New York City! Tall buildings. Busy streets. Authentic cuisine. Interesting people.

We love it and we keep going back for more! New York City is our home away from home. It’s that place we go to when we want to take a quick road trip, so we stuff a couple of outfits in a backpack and some toiletries (kind of place). After that long stretch up the Jersey Turnpike, you know you’ve made it when you get to the loud horns and bumper to bumper traffic at the GW Bridge or the Lincoln Tunnel.

I love the lights. I love the sights and the noise. I even love the smells when you’re passing by the numerous restaurants or the flower shop on the corner. I don’t love the graffiti, or the rats or the trash on the streets, but if you love New York City you must love all of her because there is no place like it.

Our last visit during the week of July 4th we brought along six members of our family. One of our nieces is interested in attending NYU in a couple of years and since none of them had ever been to New York before, this was a perfect destination spot for our annual family vacation.

We stayed right in the middle of the action, two blocks from Times Square and just across the street from Madison Square Garden and Penn Station.

Our hotel accommodations were at the Stewart Hotel in midtown Manhattan. We used Booking.com to book some really good deals on the hotel about three months in advance. Parking was around the corner and underneath the building. In true New York form, parking was about $75 a day. (We saved money piling up eight deep in our large truck and only spending about $50 in gas each way).

We took the elevator up and landed in a beautiful hotel lobby.

The rooms were very spacious compared to many of the other hotels we’ve stayed in before. Hubs and I had a Studio King Suite. There was enough room that I commented if we had to have a place in New York for business or our frequent personal travels, this would be the ideal space. The only thing I did not appreciate was the tiny bathroom. The shower was only large enough for a small middle schooler and it was very uncomfortable trying to wash the front and backside in one tiny space. Sorry, not sorry about all the water on the floor.

ML’s brother who is part of a family of six fared far better. They were given a one bedroom deluxe suite with two baths. Mom and dad had their private quarters and bath with a romantic balcony they could not access. The four kiddos shared a large living area with a pull-out sofa, an air mattress they brought with them, their own bath and a small kitchen with a fridge, dishwasher and a two burner stovetop. From the living area, they had a great view of Madison Square Garden and Times Square. The lights, taxis and people watching kept them busy during those rare downtimes.

We had so much fun during our time there. The kids loved it but I think the visit overwhelmed mom and dad, especially considering they have a 10th grader who wants to live and attend school in that big boisterous city all by herself.

I’ll share in the next blog some of the things we did and the foods we ended up eating.

I love New York!!!!

Beignets, red beans and rice, and chargrilled oysters! There is only one place on earth where I can fill up on all three and my palate is totally satisfied! You guessed right, New Orleans baby. Laissez les bon temps roulez!

New Orleans is one of our favorite spots because of the rich culture and rich food. Our last visit was this past spring. ML was craving those chargrilled oysters so badly that we took a four-hour detour on a return trip from Texas to Virginia, just for those darn delicious oysters. We checked into the Fairfield Inn & Suites in the Downtown/French Quarter area, changed into proper French Quarter strolling attire and began our walk to our favorite oyster restaurant, Acme Oyster House on Iberville Street.

I hear there are many good restaurants that sell chargrilled oysters, but this is the only place that hubs will eat them. In 2015, it was a shucker at Acme Oyster House that first convinced him to try them and he swore to him that he would love them chargrilled. ML tried them, he loved them and we went back the next day for him to eat them again. This trip it was all he cared to order but we also tried from the appetizer menu, the Boom Boom Shrimp. This was a full plate of fried shrimp coated in a secret Acme sauce. After the shrimp, a side of fries and drinks to wash it all down, I was just about full. But to both of our delight, in comes the main course – those delectable grilled aphrodisiacs, saturated in an herb butter sauce and topped with a special blend of cheese. I ate a couple but happily watched ML devour those suckers and sop up the remaining butter on the plate with the slices of bread they give you.

  No room for dessert at the time, I took home a slice of bananas foster cheesecake that I ate for breakfast the next day. But on our way out of Acme, we spotted and had to say a quick hello and goodbye to the man responsible for our grilled oyster addiction, our favorite shucker who still works there. I guess he loves the oysters too!

 This was a quick overnight trip but well worth the detour. Our room at Fairfield was nicely decorated, clean and comfortable bed, and in walking distance to many of the downtown/French quarter hotspots. And well, we’ve already told you about the oysters. Give them both a try – YOLO!

 Trip Cost: About $300  (Hotel, Gas to and from VA, Food in NOLA)