Recently I was selected for a 2 day excursion here in Fayetteville NC. The local visitors bureau asked myself, Krystel from Army Wife 101, Tiffany from The Mrs Tee, and Debbie from Country Girl Gourmet to have some fun, eat local food and get a history lesson.
We started our 1st day meeting up and looking around the brand new Marriott on Ramsey St. The inside was completely elegant yet inviting. It was very open concept with an ease to get around. Strollers and wheelchairs would have no issues going from the front door, to the cafe, into a room or even the pool. The pool does, by state regulations, have an operational handicap accessible seat to get into and out of. The state of the art gym is clean, crisp and amenities are endless. It may look small but it will do the job. The outdoor area is very comfortable with plenty of seating and even auto on & shut off firepit. Each room looks like a small apartment with glorious bathrooms and showers built to fit a family. Even long term stays are no issue with the comforts of home in each room. Military discounts are available.
Next on our tour was a luncheon at one of the swankiest places I have ever been, Sherefe. The decor was a rustic vintage, paying homage to its roots and keeping with the historic area. You could see the original brinks peeking from behind some of the antique pieces on the wall. Laughter of families, close friends, and even a bachelorette party upstairs, filled the air. You could easily tell the waitresses and owner knew almost every soul in the place. It was later discovered this is a family run eatery, with the sons, daughters and father at the head of the realm, and following their Mediterranean heritage to a T. The food was incredibly fresh and had the most perfect palette & mixture. From hummus to grape leaves to the wine and doner, it was just as authentic as being in Europe. I can appreciate the pricing and hospitality that was served at Sherefe, along with the openness of information to recipes. Classes for cooking are also available at a super low price, children are welcomed, and even gluten free & vegan menu items and classes. I would return in a heartbeat. I will also mention, the portions were so large, a to-go box is required.
Delicious and healthy Mediterranean Food Owning a restaurant was a dream for owner/chef, Mustafa Somar, for many years. In 2003, the dream became a reality, when he opened Sherefe Mediterranean Grill on Ramsey Street. After 10 years, we relocated to a much larger and more beautiful location in historic downtown Fayetteville, North Carolina where we now boast a two story building, four dining rooms, and a full bar! Along with the location, the vision has also evolved…Mediterranean Grill was all about authenticity and while we remain authentic, our focus has become fresh, healthy, local and sustainable. While we don’t cater to any particular dietary plan, the Mediterranean diet is a natural fit for gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and even paleo as demonstrated at our cooking classes.
We worked off our food with a historic tour of downtown Fayetteville. Quickly stopping into Happiness Is Bakery, I purchased a vegan goody and snacked on it as we ventured to our tour guide. I, myself, had never really known the namesake or reasoning of this town but quickly learned why it has the pride it does. From the cobblestone streets to the original buildings and amenities, some of the downtown area is still set back in the early 1800s with markings and history. While others are in serious need of repair, and my dearest hope that finances of a wealthy businessman may save some of them. I learned that in order to purchase a building here, it needed to be for business only and could be repaired but only to its once new form. So to find those parts & pieces, it could mean thousands or millions. Not everyone is in a hurry to swoop that up. Had my inner millionaire come out, I could see myself buying up and revamping this beautiful mainstreet. However, I might add that there are some shops who have made that dream a reality with several art shops, banquet halls, music venues and restaurants. Perhaps when the sun sets, the lights fill the streets on nights, like 4th friday, the voices are loud, the laughter is thick, and the local uplifting is high, it’s hard to remember the reasoning of the center of attention- the market house. Absolutely heart wrenching yet educationally stimulating.
The Climbing Place was next on our list. The fact that I never even knew that in the tiny heart of our city laid this hidden treasure is an understatement. Even pulling up to the building you are left puzzled wondering why or how you are going rock/wall climbing in a place that resembles perhaps an old car repair shop. Walking in is where you stop and take it all in for a moment and rethink the entire trip you said yes to. The walls looked like they were 200 foot tall. You seriously walked into Mary Poppins bag. How they had fit all those walls and climbing pieces in this place is still a million dollar question. The staff was very kind, funny and helpful. Thank goodness since my life was essentially in their hands. The shoes for climbing are comparable to the chinese binding to me. Your toes hurt and you never realize how close you are to amputation till removing them. Once the numbness sets in and you forget your pain, you can harness up and learn how to trust the person you are tied to with every ounce of your soul. They hold you steady on your way up, and can instantly drop you on your butt on the way down. This would certainly be the type of place you would not go on an outing with someone you owe money to, just an fyi. However it would be the place to take a group of girls to build confidence and trust, plus muscle. The nice thing about that is on certain days, they actually do have an all women’s class with women trainers. PT for military is also available as well as children’s classes. Students can be as young as 5 and weight does not cap off till 250 pounds. I truly felt like it was the scariest thing I had done in my life next to birth. That was until day 2 adventures when someone thought it would be fun to go ziplining. More on that later. The Climbing place was very fun, very affordable and I would definitely take my daughters.
