Showing posts with label Vacations and Trips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vacations and Trips. Show all posts

How We Saw New Orleans In Two Days (And What You Should See If You Go)





I am pretty sure we squeezed every ounce of New Orleans adventure that we possibly could out of 48 hours in the city.  I landed in New Orleans at 1:23 PM on Wednesday, and left for the airport at 12:50 PM on Friday - it felt like a strangely relaxing whirlwind!  I am so glad we took the chance to have a pre-baby getaway to a place that was brand-new to both of us.

More on where we went and what we did below, but first, pictures.

DAY ONE















I am pretty much a mountain girl, and rarely spend this much time in the city...so while I think my urban photography skills could use some help, this whole trip gave me a great chance to practice!

Here's what we did the first day:

-Arrived in the afternoon at Hotel Monteleone, which was so pretty! It also is home of the Carousel Bar, which is a rotating bar - we didn't get anything there, but it was cool to see it.

-Derek finished his conference class, and we set out to explore the city!  We walked to Jackson Square and saw the oldest operating cathedral in the US.

-We also found some pretty doors to take pictures in front of.  So many of the streets were so picturesque!  If I lived there I would be hunting for good photo spots all the time.

-Stopped at Bourbon Street - that would be the picture where I am not grinning.  It was so gross!  Nothing pretty about that street at all, unlike the rest of the French Quarter.

-Went to the Palace Cafe for dessert.  Derek got the bananas foster, which they made right in font of us!  I got the lemon pie.  Both were excellent!

-We also grabbed dinner, just at the Marriot because it was most convenient that night.  We discussed baby names!

-Went back to the hotel and crashed at like 8 PM, home time.  I was so tired from traveling.

DAY TWO
















What we did on the second day (our only full day):

-Got some coffee at French Truck Coffee.  I loved that place!  It was clean and pretty, and they played oldies.  I already waxed poetic about it on Instagram, see more there.

-Walked back to the hotel and waited for my tour bus to arrive while Derek went to the conference.  I booked a city tour with Cajun Encounters, and it was definitely worth the money.  The tour guide (forget his name, looked like Ashton Kutcher) was one of the better tour guides I've ever had.  I wouldn't have seen nearly as much of the city without it, and I learned so much!

-The tour stopped by one of New Orleans above-ground cemeteries.  It was creepy and interesting, because the reason they bury that way is not what I expected.  Much too gruesome to describe here for all my posterity to read, but comment if you want to know and I'll explain.

-Other things I saw on the tour: Creole millionaire's row, Creole neighborhoods, Jackson Square again, the Tomb Of The Unknown Slave (which was interesting but so sad), the Garden District, and of course the cemetery.

-The tour also took us to a cafe called Morning Call, and we got free beignets and coffee as part of the tour!  Score!  These were actually my favorite beignets from when we were there.

-After the tour I went to a buffet for lunch (a little intimidating walking through the city by myself, it is so busy there).  The food was okay, but the desserts were amazing!  Every dessert I got in New Orleans was fantastic.

-Went back to the hotel and waited for Derek to get off from the conference. This was when I washed my hair - a turning point in the trip, because I washed out all my good products from home, and my hair responded way differently to the humidity without my products!

-I had intentions of sitting by the pool, but it was actually raining that afternoon, so I sat at one of the covered tables on the pool deck and started narrowing down our list of baby names and looking up meanings.  Derek and I really wanted to use our time alone on this trip to get a short list of names for our girl!

-We decided to go ahead and book a riverboat cruise!  When Derek got out of his class, we got dressed and walked over to the river (we might have stopped and bought some maple fudge on the way).  It was a jazz dinner cruise on a steamboat called the Natchez, and it was an excellent decision to go.  The music was amazing, the views were so pretty, and the the steamboat horn was so deep and cool-sounding.  We got back when it was dark, and the city lights were so pretty!

-We took a pedi-cab back to the hotel - good because our feet were hurting, scary because our driver was nuts!  I thought we were going to tip over!  But hey, a 15 minute walk only took her about 3 minutes, so she was efficient!

DAY THREE






















What we did on day three:

-Got more coffee at French Truck Coffee.  I miss that place!

-Walked over to Cafe Du Monde for beignets and orange juice.  

-The humidity was out of control that morning!  My hair was wet by the time we got back to the hotel, but we stopped at several gift shops and a gallery on the way back (partially to escape the heat!).  I practiced more photography in the city.  We bought pralines for the kids, and a Christmas ornament with Santa riding an alligator.

-The gallery we stopped at had these unique paintings - the artist layered the pain on really thickly, so it had a 3D effect,  I wish you could see it better in the picture, it was pretty cool!

-At this point Derek had to leave me again, and I took another shower before packing up my things.  Derek had already packed and gone, because his flight left several hours later than mine, and he and some of his co-workers were going to do a swamp tour that afternoon!  I have to admit, I was a little jealous of the swamp tour.  He got to feed alligators!  And hold a baby alligator!

-After washing my hair, I went to lunch at Mr. B's Bistro, right across from our hotel.  I had the gumbo and the molten chocolate cup cake.  Oh my goodness.  It was so good!  I gushed to Derek in a text about it, so he and his coworkers ended up stopping there too before they flew home.  It was just really good.  In my book, you pretty much HAVE to go there if you visit New Orleans.

-The airport shuttle picked me up, and home I went!  I was sad to leave, but my hair was not sad.  I worked on middle name pairings for baby while I waited for me plane.

I am so glad Derek and I got to explore New Orleans as much as we did, and it was a great time to reconnect (and think of some names!) before our little girl arrives in less than three months!  

