Vacation Part 4 – New Orleans

Oh New Orleans! After the wonderful time we had in Chicago and then a pleasant train ride, we arrived in New Orleans. I knew that we were going to have a great time. We had lots of exploring to do and little time to do it in. We also wanted to make sure that we fit in lots of good food and lots of trying new drinks.

So here we go! Thursday was our first day there and we were up and at ’em pretty early. We had scheduled a tour of two plantations. The first was Laura plantation which was run mainly by females for about three generations. This plantation had lots of outbuildings still in tact. There were several of the slave family homes still on the property. Apparently families still lived in those houses until the 1970s. They didn’t move far though.When they moved out they moved two streets over. This plantation also had lots of fruit trees, including 18 types of bananas and citrus fruit that was still green.DSC01031DSC01032DSC01051DSC01054DSC01061DSC01064

The 2nd plantation that we visited was Oak Alley. Oak Alley is much more well known and many movies and tv shows have been shot at this plantation. Very well known planation and absolutely beautiful. Interesting enough the trees are actually older then the house.

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Upon our return back into the French Quarter, we needed food. While on the bus I started looking up a couple of the places that we were recommended. I found that the ACME Oyster House wasn’t too far. Sean had been wanting his oysters so we decided to give it a go! The food was awesome! He had raw oysters and then we ordered chargrilled oysters as well. Apparently New Orleans is known for chargrilled oysters. I tried them and they were very good! This was then followed by a softshell crab po-boy and a shrimp po-boy. I had gumbo and Sean had fries. So good! Good enough that Sean decided that we needed to follow that up by some breadpudding. It was really good as well.

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That was just day one!

Day two, Friday, we started off by walking to the French Quarter. We had originally thought we might go out on the Natchez but we decided to just walk down by it and see it.

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After that we walked back into town and got on the Hop On Hop Off Double Decker Bus. We rode around for the first half of the trip but had to get off to meet up with some people. The route was awesome and we got to see quite a bit. DSC01135DSC01137

St. Louis Cathedral and Joan of Arc (or as they call her Joanie on a Pony)DSC01139DSC01148

French Market and us on the bus

After a great lunch at Desi Vega’s Steakhouse, we made our way back down into the French Quarter. There were many Atlanta Falcons fans starting to arrive so the town was starting to get a little rowdy. We decided that we were going to try a few of the well known drinks throughout the French Quarter.

First stop was Pat O’Brien’s for Hurricanes. Next stop up was Margaritaville for my Jimmy fix. Lastly was Tropical Isle for Hand Grenades. Let’s just say we had a great time and the drinks were all very good! Can’t say that I would drink these all the time but they were good.

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Saturday we decided that we would ride the bus for the full loop (2 hours) and see all parts of the city which was very cool. DSC01153DSC01157

Cafe Du Monde on Saturday was very busy! The figure that you see is where people would meet to find others right after Hurricane Katrina. This was outside of Louis Armstrong Park.

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The entrance to Louis Armstrong Park and Cemetery #1. The pyramid grave is Nicholas Cage’s grave. He isn’t dead yet but he has already purchased his space.

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The World Trade Tower (that might not be there if we ever go again) and the Superdome.DSC01182DSC01183

Magazine Street where all of the shopping takes place and the flags that were hung along the way for when the Dalai Lama visited back in May.

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The Real World New Orleans house and yeah that street is not pronounced the way you think it is.DSC01205

 

Yes they have a restaurant down there. We thought about going but decided on something else instead.

Next up was lunch. We were hungry. Beignets at Cafe Du Monde. So good! But then it was off for some real food. Sean started off with a Bloody Mary Oyster Shooter. He followed that with Jumbalaya and I had a combo of jumbalaya and gumbo. It was excellent.

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We decided that we needed to walk around in the French Quarter for a little bit longer and explored the inside of St. Louis Cathedral. Beautiful.

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We were both worn out so it was back to the hotel for a little while and figure out where we were going to have dinner.

