Monday, January 08, 2007

My Twelve Fourteen Days of Christmas

With Twelfth Night just past and the traditional start of the Carnival Season upon us I realized I had the twelve fourteen Days of Christmas this year.

It's the longest break we have had since long before August 2005. It's the longest time outside the city in 2006, and 2005 as well although that doesn't count. I returned relaxed and full of thoughts. While I was gone I had limited Internet access and little time for blogging. In my usual tardy manner I didn't write anything immediately so I'll try to recapture my thoughts over the next few days.

My Christmas Season (exclusive of preliminary shopping) starts with our office Christmas Luncheons, a tradition we have continued for 23 years now.

Day 1 Dec 21 Atlanta Christmas Lunch at Vinings Inn.
We enjoyed a very nice lunch in a small private room with a fireplace. Everyone was full of Christmas and Champagne. The day was marred only by the rush to the airport and the hordes of amateur travelers.
Day 2 Dec 22 New Orleans Christmas Lunch at Bayona.
Bayona was fabulous as always. Long my favorite restaurant, we usually can't have our lunch there because our lunch conflicts with their Christmas Party. Every few years though things work out. We had a nice visit with the people at Bayona, our first return there since before the thing. Unfortunately we discovered Andre had moved to Atlanta. Everyone was full of Christmas and Champagne and there was no plane to catch.
Day 3 Dec 23 Cleaning and Decorating
Elfing around the house, cleaning, decorating and wrapping presents.
Day 4 Dec 24 Christmas Eve Cooking and a Party.
Cooking for the Party and cooking for Christmas diner Christmas Day. We visited with family at her Uncles that evening. A great time was had by all. We opened our presents after we got home, She did very well.
Day 5 Dec 25 Christmas Dinner 5 family members.
A Traditional Christmas Dinner with family. Turkey, candied yams, oyster/crab meat/artichoke/eggplant dressing, pumpkin tarts and Retsina with the Smoked Turkey. Retsina with Turkey is another of our peculiar holiday traditions. Try it you may like it.

Day 6 Dec 26 Six hours of work and packing.
A light day at the office. A few loose ends to wrap up and a trip to the bank. Calm quiet with almost no phone calls. Home to pack and wash several loads of dishes.
Day 7 Dec 27 Fly and Drive to Key West.
An 8:30 AM Flight to FLL. We pick up our yellow Mustang convertible for the drive to Key West. Along the way we meet up with friends in Marathon for drinks. Sitting at the bar we realize that we haven't eaten all day and ordered some food. Checked into The Southernmost Hotel, had a drink at their Tiki Bar and Diner at Duffy's in Key West.
Day 8 Dec 28 Duval Crawl; Sunset Obscured; Red Fish Blue Fish.
We spent the day exploring Key West on foot. A lot of shopping, very little buying. We visited the Duval Beach Club and tried to go to the Sunset Celebration, the cruise ships were in the way. The sunset is better and quieter at the Duval Beach Club, I have pictures. We ended up at Red Fish Blue Fish in Mallory Square for diner.
Day 9 Dec 29 Museums; Cafe Sole.
Key West Museums are expensive, the going rate is $11 per person. We passed on the Lighthouse Museum and visited Hemingway House, which even without him would have been the museum highlight. It's an 1850's West Indian style house, not unlike some here. The Truman Little White House is interesting and provided a view of Key West in the late forties and early fifties.

A friend of ours recommended Cafe Sole. They were right the food was fabulous. It made a great 33rd Wedding Anniversary diner.
Day 10 Dec 30 Dry Tortugas National Park
The Dry Tortugas are a group of islands 70 mile west of Key West. Accessible only by seaplane or boat. We chose the Fast Cat II, a catamaran. Unfortunately the seas were fairly rough, 6-9 feet we were told. The ride was less that comfortable. We probably should have taken the larger Yankee Freedom II.

The island was wonderful. The weather was perfect. There are seabirds, snorkeling, a better beach than any on Key West and a Civil War era brick fort. The ride back sucked worse than the ride over, for the first hour. The final hour was beautiful flat seas and a gorgeous sunset. After landing we went straight to the White Tarpon for a Drink.
Day 11 Dec 31 La Te Da; Dem Saints; The Wench Drop.
She wanted breakfast, unfortunately on Days 8 & 9 we overslept. On Day 10 we decided to pass. That was a good decision. We went to La te da, a Cabaret, Bar Hotel which serves brunch till one. We saw it during our walk about and decided to go in honor of a friend of our who used to have that one her license plate. We got there about 11. Unfortunately the bar can't open till noon on Sunday. The food was good anyway.

