Recently, my husband and I decided that it was about time to take a nice, long vacation. So we planned to take a luxurious road trip across country. First thing we did was list the places and things that we wanted to do and to see so we could map out our destination points. This was very helpful in making reservations at luxury motels. When you stay so many nights at some hotels they will give you one night free, mind you, so we knew we could have a lavish excursion without breaking the bank. Also, we needed to make advance reservations for any particular theater performances or other activities that we wanted to take part in so we would be able to enjoy our trip.
Day 1 Up and Out We Go
There was so much to see and do between Holland, Michigan and Orlando, Florida that we decided we would drive down taking in all the sights and fly back. That would give us more time to stay in the places that we wanted to much longer. First we did was to rent a SUV that we could use to drive down and be able to leave it at the Airport in Orlando when we decided to fly home. Next my job packing our luggage. Even though we had a nice large luxury vehicle we still could not take too much or we could not get our things home.
We decided it would be just one suit case and one carry-on for each one of us. We didn’t want to take too much stuff and get overwhelmed, so we kept it quite simple packing only the essentials. We took our leisure clothes like shorts, tops, and sandals. We also took one nice dressy outfit for special occasions. Both of us like our jeans so we took a couple of pairs with two shirts and a sweater. Then our underwear and bathing suits. This was going to be a tight packing job. The size of suit case you are allowed to use when boarding a plane is not that big. Of course our carry-on held our personal items and any medications that we might need to take. That job done now it was time to print out our itinerary and make reservations in the appropriate places.
We had already had long discussions on our route and the things we wanted to see and do. My husband had downloaded Waze, an awesome app for GPS, so we would not get lost and could keep up with the traffic. Thought this was a great idea since we could call for help if we needed and also be aware of the weather as we traveled.
The Trip Planner
South Bend, Indiana
- Notre Dame Bed & Breakfast – 5 Star B&B that offered many luxuries. They provided shuttle bus to the game and to the History Museum
- Visit the Downton Abbey display at the History Museum
- Notre Dame (to grant my husband’s wish to go to one of the games)
- The Brown Hotel located downtown next to all the restaurants and night spots.
- Planned to go out to the Nightclubs to hear Bluegrass and Country Music
- Take the Bourbon Trail and visit the Peerless Distilling Co.
- Court Yard Inn which is near the highway
- Day at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens
- We had rented a select vacation spot in nearby Kissimmee
- Rest of our time would be spent at Disney
- Fly Home
Now we are on the road!
We got up early in the morning and put our things in the back of the SUV along with a cooler that contained bottles of water and some soda pop. We headed out of town towards the Indiana border. First, we had to cross over parts of Michigan. We loved our little hometown of Holland with rows of tulips growing on each street. We lived only a mile from the beach off of Lake Michigan so we went by that as we traveled. As we left we said a little prayer that we would be safe and return home safe.
After we left home and hit the highway then we once again were happy. My husband put the CD in the player of Willie Nelson song “On the Road Again.” This had always been our favorite song and our favorite singer. We must get onto US-31 and then merge to I-96 S we are headed south towards Indiana. It will be a bit of a drive but it is exciting to finally be on the road. We can see the cows and the horses as we drive by. Now we are going past some Amish barns that are beautifully decorated. It only takes our mind off the heavy traffic that will be coming up on the Indiana Freeway. All along we go talking about the grandchildren and what we will do when we get to Indiana. My husband remembers going to Notre Dame and wants to visit some of his old haunts as he calls it. He loves the Irish beer at his favorite gathering place with the boys. I am sure he will really enjoy every moment he is back on campus.
When you are taking a long trip you should plan on taking along music you enjoy. It seemed like it really did not take us long to arrive in South Bend, Indiana. We immediately checked into The Notre Dame Bed and Breakfast wanting to make sure that our reservations were still open. Yes, we had a beautiful room. The host and hostess was very nice and they helped us to get our luggage inside. We took a nice long bath and enjoyed a delicious dinner. Our host prepared us fried chicken with potato salad, corn on the cob, tossed salad and homemade bread. When we returned that evening she had planned on giving us homemade ice cream with an Apple Dumpling. The food and service was just outstanding. I could live there forever. The room was very beautiful the bed had a homemade Amish Quilt. I think they do a beautiful job when it comes to their quilting.
After dinner we then went to the History Museum as I was anxious to see all the dazzling costumes from the British Show Downton Abbey. The fashions were just amazing to see in person. They reflected the eras of Downton Abbey from the Crawley family and their servants to the Jazz Age. Lady Mary’s intricately beaded evening gowns made by Lord Grantham was tailored to perfection. It was fantastic to become a part of the audience when they served the teas. The costumes were worn by the students to give us the effect of actually being with the cast of characters. The teas were very delicious and I did not know how I was going to return to the Bed and Breakfast to eat her homemade Apple Dumpling with fresh churned ice cream.
