Travel to New Orleans

New Orleans aka NOLA is not your ordinary American city. It’s just, well.. New Orleans. Between the French quarter, Mardi Gras, voodoo talk, crawdaddy’s, and jazz music, there is a lot you need to know about New Orleans.

Donkey rides and gold painted “statue” men. Just another day in NOLA.

»BEIGNETS [ben-yeyz] — A must While in NOLA & where to get them 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼

So my sister and I actually lived there when we were younger. I remember getting beignets (french donuts) in the French quarter and watching the factory pump them out. I don’t recall a lot from when I was younger, but I could never forget those yummy dough balls of happiness topped with powdered sugar. Maybe you have heard of the famous Café Du Monde French for “cafe of the world” or “the people’s cafe.” It is the place to go get beignets while in New Orleans. This café with a long line down the road is famous for a reason annd I just realized I could talk about beignets all day long.

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Another place I was particularly impressed with is Café beignet. It is less busy than Café Du Monde, and in my opinion, just as good. Another great thing about this little café, is that they serve up more than just beignets. They also serve breakfast, lunch & most importantly (after beignets of course), cocktails. My sister and I enjoyed our food outdoors. I highly suggest you don’t leave without trying both cafe’s.

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“Beignet, done that,” Mimosas anyone?

»FOOD FAVES

  • Po boy — Traditional New Orleans Sandwich.
  • Beignets — French donut.
  • Pralines — Hard to explain, but essentially it’s a sugar & pecan fudge-like treat. It is not exactly like fudge though because if you try a really good praline, they are actually not chewy. Don’t buy the “famous” Aunt Sally’s brand. They are not good at all. Spend the extra money & buy fresh at a souvenir shop downtown. You’re welcome in advance.
  • Banana’s Foster — A few ingredients… bananas, ice cream, & rum. Why yes “I’ll have 32 to-go please.”
  • Gumbo — Stew with Seafood, chicken, okra, or sausage.
  • Crawdaddy’s aka Crawfish — Not for me, but so popular there.
  • Jumbalaya — Usually a spicy sausage and rice dish.
  • King Cake — Famous during Mardi Gras. A delicious Danish pastry.

»WHERE TO STAY

  • In French Quarter (get your wallet out — it’s expensive, but probably worth it)
  • Anywhere near the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas (right near the Mississippi River — for stunning views)

— OR —

We stayed at Le Pavillon Hotel, which is only a few blocks from the French quarter. A decently cheap alternative to staying directly in the French Quarter. I would have probably liked being closer because you walk a lot as it is in New Orleans, but I really enjoyed my stay there. They had a PB & J hour at around 10pm every night where there were mini PB & J sammies served with hot cocoa. It is the little things. The rooms were nothing fancy by any means, but the hotel itself is stunning! The dining/bar experience was exquisite. Did I mention the rooftop pool?

»Fave New Orleans drank — Daiquiri from Big Easy Daiquiri’s. It’s a must.

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Helpful Tip: Do not get the extra shot. Not because you don’t want it, but because it is now no longer the perfect consistency of a slushy. It’s watery. 

»TO DO«

Do A Guided Tour:

There is no shortage of tours in New Orleans. I’m talking historic tours, ghost tours, drinking ghost tours, swamp tours, cemetary tours, walking drinking tours, riding drinking tours, donkey tours, food tours, boat tours, sober tours. LOL.

Since this was a sister-bonding trip, we did a walking-drinking-ghost tour. It was pretty awesome. We went to one of the oldest bars around, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop located on the famous Bourbon St. — serving up drinks since the 1700’s. Trip advisor is honestly the best for looking at all of the types of tours before traveling there because you can read reviews and prices, etc. To check out the types of tours click here.

Go to a Festival:

Just like there are no shortages of tours, the same can be said for NOLA festivals.

My sister and I went to the Bayou Boogaloo —  3 day music & arts festival in late May. Get there by trolly. Includes: several stages with different kinds of music. TIP: Bring sunscreen because even though it is in May, it is boiling hot and they charge an ungodly amount of money for sunscreen. Also, bring a floaty!

Explore:

Don’t forget to just walk around and listen to the smooth jazz on the side of the street! One of the best things about New Orleans — music and art is everywhere.

Audubon Aquarium:

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Highly recommend. Cool experience and probably the best aquarium I have been to thus far. There is an option to package together the zoo, insectarium, and aquarium for a decent price, but I didn’t want to see insects. So the aquarium it was.

Walk along the Mississippi River right on the strip by the aquarium — the views are absolutely breath taking. There is art and music in every single corner.

