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On Veterans Day weekend (November) one of my best friend’s in the world Sarah, and I took a weekend getaway trip to Alys Beach, FL. GIRL’S TRIP!! It was some much needed time together, especially since we’ve been practicing a long-distance-friendship for the past 6 years.
I bet you’re wondering how on earth a Canadian-gone-Marylander is somehow friends with a Canadian-gone-Alabamian! Well, allow me to share a little fun backstory with you. Sarah and I met in 2010 at Bodenseehof Bible School in Germany. We shared the same room, along with 8 other girls for the whole first semester. (I know, sleeping in the same room with 9 girls sounds completely awful but believe it or not, it actually grows on you!) Sarah and I knew it was a start of a beautiful friendship when we realized that we BOTH quit our jobs at Dollarama just before coming to Germany. (Dollarama is the Canadian equivalent of Dollar Tree.) Like, what are the odds that we both were ex-Dollarama employees?!
Long story short, I also met my now-husband, Jarryd there at Bible school. Jarryd’s best friend Ian (also from Maryland) was there too and met Sarah. Jarryd and I started dating during the second semester. Ian and Sarah ended up dating each other awhile after Bible school. (Surprise!!) We all did the whole long-distance thing simultaneously. We get engaged the same year, then both get married the following year (and are all in each other’s wedding parties), then Sarah and I both move to the US the same year (she to Alabama and I to Maryland). So there you have it, a real life story of two besties married to two besties.
We’ve been lucky enough to visit them down in Alabama THREE times now, and they come up to Maryland a couple times a year to visit family (and us obviously). Now if only the four of us could all raise our future kiddos together, but I’m like 110% positive we won’t be living near each other…ever. 😛 Oh well, it’s seriously such a unique and fun friendship to be in and I think someone should probably write a book about us; it’s a Hallmark made-for-tv movie just waiting to happen.
But moving on–back to our Florida getaway! So the weekend officially began with Jarryd and I flying down to Birmingham, AL the Thursday evening. The following morning before officially kicking off our girls-only trip the four of us went to the Alabama Biscuit Company for breakfast. OH. MY. WORD. I ordered the Goat Cheese, Pecan & Honey biscuit and aside from saying “yes” to a marriage with Jarryd, ordering that biscuit was the best decision of my life. I’m actually glad I don’t live near there because I’d be eating biscuits 7 days a week then…but would that so bad, really?
With biscuits in our rearview mirror and an almost too-cheerful “ADIOS!” to our men we took off our on road trip! (Can I also say that what added to the greatness of this weekend was that it was the same weekend of Taylor Swift’s new album release!! Sarah, being the great friend that she is actually let me listen to a ton of Taytay!!)
As we were driving south towards the Florida panhandle via back country roads, we began to pass through cotton fields. I remember seeing them and thinking quietly to myself ooo cotton fields, what a lovely sight to behold. This suddenly transitioned into a WAIT, COTTON FIELDS?!! I’ve heard about these, read about these, glanced at them in books and movies, but have NEVER actually seen them in real life (or “IRL” as people say these days).
“Sarah, stop the car so I can go run around in one of these fields.” In a…half-joking…but actually really totally and completely serious tone. And Sarah was like “Let’s DO it!” Which then turns into me freaking out and throwing cotton balls into the air. It was magical–not only because of how soft and fluffy they were but because it was a FIRST. I don’t feel like I experience many “firsts” these days so that was cool! My inner Canadian was super thrilled!
A few hours later we crossed through the Alabama-Florida state line and little by little the “Florida vibes” as we liked to call them, started to gradually present themselves. Bridges over bodies of water, beachy-lookin’ buildings and houses, breathing in that humid and salty air, short little palm-leaved plants, and suddenly actual palm-trees which I just love so much!
This may be a little TMI, but don’t try eating a massive ice cream cone when you’ve been holding in a desperately-needed bathroom break for several hours. It’s all around just a really bad idea. Your stomach will HURT. I mean, is it really my fault that I was banking on this creamery to have a bathroom? Hahah.
Sarah is one of the best people you could ever travel with. Talk about a who girl does her research–she had an entire list of shops, restaurants, areas, and even drives that we needed to have on our radar. Then there’s me…I didn’t look up a single thing ahead of time, at all–I guess I just really appreciate the element of total surprise sometimes, maybe a little too much?! Who knows! I’m just like…hey Sarah, I trust you to lead me to all the nice places so I can take photos, buy cute little ceramic spoon-rests, and eat amazing food. 😀
Once we arrived to our vacation rental, settled in, freshened up, (and I finally got to hit up the bathroom) we immediately set out on foot to the beach; it wasn’t for the purpose of swimming or anything, we just HAD to see the ocean. It was only a short 5 minute walk away!! We ended up missing the actual setting of the sun, but we still made it in time for the pretty colours all across the sky. Ugh, it was gorgeous. I love hearing the waves crash against the shore while looking out to the horizon and seeing that perfectly straight line that separates the water from the sky. Seeing so much open space in front of me makes me feel small in this big world. Like a grain of sand.
