Category Archives: Travel

Oktoberfest in Hermann, MO

hermannhof

Yesterday Andrew and spent the day in Hermann, Missouri, which is just under an hour and a half west of St. Louis. Some of our close friends from college visit there every year with their family during Oktoberfest, which takes place all throughout the month of October, so they invited us to come along.

Hermann is best known for its multiple wineries, and during Oktoberfest they have all kinds of extra food, drinks, and dancing. Andrew and I had never visited before, but it sounded like it would be a lot of fun and a good way to see some friends we don’t see very often. Hermann is also conveniently right in the middle between us and our friends, so no one as to drive particularly far.

We left early in the morning, packed with some snacks to munch on throughout the day, and arrived about 10:30am. We were early enough that they weren’t terribly busy, and we greeted our friends and their family.

For $20 a person, we could buy a trolley ticket which would stop at each of the wineries on a continuous loop. So we bought our tickets and headed to the first winery, Adam Puchta. There was a $5 cover charge, but this included the music and wine tasting. Of the four we visited, this one was one of the smaller ones, and it was somewhere in the middle of my favorites.

We started with the wine tastings which included six different wines, three red and three white. I wasn’t a big fan of the red wines since they were dry and not very sweet. I liked the white wines a lot more; one even tasted faintly of pineapple. From just those first six wine samples, I was already feeling a bit of a buzz.

From there, our friends bought a couple bottles of the white wine to share and Andrew bought one of the frozen slushy wines (anything frozen is immediately my favorite!) for us to share. We found a picnic table and broke out all of the snacks.  Andrew and I brought an assortment of crackers and cheese; when we went to the grocery store the night before I wasn’t quite sure which would go best with wine, so I just bought everything. :P We brought Gouda, Gruyere, Brie, Babybel, and then sharp and mild Cheddars. We favored the Gouda the best, but they were all very good!

snacks

Our friends also brought strawberries, grapes, cheese dip and chips, and then their own cheese and crackers. I also brought a cheese board that we got as a gift for our wedding. We hadn’t used it before but I thought that this would be the perfect time to use it! It came with four different knives that you could use to cut and spread the cheese. It really came in handy!

We stayed at Adam Puchta’s for about an hour and a half before we hopped on the trolley to the next winery: Stone Hill Winery. We skipped the tasting at this winery because it was more expensive and came with a tour and there were just too many people. I would like to come back another time and do a tour, but it would have to be a lot less busy! This winery was a bit more fun because they had a dance floor, and while I don’t particularly dance, it was so much fun watching out friends and their parents dance. Stone Hill also offered a frozen slushy wine, so I bought another one of those. I even got to take home a souvenir wine glass with it!

Stone Hill

We also stayed here about an hour and a half before moving to the third winery: Hermannhof.

Hermannhof was my least favorite of the four wineries. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it wouldn’t have been Oktoberfest because it was just way too crowded. The tables were really close together and it was in a kind of confined area. There was a lot more dancing and music here than at the others, but there was just too many people. We did another of the samplings and tried a couple of the reds and one white. One of the reds was strawberry flavored and one was raspberry, but we didn’t care for either of those. The white was called Germantown, which I think was their best-seller. I preferred it over the reds but it’s not something that I would order in the future.

The last winery was one of my favorites. Oak Glenn was situated higher on a hill and had the most spectacular view. While the other wineries were cute and quaint, this one really boasted the best view. I’m not sure if this winery was so busy because of the time we came or because it was just popular, but it didn’t feel too crowded despite all of the people there.

Oak Glenn Winery

My friend suggested I try the sangria here as it was one of his favorites, so we got in line. Right before it was our turn, two ladies cut in front of us, and Andrew being very frank and outspoken said, “Sure, go ahead and cut in front of us!” I was embarrassed, but the lady was very friendly, though a little bit drunk.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” She apologized. “My friend used to work here! Did you come for the sangria? Let me buy your drinks!” So she bought our $8 sangrias for us and our friend! And they were so good, but man did I feel the kick later. I can’t remember specifically which wine we bought later, but I remember liking it the most of the ones we tried that day. We wanted to buy some of the sangria, but they didn’t sell it bottled which was a shame.

The only downside of Oak Glenn was that you weren’t allowed to bring in any outside food or drink. Despite that we still had a really good time and ended up staying until they closed at 6pm. After that, we headed to a local bar that our friends said had some really good pizza. At this point in the night is where all of my drinks really started to catch up to me, but I remember the pizza being really good and a very loud rendition of “Family Tradition” by Hank Williams Jr.