In summary — New Orleans is amazing and you should go. Hope this was helpful 🙂 Looking for another cool place to vacay? Try visiting Old Montréal.

xo,

-E

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Ins & Outs of Old Montréal

A city full of never-ending festivals, old school architecture, and French charm. ❤️ With so much to do, it’s hard to get bored. Here is a list that scratches the surface of what to do and how to get around Old Montréal. When planning a trip to Montréal in the summer time, I would suggest booking a hotel in Old Montréal.

OLD MONTREAL THINGS TO DO:

1. Segway Tour—Old Port—French: Vieux Port

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Honestly one of the coolest things I’ve done. A silly and unique experience including a one hour tour along the old port of Montréal on these bad boys. It was well worth the money. You get a 15 minute training session which is easy peasy, I promise. Want to know how to get around in style for around $60/ person? Schedule your segway tour here.

If you look in the background to the left you’ll see a white clock tower located at Clock Tower Beach. If you book the old port Segway tour, you will go right by it. Although there is no swimming at this sand strip in the city, it’s still definitely something you don’t want to leave without seeing. Way behind us under the bridge, you will find the only Six Flags in Canada! Add that to your to-do list while in Montréal.

2. Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal

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Stunning church inside and out. A must-see while roaming the streets of Old Montréal. This church is so photogenic! Am I right?! Rich in history and beauty, what’s not to love? Located in the heart of Old Montréal, making for an easy walk to nearby food afterward. For food advice read: The Best Food in Montréal.

3. The Montréal Observation Wheel

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Although it wasn’t open for business when I visited, it is now officially open! For rates and details, click here.

  • 360 degree panorama view
  • Air-conditioned/ heated.
  • Open year-round
  • Anti-UV tempered glass panes

4. Scena at Old Port

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Right at the Old Port sign, you will find this bar/restaurant. Includes:  large outdoor patio  equipped with umbrellas and an outdoor bar. This cutesy bar also comes with wine and a view of the water. In the summer it is a chill bar/restaurant.

Not only is this a super cool spot to relax in the summer and grab a drink, but it’s also an event venue. Hold your conference, corporate event, or even wedding there in the beautiful Old port of Montréal! Definitely a unique venue for a wedding! Want more info? Here you will find what you are looking for.

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The best part of Old Montréal is walking and exploring and all the city has to offer. The cobblestone streets, the views from rooftops, the unlimited places to eat and drink, the zip lining, the old port, and so so much more. Every bar, shop, and restaurant are decorated to perfection making it extremely difficult to choose where to go! We actually walked in and out of so many places, simply to scope them out. Old Montréal is the best part of Montréal. One I will be revisiting and booking a hotel in very soon.

5. Mount Royal Park

Not exactly Old Montréal, but it is certainly blog-worthy. A Beautiful park over-looking the city with views just as amazing at night as they are during the day. In the winter months you can cross-country ski, snow shoe, ice skate, tube, etc. In the warmer part of the year you can picnic, walk, guided tour, hike the 3 peaks, bike, etc. For details and to book your scooter tour of the park, click here.

HOW TO GET AROUND:

Metro – (subway ) Place-d’Armes is where you want to get off to go to Old Montréal where everything is located. It is a longer walk than we desired, especially in the heat. There are scooter rentals and bike rentals all over the place which is convenient.

Uber – I love Uber because they know exactly where to pick you up. Not necessarily the cheapest way, but 100% the most convenient. No comparison. Download app, set up your credit card info, and get rides. Easy as 1, 2, 3.

Bus

Taxi

Ever been to New Orleans? You might want to put it on your list!

xo,

-E

Guide to Huntsville, Alabama

Fun Things to do:

Big Spring Park

 

This is a very well-kept park in the middle of the city. My mom took me here and we honestly had a blast! So there is a pretty large canal with a ton of fish in it! We fed the fishies for .25 cents. Before you leave Huntsville, you must see.

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If you follow the canal, you will run into a big staircase. There you will find The Cozy Cow, an ice cream parlor/restaurant that is just as cozy as it suggests. It has a nice little patio to enjoy your panini, burger, sandwich, or ice cream outside.

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If you head upstairs, you will find an Irish Pub named Keegan’s Public House with a partial outdoor  bar and a few patio tables as well. Great place to stop for a beer with a nice park view.

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At the top of the stairs, you can consider yourself downtown Huntsville! Tired from all the walking? I got you covered. Honest Coffee downtown is where you need to be. A snug little cafe with a garage door that opens up with plenty of outdoor seating. Met with baked goods and coffee with a welcoming atmosphere!

Tons of other great restaurants and bars close by, but my favorite thing we did next and it doesn’t include food (I know, surprising.)

Harrison Brother’s Hardware 

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110 year old register (that still works!)

Doesn’t sound like much, right? Well, this is not just any hardware store — it is actually the first of its kind (in Alabama).