One of the things we did on our first day was to scout out sports bars to watch the Saints. We settled on Fogarty's, sort an indoor outdoor place, which I understand used to be a Hooter's. It's much improved from that. For some reason on Sunday it wasn't very crowded and we sat at the corner of the bar with a few other die hard NFL fans and watched the game. The Carolina fans had a good time but no one got too excited.

We took a nap getting ready for the big night.

We decided to wander up Duval Street Sunday evening. We went past the Bourbon Street Pub where a Drag Queen is dropped in a Ruby Slipper at midnight. There is a show on a stage in the street. Past Sloppy Joe's where they Drop a Conch Shell at midnight and on to the Schooner Wharf Pirate Wench Drop. We were told that this was the least rowdy, most local celebration. It is also most removed from the crowd of Duval Street, located in the harbor area.

We never made it to the Schooner Wharf we stopped just short of it at the White Tarpon, and She got us private catered New Years Eve, complete with Champagne, stemware, cheese and crackers. We did watch the Wench descend the mast from a distance.

After Midnight we took a pedicab back to our hotel. The pedaler was a young Brazilian law student in the US for several months working on some kind of work exchange program. He was excited we were his first ride of the 2007.
Day 12 Jan 1 Lunch with friends in Key Largo and the Miami Skyline.
On our way out of the Keys we had arranged to see our friends again for a New Year's Day Lunch. We met at their hotel in Key Largo and went to another resort where we supposedly had reservations. There was some kind of mix up and we rode around for a while looking for a place to eat lunch. It s was s sort of minor adventure. In the end we got to toast the New Year with our friends and headed on to Miami.

One part of the Orange Bowl Festivities is what they called this year Fan Fest. In previous years it was held on the beach in Hollywood and called The Beach Bash. This year it was held Park on Miami's Biscayne Bay. The Park is located in the midst of a major construction site and since we had been driving for a while and since it was nearing 5 o'clock we decided to pass. In past years we had never spent much time at the Party, it was a sort of freebie thrown into to our ticket package, along with the tailgate party and a parking pass.

After checking into our hotel in Hollywood we decided to hit the boardwalk and see what had changed what was new and get some dinner.

Our first stop was Nick's Bar and Grill on the boardwalk, where we discovered Oysters and Perone. For some reason Raw Oysters go especially well with Perone. I don't know why.

On to Taverna Opa, another Hollywood tradition, although one which might be ending. We discovered Taverna Opa several years ago on our way to South Beach and keep returning. Unfortunately they seem to be concentrating on expanding with restaurants in South Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and soon Las Vegas. It seems to have gotten louder and less spontaneous. The food is still good.
Day 13 Jan 2 Rain and the Orange Bowl.
The game day had arrived, we planned to sleep late, pre pack spend some time at the pool or on the beach. Unfortunately for the only time the weather didn't cooperate. The forecast was 30% chance of rain, the same as for Key West. We had only a couple of short showers in Key West so we weren't worries. We decided to start the day with a walk on the beach and a Perone and Oyster Brunch.

We made it to Nick's but on the way back we got caught in a serious downpour. We took refuge in the Tiki Bar at the Riptide Hotel, one of the classic Hollywood Beach boardwalk hotels. When we got back to our hotel, it was still threatening rain. The hotel had picked up all of the towels and other stuff left by the pool so we had to retrieve our stuff.

It was almost time to leave for the Tailgate party, so umbrellas in hand we are headed off. We went to the Sheraton Yankee Clipper and had dinner, hoping the weather would clear. We got rained on and lost in Miami Gardens. It took almost until game time to get to the stadium and get parked. We made it just in time for the pre-gram show and the game was great. I'm looking forward to next year.
Day 14 Jan 3 14 Dirty Socks.
Traveling for 14 days left us with a lot of dirty clothes to pack. Fortunately our flight left in the afternoon and we had plenty of time to pack, check out and return the car. Our trip home was uneventful.

No comments: