NYE in New Orleans!

When I decided to celebrate New Year’s in the Big Easy, I had no idea that Travel & Leisure would rank New Orleans as the top NYE destination in the USA or that National Geographic would name it a must-see city for 2014. I guess I chose well.

Aside from the unusually cold weather and the periodic rain, we couldn’t have asked for a better way to ring in a new year. We began the night on the legendary Bourban Street where crowds filled the streets and party goers filled the second story galleries (balconies) dangling beads over our heads. The drunken masses proceeded to entertain us all night with their antics… doing pretty much anything and everything to get the cheap plastic beads that could be purchased for less than a dollar in the countless tourist shops. We were wearing multiple layers of beads ourselves, but I’ll leave you guessing if I earned my beads or not ;)

We took a break from the crowds to cram our way into a completely full night club with live singers performing Top 40 covers. The energy was enough to keep us inside despite the smoke and lack of personal space. Soon enough we were ready to grab a world-famous Hurricane and head to Jackson Square for the main event. When the rain settled in we dodged the weather by grabbing some beignets and coffee in a nearby cafe to wait for the fleur de lis drop at midnight. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Happy New Year! We were situated right along the banks of the Mississippi for a beautiful firework show right over our heads.

We made our way back to Bourban Street to get in some more people watching before we headed over to Frenchmen Street for some more awesome jazz from our favourite neighbourhood clubs. All in all, we had a great time and this will go down as a NYE to remember!

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Hau’oli la hanau – Birthday on the Beach

I can’t think of a better way to spend a birthday than lying on the beach in Hawaii. And, that’s exactly what my mom got to do on our recent trip to Oahu. As I wished my mother “Hau’oli la hanau” (Happy Birthday in Hawaiian) we found ourselves in the town of Kailua on the windward side of the island. It took a 45 minute bus ride followed by a 45 minute walk to get to Lanikai Beach but it was well worth the trip to see if National Geographic had rightly rated it as one of the top ten beaches in the world. What we found when we got there was white, powder-like sand far away from the crowds that constantly swarm Waikiki. This is mainly because Lanikai beach is only accessible through public access paths that cut through the upper-class homes that snake along the coastline of this residential area. In a place that is so infested with tourists, a day of peace and quiet with the locals was a true delight, although we’ve both seen better beaches in the past.

A day on Lanikai Beach

We ended our celebratory first day in Hawaii with a delicious meal at House without a Key at the Halekulani Hotel. This unique restaurant showcases authentic Hawaiian music and hula dancing from 5:30 – 8:30 pm every night. Many people come to enjoy the live music and watch the sun go down from the outdoor patio. We made sure to get there early to secure a table with a view as the restaurant doesn’t take reservations. After the most beautiful and delicious cocktails, our fill of gourmet seafood, and some coconut cake to finish it off, we could easily say we had the perfect evening.

House without a KeyCoconut Cake

House without a Key