All the costumes on display are on memorable vignettes which bring the whole play to life. You are in fictional English country estate of Downton Abbey. They have both the upstairs and the downstairs it is just as though you are able to relive the whole affair. The fine silks with the woolens give you the aired of reality. This was one of the most desired parts of my trip. I told my husband that I would love to dress in one of those costumes. He remarked “no you wouldn’t probably couldn’t breathe with a corset on.”
Of course, men don’t understand the ways of their wives sometime. But I laughed thinking tomorrow I will get you back its football time at Notre Dame. We had to have reserved tickets in order to see the exhibit at the museum that was why we had to leave our Bed and Breakfast in such a rush. It was a thrill to visit the Studebaker National Museum that was adjacent to the History Museum. The Studebaker was the first car I had ever owned and yes the model was in the museum. Now I am telling my age but it was such a fun night for my husband and myself to be able to remanences of when we use to ride the old Studie to school dances. This truly an amazing museum too see as well.
The next day we were able to go to the Notre Dame football game. “The fighting Irish”, as my husband said. I did not tease him this time because I know that he wanted a win. Unfortunately, they lost that day so we went on to our next adventure leaving later that evening. We felt it would be cooler if we were driving after dark. We had to make our next destination by day two so we could keep up with our busy schedule. I drove for a while and my husband finished out the drive when we got into Kentucky. We continued on I-465 until we got to the I-65 Exit going south toward Chattanooga, Tenn. We needed to drive through Tenn. before we can get to Kentucky. Our route took us through a short part of Tenn. then on into Kentucky. The I-75 south will help us to complete another one of life’s adventures.
Day 2 Louisville Kentucky Here We Come
It was exciting to reach Louisville, Kentucky as we had always heard about their Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. We were anxious to stay in the luxurious Brown Hotel. The Hotel was all that we had expected. We were met at the door by the Bell Hop who took our bags and welcomed us. Then we went to the front desk where we registered and were given the key to our room. Afterwards, the Bell Hop took us to our room chatting all the way about the Bluegrass Band down the Street. We had a long drive and really just wanted to take a nap. Then we would be able to start some activities.
That evening we did go to several of the hotspots and listened to the Bluegrass music taking in a bit of Jazz and lots of Country Music. We were lucky because Ricky Skaggs and family where in the theater there playing music and the people at the Brown Hotel got us some complimentary tickets. We really enjoyed our stay in Kentucky. The folks in Kentucky are so very friendly and try to please you with just about any courtesy. The Brown Hotel is not as fancy as the newer modern hotels but the décor of the 20’s makes it worth the stay. The next morning, we went to the Peerless Distillery where we were able to take in part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. The Bourbon was exquisite to taste! I was able to pick up items from the craft part of the distillery.
Now I know what you are going to say, “How are you going to get it all back?” Got it covered one of the things I did was pack boxes that I could use in different sizes with packing labels. Once I got back to the hotel I simply put my items in a box and took it down to the desk clerk where she helped me to get it in the mail. Now I will have a homemade Kentucky quilt, beautiful handmade skirt, and a souvenir spoon of Kentucky. Our time with these folks was just wonderful. The Brown Hotel I would give that a FIVE STAR rating. Just because of the courtesy and the cleanliness that they maintain. Everything is spotless and it gives you the feel of the 1920’s so older rugs and lights are just a beautiful part of the hotel.
The Brown Hotel is famous for the Hot Brown Sandwich. The award winning dining was awesome. It seems that in 1920 the Brown Hotel was the hotspot in Louisville where people would come and dance all night long. After which they wanted something to eat but not breakfast. That is when the Hot Brown Sandwich was born. Many people loved this sandwich and it became very famous dish. Chef Fred Schmidt created the Hot Brown Sandwich and you have not tasted Louisville until you have had this sandwich.
Hot Brown Sandwich
His unique dish? An open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and a delicate Mornay sauce. The Hot Brown was born! It is available in the restaurant, bar, or in-room service.
· 1 TBL salted butter
· 1 TBL all-purpose flour
· 1 cup heavy cream
· ¼ cup Pecorino Roman cheese, plus extra for garnish
· Pinch of ground nutmeg
· Salt and pepper
· 14 oz. Roasted Turkey breast, sliced thick
· 4 slices of Texas toast with crust trimmed
· 4 slices of bacon
· 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half
· Paprika and Parsley
This recipe has been featured in Southern Living, The Los Angeles Times, NBC’s Today Show, ABC News with Diane Sawyer, Travel Chanel’s Man V Food, and The Wall Street Journal. To eat one of these sandwiches is pure luxury. This is one of the finest cuisine that comes from Kentucky. We don’t want to miss being able to eat near the home of the Kentucky Colonel. The KFC was just wonderful in the place of origination. We were able to watch as they were preparing the chicken and other fine foods from their kitchens
Reviews of the Brown include:
“On a recent stay I was reminded once again why I love staying at The Brown so much… The historic building is beautiful and elegant, but the staff make the hotel stand out. Everyone is wonderful there, remembering you by name. Pat, in the concierge club truly stands out as the perfect example of this… she makes you feel pampered from minute one.”
