The Big Easy Just the Two of Us

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Cherry Coffee Roasters

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Outside Faulkner House Books in the French Quarter

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Oak Alley Plantation

 

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Evergreen Plantation

 

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Bevi Seafood Co. 


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Cochon Butcher

 

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Revelator Coffee Company

 

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Central City BBQ

           
         Daniel and I tend to go south for our anniversary trips, but not for Florida’s sunshine and sandy beaches. No thank you. We want 60-70* weather and ideally, locations that would be miserable to visit in the summer. Such as, Austin. Or Puerto Rico.

This year, we chose New Orleans and it did not disappoint us. 

We had basically 3 goals for the duration of our stay:  

           1. Eat good food. If you’re familiar with Netflix’s show, “Somebody Feed Phil”, you might know he visited New Orleans and did an episode featuring gumbo, red beans and rice, etc… We took notes and made it to two of the restaurants he ate at: Bevi Seafood Co. and Cochon Butcher. Here is a list of all of the ones Phil visited, with addresses if you are planning a trip here too. With advice from friends who had been to New Orleans before, we looked up the famous beignets (pronounced “ben-YAY”) from the original Cafe Du Monde and throughly enjoyed each bite. I even generously gave some powdered sugar to the birds at my feet when I was done. I hope I didn’t give them high blood sugar.
The last meal of our trip before catching our flight home was at Central City BBQ. Their roasted and marinated brussel sprouts were especially good. 

           2. Sit long, talk much, read and drink coffee. With no toys, spilled drinks, interrupted conversation, needing to share my cappuccino, or whining from two little humans. (This was an exclusively a Daddy and Mommy trip only. Bless my sister-in-law for keeping the children while we were away.) We visited a different coffee shop each day as follows: Cherry Coffee Roasters, Mammoth Espresso, and Revelator Coffee Company. And talk and read we did. Our time at coffee shops was probably the highlight of our trip. There’s just something about a coffee shop that makes us feel so contented.

           3. Visit/see a plantation. We drove past 3 or 4 right along the Mississippi River but opted out of touring the homes or the grounds of any. Unfortunately the entrance fees were somewhat of a deterrent. Maybe another time. That didn’t stop me from snapping a few pictures from the gates out in front though. Oak Alley and Evergreen were especially eye catching. 
            It was not our purposeful intent to be in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, but we just so happened to be there the week before the parades and festivities reach their peak. So we did get to see parts of a parade, the throwing of beads, and some amazing marching bands. I had no idea Mardi Gras is celebrated in New Orleans from January 6 (Epiphany) all the way up to Fat Tuesday, which is the day before Ash Wednesday. It’s a big deal down there. 

           Thus we enter another year of happily married life. With all of its challenges and good times combined. The memories we’ve made over the years, especially traveling together, have been the best.  I’m already wondering what city we shall explore next year. Suggestions?

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A New Mode of Transportation

August 16, 2017 Bergen, Norway > Hirtshals, Denmark

Somewhere among the last few days in Bergen, I got to thinking: “The girls are headed back to the States and we as a family are going to Denmark. How are we getting to Denmark? Daniel hasn’t told me…I haven’t asked…maybe I should find out.”

His answer? A ship.
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Excuse me? Did he say…a ship?

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Why yes. He did.
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This one, in fact.

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It couldn’t have been nicer.

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When traveling with children, sometimes you just want a bit of privacy. You know, after public planes and public buses and public trains, it seems like your entire life is on display. Everyone can hear and see your child(ren) crying and you have to keep up appearances at all times for everyone’s sake. For this leg of our journey, Daniel selected a cabin with a window (oh bless him!), 4 pull-down or fold-out beds and our own tiny bathroom. I truly felt like I was in a book. “Betsy and the Great World” anyone? (Of course, she was very single in that book…and I am…very not…but it was almost the same. Somewhat.) It was about an 18 hour overnight trip and it took us down around the bottom of Norway, to the top of Denmark.

We spent our time alternating between our little room and exploring the ship. There was live entertainment at the bow of the ship with dining.

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On various levels there was artwork to check out.

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Naturally, we spent a fair amount of time supervising Natasha who loved the children’s ball pit and play area. There was even a scavenger hunt for children to do with clues on various floors of the ship and a little prize at the end.

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Back in our little cabin, we could relax privately and enjoy the ride. I was slightly worried about being seasick, and both Natasha and I felt a little funny at times once we got out more on the open sea. But we just took ginger capsules and it was fine.IMG_5928
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Out on deck, we could let the children run more freely, to the great amusement of bystanders.

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I truly felt like I was in a book. The wind, the salty air, the sunset…can you tell I was slightly giddy? It felt surreal.

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And that, my friends, is how we arrived in Denmark.

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If you go:

  • Get a cabin with a window. You won’t regret it.
  • Take snacks. We had our typical salami, meat sticks, clementines, apples, bread, chocolate, etc… Food on the ship is pricey. There is a small shop on board, but the food (well, probably everything) was highly overpriced.
  • If you want to sit in the common areas the best seats are taken fast. So if you see a desirable seat, snag it up.

The Waterfalls of Norway

It’s been one year since we were in Norway, galavanting around with Lynette, Melody and Maria. When we look back at pictures, most of us look the same. Except, the youngest of the group, who rode around on my back teething his way through Scandinavia.

On August 11, 2017 (I’m probably off a day or so…), Daniel and Lynette took the bus to Bergen’s airport and rented cars. I wish I had a link to share with a super savings for this rental that we found, but that’s sadly not the case. We wanted to get some driving time in and see some fjords and scenery outside of town though, so even though it wasn’t all that budget friendly, we did it. I remember there being some debate whether to get a van, which would seat all of us, or two cars, and for some reason, two smaller vehicles won out. So with Lynette driving one Volvo with the girls, and Daniel driving our family, we all headed out in search of some amazing views and waterfalls.