When we figured out what we were going we went back out. We hung out at Jax Brewery. Supposedly it is one of the oldest in the Quarter. A couple of beers later we decided to walk around, where there is no open container laws so Sean go the rest of his drink to go. We knew that we had to be at the restaurant that we were wanting to go to right at 6pm when it opened because we didn’t have reservations but knew that it was hard to get into.

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We showed up at NOLA, which is owned by Emeril. We were lucky enough to get one of the last tables available. We started the dinner off with mussles in a ham broth, corn, red peppers, and bacon. Sean had catfish for dinner and I had Shrimp and Grits. We finished the meal off with Chocolate Bread Pudding with a carmel popcorn layer on the bottom served with popcorn ice cream. An awesome meal.
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As we were leaving NOLA and walking back this guy was having a parade for his 40th birthday. Yes they were even throwing beads!
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Our last day in New Orleans gets its own post because it was very different and awesome.

 

Vacation Part 3 – Train Trip

This was the part of the trip that was really something Sean wanted to do. He had found this trip online and was incredible excited to try it out. I on the other hand had in the past had not had good experiences with Train travel but after some time I was willing to give it a shot. We got lucky enough and found a buy one get one for the trip. So what exactly did our trip entail?

We rode on the Pullman Rail Journeys from Chicago to New Orleans. This is considered a private car and it rides on the back of the City of New Orleans Amtrak train. We were really hoping that there would be enough people and we would get the dome car as well but it was only us and one other couple so we only had one car. Our sleeping quarters (which we really didn’t get a good picture of) was small but it worked for one night. We had bunk beds and a small bathroom. We had a lot of luggage with us so the bathroom ended up being where we had to store part of the luggage.

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The trip started off by us leaving Chicago at 8pm on Tuesday night. Dinner was served not long after we left. Appetizers were a relish plate with celery, olives, and pickled watermelon. Dinner followed and I had a beef tenderloin and Sean had Chicken in a mushroom sauce. They were served with asparagus and potatoes. Dessert was a frozen chocolate mousse. Everything was very good!

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Our beds actually folded out of the wall so our Porter folded them down for us while we were at dinner. The chairs and table that were in there folded down under the lower bunk. Sleeping on the train wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be and you just got used to the rocking of rails. Breakfast was served the next morning. I had french toast and Sean had Steak and Eggs. Everything was sooooo good!

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Most of the day we just hung out talked with the other couple and I slept a little bit (of course). Lunch was served around 12:30, which we didn’t take any pictures. Everything was very good though! By the time we finished lunch and things were cleaned up we were pretty much in New Orleans. We arrived pretty much on time around 3:30pm.

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This was the tiny kitchen the chef made all of our food in while we were on the train.DSC01023

Next up was New Orleans and lots of new adventures.

Vacation Part 2 – Chicago

We had about two days to explore Chicago to the fullest. I had done quite a bit of research and we had talked about the places that we absolutely wanted to visit. So as soon as we got there we hit the ground running. Well kind of.

We took the metra from Naperville, where Sean’s friend lives and then had to take a cab to our hotel because we had so much baggage to haul around. Once we got to the hotel we actually crashed.We were exhausted still from the night before and the traveling.

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Monday morning was a much different story. Our hotel had breakfast so we had breakfast before the marathon of running the city. We started off the day by heading over to the Science and Industry Museum. We spent about four hours in the museum. This was my first visit but Sean had been there before so he knew a few of the exhibits that we absolutely had to visit. It was a great time and I really enjoyed the whole museum.

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These are part of the front door of the museum. We thought it was neat to see how many professions were represented. Somehow the two things that are part of my career were right next to each other. DSC00767DSC00769DSC00795DSC00781DSC00802DSC00810

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I quickly found out why Sean enjoys this museum so much. They have a gigantic railroad layout. This layout on one side is Chicago and on the other side is Seattle. Very cool detail throughout the whole thing. The last time he was there was a complete different layout with larger trains so he really enjoyed seeing this. We also found out that it took 40 guys 2.5 years to build this layout. CRAZY!

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After getting back from the museum, we walked to Gino’s East and had deep dish pizza and craft beer for lunch. It was really really good! I didn’t take any pictures unfortunately. Once we were done there we decided it was time to walk off all of that pizza! We walked over to Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. Beautiful fountain.

