Live Blogging: 4 Trips, 5 Months 12/19/17

I cannot believe it's been over a month since I last "live blogged". Where has the time gone?!

Anyway, so the last thing I shared was that I was preparing for trips to NYC and New Orleans.

Well, now those trips are done. It's time to move on to trip #4, a trip I haven't even begun working out the details for.

A refresher on the backstory: In August I began a new job that provided me with a lot of vacation time for the rest of the year but very minimal vacation time for next year. In an effort to make the most of it, I was planning four trips in five months (now, one in one month) with updates weekly on how the planning process is going.

Post 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Now, here's what I learned during trips #2 and #3:

Trip #2 –
• NYC is cold when it's windy and 50Âș out.
• There is always an event going on in NYC. We didn't have plans for Saturday night, learned about Night of Too Many Stars on Saturday morning, bought tickets at Madison Square Gardens that morning, and were at the show that night.
• Downtown Manhattan is not a terrible place. In fact, it's really nice and convenient to be able to walk everywhere. And if you get the right hotel room, it's not too loud either.
• Because the weather had been pretty nice in Atlanta, this was my first time putting on my winter boots since last year. My feet were screaming in pain! And these are the same winter boots that reminded me of comfy slippers last year. 😯
• Jazz clubs are completely different all over Manhattan. Dizzy's Club Coca Cola is entirely different from Mezzrow Jazz Club. Think large show vs. intimate gathering. I do love that there is so much variety in NYC that you can have any kind of experience you seek. Ultimately, I preferred the "intimate gathering" style jazz club. 
• After so many hotels, you tend to get lost searching for your room.
• Who has ever heard of a "smash"? (It's a half sandwich with a "mash" of toppings. Super yummy!)
• Also, burrata cheese is the BEST. (Think mozzarella but with a ball of cheese inside the ball of cheese.)
• My favorite hotel, while we were there, was the Hyatt Andaz Fifth Avenue. It had huge rooms and free food and drinks at the minibar. A chocolate upon arrival to NYC? Yes, please.
• The best hot chocolate in NYC can be found at LadurĂ©e. It's "French" style. They have terrible customer service though!

Trip #3 –
Café du Monde is famous for a reason. We tried another beignet shop and the beignets didn't even compare.
• Also, people who are familiar with New Orleans and CafĂ© du Monde will skip the line and just find a seat. I'm not saying you should; I'm just saying people do. It's first come, first serve. If you find an empty table, it's yours.
• While my husband and I were eating dinner one night in an open style cafĂ©, a band just wandered by on the street. It sounded like a parade. I may have squee'ed a bit. :)
• I'm sure New Orleans has good jazz, but I did not enjoy my night at the Royal Sonesta's Jazz Playhouse. There was too much singing going on. And they had a huge pillar blocking much of the view. Like I said about NYC, I'm much more on an "intimate" jazz fan. Put me in a room with a jazz band (pianist is important!), good drinks, and 20 other people, and I'm good.
• Try the eggs cochon at The Ruby Slipper! YUM! I didn't really venture out and try too much New Orleans style food, but what I did try was amazing!
• Not a fan of King cake. I love sweets, but the cinnamon flavor was a bit off-putting.
• And drinks? Yum! I fell in love with the Gin Fizz and Brandy Milk Punch. I also had to try a Hurricane (which I didn't actually end up liking there).
Mardi Gras World was amazing! Loved learning about the floats, the artists, and the history of Mardi Gras in New Orleans!
• We also spent a good bit of time at the World War II Museum. It was pretty intense and required a minimum of two to three hours to explore.
Celebration in the Oaks is definitely worth a visit at Christmastime. After my experience with the Osborne Spectacle of Lights in Walt Disney World, my expectations for Christmas lights are pretty high and I thought I might be disappointed with Celebration in the Oaks. Turns out, I wasn't. You should go if you get the chance!

Learn From My Mistakes:
• If possible, always book refundable hotel rooms, even if the cost is more. As the date gets closer, you can price adjust and save money. Between the two trips, I am guesstimating I saved over $300 by following the prices and adjusting as necessary.
• Even if you can't book a refundable hotel room, if the price goes down, ask the hotel manager if s/he can adjust the price for you. In my case, he did!
• This works the same for non-refundable dates. If you need to adjust your dates, call and ask! The worst they can say is no.
• Don't be afraid to adjust your plans. Sometimes you wear the wrong shoes or it's too cold out.
• It's also a good idea to change shoes from day to day. I'm not sure why.
• DO NOT take things you are afraid of losing. If it's meaningful, you will probably forget it in the hotel room.

So what are we doing for trip #4?

Maybe staying home? Maybe going. I just don't know. I guess I'll decide last minute. :)

Anyway, I just got my schedule for January and it seems I may have more vacation time than I anticipated. One week paid, three weeks unpaid, occasional unpaid random days off, and paid holidays. That's a lot more vacation time than I was expecting. I'll have to keep you all updated on what we plan to do with it. (Hawai'i? France? Canada? Africa? Women's March Part 2? Who knows?)

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