At Long Last

Nothing makes you appreciate home as much as a week away from it.

I can’t complain about my temporary digs, though.

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I opted for my own room at the hotel, because the idea of staying with someone I didn’t know that well for an entire week kind of weirded me out. I am far from anti-social, but sometimes I just like my own space, you know? Especially when I’m away from home. It felt more like a mini-vacation with my own room.

I was worried I hadn’t brought enough shampoo and conditioner and was pleasantly surprised to find these in the shower–score! I didn’t have to use my mini bottles all week.

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There’s something super cool about staying in a hotel room.

003Maybe it’s the crisp and fresh sheets. The toilet paper that’s folded to a point. Or maybe it’s knowing that you don’t have to clean it. Although, to be fair, I am always paranoid about keeping the room tidy enough that the cleaning staff doesn’t think I’m slobby. Weird, but true.

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I was also given a bottle of FREE water every day I stayed there. 😀

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I didn’t even use the coffee maker, because I went down for breakfast every day with my co-workers. But I thought the burlap bag the coffee packets came in was pretty snazzy.

Since I stayed at the hotel in Milwaukee for a week, I put all my clothes away as soon as I got there to minimize wrinkles (although there was an iron and ironing board in the room, I had little intention to iron anything).

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I over-packed, but only by a little.

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I joke with my dad that he’s to blame for my trouble packing. He taught us to live simply, but also to always be prepared, so I never know if I should bring one pair of socks or twenty-six.

My final piece of comfort clothing: one of Dave’s cardigans.

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Yeah, I’m a bit sentimental. Deal with it.

The best part:

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Although I am a bibliophile to the core, I have to admit that cable television excites me sometimes since Dave and I don’t have TV. It was really fun flipping between the Food Network and HGTV for a couple hours every night before bed.

Why was I in a hotel? Our hospital is switching over to a new computer system in April, so several hundred employees travel to Milwaukee every week to become familiar with it. Of all the people I traveled with this week, about ten were from my registration department.

We had a casual standing for breakfast every morning. The hotel provided a continental breakfast, and I opted for the same thing every morning: eggs with Frank’s red sauce, fresh watermelon and pineapple, and a piece of rye toast with strawberry jam.

eggs

Stock Photo

(I didn’t feel comfortable enough sharing my food blog with the co-workers I went with, so I only snuck photos here and there).

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Photo from Four Points Sheraton Website (it was winter when we went!)

 

The hotel we stayed at provided shuttles that drove us to and from a learning center every day for our classes. The shuttle drivers were really nice and accommodating; they even took one of my co-workers to the Children’s Hospital, which was about a half hour away, to visit her week old grandson. That’s customer service if I’ve ever seen it.

The hotel also catered our lunches, and I requested vegetarian meals from them for the week. On Monday, I had a specially wrapped plate with my name on it. Inside: a turkey sandwich. Lettuce and tomato, no cheese.

It was too hilarious to be upsetting. I sought out the man  in charge of catering and kindly told him vegetarians don’t eat meat, but love cheese. (If you read this blog, you know I do eat some types of meat, but that story is way too complicated for most people. I explained it to one of my co-workers, and she looked at me like I had three heads, one of which spoke Klingon).

He was so nice the rest of the week, seeking me out to bring me my own meals or informing me which dishes were vegetarian. I was actually kind of surprised that I was the only one with a special request; I guess I thought more people were vegetarian these days.

Most of the breakfasts and lunches were okay, but the dinners left something to be desired. The atmosphere of the hotel bistro was really nice and cozy, but the the dinner service at the hotel was horrible.

BistroAlthough the staff was really nice, they were unorganized to the point of ridiculousness. None of the servers seemed to be assigned to any particular table so most nights, they all periodically came to our table to ask if we were ready to order. It also took ages for our food to come out, and they usually forgot to bring out drinks, forgot who ordered what, or forgot to take someone’s order entirely (hem, mine, hem).

Fortunately, we were all staying at the hotel and had no place to go and no one to see, so it wasn’t a big deal, just a bit unprofessional considering how nice the hotel was.

One of the highlights was the free hors d’oeuvres they put out from 5-7 every night.

010I had the veggies, fruit, cheese, and crackers on my plate most nights, but I also had a few mozzarella bites and jalapeno poppers one of the nights.

A few of my nothing-to-write-home-about meals from the hotel included:

A grilled tuna steak sandwich with pineapple mango salsa and sweet potato fries. I also had a side of (unpictured) broccoli.

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A caprese salad with grilled shrimp.

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They were meals that should and could have been great, but they were incredibly lacking in flavor. I spent most of my time eating thinking about how I would have improved the dish. Everyone else seemed to be happy with their meals, which just goes to show how picky I am about food. What can I say; I know good food. This wasn’t it. Then again, I wasn’t paying for it, which made it much better. 😀

Wednesday night was the best foodie night. Three of my co-workers and I walked to a Mexican restaurant just across the street from the hotel called Habanero’s. I was afraid it was going to be a chain Mexican restaurant like Fajita Republic, but it seemed really authentic: Mexican servers, hostesses, and cooks alike.

As soon as we sat down, we were given a bowl of tortilla chips and salsa, and I ordered the drink special of the day: a Strawberry mojito.

mojito

Yes, it had been a long day, but it was friggin’ delicious. I am really particular about my drinks as well (go figure), but this was awesome. It was bursting with minty and strawberry flavor, and I sucked it down in no time at all and ordered another.

For my meal, I ordered La Spinaca Chimichanga with came with Mexican rice, lettuce, tomatoes, and guacamole.

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My favorite Mexican restaurant in Green Bay is El Sarape, and this place was a good rival. My chimichanga was stuffed to the brim with spinach, roasted corn, and refried beans and tasted perfect mixed with the rice, veggies, and guac on the side. I could only manage to eat half at the time but boxed up the rest to bring back to my hotel for later. I did have to pay for this meal, but it was well worth it for a night of decent food.

I tried to eat as healthy as I could during the week (although I admit I had my fair share of the rice krispies they offered as part of our lunches….), and I allowed myself one breakfast splurge this morning: French toast with maple syrup, strawberries, and whipped cream, with a couple pieces of fresh fruit on the side.

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Today was a relatively short day of class, but I was really antsy to get back. I was trying not to think about home this week, and I didn’t realize how much I missed Dave until I saw him. I kinda like him.

Tomorrow is my brother’s birthday, and I aim to celebrate with plenty of gusto. Here’s to the weekend: may it go by slowly!

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