Finishing out day 1 was the Dogwood Festival. If you are from WV/OH/PA- its basically a Jamboree In The Hills type thing. Its miles and miles of vendors with every food I couldn’t eat (food allergies), wanted to eat but was too scared to try, or absolutely did not want to even think about (deep fried everything that shouldn’t have been tested). Lots of local crafters, businesses, and street performers were out (video above) and not a bathroom was in sight for most the walk. Poor Krystel & I nearly wet ourselves looking for one. Note to those people, more potties please. But the show did go on and we watched and tweeted the whole time from the VIP side waiting what seemed like forever for Craig Campbell to take the stage. For me, I am not a country fan and would have rathered seen Warrant or Quiet Riot, whom did play & I missed dang nabit. But he did put on a heck of a show, and one that many said was by far the best yet. Let me add, he was easy on the eyes too.
(Instagram feed of #FayTour15, hover over to see more)
Day 2 was just as lively, if not more so since I had no plans on peeing myself, and did. We will get to that soon enough, let’s start with a tear jerking, lump in throat, walk through of the Airborne & Special Operations Museum. Seeing letters from lost loved ones, Prisoners Of War, and many other slain heroes throughout the years was more than my eyes could handle at one point. But it was a lesson I felt needed to be seen. You have to at one point in your life humble yourself down to remembering why you live the freedoms and the life you do. Those men and women are why. You will learn how wars were started, finished and fought through every step of the way. The path we have come in the sense of protective gear, transportation, and weaponry is astonishing. As a military spouse, this was an even more eye opening experience as I had hundreds of memories and thought flood my head. Before we left, we did also have the chance to ride one of the brand new virtual reality adventures. It was 4D, fast paced, and seemed very real. For a place that only accepts donations, I am happy it’s been a blessed few years for them to be able to create such history and maintain it for even younger generations to experience it in all forms.
Staying with the history of the area, we visited The Museum of Cape Fear then the 1987 Poe House. Both of which were equally haunting & interesting. By haunting, I sincerely mean that sightings have happened in the massive, stopped in time, larger than 3 of my houses, home. Krystel even captured one on camera. It was built between 1896 and 1898, and is a two-story, three-bay frame house with wrap around porch. Everything that screams “I hold secrets and probably spirits but come on in”. Each room is literally stuck in time from the furniture to clothing. But every piece holds a story you don’t want to miss.
The final place on our crazy whirlwind tour was by far the most scary, exhilarating, and death defying of them all. ZipQuest. I can not tell you with a straight face that I would not do this again, or that I would. I am frighteningly confused. I have the craziest anxiety & fear of speed and heights. Put both of those together and place it on its back 99 feet in the air without a poise pad on, and you have me. How anyone thought I would do this is crazy. But I was told Krystel would be doing this. No, my ex best friend backed out at the very last minute. She slurped up some Starbucks while watching me throw my life straight off a tree and go 30 mph to another tree, just hanging by a thread and having wind burn from the crystallizing tears on my face. Over 2 hours of crying & peeing myself with 2 other bloggers, 2 tour guide/life support men, and 2 totally random people who will never probably want to meet me again, on top 8 freaking trees. Each tree had a name. Do I even remotely remember them? No. I know there was one called High As Crap, and another called Tree That Moves, and the longest one called Tree Over Insane Waterfall. The 99 ft high one was sweetly called “Exploit Exploit Exploit”. I won’t even sugar coat it, I tweeted Poise non stop that same day before and after and pretty much wanted to burn my undies afterwards. (Poise actually did send me a box of goodies afterward.) All of the terror aside, I can not tell you how proud of myself I am. One for even surviving the massive heart attack, but the other for just diving in and even through the screaming- doing it. I was 5 weeks post hysterectomy and I did something I would never have done in a million years, even if you paid me a zillion dollars. I’ve recommended Zip Quest a few times already to fellow adventure seekers, and I would tell the world if they listened. The guides were exceptionally knowledgeable and I felt 100% safe with them. They do have group & military discounts. Kids ages 12+ welcomed.
See this smile? My only fear was of course dying by uber fast zipping above trees, water & snakes, while dangling from a rope.
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