So if I was to make recommendations for a quick trip to New Orleans:

-Take a tour.  They are definitely worth the money, and you see so much more that way!
-Jackson Square was really pretty, definitely walk over there.
-Eat at Mr. B's Bistro.  It's a must.
-Try to find somewhere to listen to some jazz music!  We did the riverboat, but I'm told Frenchman Street is a good place to go too.
-Bring your good hair products if you have even a slight hint of curl/wave!  Your hair will thank me for this one, trust me.
-And get some beignets somewhere!  It's kind of a New Orleans requirement, I think.



The Big Easy



Have you heard of having a "babymoon"?

The idea was first becoming popular when I was pregnant with Wyatt.  It's basically one last trip with just the two parents before baby arrives.

At the time, part of my liked the idea - it does make sense to travel one last time before baby!  But another part of me rolled my eyes.  Really?  Another thing we have to try to find the money to pay for before baby?  The perfectly decorated nursery, perfect maternity and newborn photo shoots, not to mention the hospital bills - those just aren't enough expense by themselves, huh?  

We're not rolling in the dough here, after all.

Still, before we had Wyatt, Derek and I planned a little weekend Valentine's getaway, and I thought, there ya go.  That can also be our babymoon!  Little did I realize that we would end up having to cancel our weekend getaway and check into the hospital to meet our boy sooner than expected.

Since then, Derek and I never attempted another babymoon, and I had no plans to do one this time either...until I found out Derek was getting to go to New Orleans for a work conference.  I've never been to New Orleans!  I wanted to go!  So I booked a flight, and am now spending two nights with Derek in the Big Easy.

Kind of like that babymoon we never had!  

Except this is our fifth baby, not our first, and Derek will have to spend most of the day in his conference...but I couldn't pass up a chance for a getaway.  We'll still have the evenings together (like two date nights in a row!), and I plan on adventuring a little by myself when he's working.  Either adventuring or laying by the pool, I haven't decided yet.

My to-do list thus far:

1. Get beignets somewhere for breakfast.
2. Find some good restaurants for dinner.
3. Take a lot of pretty pictures.
4.  Relax by the pool (if I don't die from the heat).
5. Read a lot.

So what do you think?  What do I need to see in New Orleans?  
We're staying in the French Quarter, and I really have no idea what to expect. Have you ever been there?

Tips For Visiting Antelope Canyon With Babies And Toddlers


As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, we went to Arizona for vacation this year, and one of the places we knew we wanted to visit was Antelope Canyon!  This is a slot canyon through the sandstone that was formed by flash floods.  It is absolutely gorgeous and was certainly a highlight of our trip!













Flash floods can still run through the canyon, so you are not allowed to go into Antelope Canyon without a guide.  Complicating matters, we also had four young kids (still in carseats) to take with us!  Overall though, it ended up being very doable and really interesting for the kids as well as us!

We decided to do a morning tour, around 8:00 AM, which we were told was a quieter time in the canyon.  Many people like to go around "prime time", which is the middle of the day when light beams start shining through the rocks to the canyon floor.  However, even though we went at a slower time of day, it was still very busy!  There were people all around us through the whole tour, but the tour companies know to space their groups a tiny bit so you are still able to get some photos without other people in them.

Some recommendations for visiting Antelope Canyon with young children:


Do the Upper Canyon.  

If you want to do Antelope Canyon with kids, be aware that Lower Antelope Canyon requires navigating some pretty steep stairs.  Our kids are a little young for that still, so we ended up doing a tour of Upper Antelope Canyon, which you just walk straight into.  It was an easy, short walk, and was totally manageable even for our three year old.


Book a tour ahead of time.  

We arrived in Page thinking we could book a tour on the same day we wanted to go (I had read that online), but many of the tour companies were booked two or three days out! I would recommend picking a company ahead of time to visit the canyon.


Make sure your tour company accepts young kids.  

I had done some research before we left and picked a company, only to find out when we arrived that they would not accept children under six years old on the tour because of an insurance issue.  Thankfully not every company was restricted this way, and we were able to find another one!  Call ahead of time to ensure that they can accommodate car seats if that information is not clear online.

Realize that you will have to bring your own carseats.  

You are not allowed to drive your own vehicle out to the canyon, you must ride in your tour guide's vehicle.  Make sure your tour company knows that you have children in car seats ahead of time, and arrive early to make sure there is time to get them installed in the vehicle.


Don't be late!  

It's easy to run behind schedule when you have multiple young kids, but there are hundreds of people touring the canyon every day, and many tour companies coordinating their tour groups.  If you are late for the tour, you will be out of luck, because they don't leave a second later than they are supposed to!

If you have a baby carrier, make sure any buckles are tucked under a coat or blanket.  

They didn't let me bring my carrier in for Clarice because the buckles may scratch the wall and I didn't have anything to cover them with.  Thankfully the walk was only about a quarter mile for Upper Antelope Canyon, and it's an easy walk, so this wasn't a problem for us.

Bring cash.  

Just to give you an idea of the cost, we paid for three people, 2 adults and one child (the other three kids were free with our specific tour company), and it ended up costing us about $180, plus a tip.  You also must bring cash, because many of the tour companies do not take credit cards.


Realize it's a quick tour.  

I was expecting the walk to be a bit slower, with more space and time to take some pictures of my family in the canyon.  It was not like that.  There were people everywhere, the tour guide was pointing out all the shapes in the rocks, and the walk in and out of the canyon itself was pretty quick!  We still got some great pictures, but just realize it's busy and distracting in there.  If you want more time to set up photos and such, I'd say the photography tours might be a better bet.


I did some research online about taking kids into Upper Antelope Canyon before we left, and I have to say, it had me a little freaked out about attempting it with kids!  But it ended up not being a big deal at all.  We took four kids under seven years old, and it ended up being an easy and fun outing! Definitely check it out if you are in the Lake Powell area!

Any other questions for me about our experience?  
I'll answer to the best of my ability!



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