“This hotel is absolutely gorgeous! The front desk staff was professional and very efficient. The elevators were amazingly quick! It was often a comment made by others while in the elevator with them. Rooms were clean and decorated nicely. Bathrooms were large as well! Beautiful decorations throughout the hotel. I am more than eager to return. ”
Day 3 Atlanta, GA
Now we are on I-65 going through Tennessee what a beautiful view from the mountains. We really are enjoying this drive and plan on stopping for our lunch. The little restaurant that we stopped at was pristine pure country. It had the checkered table cloth and the tile floor to match. The customer service was just great. They brought us both corn bread and biscuits to go with our delicious fried chicken. We were served on real plates that just shined. This is pure luxury in a southern setting. But we must go because our time is getting away from us.
Now we are about to take exit 185 A so we can merge on I-75 S toward Atlanta. What an exciting trip we are making. Our plan is to spend a night in Atlanta and visit the Botanical Gardens. This place is so relaxing that we simply do not want to leave. Now we are away from the hectic rush you get on the highways. In the garden you can swim or splash around in Sunflower Fountain. The Edible Garden is fascinating because you are able to find out which plants that you can eat. We were able to see the Fuqua Orchid Center that houses the orchid that is the largest collection in the U.S. under glass.
We are very tired after our long drive and touring the Atlanta Botanical Gardens so it is very welcome feeling to walk into the Court Yard Inn. The Court Yard Inn is a very good place to rest after our cross country trip.
The Luxury at the Court Yard Inn:
· Offer 24-hour front desk service
· The accessibility to all their facilities at all time
· Business Center with services
· Coffee Shop
· Cocktail Lounge with a light fare
· Coin operated Laundry
· Free in-room coffee
· Free newspaper
· Concierge desk
· Dry cleaning services
· Exercise gym
· Express check-out
· Food and beverage outlets
· Free high speed internet connection
· Full Service housekeeping
· Ice Machine
· Laundry/Valet Services
· And much more
Naturally they have a beautiful swimming pool with a hot tub and a Spa. Located down town it is easy to visit the shops for shopping. Of course, again I found those must have items to remind me of Atlanta. I boxed them up and the desk clerk will see to their mailing. The hotel offers down pillows with your own cable television. A hair dryer. Beautiful bath tub and shower unit combined. The mattress is the pillow top just adding more luxury to our road trip. All of the amenities are made available so that you feel like you are still at home. They will do your laundry and/or dry cleaning and return it in one day. This is very helpful to us because we can now start out again with fresh clean clothes for the last part of our trip.
Now we need to hit I-75 and start going south to Atlanta. We will follow the signs until we get to I-85 Atlanta. Once we get on this route my husband informed me that we now need to find I-75 in order to go onto I-475 then we will be able to go into Florida. Now we are going to be able to hit the Florida turnpike where we can follow the signs straight into Orlando. This has been a long ride but well worth it.
Good by Georgia and Hello Orlando Days 4 & 5
Admit we do not have much time left but we want to make the best of our luxury cross country trip. We rented a vacation home in Kissimmee which is only about six miles away from Disney World. This is a luxury that we have always wanted to have. The vacation home has an outdoor swimming pool with a tennis court. Free Wi-Fi is available. This makes it easy for us to contact our kids to let them know that we are both doing just fine. It naturally comes with a full kitchen that is stocked with everything that we are going to need to keep us for the time we spend at the resort.
We have our own private bathroom and for those who have children it includes a playground. The beautiful rental home is definitely a 5-Star place to stay. They provide you with maid service and even will deliver meals to you if you prefer. Our accommodations are excellent making our visit to Orlando complete when it comes to meeting our expectation for our luxury cross country trip.
Now enough of our luxury living and onto Universal Studios the place we both had wanted to visit. There is just so much to see and do once you arrive at Disney. That is the beauty of this place it is built for all ages. After going to the Studio we planned on visiting Epic Center. Our chance to travel the world! At Epic you can go to the different countries through the eyes of Disney. Everything is authentic and they even hire people from those countries to tour you and give you information about the country that you are visiting.
We both loved going to Mexico City where we had real Mexican foods, listen to their Mariachi singers, and watched the young people danced. My husband was thrilled in China seeing the dragon breath fire. I think he had an eye for Chip and Dale the Disney squirrels. Nothing like Germany with all the architectural scenes. Who can pass up German Kraut with the big sausages. I am that we are going to get sick with all the fine cuisines that you can get while visiting the foreign countries at Epic.