That evening we went out for some mexican food, strolled the streets of Rosemary Beach, and then returned back to our condo for some hot-tubbing and good ole’ Netflix chick flicks. Is there a better way to conclude a day of travel and good eats? Nope.
We woke up to a beautiful sunshiny Saturday morning. Honestly, I was pretty skeptical about what the weather was gonna be like on a weekend in November, but that day it reached a high of 75! Not too chilly at all! (I definitely would have preferred warmer weather but as I said already, it was November, so what more could one expect?)
Saturday was our only full day that we had down in Florida. It’s always nice to have an entire day to spend somewhere and not have to worry about needing to leave at a certain time for traveling, you know? We walked from our condo to the most gorgeous beach town I had ever laid eyes on. I’m so serious! I’m not even going to try and explain it right now–I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. But first, BREAKFAST!
We indulged in our yogurt, berry and granola parfait, cinnamon roll, coffee, and tea at a restaurant called Fonville Press. Yes yes yes I would absolutely recommend stopping here to eat. When you first enter the restaurant there are a few marble tables surrounded by tall bookshelves where you can sit, but even better, you can bring your food outside! As stated on the Alys Beach website, you exit into an “outdoor oasis”! There’s a large fire pit, tables under a roof, tables under umbrellas, string lights, a playground on top of green grass, and white sculptures. I was definitely in my happy place sipping my coffee outside while the warm Florida sunshine kissed my shoulders.
After breakfast Sarah and I explored the town of Alys Beach; it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Every single house there was white. WHITE. And perfectly kept too. It had so much greenery everywhere, from vines draping across the walls to planters lining the doorways. Almost every house has its own courtyard, which is such a cool idea. Every single house is actually constructed to “fortified standards” which means it can withstand hurricanes. I mean, the houses certainly looked sturdy as ever. I also got almost “modern Arabic architecture” vibes from this town too–like with the curved designs they have on the roofs. (I’m no architect so that’s the best description I could give you…LOL.)
I could have explored this town for DAYS. By the way, this town is expected to DOUBLE in size over the next three years. Meaning…I should probably come back in three years and do some more exploring. Who’s with me?!
After a fabulous morning of delicious brunch and perusing the picturesque streets we walked back to our vacation rental. (That’s right! The town of Alys Beach was only a short walk from our condo!) We ended up exploring some cute shops and boutiques–which is when I bought my ceramic spoon rest that I mentioned earlier!! (Guys, I’ve been trying to find the perfect spoon rest for four years now, so you can see why I’m making such an ordeal out of this, can’t you?!)
When we finished up our shopping it was finally time to HIT THE BEACH! Literally the moment we’ve all been waiting for! It was actually warm enough to swim too–I was so happy! I think I’m part dolphin sometimes–I could play in the waves for hours. And can I just say how nice it was going to the beach during the off-season?! Like it was practically empty, even the towns, shops, and restaurants weren’t crowded at all either! It made for such a nice and quiet weekend.
(Yes, I packed Ramen noodles in my suitcase for those “just in case” moments of starvation.) Also, I think I should get some type of major life points for wearing the same bathing suit on this vaycay that I bought almost ten years ago. Wouldn’t you agree?! Like that’s commitment right there!
We ended our last evening on the beaches of 30A with a bang: pizza on the beach. I must say, sitting there with Sarah on our grocery/tote bags on the soft white sand (we couldn’t find any blankets in her car–only tote bags), listening to the waves crash (seeing a stingray!!), and watching the sunset whilst indulging in amazing wood-fired pizza…was probably one of the most romantic things I’ve ever done. HAHA. But for real, it was the perfect ending to a perfect day. Well, scratch that–we actually ended the day with watching Gilmore Girls and eating ice cream in bed. Glorious. If only everyday were like that.
On our drive back up to Birmingham, Alabama we hit up the Black Bear Bread Co in Grayton Beach for some on-the-road breakfast. This place was SWEET. I am all for black and white aesthetics! I mean, their breakfast sandwich was good and all, but their whole ambiance gets a 10/10 from me.
Thanks so much for reading this post, guys! I hope it makes you wanna check out beautiful Alys Beach for yourselves. Honestly, I didn’t even know this place existed until a few months ago because all you ever hear when it comes to Florida’s panhandle is Panama City Beach, FL. Which is cool and all, but I’m sure it’s a whole different scene from beautiful quaint, modern, and picturesque Alys Beach. It’s SO underrated! Have you ever been to this area of Florida before?! If you have or haven’t let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 🙂 <3