Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Little Traveling

Louis Armstrong - Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans

I just got back from a weekend in New Orleans. What a fantastic place. My last visit there was pre-Katrina, and I've never been there in the winter before, but the city just wraps me up and makes me love it. I was there for work, so my adventuring happened before and after meetings.

My flight there was cancelled Thursday so I got in later than I would have liked. I was traveling with another teacher, and we went for some seafood that night, which was delectable. Then I went to bed pretty early since I had to register for my sessions first thing Friday morning. Meetings all day, then homework to prep for the Saturday sessions - I finally got out at about 7:30pm Friday night. Since lunch had been pretty heavy, I wound my way down to Café du Monde and got some beignets. They are really tasty. I remembered that they were tasty, but really, it was that first bite that reminded me of just how good New Orleans really is. It was also curious to note that I had ordered hot chocolate instead of milk - it was actually chilly - something I had definitely never experienced before there. Anyway, I had broken out something to read and I just relaxed over my tasty little dinner, then I went and wandered around the quarter for a moment. I must be older now, because I definitely preferred Rue Royale to Bourbon Street - art shops over bawdiness. Right behind the cathedral was the most awesome busker - this petite girl with the scratchy voice of a catfight and an accordion. I would have loved to have just hung out listening, but since I was on my own I judged it better to keep moving, although I did circle around several times to see what she was playing. I also enjoyed looking into the lit shops, especially the windows of glass. I found this jellyfish lamp:

kind of fun.

Saturday morning I got up early and went back to Café du Monde, then took my breakfast up to the promenade along the river and watched the water in the morning. There was actually frost on the wooden railroad ties I crossed! Anyway, I missed sunrise, but the morning was clear and lovely. On my way back to the hotel, I stopped in St. Louis Cathedral, listened to a few minutes of mass, and took in the inside of the cathedral from the back pew.

Saturday afternoon was a real treat. Thomas's mom came over from Mississippi with a friend who had grown up in New Orleans, so I got the chance to experience the city beyond the French Quarter and its immediate surroundings. We went to Metairie Cemetery to see some of the monuments, to the sculpture garden at City Park, drove around to see houses in the Garden district, and ate the most incredible dinner at a restaurant called Mandina's on Canal Street. If you are reading this, you have GOT to go to New Orleans and eat at Mandina's. The wait was at least 45 minutes, but the food was to die for - Italian influenced New Orleans. We ordered a bunch of food and shared it all - fried shrimp and Italian sausage for the appetizer, a cup of oyster and artichoke soup (killer amazing!), a roast beef sandwich, and their Saturday special Creole Eggplant - baked eggplant, shrimp, crabmeat, and ham - that was so out of this world.

Anyway, here is a cool sculpture from City Park:

Leandro Erlich, Window and Ladder - Too Late for Help, 2008. It had originally been installed in the Lower Ninth Ward. There were no strings attached - it leans like this anchored underground. Pretty cool.

It was late and the ladies had to get back home, so they dropped me at the hotel. My intention was to go wandering again, but stepping up onto the curb, my foot hit a slick spot of something and I went down into some kind of a painful splits-like fall. There were some very nice people who helped me up in spite of the fact that when someone falls in New Orleans the basic assumption is a diagnosis of over-imbibing. It's been two days and my leg is still in constant pain. I wobbled around to get souvenirs for the nephew and niece, then went back to the hotel and straight to bed. My attempt to get up the next morning and repeat the trip to Café du Monde was met with frustration - I was hobbling around like my leg was broken - and I admitted defeat within two blocks. I settled for breakfast at the convention center, which at least featured slices of King Cake. And that was it - one more session, and a flight home.

So hooray New Orleans. I'm ready for my next trip back.

1 comment:

Izzybella said...

Admit it, ya lush! :) Hey, at least you are flexible enough for the splits.

1-That ladder window art must be in my backyard immediately.

2-Not crazy about the octopus lamp, yet it is rather difficult to tear my eyes away.

3-This now makes 2 New Orleans trips I have not been on with you. Boo.

4-Really??!! Cafe Dumonde??? Every single book I have read that was set in NOLA has someone eating at Cafe Dumonde. I must go there some day.

5-I miss your face tons.