We decide to take a ride through the desert and see the beautiful plants that they have growing. The cross country drive in a jeep was exciting and we got to see large plants like tomatoes growing in the middle of the desert. This would be a wonderful idea for those countries that are starving. I would of like to know more about this project when I was younger. I believe that I would have joined the Peace Corp and gone to those countries who are in need of food. It would have been a great thing to help them grown foods as big as they grow at the Disney experimental section.
My husband had to go to the space center and ride one of the rockets to the outer space. It feels so authentic that you really do believe that you are traveling to other worlds flying through the sky. Enough of that now we are going to run to the Aquatic Center and Sea World where we can see the animals under the sea. We feel like we are a couple of kids. There is just so much for us to do and too see. We have not touched but a small part of the beauty that Disney World imparts.
Just for fun we went to the Pirates show place and got to see the ships and them fighting. Also the ride on the river boat was awesome. We heard the banjo players sing and dance while we were aboard the river boat. It was fun to watch the puppets play poker. James Bond watch out this casino always has the same winner! One of the fun events too me was riding on the mono-rail across country.
What would it be like if you did not get too see Tinker Bell come flying off of the Magic Kingdom. The fireworks were an awesome sight. Even though I am as old as I am I enjoyed getting to see Prince Charming and Cinderella. The pumpkin Coach all lit up with the lights and the white horses pulling the coach with the characters inside. The most wanted characters in Disney by the children were Mickey and Minnie Mouse. But don’t forget Donald and Daisy Duck everyone loves those two just as well. The entrance of Goofy just made the whole day a funny laugh. Nobody is as goofy as Goofy. We enjoyed his tricks and goofy way to talk. It is very exciting when you are able to become a kid again. The only thing is just like all things you have to return to the real world. That is what we all know but while we are at Disney World we can be our childhood self and enjoy all the marvelous things that were created.
I am happy that we can go back to our luxury rental and enjoy the evening. We can go for a swim or set in the hot tub watching the sun go down. This is a vacation that we both have dreamed about a luxury cross country trip. I bought so much for the grandchildren so tonight I will be boxing up everything so I can mail it out tomorrow. (But tonight I am sleeping with Minnie Mouse and my husband!)
Today is our last day and we want to make the most of it. We are going back too Epic because we have not made it to England, France, Italy or Spain. In England we rode the British style bus and ate delicious fish and chips. We were able to see a short Shakespeare Play while we were waiting for the bus to pick us up to take us to France. France where the girls dance the Can-Can. We did not have time to eat but we were full from our Fish and Chips. So we just had a glass of the very fine French wine.
Now we must hurry if we make it to Italy and Spain. In Italy we will be eating their famous Italian pasta’s and homemade breads. But Italy has so much more to offer. The culture there is beautiful with the dresses and men singing in the street. You can see street artists doing pictures in charcoal or paint. We had one of the artists do our picture in charcoal. I figured I could roll that up and put it in my carry-on. Off to the Spanish Flamingo dancers. They do such a wonderful job with the dancing and the music. The ladies wear beautiful dresses and the men in their tight pants and silk shirts. Now we know the day must end so we are going to head out and go back to our rental. What a wonderful time we have had.
Now we are all packed up and must go to the city of Orlando where the traffic is hectic at times. We are entering the airport rental car service so we can return our SUV. What a wonderful week we have spent. The Bed and Breakfast with their homemade dinner and the wonderful museum where I was able to see the Downton Abbey collection. Sorry honey your home team lost. But who could forget the Brown Hotel with their authentic reality of the 1920’s Bell Boy and all. I will always remember the “Hot Brown Sandwich”. I am going to include that recipe in my recipe box.
We all loved going to the Botanical Gardens in Atlanta Georgia. It is too bad we don’t have enough time to drive back but we are both getting very tired now. Taking the plane back to Grand Rapids is a great idea we will be home in just a few hours. Our son will pick us up at the airport and drive us back to Holland, Michigan. The worst part of the whole trip is telling everybody good bye. Our luxury road cross country trip is now coming to an end as we board our plane in Orlando. The Orlando airport was very crowded and with the line-up to get checked in we both were afraid that we might miss our flight. The guards are there to inspect everything that you have because of all the problems with terrorism. I am happy that I mailed all my gift items or we would have been there another week. That seemingly was the bad part of our trip. Some of those who were doing the checking were kind of rude. Outside of that our trip was very pleasant. Everywhere we went we were met with the most pleasant people who were very hospitable. Our adventures did not last long enough. The next time we take a vacation we plan on extending our road trip at least another week. It is difficult to see everything that you want and enjoy the things along the way.