Thursday, June 28, 2012

Galveston Walk-About September 15, 2011

September 15th I went to Galveston with my friends Brandi and Heather to do the Galveston annual Walk-About.  It's a fundraiser to help Clean Up Galveston through all the hurricane repairs.  Years later and there's still work needed to be done!  My friend Rhianna posted on Facebook the event and I checked out the website.  For $25 you walk around 25 different places in the historical Galveston Strand area.  In each restaurant or shop you get a playing card in a closed envelope.  After getting all 25 you take it back to the pub you start at and 5 cards are player cards which you make into a poker hand.  The best poker hand wins.  It was a fantastic day, with great weather, and great friends!  Check it out...
After getting a drink at the bar/pub and signing in we headed to the places on our maps.  As we were "walking about" the Strand Heather found the old fortune teller, Zoltar!  There were no "Big" moments but it was fun.  
After stopping at a few places we ended up on the outskirts of the strand and we were really hungry.  The Apache restaurant had a table open in the gorgeous weather outside so we decided to have lunch here.  They clearly weren't prepared to be serving a bunch of people, though.
The food wasn't bad.  After waiting 45 minutes for food (which is UNHEARD OF when ordering Mexican food) we ate and strolled out of there.
Some of the places were decorated really cute, like the drug store.  Too bad I wanted to stay for a milkshake or soda fountain drink but I think we were a little  rushed to get back in time to turn in all our cards for the Walk-About.
We even stayed at the tequila bar to watch the end of the Longhorns game.  I love my friends!  They let me watch the game even though they could care less...
Our second-to-last stop was the Nestle Tollhouse cafe so when I saw the UT cookie I had to get a piece!  Lol, ok it was really for Halloween but to each their own!  Hook em horns!!  After the cookie we hit Carlos Mencia's mexican food restaurant, Maggie Rita's and sat out on the 2nd floor balcony overlooking the Strand and having a margarita.
Around 9pm we didn't have anything to show for our Walk-About prizes and we had plenty to drink but were ready for dinner.  We were talking about the more popular restaurants in Galveston and we hadn't yet been to Fisherman's Wharf so we headed to the bay to get some seafood.
I splurged (probably because I had been drinking all day) and got the Fishermans' Wharf Fried Seafood platter with shrimp, fish filet, mini crab cakes, crab-stuffed shrimp and a "shrimp kiss" which is a bacon-wrapped shrimp fried.  It was soooooooooo good.  I know, you're thinking, PIG!  But we really had been walking all day long and it was hot outside and I was having a good time and....and... It was good.  LOL

So, after that, it was probably close to 11pm.  And...since no one had thought to tell the hotel we would be arriving late...when we got to the Hilton on the Seawall they had "a water leak" and needed to send us to the San Luis Resort.  When they said that I started jumping up and down, getting all excited.  The San Luis Resort is BEAUTIFUL!!!!  But, little did I know, we would not be staying in a room, we'd be in one of the condos... Maybe one or two people could live in this closet...  But they put three people in this little thing where the bed rolled up into the wall.  If you can't tell I was MAJORLY disappointed.  Again, the bed was nice...if it were just me.  But, it was 3 girls...
 Instead of stay in the tiny room and suffocate we decided to hit the patio and see what we saw...
Our view from the room was great.  The white you see at the top of the picture are the waves breaking.  It was wonderful to hear the ocean!  Since we were expecting the fun Hilton pool we brought our swim suits.  So we decided to head to the pool...
 (This is a daytime shot of the previous look that I took in the morning).
 (This is another daytime shot of our balcony and the rest of the San Luis Resort condos and hotel rooms.
So back to my story (with daytime pictures since I didn't take my camera to the pool with us).  The pool area at the San Luis is gorgeous!
Heather and I swam up to the bar and Heather got the best mojito she's ever concocted (create-your-own) and I think I had a strawberry daiqueri.  Hey, did you see the meal I just had?  I only had so much stomach capacity left...
The pool was HEATED and we swam around until 2-3am in the morning.
There in the background you see the waterfall?  Well on top of that is a water slide that was SUPER FUN!  I went once to try it for the whole group and the water you fell into was NOT heated.  I frozeeeeeee but then I got Heather to do it and I went again.  But under the waterfall is a fun hot tub/jacuzzi.  The couples were PISSED that we were hogging the waterful but oh well..... Too bad, so sad.  I'd love to go back!  But it has to be super busy during the summer with all the kids.  But totally worth it, especially want one of those cabanas you see up in the previous picture.