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Next up which wasn’t too far away was the bean. I have always seen friends take pictures of this when visiting Chicago but I had never been so it was neat to see for ourselves. So cool to see the reflection. After that we walked part of Michigan Avenue, where I got to see the Disney Store, the American Girl Place, and we even stopped in the Lego Store. So much fun!

We went back to the hotel for a bit and tried to find a restaurant where we could get some dinner. Unfortunately we had a really hard time since it was Labor Day and there were a lot of places closed for the Holiday. We ended up at a little place on the corner for pasta and salad. It was good but nothing to write home about.DSC00891DSC00892DSC00896DSC00897

Tuesday was another early morning. We got up and had to take our luggage to the train station before we could really do anything else for the day. Once we had that taken care of we walked to the Willis Tower and went up to the 103rd floor. Very cool view of the city! It was incredibly clear the day we were up there as well which was awesome.DSC00900DSC00907DSC00911DSC00912

Next up was a walk to Navy Pier. We didn’t quite realize the distance there but it was ok. We finally made it there and we rode the Ferris Wheel. Another very cool view of the city. I don’t know if I have ever been in a ferris wheel that big either so it was a lot of fun. Navy Pier also has a free museum in one of the buildings that has Stained Glass Windows. Huge collection of stained glass. It was very impressive.

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Sean really wanted to try Bubba Gump’s for lunch (even though he is allergic to Shrimp). We had a great lunch and decided to get a couple of drinks. Once we finished lunch we made our way over to Margaritaville for a couple more drinks and then it was off to the train station.

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Once we got to Chicago’s Union Station we went to the Metropolitan Lounge which is available to Amtrak passengers that have sleeping arrangements as well as those that are traveling with private cars. Since Pullman Rail Journeys is considered a private car so we were able to take advantage of the lounge. We walked around and explored the architecture of the building. One of the things that we noticed about this old building was the stairs. The stairs are curved from all of the people walking up and down the stairs over the years. Very cool and I can only imagine how much history those stairs have seen.
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Next up, our train ride from Chicago to New Orleans.

Vacation Part 1 – Wedding

Sean and I just got back from a vacation of a lifetime. I hope that we have more vacations down the road just like this one. You know it was a great vacation when you get back and it feels like you have been gone for weeks but it was really only 10 days.

Where all did we go you ask? Well since this trip was 10 days and there were multiple parts to this trip I will be blogging multiple posts due to how much we did and the amount of pictures I will want to post.

Starting off we flew in to see my parents for a short time at the beginning. They were gracious enough to open the bed and breakfast for one night and then pack us up and drive us north to Indianapolis. Sean even got a home cooked to order breakfast out of it.

Indianapolis was the second stop on the trip. We had a wedding to attend and actually Sean was in the wedding. That meant Friday night was the rehearsal and Saturday was the wedding. Below are a couple of pictures that I took as the happy couple walked out through the bubble tunnel.

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This wedding was for a fraternity brother of Sean’s. He is a few years younger than Sean and he was very social so there were a ton of brothers invited to the wedding. The picture below was of all of the guys that attended the wedding. (PS Sean was the old man of the group. LOL)IMG_1026
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Sunday after the wedding, we left with one of the fraternity brothers for our next destination. Chicago.

Beef Stroganoff

I need to write this down before I forget it tonight. I unfortunately didn’t take any pictures but I really enjoyed this meal and didn’t want to forget how I made it because I used a whole bunch of different recipes put together in my mind.

Ingredients

1 sirloin cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon of garlic
2 tablespoons of course ground dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of parsley
black pepper
chopped onions
mushrooms sliced
dash of Worcestershire sauce

Combine all of these ingredients in a pan and start sautéing.

Combine one cup of beef broth with two tablespoons of flour. Whisk together separately from other ingredients. Once whisked together smoothly, add 8 ounces of Sour Cream. After this is all whisked together add to the pan with meat and other ingredients.

While cooking everything else, cook the noodles.