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New Orleans on my mind….

August 16th, 2010

Traveling to New Orleans… counting down the days.

I just love Desire..

I can’t believe it has been five years since Katrina.  It just seems like yesterday when Jeff and I flew there to surprise Paul, my father in-law, for his 60th Birthday.  It was a lot of fun, until I freaked out.  I did not handle it very well when I realized that I was about to experience my first hurricane.  However, the horrible ordeal did not keep me from returning.  In fact, we’ve returned every year since then (sometimes couple times a year).

In a couple weeks we’ll be heading back to celebrate Paul’s life and the revitalizing spirit of New Orleans.  The spirit and fortitude of this community is inspiring.  The citizens of New Orleans recently suffered another set back with the oil spill.  I think their word should be RESILIENT.  Maybe that is why I have a soft spot for this city.

We are staying at the fabulous Hotel Monteleone.  We had fun last year sitting in the Carousel Bar, hanging out on the rooftop pool and being walking distance from everything in the French Quarter.   It was our first year to stay at the Hotel Monteleone.  We all decided to return again, another tradition in the making.

Cajun cuisine!

You have to wear a bib to eat this dish!

You have to wear a bib to eat this dish!

Our first stop is always Desire Oyster Bar.  Hopefully we’ll see our waitress Teresa.  She treats us like family she hasn’t seen in years.  I imagine that is the kind of treatment everyone gets from her.  I have yet to try the oysters.  (SHH… don’t tell Paul)  There are just too many great restaurants in New Orleans to mention them all.  One tradition we have yet to break is eating at Pascal’s Manale for dinner.  It is located in the Garden District just down the road from where Paul grew up.  I love their BBQ shrimp, which has nothing to do with bar-b-queing.  It is a bowl of the biggest shrimp ever floating in a butter mixture that is to die for!  There will be plenty of french bread for dipping and bread pudding for desert!  MMM!

The Music!

A paddle that was used for my Birthday spanking

A paddle that was used for my Birthday spanking

I love the zydeco and jazz music that fills the streets.  One of my favorite things to do is play the washboard with Timmy at Tropical Isle.  Last year there was a fire at Tropical Isle, so we spent our time at the Ole Opera House listening to The Bonoffs and twirling on a pole.  (don’t ask)   The last memory of Tropical Isle was on my 39th Birthday.  I have a cool souvenir from that trip.

The Art and Architecture

Art inspired by Katrina

Art inspired by Katrina

I have yet to make it to Europe.  New Orleans architecture reminds me of what I might see one day.  Jackson Square always takes my breath away.  The artists that fill the streets are amazing too.  One of my most cherished pieces of art I bought from an artist in Jackson Square.

Artwork inspired by Katrina is along the river walkway, where you’ll find a series of small buses that were painted to reflect the resilient spirit of New Orleans.  Life is a journey that takes unexpected turns.  I have so many memories of New Orleans.  One memory that felt as if was a ride of a lifetime and many other memories that were pure fun!  I’m excited to head on back.

Stayed tuned at www.weekendretweat.com  I’ll be writing about this year’s trip there under Independent Travel.

Let me know if you ever want to take the trip!  There is still time to join us this year.  However, I am always open to going back.  I’ve always dreamed of taking a group there to share all my favorite spots.

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Savor the journey…love the people!

March 27th, 2009

Road Trip…Memphis & New Orleans

 

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Memphis FriendsFinally back to normal (what ever that is) from my trip to Memphis and New Orleans.  My husband, Jeff, and our good friend Suz took a road trip this month. By now you probably got it…I love to travel.  Although the fourteen hour drive back from New Orleans wiped me out, I would not have changed a single thing…it is all apart of the journey.

