New Orleans, Louisiana

Easter weekend was spent in the beautiful "NOLA" with the Louis family + "love dates." The occasion: Early 30th birthday celebration for Hunt-man. E and I headed down after work on Thursday, met up with Hunt and began our exploration/tour. Carousel Bar at the Monteleone, then Absinthe House on Bourbon Street. An exciting sight to see -- Bourbon St. lit up at night (kind of reminded me of our time in Patong Beach, Mugs). It was quite nice to experience it on Thursday, as the crowds were minimal and people watching still exceptional.

The whole gang arrived on Friday -- spending the afternoon sipping Pimm's Cups at Napoleon House and a "Sugar Daddy" drawn carriage ride through the streets of the French Quarter. A quick happy birthday, with cake and ice cream, then already time for cocktail hour. Staying at the Roosevelt Hotel, our nightly meeting spot was the classic Sazerac Bar where the ladies sipped Honey Badgers and the men, Sazeracs. Our night ended with dinner at NOLA, one of Emeril's restaurants, which was nothing but delicious.

Saturday we woke early and explored the French Quarter while making our way to Cafe Du Monde for coffee and beignets (a special thanks to Bennett for his incredible gift of sweet talking that gets us out of waiting in hour-long lines). We sat in the park at Jackson Square while we waited for our table at Stanley Restaurant. A great brunch, especially the Breaux Bridge Benedict (+ side of fried oysters). To Harrah's after brunch for a quick sit at the blackjack table (as we lost all our money rather fast). Viewing of the Masters followed, along with a stop to Felix's for oysters -- raw, char-grilled, rockefeller and bienville. YUM. More wandering, a visit to Pat O'Briens for the boys to enjoy the famous Hurricane, then home to prep for dinner. We ended the night with dinner at August, a John Besh restaurant -- absolutely fabulous!

Sunday morning was nearly a repeat -- grabbed coffee and beignets from Cafe Beignet on Royal Street and made our way for the park. Easter brunch was shared in the old slave auction building at Pierre Masperos once the rest of the group emerged. We wandered along the banks of the Mississippi River, then walked the edge of the French Quarter, admiring the character and architecture that just can't be beat! After a long walk it was back to the hotel to pack up and say our goodbyes :( E and I sent everyone off, then relaxed in the sun, soaking up our final few hours before heading back to reality.

Here we are... back to Chicago and missing NOLA very much! Thank you to A+S for such an incredible weekend -- one we will not soon forget. Missing everyone already, but looking forward to our next rendezvous in just a few short weeks. XOXO