The thing I noted on my first drive into Galena several years ago was how it reminded me so much of Ireland. The rolling, green hills peppered with cows and rolls of hay make for a beautiful backdrop to this little town that has big historical roots.
I spent last weekend there with two girlfriends and we were especially spoiled to have had lodging at a private home owned by the boss of one of my traveling companions. And even better-the house was located just a 10-minute drive to downtown and about five minutes away from the renowned Eagle Ridge Spa and Resort, where we planned to drop some cash!
We arrived Friday afternoon, dropped off our things then went for a stroll down Main Street, which is one of the most picturesque Main Streets you will ever see. It’s lined with beautiful historic buildings occupied by quaint little mom and pop shops that run the gamut from art stores to hot sauce shops.
We were surprised, and somewhat disappointed, to see most of the shops had already closed! It was only about 6pm and lots of people were out walking, like us, but very few shops were open. However, the wine tasting room for the Galena Winery must have known we were coming because it was open and fully staffed.
The winery has a tasting deal for $3 that buys you tastes of six different wines. I had never been to the Galena Winery before this trip so we decided we would take the winery tour (located on the other side of town from the Main Street tasting room) the next day after our spa treatments, but would get the tastings started at the Main Street location. Side note: After doing tastings at both (had to try some multiple times to make sure we liked them 🙂 ) we agreed the workers at the vineyard have a heavier hand than the workers at the Main Street location. Just an FYI for those looking for more bang for their buck.
With purchased wine in hand, we strolled a bit further and decided to eat at Fried Green Tomatoes for dinner. I very much wanted to like this place as the ambiance and feel were great, as was it’s namesake dish- the fried green tomatoes appetizer. The salad and bread were also very delish. But, as sad as it makes me, I have to compare it to Olive Garden in the sense that you can’t go wrong with the salad and breadsticks, but anything else may make you regretful. The only one of us who liked her dish was my friend L who got spaghetti and meatballs. <<Sigh>>.
The first half of the day Saturday was spent at Eagle Ridge. What can I say about Eagle Ridge? Hmm… Well, first off, most amazing facial ever! I think I enjoyed that as much as the massage, which was also very nice. The pedicure and manicure, however, were not at all worth the money. For some odd reason my manicurist didn’t take my polish down to my nail bed so it looked like a grown-out, week-old manicure. I thought maybe that was the way they do it there for some reason (reverse french manicure, maybe??) but my friends had their whole nails covered. Quite a mystery. My friend N made a comment that I have to agree with. If you want a great manicure, go to the Asian lady in the neighborhood, not a spa. Spas do lots of things really well and a manicure just isn’t one of them. Not sure why this is, but it seems to be true of every spa I have been to.
But the spa itself was very nice. They are really organized about scheduling multiple services and making sure you have time to chill in the relaxation room between treatments. Can I just say, next house I get is totally going to have a relaxation room. But mine will not come with the old Maxine wannabe who loudly told her friend who was fixing her a hot tea that it had better not be spearmint flavored because SPEARMINT MAKES HER VOMIT!!! DID I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?! VOMIT! THE SPEARMINT WILL MAKE HER VOMIT!!!! Oy vey. Did you see that? Flying out the window….it was my relaxation! Thanks, Maxine.
After the winery tour Saturday afternoon — which was great, by the way; $5 for the tour which included some wine for demonstration purposes to learn the sniff, swirl and swallow techniques of wine tasting — we took the recommendation of one of the ladies at the spa and went to Log Cabin Steakhouse. It was billed as a Greek steakhouse, which we weren’t quite sure what that meant. But as far as I could tell, it just means that in addition to steak, they have the traditional Greek dishes such as saginake, lamb, Greek potatoes, ect. We were far more pleased with Log Cabin than Fried Green Tomatoes. The waiter didn’t really know how to answer seemingly simple questions such as “what is the market price on lobster,” or, “can we sub the lobster tail for crab legs in the surf and turf?” But it all turned out well in the end. I even got to enjoy my meal twice as there was plenty left over to take home.
