A Guest House of Artistic Inspiration

I am woefully overdue in publishing this post … perhaps it is because, subconsciously, I don’t want to share this delightful retreat in Galena, Illinois, for fear its two rooms will both be occupied the next time we return to the area! Abe’s Spring Street Guest House is special lodging located just a few blocks from the historic district.  While we found Abe’s to be the perfect spot for an overnight visit, we left wishing we could stay the entire weekend.

Abe's Spring Street Guest House historic plaque
Historic plaque at Abe’s Spring Street Guest House, marking its spot as the icehouse for the city’s old brewery.

Abe's Spring Street Guest House ~ Galena, ILWe stayed in “Albert’s Glen” — the room named after the owners’ St. Bernard, whose likeness graces the spacious bathroom.

A bust of Albert, in the bathroom of one of rooms at Abe's Spring Street  Guest HouseThe unique, artistic touches throughout the large apartment-like suite create an ambience unlike any bed and breakfast we have stayed in.

Statuesque Four-Poster Bed at Abe's Spring Street Guest House

Each post of the king-sized bed in the bedroom area of Albert’s Glen provides a base for elegant sculptures made by the owner, whose studio is located next door.

Cozy gas fireplace at Abe's Spring Street Guest House

While you may think of exploring a historic city like Galena only in the warmer months of the year, the gas fireplace in Albert’s Glen would make for a cozy retreat.

Unique fireplace surround at Abe's Spring Street Guest HouseNot only are the tiles surrounding the fireplace a feast for the eyes, but as you sit next to the warmth, looking up you appreciate the hand-made metal light shades hanging from the ceiling.

Metal foliage makes light dance, at Abe's Spring Street Guest House

No detail is overlooked — from the local candies at the bedside, to the exquisite door handles and bathroom fixtures.

Doorway to the bath in Albert's Glen, Abe's Spring Street Guest House

A clawfoot soaking tub, tiled walk-in shower, and more of the owner’s imaginative accents greet you as you enter the brightly-lit bathroom.

Artistic touches throughout Abe's Spring Street Guest House The other room offered at the Guest House is just as inspired and full of creative energy.  Since we were traveling through Galena with our college-aged son, he enjoyed the other private suite — “Rudolph’s Retreat” — and then joined us for breakfast the following morning.

Breakfast at Abe's Spring Street Guest HouseWalking up the hill behind Abe’s, guests are welcomed into the owners’ kitchen where hot coffee, juice, and a gourmet breakfast is served — along with friendly conversation as the aromas of the day’s morning menu fills the room.

French toast breakfast at Abe's Spring Street Guest House

Abe’s Spring Street Guest House has all the desirable features of a bed and breakfast, with the added bonus of spacious, private accommodations (even a spa hot tub and sauna for use by guests in the building next door).  Hoping to return again soon!

For more on Galena, Illinois, revisit my post from a few year’s back, Charming Old Galena.

Ciao! ~ Kat

Our Home Away From Home in Puerto Rico

Sometimes you are fortunate enough to find a spot while traveling that allows you to relax and makes you feel like you are at home — without the hassle of housework, of course.  Instead, you can kick back, grab a good book, enjoy the view from a lounge chair, and even have a favorite four-legged friend at your side, for an extra-personal touch — so was our experience at the Ceiba Country Inn.

We spent a week in Puerto Rico in June of this year — a family vacation with the destination selected by my oldest son (the motivating factor: somewhere he could use his five years of Spanish without breaking the vacation bank).  He had the privilege of selecting the destination because the trip was in lieu of a high school graduation party.  (I admit, I strongly encouraged him to take the trip rather than the party — didn’t we all win that way?!)  It was a great week of family time at a stage in our family’s life that makes me appreciate how rare family time can be, as the countdown has begun before our oldest goes to college in the fall.

Our week was divided between four nights in eastern Puerto Rico, at the Ceiba Country Inn, and then two nights in Old San Juan.  If and when we return to Puerto Rico, as we certainly hope to do, the western side of the island has more sights to explore, but we would have to make time again for at least a night or two at this little Inn on top of the hill on the edge of the rainforest.

The days started with fresh fruits and freshly-squeezed juices from the property, along with Michael’s home-baked breads, yogurt and coffee.  One morning we had a special treat of fresh hard-boiled eggs from the resident chickens. The view from the patio deck stretches across the rolling hills of the rainforest to the sea.  Games and books were available for guests to borrow, with reasonably priced beer and wine available for purchase while the office was open in the evenings.

With only 9 rooms, the Inn has an intimate feel to it, yet is laid-back and friendly with its communal breakfast room and patio. While we fully appreciated the companionship of the canine and feline residents of the Inn, for those who were not as enamored, the owners and staff helped with minimizing interactions (as you can see from my photos, we welcomed their antics and friendly greetings as we came and went).  As the sun sets, the sounds of the forest come out:  the owls, the wind in the trees, and the little coquis.  Even if the night was warm, we left our windows open so we could fall asleep to the sounds of nature surrounding the Inn.

The Inn was a getaway in the countryside, just outside of the town of Ceiba, yet only a short 15-minute drive to Fajardo with many dining options, and just a few minutes farther to the Laguna Grande biobay kayak tours and some great beaches.  It was the best of both worlds.  Owner Michael was always gracious when answering questions about the property, area activities and dining suggestions. The Inn’s front office was often staffed by Chris, who also works as an area tour guide (our morning trip with him to Rio Tinajas will have to be the subject of a future post, along with some of our other favorite Puerto Rican experiences)!  For now, I leave you with a short video slideshow that gives you a small idea of why the Ceiba Country Inn is such a charming part of our travel memories.

Ciao! ~ Kat