We weren't entirely sure what to call this post - Boise tour guide, latest update, what we did at Christmas, and then we settled on Our own Idaho!
The really nice thing about this trip was that we weren't in a rush to cram things into a few days, we had almost 2 weeks to relax, enjoy and spend time as Boiseans. It was like Laura had moved back home and we were just continuing with our life.
We spent the entire 2 weeks staying with Laura's parents and that in itself was a big highlight of the trip. Being able to spend SO much additional time with them meant we could enjoy hanging out and talking about our future plans and what we had been filling our time with back in London.
So to keep this (sort of) brief we thought we'd break it down into our two favourite topics - 1) What we did and 2) What we ate!
What we did:
On our first day, we had our only opportunity to see an American Football game - known as the Spud Bowl, as it was sponsored by Idaho potatoes! This meant that even though we didn't really support either team playing (Utah State Aggies vs. Toledo Rockets) there was plenty of potato-themed entertainment. And we all know I love POTATOES! The bigger the better!
We even managed to get on the famous 'Smurf-turf', the only blue football turf in the USA! Although the players we met certainly backed up the fact that they 'make 'em big' in the USA!
This was the first time I had been in Boise over the Christmas period, and it meant we could enjoy Winter Gardens Aglow together at the Idaho Botanical Gardens. A chance to wrap up warm and stroll hand in hand together surrounded by beautiful lights was not something to miss.
It was also a chance to hang out with the entire Smith clan and get into the Christmas spirit! The view of Boise was beautiful from the top.
After our festive evening at Gardens Aglow, we took some time out to get organised! Although not formally engaged (yet) we had chosen a wedding planner and looked at potential venues as we knew that getting married was next in our plans. Ah the joys of being a girl-girl couple!
On that note we did get to do some shopping - specifically RING shopping, although we may had added a few more items to our luggage! The ring shopping hadn't been planned as we had both ordered rings online. Laura had hers set from the moment she laid eyes on it, but I had been a little more indecisive so had two ordered just in case. It ended up being a Goldilocks situation - one diamond was too small and one was too big so we thought we'd check the stores and I was grateful we did. In the second store we entered I spotted my ring straight away and the guy working there was so nice, so interested in us and so knowledgeable that it was a real pleasure getting it. It wasn't until Laura and I were admiring the ring in the car that we noticed on the inside there were two additional diamonds and the words 'past, present, future' - the very first ring I had chosen also had the same inscription!
After a delicious lunch, the next stop was the venue we had found online. Brandi hadn't seen it so it was a bit of a discovery for all of us. We will go into WAY more detail when we know that everything is sorted but lets just say it's AMAZING - it allows us to create our dreamed about wedding and it fits perfectly with our theme! Oh and it's a LODGE - well, two lodges!
There was also the small matter of Christmas Day. Our 'no present' suggestion was pretty much ignored by Laura's parents, and the hoard we managed to accumulate is still being consumed as I write this! The day was great fun, we were joined by the Smith's old neighbours who had returned to Idaho after touring around in their camper van for the past year. It meant dinner was spent sharing travel stories in between enjoying delicious food and planning 2013 trips! And a dog walk to finish a lovely day.
Our flexible/no set plan holiday really worked in our favour when it came to Laura's friends. We managed to hang out with almost everyone that we wanted to - enjoyed brunches, lunches and nights out, were toasted with tequila and cocktails (separately :)) and laughed so much! Especially playing 'Origins' - who knew history could be such fun :) We saw friends that Laura hadn't seen for years, friends of Laura's that I had gotten to know over Twitter but never met, friends that 'I'd met previously and we left feeling like we can't wait to see them all again - hopefully at the wedding!
Where we ate:
Barbacoa: Hosted our last meal in Boise. It was a case of saving the best to last! This place is classy! And it does AMAZING food and drinks! We started with guacamole made at our table, SO GOOD, then the cocktails! Wow the cocktails - they come served in glasses made of ice, some have huckleberries and my favourite came with a mango popsicles- soooooooooooooo good! Oh yeah and the food - that was outstanding. Laura and her Dad got steak that was flambé, prawns as big as your palm and the sides were delicious. Fries, mash potatoes, garlic green beans - it was hard to pick a favorite!
Chuckarama: Always worth a mention as this is the place to go for the biggest variety of food in Boise! It's endless - well it is when you're me and there is SO much choice you have no idea which way to go. Thankfully Laura did a great job of guiding me around the various options and after five courses I had to admit defeat!
Big Juds: You may have seen our post on this: HERE put simply, home of the biggest and best burger in Boise! If 2lbs of meat isn't your thing there is plenty more choice and I personally would be quite happy sat in a corner with a bowl of their tater tots!
Mongolian Grill: I have NO idea if this is something you can get everywhere in the USA, but I love it. Grab a bowl, choose you raw veg, pieces of raw meat and pile the bowl as high as you can with noodles, add sauce and hand it all over to a guy who throws it all on a hot plate. Blink and before you know it you bowl is returned with perfectly cooked contents. Delicious, quick and a must-do choice when in Boise!
Panda Express: Now I know Boise isn't the only place to have these but I do LOVE Panda Express's orange chicken. I'm sad we don't have it here!
There were of course lots of other meals enjoyed throughout the trip - Trudy's in Idaho City was a great place to end up after driving (slowly) through 'Avalanche Alley' at -15 degrees C and surviving (after our venue visit) and then Merritt's truck stop was an experience at 3am - we played tunes on the jukebox and ate something they called scones but I think were more like freshly fried powdered doughnuts that were heavenly!
This trip certainly gave us the chance to enjoy a city that really does have plenty to offer! We LOVE Boise!!