This weekend was a whirlwind of amazing fun! So much fun, in fact, that I am going to break up the weekend into a couple of posts over the next few days. This has definitely been the most unique and exciting weekend of 2013 so far!
Remember when we went to Tupelo, Mississippi to feed a giraffe? Well, Sean Johnson, the marketing director for the Tupelo Visitor’s Bureau saw that post and contacted us to ask if we would consider returning to Tupelo to be part of a television commercial featuring all the great things about Tupelo (including feeding a giraffe by hand!!). We said yes! So this past weekend we went to Tupelo to be in a commercial! But not only that! Sean knew from my blog that we love to travel places and see new things and try new foods so he set up a whole weekend of fun for us.
Tupelo is only a short hour and a half drive from Memphis so when we arrived, we went straight to Vanelli’s Greek and Italian Restaurant where we were given a private tour of the kitchen by “vOz” Vanelli himself.
Vanelli’s actually has a unique story in that it is a Greek and Italian restaurant. It was opened by Greek-born, Demetrios Kapenekas. When Demetrios decided to name his restaurant, he asked himself, “Who is going to buy pizza from a Greek named Kapenekas?”. Which is why he picked “Vanelli’s” and has since been known as Papa Vanelli. His son, vOz, was the one we got to know. I have to tell you guys, I have met some free spirited people over the years, but vOz might be one of the freest spirits I’ve met. When we arrived, he had just met this other couple, Bruce and Annette, who were passing through Tupelo on their way home to Chicago. We were really honored to get to know them as well. They were completely hilarious. We really enjoyed getting to see vOz in his element with guests and employees at the restaurant. He even played a couple of songs for us on his guitar.
After spending a couple of hours getting to know vOz, Bruce, and Annette, it was dinner time! We ordered pizza and spaghetti and they were both tasty.
After dinner we headed to Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott. Sean had arranged a room for us to stay in and it was absolutely lovely. The staff was so friendly and I have to tell you, they treated us like little celebrities! They were like “oh, YOU’re Rach?!” Haha! It was great! Sean even left a goody bag for us full of fun Tupelo souvenirs as well as tickets to all the local must-see places!
The next morning we headed to the Tupelo Buffalo Park to start filming! I will talk more about the filming/commercial stuff in another post so for now I’ll just tell you how AMAZING Sheila Franklin (co-owner of the zoo) and all her staff were. We were blown away by the sweetness, helpfulness, and friendliness of everyone at the zoo.
Us with Sheila at the top (again, I just have to say how precious she is!). Then on the left is us with Roberto who was our field guild with the “behind the scenes” tour and on the right is Anthony who helped us out with the giraffe shoot.
Speaking of the giraffe… he was the reason we were there so of course we got to feed him again! His name is Tall Boy and I have to tell you guys, he and I really bonded!
Me with Tall Boy! Most of these shots are from Anne Palmer (more on her and how amazing she was when I talk about the commercial itself, but for now you can check out her website and Facebook page). I especially love that last shot where I am laughing so hard. Tall Boy was great! We definitely bonded.
Then we went to feed the water buffalo, bison, and zebras! And finally we got a behind-the-scenes tour of the zoo which was amazing! At one point both a Clydesdale horse and a camel stuck their heads in the truck windows!
It was truly an incredible morning! I am so excited to share more about the weekend with you, but this post is entirely too long already, haha! So tomorrow, be prepared to hear more about our weekend (and probably the next day too… and maybe even the day after that, haha!). Happy Monday, friends!