About six months into my three years abroad, I remember speaking with a few veteran travelers about spending the holidays abroad. They had done it a few times and at the time of our conversation, I hadn’t spent a single holiday season away from the USA.
“It’s good, but it’s better at home,” said one French girl. “No matter how much I love to travel, I always prefer to be at home for the holidays.”
Well two and a half years and two Thanksgivings and Christmases later, I have to admit that I can’t agree with her more.
Let me be clear and say that I loved my past two holiday seasons abroad. Both were in the southern hemisphere and warm. I also spent both with Ric as well as a lot of new friends. My holidays abroad included great food and lots of drink. Plus, santa always managed to find me no matter where I was in the world.
But as the song goes, “There’s no place like home for the holidays”.
So I was extremely happy to be spending this Thanksgiving back in the States and it was an amazing one. Ric and I started the day at my Dad’s house eating donuts and watching the Macy’s Day Parade. We then came back to where we’re staying, with my Aunt and Uncle to bake a few pies and get ready for the night. We stopped by a friend’s house for one meal. Then headed to my brother’s for the main event: Thanksgiving dinner.
I loved every minute of the day and was so happy to finally give Ric a proper Thanksgiving.
But Ric and I couldn’t suppress our travel instincts for too long. We spent Black Friday on the road with my dad and his girlfriend exploring my absolute favorite destinations in and around New Jersey; Frenchtown, Lambertville and Bucks Country, Pennsylvania.
We started Black Friday with a visit to Two Buttons, owned by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert and her husband Jose. The store includes all sorts of authentic imports from around the world. It’s packed with furniture, jewelry and more. You could literally spend hours here and still not scratch the surface.
From there we took the scenic route along the Delaware River on the PA side up to the quaint Frenchtown. This is by far one of my favorite places to cruise. It’s filled with history, beautiful homes and foliage that creates a tunnel to drive through. In Frenchtown we had coffee at The Bridge Cafe and shopped around for a little.
At that point in the day we were in need of wine, so we headed up to Sand Castle Winery for a tasting that resulted in the purchase of three bottles.
Those bottle came in handy for our BYO dinner at the Hamilton Grill Room. This classic restaurant on the canals in Lambertville has always been a favorite for me. We had a bit of time to kill before our reservation so we stopped into the Boat House just across the way for a few cocktails first.
The tiny bar is dimly-lit and filled with ivy-league sport decor, most specifically that of rowing. It’s the kind of place you’d expect a cool professor to retreat to after class in the 1940s. Plus they serve amazing cocktails.
After a few rounds, we finally headed to the Hamilton Grill Room for that dinner I had been craving since I last left NJ. I walk into the restaurant to be greeted by a man in a colorful bow tie. He brings us to our seats that look out on the canal. The restaurant is full of people and warmed by the wood fire oven, part of the restaurants open kitchen area. Centered in the restaurant is a big ice pit with fresh meats and fish on display. A chef works next this preparing meats in an array of methods as people look from a bar in front of his.
We eat oysters, lamb, salmon and steak. Drink wine and chat about the day. There’s no place I’d rather be than here this weekend and no company I’d rather have.