Another great weekend with the best friends a girl could ask for!  

*******Leaving for Ireland tomorrow :)  Happy travel girl!!!  Wishing you happy summer travels!!!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Natchez, Mississippi and Oak Alley, Day 3

The final day of our trip was wrapping up Natchez, Mississippi and then heading towards New Orleans where we explored Oak Alley in Louisiana.  Both parts of the day were wonderful!
We began the day by taking the tour of Monmouth Plantation after packing up.  It came free with the stay.  Most of the people taking the tour were those staying at the plantation.  The wallpaper in the main hallway was pointed out as similar to the time period.  Very interesting...
General Quitman purchased the property for his wife.  There's a long history behind the ownership of the home.  And after the destruction of the Civil War the house fell on bad times.  Luckily we have some wonderful, proud citizens in the South who helped bring Monmouth Plantation into a beautifully restored inn.
My aunt had researched for the trip and found Oak Alley Plantation, one that was used for various movies because of its beauty.  I loved it because it was in our 1000 Places book :)  It's a bit off the highway but walking up to it from the wide parking area leaves you in great anticipation.  Walking up to the plantation tours is just a beautiful walk, and a haven when it's warm out.
Historical marker! :)
On the back patio of Oak Alley they were selling mint juleps.  I had heard horror stories of these, especially from my family members who had gone to the Kentucky Derby a couple decades ago.  But these were actually not bad.  Definitely something I could suck down on a warm day.  It totally brought us back to the plantation least for me.
As we were waiting for the next tour we drank our mint juleps and looked at all the historical fliers.  There were young women in period costume that added to the dramatic feel of being back in the 1800s.
As it got closer to our tour time we went to the front porch of the home.  Here you could get a beautiful picture of the "Oak alley".
The front of the Oak Alley Plantation home...with all the tourists waiting for our next tour.
No pictures were allowed inside the home tour but I did get to take this picture on the upstairs porch.  I tried to capture the moment with the mint julep and oak alley.  Came out very touristy, lol.
This was our very sweet and knowledgeable tour guide.  She led a great tour for us throughout the home.
When we were finished with the tour I was surprised to find NO ONE in front of the home.  So I took a sequence of photos of the plantation home while walking along the alley.
And walking....
And walking...
And walking... Lol
Then we went to the side of the home that had a beautifully manicured garden, and the garage with the Ford Model A's.  A very neat addition to the history of Oak Alley!
When walking back to the parking lot we stopped at the gift store to get our souvenirs and some water and a sandwich.  I got my usual picture book for the kids, Christmas ornament and patch for the travel bag.  Another glorious road trip!!