I think afterwards we were intending to finish the night at a beer garden, but our friend’s mom went into a club so we all followed. I’m not much of a dancer, but we had so much fun there! Then I got tired all of a sudden so Andrew and I went outside to wait for everyone else. Even though it was only about 8pm, we had had a long day and I was pretty ready to head home. Andrew had sobered up by then, so we hugged everyone and said our goodbyes.

I think this weekend was so much fun because of who we spent it with. Our friends and their family are like a second family to us so it’s always extra fun since we don’t get to see each other as often was we would like. I’m hoping that we can make this an annual tradition and do it again next year!

Daytona Beach, Florida

Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach, Florida

Andrew and I spent the last week with my family in Daytona Beach, Florida. My parents own a timeshare there, so it’s a familiar spot for my family, but this was the first time that Andrew would be joining us. Everyone but my eldest brother came, so it was really nice having almost the entire family together again. :D

The weather was beautiful all week long. There was a bit of rain the day we got there and the day that we left, but I couldn’t have planned it better.

I love the beach. We were pretty lazy most of the week (which is why this blog post is a bit late). In the mornings, we would put on our sun tan lotion and hit the beach. Andrew got really sun burnt the first day, so he wore a shirt the rest of the week. I felt bad because he burns so easily! He is just too white. :P I brought my book with me most mornings, but I liked to swim in the ocean and just relax in the sun. I did end up reading three books over the course of the week, though!

Andrew and I on the beach
Andrew and I on the beach

We also took a lot of walks during the day and at night. Walking on the beach is so much better than just walking in a park here, for sure!

While me and my family are content to lazy around, Andrew was a bit bored, so we planned a day to visit Universal’s Islands of Adventure. I had visited four years ago with my best friend Becky and we loved the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

We hit a lot of traffic on the way into Orlando, so we didn’t get there as early as we would have liked. It took almost two hours to get there, where normally it only takes a little over an hour. We went to the Harry Potter section of the park first, since we figured that would get busier as the day went on.

We headed towards Dragon Challenge first, since there was practically no line, and were surprised when two attendants told us we weren’t allowed to carry anything in our pockets. I wasn’t even allowed to keep my phone in my pocket. I was a bit annoyed, but we got a locker anyways and then started our way through the line. There was another security check point where they actually had metal detectors and wands to check that people weren’t bringing anything. It was so strict that it almost took a lot of the fun out of it. I also couldn’t have my phone so I couldn’t take any pictures. But the ride was still very fun!

Hogwarts Castle
Hogwarts Castle

We headed to Hogwarts Castle next to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I think this was my favorite ride because the line takes you through Hogwarts. It made me feel like a student walking through the corridors and seeing the moving paintings on the wall. The Sorting Hat was also there to greet us, unfortunately he didn’t sort me, haha. The ride itself was a 4D ride, and normally I am fine riding roller coasters,  but this one made me a little queasy. But other than that it was really fun!

We rode Flight of the Hippogriff next, which was like a mine train roller coaster, but it was very jerky and the seats were very small and uncomfortable – and Andrew and I are both just average-sized. So we visited Honeyduke’s, but it was all really crowded by this point that there were lines to enter all of the other shops, so that’s the only one we visited.

I bought a couple of soft pretzels (one of my favorite things about theme parks!) and we shared some Dippin’ Dots later, which I haven’t had in a long time. We visited the other sections of the park, but I think Andrew was a bit bored because there really weren’t a lot of big roller coasters. One of them was shut down because they were adding some new features to it, and another they had just built but it wasn’t open until later in the summer.

Orlando

We considered upgrading our pass to visit Universal Resort, which has the Diagon Alley section of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Neither of us have been there since they added that to the park, but I think that it’s dumb that you have to visit both parks (and pay for both parks) to experience all of the Wizarding World. We ended up deciding against it because we were both hot and tired and didn’t want to pay the extra money (considering my current unemployment, haha).

Later on in the week, we went go-karting and played mini golf. But other than that, we just hung out by the beach and the pool. I was really bummed to leave Saturday morning, but Andrew and I got up early to watch the sunrise and that made it worth it. So I’ll just leave you with this.

the sunrise at 6:33 a.m.
the sunrise at 6:33 a.m.