Helen of Marlowe's Blog

Posted in "North Carolina" by helenofmarlowe on February 9, 2014

Just back from our annual winter in the Hamptons.    Hampton Hotels, that is.


… a live-oak growing,
All alone stood it, and the moss hung down from the
     — Whitman


I didn’t find this one in my Audubon app

Winston-Salem to Savannah, where we stayed in East Bay Street Hotels for several days going south, and again coming back up north.  From Savannah, we drive down to St. Augustine, where we never tire of visiting the Castillo de San Marcos,  built when Florida was still part of the Spanish Empire.

St. Augustine is a  paradise for bird watchers, even for someone like me who can seldom identify the birds I’m watching.  I do think birds — and plants, flowers, trees — should wear nametags.

I believe what I have below, flying over the water,  is an egret.


But this one to the bottom right, I can’t identify.   Possibly a wood stork?



What is a B&B? A Hotel?

Posted in "North Carolina" by helenofmarlowe on February 8, 2014

We used to stay at B&Bs when we travel, and we loved staying in the homes of locals. Having access to the back yard, and their books if they had an open library, and eating breakfast at the table with other guests if there were any, or at least of the home-owner/proprietor if it was a small house.

Over the years we’ve stayed with an Amish family in Pennsylvania and a Shakespeare scholar in

Virginia. We’ve stayed in a house that was a replica of Anne Hathaway’s cottage, including the garden, in homes of farmers and writers, and once a weaver, and always, the proprietor lived in the home.

Until recently.

For the last few years we’ve enjoyed winter travels to Savannah, and then on down to St. Augustine.

In St. Augustine, we learned that a B&B is usually an old house (not home) in the historic district – owned by a person or a corporation who hires a staff to come in and prepare breakfast, and a cleaning staff to come in around noon, but no one actually lives in the house.

Which means that, if you go up the stairs to the ice maker and you happen to fall down the stairs carrying that bucket of ice, then you are alone in a house in an unfamiliar city. (Yep, this happened to us; my husband, age 80, fell down the stairs. Both of us huddled together at the bottom of the stairs until we were sure he was not hurt, and then we cleaned up the ice.)

Since that incident, we decided to stick to hotels – knowing staff will always be there. I always ask for a room on the highest floor, a room with a view.

Which brings us to Savannah.

We recently returned from our winter trip to West Palm Beach. We usually spend two nights in Savannah, two in St. Augustine, five in West Palm Beach, and then repeat heading north. On our return trip a week ago, I’m in our room in the Hampton Inn, looking for a room in Savannah for the same night, but I waited too late. The familiar hotels on East Bay Street were booked.

If you’re visiting Savannah, you definitely want to stay on East Bay Street.

Browsing on the web, I stumbled across East Bay Street Inn, self-identified as a B&B.

Take advantage of fantastic Savannah bed and breakfast specials from The East Bay Inn.

Well, the location was right. I called.

Q: Are you a hotel, or a B&B?

A: We’re a B&B.

Q: You’re there all night, someone is there all night?

A: Yes.

We booked. Turns out it has all the features of a hotel – large front desk, a nice doorman who greeted us and brought our bags in, breakfast served not on premises proper but in restaurant which is in the same building. I guess I’ve lost the distinction between a hotel and a B&B.

One thing that I found slightly offensive: An envelope asking for a tip for the cleaning staff.


Bob is waving to me from the top of the lighthouse in St. Augustine

Bob and I always (or virtually always) leave a $5 in the room for the cleaning staff each morning when we leave the hotel. (At least, ever since we read, many years ago, Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (not) Getting By in America.) But somehow, it seems to me that asking for a tip changes the character of what a tip is supposed to be. We did put our $5 in the envelope, but it just didn’t seem quite the same. Is this becoming the norm?

Our trip was too soon over. Stay tuned, and I’ll show you some of the birds we “shot” along the way. And the bridge we walked from island to mainland and back. It’s a just-over-one-mile bridge, but the 3-mile walk took us more than an hour because we stopped for so many good views. (Three miles because we had to walk to the bridge and back as well as over it.)

And the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Bob walked up the 216 steps. (Sign said it’s the equivalent of a 14-story building.) I did not walk all the way up, but we both walked for miles the same day at the Alligator Farm.

But I guess that’s for the next post.

And I see now that we got out of Savannah just in time!

… a towering column of black smoke could be seen from miles away and prompted police to urge nearby hotels and college buildings to evacuate

We talked about staying a day longer, but decided against it.

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