We were not disappointed. Skjervsfossen was the first stop and we saw it from above, before going below.

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Photo by Melody

Lincoln was such a trooper. If I coaxed hard enough, I’d get a smile. IMG_5817

But not for very long. It seems he was thinking, “If I prostrate myself at Mom’s feet, maybe she’ll pick me back up.”290

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Photo by Melody

The mist coming off the falls was pretty strong in some places. None of us ventured up real close, but if you went out a bit on the rocks, you could get misted quite easily. Which Natasha enjoyed.IMG_5829

Is walking behind a waterfall on your bucket list? This can successfully be checked off if you visit Steinsdalsfossen. It was next on our drive and after a slight hike up the hill, you can truly walk behind the falls.

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What is it with gift shops that lure all children closer? The shop here at the base of the hill had many typical souvenirs and among them are little troll figurines which were popular in Norway. None came home with us, by the way.IMG_5845

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Fjords were harder to get close to and/or find than we anticipated. I was expecting something more like Milford Sound down in New Zealand, which was simple to view without getting out on the water. Getting a boat tour here in Norway to get that close wasn’t on the itinerary so we just paused near the shore to observe the view.IMG_5855IMG_5857IMG_5854 (1)

Train Travel in the Rain, With Children

8.9.2017

“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So get on your way!”
― Dr. SeussOh, The Places You’ll Go!

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Traveling with children is not one of the easier things in life. Our entire trip so far had been a mixture of hard, harder and hardest in terms of getting around with Natasha (age 7) and Lincoln (14 months). Natasha woke up the morning we left Chicago with a sore throat and Lincoln soon had a fever on top of teething for our sight-seeing days in Oslo and Gothenburg. Not how any parent wants to experience new countries, but these things do happen.

Melody pointed out that it was a good thing we had the baby carrier and I could cuddle Lincoln so much during this time. That got me to thinking how true that was: If I was at home, I’d probably be pretty perturbed that I wasn’t able to get anything done and that I couldn’t put him down. Instead, all I had to do was carry him around. He only wanted to be held {by me} anyway, so I got to cuddle him, love on him, soothe him and sight-see Norway and Sweden all at the same time.

That sounds all romantic and motherly, doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t all that glorious, trust me. The bus ride from Oslo to Gothenburg was pretty stressful. The train ride from Gothenburg to Bergen wasn’t the relaxing journey one imagines when you see a train travel poster. Children get bored. They get hungry. They cry. They want down when they can’t be down but won’t sit still when they’re being held and won’t fall asleep when they’re beyond sleepy. I had this idea that I might get to do some journaling while riding along, maybe when Lincoln was sleeping peacefully. That was a very nice thought, but not reality. By the time Lincoln was sleeping soundly, I was so worn out, I didn’t feel like digging in the bag to find my notebook.

Thus, Daniel and I traversed the ups and downs of parenting while making our way across Scandinavia. The train ride from Gothenburg, Sweden to Bergen, Norway has over 180 tunnels. When you’re not inside darkness waiting for daylight again, the views are fantastic.
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That is, when you can actually see them. I spent a fair amount of my time pacing and standing at the back of the train car trying to bounce Lincoln to sleep. The windows are just low enough that when you’re standing, you can’t see anything outside.

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It did give me plenty of time to admire this premium baby pram by the Swedish company, Emmaljumga. I think you could purchase this exact one for approximately $600 USD. As you can see, below the bassinet is a sheepskin. I asked the mum about these and she said they’re quite nice to have; warm and cozy for the baby. She kindly gave me the name of the store, Nøstebarn, where I could find one in Bergen. Oh, how I wish I could afford to bring one home with me.

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Once Lincoln did fall asleep, I could sit and enjoy the scenery a bit. But don’t get the wrong impression here: This was NOT how I spent the majority of the trip.
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7+ hours later, we finally arrived in Bergen and stumbled out of the train. The sun was shining, we were at the gateway to the fjords of Norway and we felt fantastic.

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We had a lovely AirBnB apartment awaiting us, soon food was being prepared and spirits were definitely on the rise. They rose even more when our landlady sent up fresh, homemade bread. To say we were delighted is an understatement.

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Photo by Melody 

Scenes From our Last Day in Gothenburg

8.8.2017

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Getting some work done at Da Matteo, this time at Victoriapassegen

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Photo by: Melody

For lunch we had Swedish Meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberry sauce at Café du Nord. Truly, we ought to eat more lingonberry sauce in the states. The sweetness combined with the savory meatballs could easily become a staple in our house.

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Sorry my food is slightly sloppy looking; I’m not a food blogger and it’s hard to get tip-top pictures when you’re holding a toddler and starving at the same time.

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We purchased postcards at Akademibokhandeln (a bookstore Melody discovered by serendipity) where we oohed and ahhed over the cute artwork featured by Elsa Beskow and illustrations from Astrid Lindgren’s books such as Pippi Longstocking and The Children of Noisy Village.

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Photo by: Melody

While the girls wrote postcards, I supervised children at Plikta Playground, which is what I consider one of the best playgrounds ever. They even have little trikes and bikes to lend out for children to ride.


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Last stop of the day was for the famous cinnamon rolls at Café Husaren Hagabullen. They have a gluten-free menu as well, although cinnamon rolls aren’t included. However, we had a large chocolate dessert similar to a no-bake cookie, which was quite tasty and I did sample the huge cinnamon rolls.

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They truly are as big as your head.      Photo by: Melody