Category: Travel

A Short Break

It turns out that the road trip I took this past week made it difficult for me to want to do anything more than sleep or relax with local beers wherever I was. I saw plenty of new places along the way, and made my first visit to Northwestern University. While I had applied there for graduate school, I never made a trip to campus. It turns out to have a gorgeous view of Chicago, and hopefully I will be making a return trip next year! Now it’s time to pack again: tomorrow is back to Seattle, and three weeks of travel left this fall.IMG_2360

Brickell, Miami

I might not be going to St. Louis this year, but I couldn’t stay away from the Arch! The Conrad Miami is located inside the Brickell Arch building, and has become my absolute favorite hotel (and I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels). The Brickell area itself is fantastic; there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance and there are always people out and about. That being said, I did spend a lot of time just enjoying the hotel. I’m hoping to stay in the Conrad Chicago next May and can’t wait for the experience, because this hotel is definitely an experience. 

I’m flying home this evening, and my next stop is Chicago! I always love visiting my hometown, in spite of the hours I will spend crawling on the highways. 

Remote Access

Working from the road today after an early morning flight. If this was the view from my office I think I would be much more productive and relaxed! Not to mention, the Wine Room access is a nice touch to a long day. I could get used to this. 

But where am I?

Hotel Blues

In Atlanta, I always stay in the Galleria area as it is most convenient to where I have to work. I’ve ended up at the same hotel three years running, the first time recounted here. I decided to try this hotel again last year because I knew the renovations would be complete, and that the jackhammers from hell were probably being used to keep some other unfortunate soul from napping. Renovations aside, I don’t spend a lot of time in hotel rooms anyway and now that everything had been upgraded, it was a pleasant place to sleep.

Fast forward to today and imagine my surprise when I pull up to park and am met with orange cones in front of every space. I always try to stay in places with minimal to no parking charges, but sometime between last year and today, the lot had been converted to valet-only parking. Valet-Only. For the entire parking lot. No spot is farther than 500 steps from the front door.

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My room looks out over the hotel entrance and one of those cars is my rental.

I must have looked dumbfounded when the person working the valet told me there was no self-parking option. As he was explaining how to request my car, I asked if I could just get the keys from him and walk to my car when I needed to leave. Honestly, that would be faster.

 

The explanation I received for the ridculous parking situation was that with the new Atlanta Braves stadium down the street, they had to keep fans from parking at the hotel. I could think of a few other ways to do that, but I guess I can’t really complain with a price of $12 per night; hotel valet parking typically costs at least $30, or even more if you’re in Chicago. But, it is entirely possible that I will request my keys to walk to my car anyway, just to see if they let me.

 

It’s That Time

My trip to New Orleans this week was like dipping my toes in the water before being shoved face first into travel. It was great to get out and on the road, but I was only gone for two nights. What awaits me is entirely different.

I will be home for ten random days between now and November 1st.

Chances are, I’ll be coming to a city near you! I do a lot of flying, but I’ve also incorporated a few road trips this fall for budget reasons. I’m excited to see all coasts of the U.S. again. I can always find something new and fun to do, no matter how many times I’ve been somewhere.

First up is Atlanta. Last year a friend from my stint working at a boutique fitness center happened to be in the city at the same time as I was. Naturally, we made plans to hang out on one of our free afternoons and met up at the Coca-Cola Factory. I had visited there during a high school band trip many years ago, so I was excited to visit it again all these years later. My favorite part of the tour is the opportunity to taste Coca-Cola products at kiosks representing each continent. There are some good tasting beverages, but then some of them are downright disgusting, specifically Beverly. They describe it as tasting “bitter.” I was bitter after tasting it.

IMG_0229And of course, the visit was not complete without a red-eyed polar bear wandering around scaring the children. He did not quite have the mechanics of his mouth down, but he seemed pretty harmless.

I’m still undecided on what adventures to plan for Atlanta this trip as it’s a shorter visit than last time, but I’m not ruling out a return trip to the Coca-Cola Factory, if only to spend more quality time with my furry friend to the left.

Puerto Rico

One of the highlights on our cruise out of Miami was our first stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I have always wanted to visit the island, especially after I was supposed to go for a work trip that ended up being unceremoniously cancelled. We didn’t dock until late in the afternoon, so that left us with a few hours to wander around before we found a local restaurant for dinner. Per usual, we waited for the rush of people to exit the ship before making our way out, and we headed directly for the San Felipe del Morro Fortress.IMG_8565Built to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay, this fort became a part of the National Park System in 1961 after the U.S. Army officially retired it from use. Driveways were removed and green space added to restore the area to it’s original state. Luckily, the late afternoon sun in March wasn’t as hot, so we could enjoy going through the entire fort. IMG_8574

On our way back, I discovered one of my favorite views of this port happened to include the Cementerio Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzi, a cemetery from 1863 that overlooks the ocean. Due to an interest in genealogy and a love of history, I have always enjoyed visiting cemeteries, and this one was no exception. Seeing the Spanish influence in the monuments with the backdrop of the ocean on a beautiful day is one of the reasons I love to travel; a picture hardly does it justice.

We capped off our visit with some of the best mofongo I’ve ever had at Cafe Puerto Rico before heading back to the ship. It’s hard to imagine right now, but the entirety of Puerto Rico is currently without power thanks to another hurricane this season. I’m hoping for blue skies to return soon, like in the pictures above.

Bourbon Street

 

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Taken from the rooftop of my hotel, that is Bourbon Street. What you can’t see is that half of it is under construction, and that turned into a nightmare for all the people headed that direction after the Saints Vs. Patriots game yesterday. The two Patriots fans dressed as Minutemen seemed to be regretting their choices. It’s hot here.

Haunted

The last time I was in New Orleans, we visited Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. Built between 1722-1732, it is considered the oldest bar in the United States. We stopped by after taking a French Quarter ghost tour for a much needed drink. If you’ve never heard of Delphine LaLaurie, feel free to click the link and read about what a wonderful person she was. Then you’ll see why we needed a beverage. At the time it was said the house where she tortured her slaves was owned by Nicholas Cage, but he was trying to sell it and could not find a buyer. I can’t imagine why.IMG_1247

Lafitte’s is also supposed to be haunted. The ghost tour took us there as the last stop, which worked out perfectly as we had plans to visit anyway. I had one of the best Hurricane’s of my life there.  It was layered perfectly and made with real fruit juice. Down the street, Pat O’Brien’s will serve you a Hurricane out of a nozzle, but I’d rather have Lafitte’s Hurricane any day. Inside, we were told that if you take pictures with your flash in the dark rooms you can see the “orbs” of spirits floating in your picture. I was unsuccessful last time, but maybe this trip I’ll capture a ghost. With my camera only, please.