If there's a more boring and annoying road than heading south to the beaches from Roanoke on 220 I haven't encountered it yet. If you get stuck behind a moron on one of the many two lane stretches you're pretty much screwed. Such was the case on that one stretch you have to cross heading into Greensboro. It seemed to take forever so when we saw an Italian restaurant we stopped hoping the traffic would free up some. What a great treat Elizabeth's or Francesco's, depending upon whether one read the sign in the parking lot or the one on the canopy, turned out to be. We had a brick oven pizza which was the closest thing to New York Pizza than I've ever had, anywhere. It was a great deal too, $7.99 for a large and I mean a regular large 16" pie. Highly recommend it and wish they delivered to Roanoke!
The rest of the trip seemed to take forever and I could only imagine how much worse it could have been if I had listened to Mapquest's 31 step directions. I promptly threw those out when I couldn't even find half the roads mentioned on my North Carolina map. By the time we got to Ocean Isle Beach we felt like we were driving for days, much worse than when we drive to NYC. I felt doubly bad for my husband the driver who had already put in four hours earlier trying to fix the air conditioner.
If you ever want to get away to a beach where there is nothing to do but relax, then Ocean Isle is the place for you. It's close enough to Myrtle, about a half hour away, if you want the "excitement" but seeing as it was "senior week" there we decided unless we got really bored we would stay on the Isle. Of course at one point we would have to cross the border to South Carolina because 4th of July is coming up, but shhhhhh don't tell anyone.
We stayed at the Ocean Isle Inn, a small place located directly on the beach. Like I said before the only way to go is to get an oceanfront balcony...pay the extra $20. The sound view is nice...
but the windows don't open and there's no balcony. The front desk people are very nice there and the woman told me we had the best room in the house. All the rooms are the same so I guess "best" meant we had the farthest room on the top floor at the very corner away from everything. That was fine until maybe the fifteenth time we had to endure the trek from the car to the elevator to the room to the beach to the ice machine to anywhere. We began referring to it as "The Green Mile." The only thing missing was the prisoner's arms clawing at us as we passed each door. Truthfully I actually preferred being so far away because one of my pet peeves is being too close to the elevator and hearing the doors open all night, or the ice machine and hearing it bang all night. No worries there.
The hotel has an outdoor and indoor pool with a jacuzzi. There's no food or bar on site, a negative, that is easily overcome if you come supplied with a case of wine and because there are refrigerators and microwaves in each room. They do offer a limited continental breakfast, and I will never eat another cheap bagel or waffle again. Just having that option saves a lot of money though, as does the microwave and fridge. If there was an entrepreneur who wanted to make money I would suggest they get a hot dog/knish cart for the beach. They would make a gold mine. We found a really nice supermarket, Lowes, that had some great foods we brought back to the room for lunches. Who wants to hang out at the beach in the morning then get dressed and go out somewhere for lunch? It took us two days to realize that it would be better to just go up to the room, order in from Dominos or eat leftovers, then head back down to bake some more.
When we got settled in we called the boy and he said the Duke had been by and would be back the next day. He said it was really hot but he'd be okay since he was working again. He had hoped to go out with his friends that night but they got called into their jobs so he was going to be alone. Did I detect a little longing for us? He said, no, he was fine and not to worry. He would call us the next day. I felt a little better talking to him but still uptight that the air conditioning hadn't been fixed. I asked the boy what he had for dinner, "Ramen." I hoped that wouldn't be the week's menu.
Once my husband poured me a glass of wine and we sat on the balcony listening to the sound of the surf and gulls my anxiety began to shed a bit.
The ocean is just such a magical place to me. I had grown up around beaches in New York so have always had a special love for beaches and sunsets, especially Brooklyn ones, which are the most spectacular you could ever see. This isn't one of them...
Before we got too comfortable we headed out to an Italian restaurant that we really liked last time, Cinelli's. As soon as we entered I suspected it had changed ownership. The ambiance was gone, it was now beach-like, Ragu-sauced psuedo-Italian "cuisine." The food was poor and the service worse. I hate when I order appetizers before even ordering dinner, hoping the waitress will be smart enough to bring that out first, yet she brings the meal right afterwards when we just had a bite of the appetizer and then asks if we're finished. It's not like the place was even crowded and they had to shuffle us out. That should have been a clue too. I had ordered a split of champagne and the waitress actually asked me if I wanted to keep the bottle. For what? To hit you on the side of the head with? Honey, I've drank Dom and Cristal and didn't keep those bottles so why would I want to keep some crappy brut split? The scary part was the waitress was serious! I asked the girl when the place was sold and she told me it was three years ago. We had been there four years ago. Pegged that one. She also said the original owner was now running a different restaurant, not Italian, which we decided we would give a shot the next day.
Until then, the waves were calling and all I wanted was to decompress so we headed back to the balcony.