Travel has a way of broadening your horizons and making you feel small at the same time. I’m amazed at how our big world becomes small every time I step out of my surroundings to travel. Our trip to Italy opened my eyes to a big world, learning to get along with a foreign language and the customs of a different culture. When a destination grabs your heart and becomes like home, the world doesn’t seem so big. Our annual pilgrimage to New Orleans feels like coming home and somehow makes the world smaller every year.
Our 6TH Annual trip to New Orleans to celebrate Paul Helm’s birthday was just as fun as always. It’s a tradition that feels like coming home for a holiday. We get to see friends and family that we only see during the last weekend of August. Much like a growing family, we add new friends to the reunion every year. It is so much fun to witness friends experiencing New Orleans for the first time.
This year we mixed it up a little.
We stayed at the Bienville House for the first time this year, a sister hotel of the Hotel Monteleone. We have such a great relationship with the staff at the Hotel Monteleone. Their recommendation to stay at The Bienville House turned out to be great advice. I found being on Decatur St. very convenient, an easily walk to Bourbon St, Jackson Square and the French Market. All the guests loved their rooms, with each room having unique features. Historically, the location of the Bienville House had transformed into several different businesses. Originally housing the Planter’s Rice Mill, the newly renovated boutique hotel feels like staying at an intimate guest house with breakfast served daily. The party officially kicked off on Friday when the whole gang had a drink at Iris, the hotel’s beautiful restaurant. Throughout the weekend, several of us enjoyed relaxing in the beautiful quart yard with a salt water pool.
This year I had the privilege to meet with Angela Anthaume of The Bienville House and Noelle Cantarno of FSC inter@ctive. These young women have exciting careers in sales and marketing and were so much fun to get to know. I was honored that they took a few minutes to chat about the Bienville House, marketing, social media, Weekend ReTweat and best of all recommendations to get off the beaten path. I loved talking to them about life in New Orleans, which offers so much more than Bourbon Street and is constantly changing! Among many suggestions, they recommended Frenchman Street. That advice turned out to be golden! Thanks again Angela and Noelle for meeting with me. You inspired me in many ways.
I love Zydeco music! We always head to Bourbon to hear our favorite Cajuns. Our tradition is playing the washboard with Waylon and Timmy at Tropical Isle and dancing to the Bonoffs at The Olde Opera House. After a few hours of Bourbon, a few of us headed to Frenchman Street to check it out.
Frenchman Street, lined with nightlife, restaurants and shopping, is where the “locals” enjoy a hip young bohemian culture. Live music with jazz, Latin, and blues influence fills the streets at night. I spent three nights in a row soaking in all kinds of music and watching couples swing dancing with 40′s style outfits. One couple seemed to have a unique style, with their upper body calm while their feet were moving double time. I later learned that style is called West Coast Balboa. The dancing was fun to watch and tempting to try! Experiencing Frenchman confirms my belief that getting off the beaten path is always the best direction to go. My only fear is that tourist will one day discover Frenchman and ruin it.
Food always plays a big part of our annual party! We usually hit the landmarks and have our favorite restaurants. We can’t go to New Orleans without visiting JoAnn at the famous Desires Oyster Bar or getting a Lucky Dog on Bourbon Street. However, this year I was excited to add Coop’s Place and El Gato Negro to our list. Coop is traditional Cajun, while El Gato Negro is Mexican. You wouldn’t necessarily think Mexican food on a trip where crawfish, oysters and gumbo are to die for. However, I am here to tell you… El Gato Negro was the best Mexican cuisine I’ve ever put in my mouth! We also changed the big birthday dinner from Pascale’s Manale to a river boat cruise. The Creole Queen proved to be a relaxing dinner and stroll down the Mississippi. Returning to the dock gave us a breath taking night view of New Orleans lit up over the water.
Getting off the beaten path
Among the list of firsts, I enjoyed shopping “junk” stores on Frenchman Street. Thankfully Jeff and Jason were patient with me. I am so excited to have met business owners that encouraged me to pursue a few ideas with Flown The Coop. I am constantly looking for ways to incorporate my passion for travel, New Orleans, social media and junking. Stayed tuned for that one…
In the midst of all the fun and enjoyment, a few of us took a somber journey through The National WWII Museum. Jeff and I have wanted to tour it for years and finally made the time. In my opinion, the WWII museum is a “Must See!” I felt ashamed at how I easily forget and take for granted the sacrifices so many people made for our freedom. Words just don’t do this experience justice. I highly recommend the incredible 4D movie Beyond All Boundaries to complete the experience.
Sad to say good bye
Every year I am a little sad to say good bye. This year was wonderfully full of first time experiences, as well as experiencing our favorite traditions. I look forward to coming “home” again next year. However, I am hoping that I don’t have to wait a year. I am confident New Orleans will welcome me back like family at anytime of the year.
Enjoy a little video montage of our trip….