Natchez, Mississippi Day 2 Fall Pilgrimage

The next morning we began with a DELICIOUS breakfast at Monmouth Plantation.  We went into the breakfast room across the courtyard from our suite.  Then we got started on our plantation tour!
The breakfast area was so beautiful and the china was so pretty.
There was a serve-yourself area for fruit, yogurt and granola but I also chose to be served the hot breakfast served that day.  It was just as good as it looks!
When we were walking from the breakfast area to our suite I caught a great picture of some of the garden area of Monmouth.  So beautiful and well taken care of!
Then we headed off to the first plantation on our stop, Dunleith.  This plantation is on the Historical Registrar and offers tour year-round.  It's also a plantation home that you can stay at, like Monmouth!
We were at the back of the plantation home, waiting for the next tour when I was snapping pictures left and right with my pink "point and shoot" camera......when it dropped and busted.  Nice, huh?  Thank goodness, I'm used to my clumsiness.  I quickly got out my more expensive, larger camera and shot the rest of the trip with it...  I love being prepared!  (But it still stunk...) 
The flowers and bushes at Dunleith were very beautiful, especially for September, after a harsh summer.
The courtyard where I busted my camera :)  Can you imagine the wonderful parties that must have gone on here?  Now you can enjoy the courtyard if you stay here (which I would LOVE to do one day!).
 The historical markers 8-)  My nerd glasses there for ya...  Just love these!
 After the tour (where pictures are not allowed) my aunt and I went out to the front of the house where we took some more pictures of the gorgeous structure.
Then we headed over to the Natchez Visitor Center to get our tickets for the Fall Pilgrimage of historic antebellum homes.  The tickets are pretty pricey, about $40 for 3 tours, so we decided to pick the ones we really wanted to see and do an overall tour in a limo.
The inside of the visitors center was very nice.  There were quite a few exhibits on local information and a gift shop.  I got a lot of great books from authors of the area.  They had a good selection of children's books that explain the history of the Civil War, too.
Some wonderful writers from the Natchez area.
Then we headed to Rosalie Plantation.  We decided not to take the tour (although I would have loved to) but rather toured the outside of the home.
On the premises they had the bell from the U.S.S. Mississippi.
The courtyard of Rosalie was very impressive and I LOVED the big oak trees!
The National Historic Landmark sign :D 
If you look closely at the door you'll see a woman in period clothing who was waiting to give the next tour.
I would have loved to live in an area with all these beautiful oak trees!  What a savior they must have been before AC was invented...and in the South.
One of the other notable things to see at Rosalie is the Fort markers where Fort Rosalie stood during the Civil War.  Just beyond the trees was the Mississippi River so this area contained a safe-guard fort that protected the least until the Union completely took Natchez off the map, almost.  The plantation home was named after the fort.
Then we decided to take the hour-long tour of historic homes that was an option at the Visitors Center.  (Bad freakin' idea!)  I was so excited when the limo pulled up, but it actually ended up being a drag.  The views in a limo are horrible, there was no top to stand up to and it was really just three rows of regular seats.
For the record we did drive by a lot of great-looking homes...but we got a brief history, although my aunt didn't hear much because of her hearing.
The woman was very rude who led the tour and was very derogatory when my aunt said she couldn't hear.  We did get our money back for my aunt but I didn't press the issue with my ticket (around $40).  But... it was a very unfortunate situation.
We had really been looking forward to eating lunch at Fat Mama's Tamales from our 1000 Things Before You Die book.  It was a really cute set-up and very laid back.  I loved the travel posts in the parking lot.
The Knock-You-Naked margarita was delicious and the tamales were awesome!!!  Such a great place to go when in Natchez.
I have a huge love for the National Park Service so as we were leaving our tamales and heading to more plantation homes my aunt let us stop at the William Johnson House.
William Johnson was an African American barber in Natchez who wrote an amazing journal that chronicled life as an African American in Natchez during a very unfair time in the USA.  In the red-bricked building is the National Park exhibit and then you can go upstairs to see his home.
Then we headed to Melrose, with only an hour left before they closed.  Another National Park Service we were the only ones that were there and had a private tour from a very nice (cute) park ranger. :)
The house was being worked on from the outside but the inside was decorated very nice.  I loved seeing the huge fan in the middle of the table that a slave had to move (with the rope) back and forth during the entire meal.
The parlor was a very colorful green design.  It looked kind of comfy actually but I can't imagine the heat with no AC during the summer!
The in-tact slave cabins were definitely a historical site to see.  Such a big piece of American history and so controversial.  I almost wonder if touring these are like walking into Auschwitz or something...
The front of Melrose in the process of being restored.  Still, the columns are beautiful and very prestigious, at least to me.
After closing down all the historical sites we went back to clean up for a wonderful, fancy dinner at 1818, the restaurant at our plantation home hotel, Monmouth.  We had three big courses of shrimp, salmon and a tasty blueberry dessert.  It was a great way to end our last night in Natchez!