As a surprise for Elliott's 40th birthday this year, I planned a small vacation for just the two of us. And since his birthday isn't until October it was definitely a suprise! But with the new baby on the way and summer being Elliott's busiest time at work, the last week of May proved the best time to get away. I chose New Orleans because Elliott had mentioned wanting to visit there once when we were having a conversation (behind San Diego, where we have been a couple of times, and Boston, which was impossible to book a timeshare). I managed to keep it a suprise for the majority of the time but the one day Elliott brought in the mail and the one time he actually looked at the mail was the one day I received some requested brochures from the New Orleans Visitors' Bureau. Grrr.... It was all for the best though. In the end it allowed me to discuss some of my ideas for vacation fun with Elliott instead of planning it all myself.
We stayed for almost a week at a timeshare (courtesy of my mom) in the beautiful Garden District. The trolley stop was right in front, which made getting around super easy and we took full advantage of our 5-day pass. We flew in late Monday night and then spent all day Tuesday getting our feet wet with the area. We rode the trolley from one end of the line to the other in all directions, getting off to see some sites (like the Mississippi River and Bourbon Street) and eat some delicious food. My good friend Katy had recommended the Camellia Grill, which was a delightful treat for some yummy brunch. For dinner we ate at a little seafood place in the French Quarter where we ordered a delicious alligator remoulade among other things (but it is the alligator I remember!).
Wednesday was our biggest outing. We signed up for a bayou tour and took a shuttle bus a little ways outside of the city to get a glimpse of Louisiana's most famous residents - the alligators. Our pontoon boat took us out into the byways and we got to see quite a few big boys up close. It was loads of fun to try and spot them but the boat captain had a secret trick - marshmallows. Turns out the captains have been feeding the gators these tasty treats for years and they have gotten used to the snack, showing up and performing for a little sugar.
All in all the rest of the week is a bit of a blur, but I know it included lots of great food and people watching - beignets and coffee at Cafe' DuMonde, eating dinner one night at a seafood restaurant on Bourbon Street where we sat right by the window and watched revelers walk by, next night dinner with a live jazz band and more seafood (cause you can't get enough in New Orleans!). We also saw more of the sights - walking through Audabon Park, Elliott getting in some poker playing at Harrah's Casino, taking in the Aquarium and their Parakeet Point exhibit, strolling the French Market, a night out in the French Quarter, visiting the local Farmers' Market, drinking Hurricanes at the originating bar, finding a local old movie palace and catch a flick.
We had a wonderful time away and my mom survived a week with the girls (though I think she was quite happy for us to come home and take back over; those girls are indeed exhausting!). It was the first time we had had the opportunity to vacation by ourselves and we enjoyed the special one-on-one time immensely.