I woke up Thursday morning pretty exhausted, but I had to get up and get ready for the conference. Our first day went really well, aside from the fact that the lunch wasn’t very good and they ran out of food before everyone got to eat. I was one of the last people to get food, so I only took a tiny piece of chicken and a little salad and couscous to try and leave food for the people behind me. They hurriedly tried to bring out more food, but by that time I realized that it wasn’t very tasty so I went up to my room for a few minutes and had some of the snacks I’d packed.
I met some nice people during the conference, and one of them, Tracy, asked if she could go with me while I walked around that evening. So after day 1 of the conference ended, we took a quick break to change our clothes and then met in the lobby to go walk around King Street.
It was already dark by the time we left, so it made it difficult to take pictures that would capture the beauty of the architecture, but the buildings were pretty amazing to look at. I also did get a couple fun shots of an old cobblestone street and a house that had old style lantern lights out front.
We spent some time walking up and down King Street while talking about the clinics we worked at. We didn’t actually go into any stores, but just did a little window shopping as we strolled. I did take one picture, just because it’s so true:
After window shopping we decided to eat at a Spanish restaurant that we had passed early on our walk. If you’ve been following my blog and read my posts on Jaialdi, then you know I love Spanish culture and food, so I was very excited to try La Tasca. We started by splitting a pitcher of Sangria Rosada, a sangria made with blush wine, strawberries and blueberries. For dinner I had croquetas with jamon serrano and chicken, along with an order of empanadas with ground beef. Tracy had garlic sautéed mushrooms and duck. Once we got our food we took a moment to share our dishes and then hungrily dug in. I was so consumed with our work conversation that I forgot to take pictures of our dishes, but I can tell you it was wonderful! Afterwards, we were still a little hungry so I contemplated getting a Spanish tortilla, but decided to get dessert instead when I saw they had churros con chocolate on the menu. The prices were really decent, the food was delicious and we had wonderful service. Overall, it was a lovely relaxing evening.
After our meal we walked back to the hotel. Although it was still early as it was only a little after 8:00pm, we were both really tired. It had been a long day and I was still catching up from my incredibly long day of travel. When I got back to the room I did some research on things to do in Alexandria. Our instructor had already mentioned that we might get done a little early on Friday, so I looked up some additional activities. I’d already planned on doing a ghost tour on Friday so I researched a couple options. I also found that the Alexandria Black History Museum was only a couple blocks away. If we got done early I’d have some time to drop in before they closed at 5:00pm. After reviewing options for Friday night I was pretty excited for the next day, so I checked my work email and went to bed. It was the only time I would get a full night’s rest and I wanted to make sure I took advantage of it so I wasn’t tired the next day.
Much to my disappointment, I woke up at 5:15 to my room phone ringing. Confused and disoriented I picked up the phone, “Hello?” I groggily answered. “This is the front desk calling with your wakeup call…” said the voice, which I hung up on irritated. I hadn’t requested a wakeup call, and certainly not 1.5 hours before I actually had to get up. As I lay back in bed, I realized that if they called me in error, then there was also someone that was supposed to get a call that didn’t. Once I realized that I felt compelled to inform them of their mistake, so I called the front desk back and sleepily explained what happened. The lady working the front desk apologized for waking me up, but let’s be honest: I couldn’t get back to sleep and an apology doesn’t give me back the 1.5 hours of sleep I missed out on as a result of their call. I should probably mention that this is actually one of my biggest pet peeves. I hate being woken up before I’m ready or need to get up and it makes me extremely grumpy. Fortunately, I’m a nice person so I generally keep my grumpiness to myself (or write about it on my blog…)
I really struggled through Day 2 of the conference. Between the last 3 nights I’d gotten maybe 16 hours of sleep and I don’t generally do really well when I’m sleep deprived. A quirky thing about me: when I haven’t gotten enough sleep I get really bad stomachaches. It’s my body’s way of telling me that I need to take it easy. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been that way.
The conference did get done a little early and I was so happy because by that time my stomach really hurt. So I ditched my plan of going to the museum, went up to my room, put on my pj’s and climbed under the covers at 4:00pm. I watched a little TV and just dozed off and on for a bit. Around 6:00pm I pulled myself out of bed. Technically, I still could’ve made it for the ghost tour, but I decided that what I really needed was a night off. I had another full day of travel on Saturday and I didn’t want to be miserable the whole day on the plane. I went down to the store that was just a block away and bought a Vitamin water and a mini key lime tart. I’d ordered a pizza at the hotel restaurant on my way out and it was ready by the time I got back. I took my food up to my room and climbed back under the covers, and ate my dinner. I did most of my packing that night and then went to bed early again, because I had to be up to catch the 6:30 shuttle to the airport.
Part of me was disappointed that I wasn’t seeing a couple things in Alexandria that I thought would be really fun. But I also reminded myself that this is always the balance of travel. How much can you see with the time you have without burning yourself out? It’s a hard decision sometimes to stay in and relax. But sometimes it’s also the best thing you can do for yourself so that you don’t overdo it. Am I sad that I missed the museum and ghost tour? Yes. Was it worth it to have an evening of rest? Yes. We all have to decide how hard we can push ourselves. My body is pretty good about letting me know when I’m overdoing it and after years of travel, I’ve gotten used to listening to it.
Alexandria will always be there.