Before heading home Sunday, we took another recommendation from someone at the spa and came back to Eagle Ridge for the champagne brunch. It was quite the bargain at $22 as that same buffet would be at least $75 in the hotels in downtown Chicago. It had the typical omelet, waffle and carving stations and even a crepe station, which was AWE. SOME!!
It was a perfect girls weekend in what I like to call the Hamptons of Chicago. But in case you have the impression this was in some way a highbrow
weekend far removed from reality, never fear, there were a few shenanigans and misadventures along the way.
As I mentioned earlier, we stayed at the home of my friend’s boss. It’s a vacation home for him and his family and is used on occasional weekends at most. It’s a beautiful home and we felt lucky to each have our own room complete with our own en suite bathroom.
The house is also in the middle of the country where there aren’t even street lights. We were quickly reminded that unused home in the middle of the country are also attractive vacation homes for critters. Rodents even.
Within 10 minutes of arriving, before the self-guided tour of the house was even complete, a dead mouse was spotted on a glue trap in the laundry room. Right next door to the room I planned to sleep in. Nasty, yes. But better dead than alive, in my opinion. So we make our way upstairs and my two friends shrieked in the direction of the couch and I immediately run to the bathroom and shut the door as I hear N say, “I think I just saw it move!!!”
I’m sitting on the counter of the bathroom, knees drawn up to my chest, wondering how the heck I will explain to my husband how the price of the weekend just doubled since we are now staying in a hotel! Then, of course, my mind takes off — But what if all the hotels are booked? I’ll totally sleep in the car. But all three of us won’t fit in the car sleeping, so now what?! If we leave now, we won’t get back to Chicago until midnight. And, dammit, I was really looking forward to that massage!
I collected myself and my thoughts and walked out of the bathroom as my two friends, shrieking, run out the front door. N returns to tell me, “L got the mouse!” Wait, what?! I asked in disbelief how she got it and she said with a broom and dustpan. Holy crap, am I a big baby. I didn’t even want to see the thing, let alone chase it around the living room with a broom and scoop it up into the dustpan!
After about an hour of me going on and on about how brave she was, L finally realized I thought the mouse was alive when in fact, it was dead. Ok, not as bad, but still … Ewwww!!!!
Further inspection revealed about a dozen more glue traps waiting for more victims spread about the house. That should have made me feel better but it didn’t. We searched the cabinets and shelves and saw no evidence of more that were living so I agreed to stay. I think I stripped the bed and put it back together at least three times before I was finally able to fall asleep. We stayed rodent free for the rest of the weekend and I was even brave enough to get rid of the first body we had discovered in the laundry room before the couch mouse incident. I did this only after a few glasses of liquid courage.
I was also reminded that I sure ain’t no girl scout after my pathetic attempt at starting a campfire.
We were so inspired by the big, beautiful stone fireplace we went out and bought a pile of wood, jumbo marshmallows, Graham crackers and a brick of Hershey’s chocolate. After two hours of crackling kindling that never got hot or powerful enough to ignite the logs, we threw in what scrap paper we could find and roasted the marshmallow over burning paper. I’m pretty sure after that incident I wouldn’t even be allowed in girl scouts which is further proof I really am more suited for things like wine and book clubs. Yeah. That whole camping thing with the new trailer should be mighty interesting.
In my defense though, and yes, I do feel the need to defend myself, I may not have been a girl scout but I did do my share of wilderness camping and know I have successfully started a proper campfire. I’m pretty sure it was the wood. It was sitting outside exposed to the elements for no telling how long. And everyone (even us non-girl scouts) knows wood must be dry to catch fire.
All in all, it was a lovely weekend. My only regret is forgetting to look for a Christmas ornament to remember my trip. But I’d like to return back there in the fall to see the leaves changing colors and to sit outside around a toasty camp fire (I am determined to make that fire thing work). And hopefully be rodent (and rodent carcass) free.