Our journey first took us to Memphis, TN.  We stayed with a dear, long time friend, Erin.  Erin lives in a downtown neighborhood of Memphis in an incredible three story condo with a balcony that overlooks the Mississippi River.  I love hanging out on her balcony watching the sun rise and set.  It is the kind of place I dream of living in.  Another Memphis friend, Willfredo, lives next door to Erin and just opened Revolution Salon.  Willfredo took one look at my hair and insisted on working his magic.  A great start to an evening of dancing at the Rum Boogie (where you eat.drink.boogie.repeat) and then off to Silky’s to hear dueling pianos.  I have great memories of that evening.  I love experiencing the culture of other cities.  But what I love most is people….I love my friends in Memphis and getting a chance to spend time with them!  After eating breakfast at the BluePlate Cafe, the biggest and best breakfast in Memphis, we had to say our good byes.  Bitter sweet, as we are on our way to New Orleans, another favorite city.

Jackson Square

New Orleans has a culture all it’s own.  I love Jackson Square, music in the air, the street performers, the European architecture, cajun food, seafood, beignets, Zydeco music, dancing until wee hours of the night, being called “darling” and “honey”, the sweet sound of a southern accent, the garden district, the wharehouse district, the balconies that are draped with beautiful flowers and ivy, southern hospitality and most of all…the people!  

 

100_0968We met up with Jeff’s parents Ginger and Paul, and their friend Dave from Houston.  Th100_09442is has become a tradition since the weekend Katrina hit.  Families and friends met to surprise Paul on his 60th birthday.  We began our stay in New Orleans right by having dinner at Desire an Oyster bar in the Royal Sonesta Hotel.  The food is great!  However, our waitress Joann, who hugs us all like old lost friends every time we eat there, is definitely greater.  She is a survivor of Katrina…I love her.  And to top it off…Suz displayed bravery by trying an Oyster. 

Truth Be Told….I wouldn’t even try an Oyster!

100_1541Some of our favorite restaraunts… Franksmakes a great Muffaletta and has the best balcony view where you can soak in the music from two different patio restaurants.  A strong tradition is eating Barbecue Shrimp at Pascal Manales.  Located in the heart of a Garden District neighborhood.  This classy restaraunt brings out huge white bibs to tie on before they serve the shrimp that floats in a bowl of butter.  Their bread pudding is also the best in New Orleans. 

Although Bourbon St. is lined with great bars, our favorite is at Tropical Isle.  Our 100_14051favorite Zydeco band plays at 5pm. Waylon starts the evening off right and is hilarious!  Timmy gets all the gals to play the washboard with him.  We didn’t get to see Timmy this trip.  But spent a whole evening dancing and trying out the washboard with Waylon’s Dad and celebrated my birthday in style.  We met a fun loving couple who has an apartment on Royal.  I told them of my love of New Orleans and how I dream of living there someday.  They promised to help me find an apartment when I am ready to make the move.  Another local couple that regularly shows up at the Tropical Isles with their pet monkey…that monkey is so cute.  Suz had fun singing with the band and decides that a birthday spanking was in order for me….eeks.  Yes, Suz broke the paddle on the final 39th whack.  Definitely left a mark.  I left with a cool paddle signed by everyone in the bar though.  Once again, it is the people that made it special.  I love the band, my new friends and my special souvenir. 

100_11371Various experiences:  We met a Harley Dude who lives in New Orleans.  He parked his Harley on Bourbon St. near the Harely Bar.  He said at least three times, “Thank you for coming”.  Again, it’s the people.  Suz was choosen to participate in a street magic show.  She did a great job!  There are numerous street performers who fill the streets of the French Corner with music and atmosphere.  This is how they make a living.  I enjoyed the artistic buses found throughout New Orleans. On the River Walk I found one that spoke to me and depics my life quest….A journey of Change.  “Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.”  A Ride of A Lifetime!100_1070

I found myself savoring each moment of the trip.  I walked the streets wanting to ech the memory of the architecture and music in the air in my mind.  Most of all, I want to cheerish my memories of spending time with friends both new and familair. 

We said good bye to New Orleans around 8am.  We had a long drive ahead of us.  I took advantage of the time to read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.  A quote jumped off the paige at me…”they were seeking the treasure of their destiny, without wanting actually to live out their destiny.”  Wow!  Now that I am home, I wonder how often I will savor each moment of my life journey?  Will I remember to actually live it out?  Hopefully I will live out this leg of my journey as much as I do when I journey to awe-inspiring cities and make life long friends.

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