Postcard mural in Ocean City, Maryland

The City That Made Me Fall in Love with America

Hello there!

This sure has been an unusually busy week for me. For the first time in eight months, my husband and I went away on a mini trip to Ocean City, Maryland which felt SO strange (in the most wonderful way)!

Postcard mural in Ocean City, Maryland

We used to travel a lot more often – being blessed with living in Virginia, the state I believe has everything! Cideries-breweries-wineries-distilleries, farms, mountains, ocean, hiking trails, history, seafood, and so much more. I wrote about our trips to the Eastern Shore and Charlottesville before. We both have been to Ocean City before, both separately before we met and together. In fact, that is where I was in the summer of 2010 – my first time living in the US. At that moment – temporarily.

Ocean City then…

It was a somewhat scary experience – going to a completely foreign country alone, for 3 months, at the age of 19. But it was good scary. I made lifelong friendships, had my first job, learned English, tasted pecan pie, and swam in the ocean. And – as you probably gathered from the title – fell in love with America. I remember walking 60 (yes, sixty) blocks to and from my work at a local seafood restaurant every day, soaking in every single moment of this unfamiliar, fascinating life half a world away from my home.

Woman (Yana) at the beach with wind in her hair

It felt great to return to the place that holds so many memories with the person I love! The restaurant I worked at is no longer a restaurant, but seeing the building immediately reminded me of the many hours spent there. Sadly, the place I used to live is no longer there. Nevertheless, seeing the area made me feel nostalgic and grateful for my roommates and the memories we shared.

…and now.

One of our all time favorite restaurants is in Ocean City – we have traveled up there just for dinner, but never stayed. It’s called The Shark on the Harbor and their menu changes daily, which I love. I get to try something different every single time we go and it’s always incredibly amazing!

We made our reservations for 7 pm to watch the sunset over the water and it felt so wonderful to enjoy good food with a sense of normalcy.

The rest of our trip was spent on the beach and at the pool. Despite a seemingly low key agenda, it felt vacation-busy. After not being able to go anywhere for so long, it was a welcome change.

Beach sand and ocean in the distance

I also had a very specific item on our culinary agenda – Thrashers Boardwalk fries! Somehow, when I lived there, I didn’t know about them. Which is probably not the worst thing, because I would have ended up eating them all summer long. They’re that good.

Small overflowing bucket of Thrasher’s french fries at boardwalk

“Help Wanted”

I have to admit, though, how saddened I was to see so many businesses struggle with being understaffed. Seasonal beach towns like Ocean City are normally bursting at the seams during the summer with tourists, attractions, and events. But the rest of the year is much quieter, and many people and businesses rely on the income they bring in during the summer.

It was especially saddening to see that many businesses could have operated at their full force and probably somewhat recovered, but weren’t able to due to staffing issues. “Work and Travel USA” brings in thousands of students each year, and most of them come back to work for the same family, at the same establishment. As a former participant, I can confidently say that not being able to take part in this program must have been as devastating for the students as it was for the people who hire them. This virus certainly has had long lasting and far reaching effects on so many aspects of life for so many people.

I pray that this pandemic will soon becomes a thing of the past, and all those affected in ANY way can heal physically, spiritually, emotionally, and financially.

Coffee

I might have mentioned before that my husband is well known as a coffee pro among our family and friends. And rightfully so! He makes the best coffee. I am not just saying thatbecause I love the guy. As objectively as I can judge, I have not had a better made latte – ever. One of our favorite regional roasters – Rise Up Coffee – has a location in Ocean City. Of course, our trip wouldn’t have been complete without it!

In fact, we love their coffee so much we used it for our wedding favors (almost) three years ago. We measured out the exact amount to make one cup of coffee to go with custom made mugs, which I accidentally ordered too many of. How many? 60. We have 60 extra mugs.

Wedding favor coffee mug with small bag of Rise Up roasters coffee
The folks at Rise Up were so kind to send us these stickers along with our usual order – every single one of our guests learned about them!

I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip! I highly recommend you trying Rise Up Coffee as well as The Shark on the Harbor if you find yourself in Ocean City. We enjoyed visiting Ocean City, Maryland and I can’t wait to hear from you if you’ve been there.

If you have any questions or feedback on this or any other of my posts, you can find me on Instagram (@babushkacooking), Facebook (Babushka Cooking), or e-mail me at yana@babushkacooking.com.

From Kitchen, with Love – 

Yana

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