book in them, and I always feel like they should try and get it out. The day was a blast and the Americans loved making fun of our "cute British accents". The week continued to be much the same.

The next day we got up early for a road trip to Washington DC. It was just as fabulous! We saw the sights, and queued up for a very long time to eat at Ben's Chilli Bowl (hey! If it's good enough for Obama...!) before almost fainting in the heatwave (over 100 degrees!) and failing to get very close to the White House (I just had to zoom in on my camera - it was all too much!)

The one thing I couldn't get used to was the obligatory tipping - surely the restaurants should pay their staff's wages?! And when somebody has been particularly terrible, why should I add 20% to my already hefty bill?! It was very different to Costa Rica, where service is included and waiters don't expect tips (apart from when they think you are American!)

We then spent a couple of days exploring Richmond before heading to Virginia Beach for a couple of fun-filled days! Mark treated us all to a lovely hotel (as a thank you for letting us stay at Simon's and for Meredith being such a good tour guide!) All of these road trips were such a laugh, as we blasted music and chatted all the way. Plus, the Gray boys with a bit of fuel in them is always amusing!
We also managed to fit in a couple of lovely meals, mini golf, a day at Meredith's parents' pool and a massive shopping spree at Target and Forever 21. I'd heard so much about these places before on blogs and I went a little crazy! Neither of us can wait to return for more Party in the USA! One problem that Mark did have was that gambling is illegal in Virginia - he nearly got back on the plane when he heard that one!

Thanks guys for a great trip! Sorry this blog is a little (or a lot!) late!

Stef x