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Day 213: Gyros, Baklava and Opa!

18 Nov

Gyros, Spanakopita, and Baklava. Say that three times fast and you’ll get a sense of the tongue-tying treats featured at Tallahassee’s Greek Food Festival that was held at the Holy Mother of God Greek Orthodox Church on a perfect-weather Nov. 4 & 5. If nothing else, the food choices are heavily vowel-laden. Consider some of the features: Pastitsio, a ground beef and macaroni-style casserole; Souvlaki, marinated and skewered pork cubes; Tiropita, a feta-filled puff pastry; and Fassolakia, a.k.a. green beans and a roll. As I’ve come to expect from this culture-focused festival, there were the usual long-but-fast-moving lines of locals waiting for buttery and syrupy desserts, Greek wines and beers, and spiced Greek fries. This year, I arrived with just my teen-aged daughter. I left a few calories heavier. We shared two $3 baklava variations, and I also gobbled down in a few quick seconds a $7 gyro as she stared at me in disgust of my manly appetite.   It took us only a few minutes to mill through a few small artisan tents and we enjoyed our pastries watching young costumed dancers on a small stage. We’re eager to return for more of the same genuine Greek hospitality that’s made this festival a Tallahassee tradition. Opa!
— Mark Hollis

LOCATION: 1645 Phillips Road


Day 120: Go shopping on Broad Street in Thomasville

30 Apr

There aren’t enough superlatives in the world to describe how warmly I feel about Thomasville’s charming downtown. First, this small town of about 20,000 about a 30-minute drive north of Tallahassee oddly has much more going on than Tallahassee’s downtown. Along a two-block street of Broad Street, smack in the middle of Thomasville’s downtown, you will find over a dozen adorable boutique clothing stores, home furnishing and fabric stores, a bookstore, coffee shop, cooking supply store and athletic-wear store. All locally owned. It’s a shopper’s paradise and I could have easily spend hundreds of dollars in that one tiny geographic area. Parking is plentiful and easy to find and the locals are friendly and helpful, always grateful for your business. My favorites are Relish, which sells gourmet cooking and baking supplies, and The Bookshelf, which has a fabulous selection of books that pertain to the South Georgia area as well as bestsellers and a children’s section. Of the clothing stores I am partial to Ally B because of its reasonable prices and great selection. It’s perfect for a Saturday day-trip from Tallahassee with your girlfriends, just don’t go on a Sunday when everything is closed.

Address: Broad Street and Jackson, Thomasville, Georgia

Day 116: Visit the Riley House Museum

26 Apr

The Riley House is the African-American version of the Knott House. The 1890-built house sits in downtwon Tallahassee across from the Republican Party headquarters. It was the home of John Riley, a prominent Tallahassee resident who was born into slavery and ended up becoming principal of what is now Lincoln High. At the time, his home was in the black middle-class neighborhood of Smokey Hollow. Riley devoted his life to making sure other African-Americans in the city received an education. The home itself is filled with antiques and mementos about Riley’s life, with a temporary exhibit on African-Americans in the Civil War, for instance. I really loved this museum in part because it appealed to my love of underdogs. I get the sense that the Riley House doesn’t get many visitors as the similar Knott House. The museum is free, though of course they welcome donations. Their hours are Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Address: 419 East Jefferson

Day 87: Learn about Mission San Luis

29 Mar

Mission San Luis is by far one of the coolest things to see and experience in Tallahassee. It sits on top of a hill on east Tallahassee not far from Florida State University. Mission San Luis was once home to Spanish settlers and Apalachee Indians. The two formed an alliance in the 1600s and shared communities together, though each lived in their own respective homes. The neat thing about Mission San Luis is that it sits exactly in the same spot it was in about 400 years ago. Archeologists have actually dug up where the homes stood and central plaza was located. The story of the mission is, like much of history, inspiring and sorrowful. The two groups got along pretty well, with many Apalachee women marrying Spanish men because they saw it as a sign of upward mobility. Then the British began invading Florida and the Apalachee and Spanish fled, never to live together again. The Mission San Luis museum helps tell this story by recreating the homes and other buildings the Apalachees and Spanish would have shared. There is a church, fort, friar’s house and round thatched roof council room the Apalachee used for meetings. Tour guides dress the part, wearing historical clothing. We paid $5 per person, which I consider a bargain. The museum has also taken pains to make sure kids would enjoy it.

Address: 2100 West Tennessee

Day 85: Get the Ultimate Massage at Chelsea Salon

27 Mar

I’m no rookie when it comes to massages. I’ve had the stretchy Thai massages, Swedish, deep tissue, chair massages and sports massages. The Ultimate Massage at Tallahassee’s Chelsea Salon definitely rates up there as one of the most relaxing experiences of my life. Chelsea Salon is a full-service Aveda salon, so they do haircuts as well as waxing and massages and facials. Save the Ultimate Massage for a stressful time or important day in your life. The entire thing lasts 90 minutes and starts with a full-body exfoliation. Basically, your whole body is scrubbed to get the dead skin cells off.  You’re then wrapped in warm towels and your head, neck and scalp are massaged for 20 minutes. That’s just the warm-up. Then the masseuse digs in for a full-body massage that lasts an hour. I definitely couldn’t afford to do this type of thing very often. It costs $100. If you can afford it, the Ultimate Massage is just the right thing to escape from the wearying concerns of your everyday life.

Address: 1629 Mahan Center Boulevard



Day 75: Cheer on the FSU baseball team

16 Mar

Other than the blooming azaleas and fragrant magnolias that are throwing bursts of color around town, one of the surest signs of spring in Tallahassee is at Dick Howser Stadium on the edge of the FSU campus.  The men’s baseball season is at full throttle. So on Saturday night, the lush, manicured field at Mike Martin Stadium was the scene of a blowout Seminoles victory over Boston College before a respectable-sized crowd of a few thousand highly enthusiastic college baseball fans. For $6 a piece, we shared a relaxing evening of outdoor entertainment on a humid-less night. The seats were comfy (at least by stadium standards) and our view of the action on the field was great (right along the first-base side). We took in the typical baseball game fare of nachos, peanuts and soft drinks, but there were other tempting snack options, including warm chocolate chips. The stadium is a clean and family friendly. The stadium opened in 1983 and is considered one of the top college baseball facilities in the country with a video scoreboard and a huge roof over the grandstand. (And for trivia buffs…) Dick Howser Stadium is named after the late Kansas City Royals and Florida State manager who was also FSU’s first-ever baseball All American. -Mark Hollis

Address: Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium.