Our first trip alone for 4 nights, celebrating a special wedding anniversary. We stayed at the Enchantment Resort. What a beautiful relaxing place! It is definitely not cheap (rooms were about $360 a night but they had a 4th night free special back then).
To get to Arizona, we used Avios points on American Airline flights so we just paid a nominal amount for taxes (vs about $450 per ticket). We also used the Barclaycard arrival sign up bonus (40k points at the time I think, which one could redeem for $400 dollars in travel credit back then) which we used to redeem for travel credit, substantially reducing our costs.
For our actual anniversary we ate at the hotel’s fancy restaurant called Che-Ah-Chi which was delicious, thanks to a gift certificate as our anniversary present (thank you in-laws!).
Other than lazying around and catching up on sleep, we did a lot of hiking available within a couple of miles from the hotel. We got a recommendation to eat at El Elote, described as amazing Mexican food (and looked it, too), but instead we pigged out on this amazing and affordable Mexican food place called Tortas de Fuego! Absolutely delicious.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Who is ready to eat and get your jazz on? Lets do this. We’ve got 4 days, and will stay at the French Quarter, trying out the new Moxy Hotel (maybe a little too hip for us, we shall see. I need some Marriott points so worth the try!). We got the tickets for $0 thanks to Citi Thank you points. While there, we are hoping get a treat (beignets) at the famous Cafe du Monde, walk all over the French Quarter, eat at Killer Po Boy (cash only). At night, enjoy dinner at Trinity and catch a concert at Preservation Hall.
On day 3 have breakfast at Merchant, visit the Museum of Art, Sculpture Garden and City Park. For lunch try either 1000 figs or Willie Mae’s, or light snack at museum cafe or Morning Call if too lazy/not enough time. Get some rest before going to Bayona for Dinner and on to Frenchmen Street.
On our last day have breakfast Satsuma (Maple Street) or Toast, check out Audubon Park and Garden District, have lunch at Commanders Palace and, if room in our bellies try to find a treat at Sucre. Get a good nap in and get ready for dinner and jazz at Three Muses (Frenchmen street).
And yes we hope to take the Street car plus a healthy amount of walking.
For my fellow hikers – I mean this is what I call HEAVEN on earth. I had been eying this area for years and we were finally able to visit. We flew into Calgary (American Airlines miles), then rented a car then did most of the following amazing things in 11 days through Banff, Lake Louis and Jasper:
We walked around Banff town a little bit, took the touristy Banff Gondola, visited the gorgeous Emerald Lake, Moraine Lake, Bow Valley, Johnson Canyon, Larch Valley / Sentinel Pass, Summit of 6 Glaciers/ Teahouse Challenge.
Next, the absolute highlight of the trip and my favorite hike EVER, we did the Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit. Apparently some people saw some northern lights that night (those that reserved to stay in the campsite) but we had no such luck driving back to our hotel. What a bummer as that is one of the things on my bucket list. One day…maybe Iceland.
Ok back to Lack O’Hara Alpine Circuit – If you are going be absolutely sure you check on the bus reservations situation to get in and out – we did not have one and we walked in, making this a really long day, with total hiking of 23 kilometers, which is about 14 miles.
Not going to lie, I was pretty relieved that a bear did not jump at me while we were doing that. Since that was not adventurous enough for me apparently, we decided to face my claustrophobia fears and take a tour to the Rat’s Nest Cave. That was such an awesome, awesome experience. I am still amazed I did not panic going through “The Laundry Chute”. Check this video (not me but I did the same thing) on that part of the cave- I dare you not to freak out just by looking at it. Thank God I was never this guy! URGH!
As for food, we found this random little place at a food court called Taste of Sri Lanka and we were so hooked we ate there for like 5 meals lol. Dosas, YUM!! We also tried and recommend the Baker Creek Bistro and Downstream in Jasper.
As for hotels, we stayed at the Radisson Calgary Airport Hotel, Paradise Lodge Bungalows at Lake Louise (our base for both this area and Banff) and Park Place Inn at Jasper. All recommended but book way in advance for the Paradise Bungalows!
For other travel ideas check here.