It was founded in 1879 by two brothers named James and Daniel Harrison and it remained in the family until the illness of John Harrison in 1983. The Historic Huntsville Foundation purchased it from the Harrison family and has vowed to preserve it ever since.  From the original creaky wooden floors to original items still on the shelves, this is certainly one of the most unique historic sites I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Nowadays, Harrison Bros. Hardware is a souvenir shop of sorts run solely by passionate and knowledgable volunteers. They sell magnets, real cotton wreaths, pottery, knickknacks, and more. The lady at the counter took the time to explain the whole history all the while showing us old pictures of the Harrison brothers.

Botanical Gardens

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I would recommend visiting the Botanical Gardens only if you have kids. While it is very pretty, it is definitely more kid-oriented. Lots of kids activities and attractions, hay rides, kid art, etc. My favorite part was the butterfly habitat because I have never been to one.

Nothing Bundt Cakes

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Seriously clever name! If you have ever had a bundt cake, then you know exactly what they have to offer. They sell little bundtlets (mini bundt cakes) as well as regular sized bundt cakes. I bought two bundtlets — one funfetti, and one pecan praline. Both were super moist with just the right amount of frosting. I am actually really happy there is not one located near me because I would practically live there. They had a pumpkin spice to sample which was equally as good as the ones I purchased! They also do special occasion cakes which I think is awesome because it’s different from the usual birthday cake and we all know I am obsessed with unpopular ideas. Check my unpopular special occasion idea in a recent blog post: Just Donuts.

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Green Mountain Nature Trail

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You know you’re in Alabama when there is a chapel in the middle of the woods!

Green mountain nature walk is a 1.5 mile nature trail. So it’s a beautiful and easy trail to enjoy the outdoors away from all of the hustle and bustle. With a super nice and informative employee at the park entrance, it made this my second favorite thing to do in Huntsville. The best part? It’s free! I always love getting out of the city for a little while just to breathe in the fresh air. Another park with great reviews that I didn’t get a chance to explore is Monte Sano State Park. Let me know how it is!

Well y’all that about wraps it up for Huntsville, AL. What an amazingly clean city with plenty to do, and obviously filled with loads of southern charm! Good to know: They call Huntsville “rocket city” because it is home to the US Space and Rocket Center.

xoxo Follow my Instagram journey here.

 

-E

 

 

Adirondack Island Getaway

 

Did you know you can camp on an island in the Adirondack mountains of NY for $30 through the New York State DEC? Before this trip, I haven’t had much experience in the camping department, but I can honestly say I had a blast learning new things while enjoying some of the best views I have ever seen.

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We got to the campsite by boat. Secret: I’ve never driven a boat before.
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Towing the kayaks behind us, and running out of daylight (rookies.)

At Indian Lake Islands campground, you are secluded from other campers which is cool, but also a bit scary. This is a boat access only campground, but there are also campsites that are not on an island. TIP: You can rent a canoe from the campground or you can work with Indian Lake Marina 7 miles up the road and rent an actual boat (which is what we did). Being that there were no showers, no cell service, we slept in a tent, and used a pit privy (which is essentially a wooden porter potty if you can call it that,) I decided that renting a boat made me feel much safer. Seeing that we ran out of daylight while setting up camp, I’d say it was a good call. LOL. Had we tried kayaking like we originally planned, it would have turned into an episode of survivor.

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Only the essentials. BTW, Long Trail Brewing CO. beer is the perfect outdoor beer.

It was an amazingly unique experience waking up in the woods. Fire first thing, due to the fact that the charcoal we brought for the grill would not light–probably because we left it on the boat overnight (again, rookies).

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Foggy morning view.
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…and spaghettio’s & meatballs for lunch. Don’t judge me.

Feeding the little ducklings was adorable, they came so close to me!

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Bombing around on our little 16 Ft. rental boat was probably my favorite thing besides cooking food on the fire (nothing beats food, absolutely nothing). Gazing at all of the nearby mountains on the water cruising along was so peaceful. Did I mention there is even a little sandy beach? You can picnic there also. So in case camping is not for you, and you don’t want to stay the night in the woods with the bears, you can still go for the day and appreciate the beauty and maybe even snap some Instagram-worthy photos.

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3 words: Ice Cold Brewski. Okay two actual real words.
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The perfect set up. 

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The sunsets were like no other. Steak dinner and a view were a perfect combination making it another highlight of the trip.

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Now I am certainly more of a “glamper” (glamorous camper), but being able to say I legitimately camped and had a blast is a pretty good feeling. Now although I was excited to get back to civilization, I highly recommend this campground—if not just for the sense of accomplishment, for the views. The leaves just starting to change, the fog in the morning, the reflection on the water of the trees, the mountains in the background, the islands, and I could go on. Happy camping and be sure to follow my next journey via Instagram 🙂

Most photos were taken with my Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR.

 

-E