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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And 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.
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.
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.
My last trip to New Orleans was for my bachelorette party. The time before that was for a high school choir trip. You can imagine how those two trips might differ.
For my bachelorette party, we rented a van, piled six girls in it, and met up with a couple others there. The first night we ended up at Harrah’s at 3 a.m after spending a few hours on Bourbon Street. It’s funny because you always read about girls flashing people on Bourbon street, and part of you thinks “nah, that can’t really happen,” but it’s a thing in movies for a reason: it actually happens. At 2 a.m. the bar we were visiting had a contest where two couples had to complete different challenges in order to win more drinks, because they obviously needed them. They played a few games, like “put the condom on the banana,” and “demonstrate your favorite sex position,” but it wasn’t long before it turned into “which girl has the better boobs” as both sets were on display for God and the entire bar. Surprisingly, about half the customers, including us, left at that point. At least at Harrah’s you can lose your money, but probably not your clothes.
Remember when recovering from a night out was as easy as a Bloody Mary, some water, and you were ready to go again? Those were the days. One of the locals in our group recommended we check out Deanie’s for brunch, and when I returned from the bathroom, I found the Bloody Mary I ordered was staring me down. It watched me try some baked Parmesan oysters for the first time (a deliciously bad idea), and have an amazing crab salad. The Bloody Mary itself saved my life that day, and my shrimp friend hanging out the side was eventually a tasty snack (once I had someone else shell him). That meal was probably my favorite of the whole trip, so when I head to New Orleans next week for the first time since, I can’t wait to stop by again.
However, don’t expect to see me out on Bourbon Street at 2 a.m. this time; I have work to do, and these days, I need more than a stare down with a Bloody Mary to save me.
We are under a week away from another trip to Seattle, this time for a wedding. We found an $85 dollar flight out, so we built in a little extra time beforehand to enjoy one of my favorite cities. The last time I was there for work, I had the chance to go down to Pike Place Market early in the morning before the crowds, get some coffee, and wander around while the vendors set up. It might be a major tourist attraction, but if you have the chance to go early, there’s not even a line at the original Starbucks. The only downside is not having access to a kitchen to be able to fix some of the fresh fish. It will be nice to get out of town for a little while, especially to Seattle.