i originally had vacation time scheduled in August, but with nothing to do and no one to go with, I rescheduled to the week before Halloween so I could go somewhere with Jason and Susan, and that place turned out to be New Orleans. Having been there 10 years ago, and not really having much desire to ever go back, I was sorta meh when we decided to go there. But I thought, maybe now, knowing more of the things I like to do, and not being a poor recently graduated from college girl, maybe it would be a better time. And that’s how it turned out.
We flew in fairly early on Wednesday, and our apartment that we rented was not quite clean and ready for us, so we dropped off our luggage and headed out for lunch at a nearby tapas place called Baru. I had found it on a quick google search a few days before departure, and the apartment owner also recommended it, so we figured it was a good bet. It was quite good, Susan and I had something called arepas, which were stuffed cornbread sandwiches sorta, and Jason had a jerk chicken burrito. After lunch we took a walk down Magazine St, sorta looking for a grocery store, but also just killing time. Not realizing at the time, even though I had it mapped, we walked by Trent’s former studio, Nothing Records, twice, and stopped at a bar called The Brothers Three, which was practically next door haha. Back to the apartment so Jason and I could take a nap, since we worked and didn’t sleep the night before, then their friend Justin came over so we could go out to dinner. We ended up walking the other way down Magazine St to a place I had mapped, and which had been on Diners Dive and Drive Ins (is that what the show is called?), called Joey-Ks. Tried some gumbo, and red beans and rice which they are famous for. Pretty good even though the gumbo had shrimp in it. From there we headed down to the French Quarter, first to a bar called the Burgundy Bar which Jason had wanted to go to, but appeared to be having a private party, so we wandered til we got to the Old Absinthe Bar for an absinthe frappe. Absinthe is just as wretched as I remember. Walked around Bourbon St more, to a place called Sing Sing’s that had a band getting ready to play, and hung out there for a while. Susan, being someone who sleeps normally unlike Jason and I, was exhausted, so Justin took her back to the condo and came back to the bar with us for the rest of the night. Justin and I did almost lose Jason when he left the bar to buy cigars. Since there are no open container laws in NOLA, we followed after him but he had gone the wrong way, so we waited at the cigar store til he found it haha.
Thursday we got a late breakfast at a near by diner called Slim Goodies, and then some yummy gelato at Sucre. We walked around the garden district, to see Trent’s old house, and attempted to go to Lafayette Cemetery No 1, but it closed at 2:30. Justin met us out again and took us to City Park, where we went to the NOLA Museum of Art. It was a nice collection, but we didn’t have time to go to the sculpture park outside. We walked back to Justin’s and went out to dinner at a bbq place called Squeal. It happened to be down the street from a bar I had mapped out as a local music venue called the Maple Leaf Bar. However being that it was only after dinner time, the band wasn’t going on until 10, we had a lot of time to kill and got tired of waiting, so we ended up going back to Magazine St to Le Bon Temps Roule, who also was having a brass band called Soul Rebels. Susan couldn’t make it that late again, so she went back to the apartment, Jason and I stopped in the Brothers Three bar again (which we dubbed grandma or grandpa’s basement, because that’s totally what it felt like), before heading back to see the band. We watched one set before heading out, there is only so much trumpet I can handle at one time LOL. They were really good though and the place was packed with people.
Friday we had booked a tour of the St Louis Cemetery No 1, so Justin picked us up and we headed out. This cemetery is one of the ones that had been in the DANGER area of the 2002 danger map (which I forgot to bring!!), and thus was someplace I hadn’t been 10 years ago. The tour guide was pretty good, lots of personal stories put in, and it was a pretty nice tour. It was super hot though, high 80s, lots of sun. The tour began and ended in the French Quarter, so for lunch we went to Stanley’s in Jackson Square, as recommended by our friend Jenn. After we walked around Jackson Square, grabbed a quick beer at Jax Brewery (which isn’t actually a brewery anymore, just a bar restaurant, which was kinda a bummer), and looked at the river, which I hadn’t actually seen last time I was there. Checked out a few voodoo shops before heading back to the apartment to rest. Susan was having leg issues and needed to ice them a bit, and Jason wanted to get a fleur de lis tattoo, so I went with him to a shop we had found down the street. He kept trying to get me to get a matching one, but I just couldn’t commit haha. For dinner we went down to Frenchman St, which was recommended to us as where locals go hang out, instead of Bourbon St. We ate at Three Muses, another tapas place that has bands every night, though this night was not local music, but a group from Brazil playing Brazilian music. Not quite what we were looking for, but the food was really good. We left there and went to the Spotted Cat Music Club to listen to the band there…it might have been a brass band, I can’t remember. From there, down the street to the Apple Barrel Bar, which had a blues rock band playing who I thought were pretty good. Oh somewhere on the street was the Frenchman Art Market, so we looked at what the artists and vendors had to offer, and I bought a paper machier skull, and a necklace for Jenn for Christmas. Meanwhile the temperature had dropped from 80 whatever during the day to 50 something, and super windy. I wasn’t quite prepared for that and was freezing haha. So next was Melange speakeasy (thank god for facebook check-ins, cuz I don’t even remember this place), then VASO New Orleans Ultra Bar, which is I think where Susan left us, and the bar tender ended up throwing out my bag of stuff from the art market. We left, I realized I didn’t have my bag, and went back to get it and it was already gone. It wasn’t a long time we had been gone, but they claimed they thought it was trash and threw it out. We asked them to get it, and they said the garbage had just been taken out. We offered to look for it ourselves and they said no, so I think they just stole it. Cuz even though the skull was wrapped in newspaper, the free print the same artist had given me was not, and the necklace was in a blue mesh bag, clearly not trash. Ugh. So anyway, Susan had gone back to the apartment for the night, and Jason and I wandered around, ending back at Bourbon St, for a very late night. I don’t think we got home til 6am, oops.
Saturday Jason slept all day, so Susan and I left him at the apartment and went out to the French Quarter to go to the Pharmacy Museum (which unfortunately was closed for a wedding), and the French Market for a bit of shopping and food. Saturday night was the Witches Ball. Jason had found out about it about a week before we left, and it was quite expensive, but I figured you don’t go to New Orleans at Halloween and not go to a fancy costume ball. And it’s really organized by witches. It was at a fancy mansion on St Charles, and it was unfortunate that it was so cold out, because their performances and ritual were held outside, and it was just far too cold for Susan and I to be out there in our little corsets and skirts. The party was not really what I expected, it was pretty serious and calm, but I figure the high price doesn’t lend itself to a bunch of young people just there to get trashed, which is probably a good thing. There were so many amazing costumes and dresses. The open bar was top shelf liquor, but even after all my drinks, I wasn’t buzzed or anything. Can’t say the same for Susan who was feeling pretty good, and had to go back to the apartment. Jason and I went down to Bourbon St to the after party at some Tropical theme bar, which was just kinda eh, but we talked to some other people from the Ball, and sat on the balcony and people watched all the costumed folk on Bourbon. It was a bitch to get a cab (Susan ended up walking back to the apartment, Jason and I walked forever to get a cab to the Quarter), so we had an earlier night than the one before, only cuz we knew it’d take so damn long to get a ride back to Magazine.
Sunday Jason slept all day again, so Susan and I left him again, and went shopping up and down Magazine Street. There are lots of fancy stores and antique shops, but we didn’t buy much (they were spendy shops). Managed to get Jason out of bed for dinner, which was down Magazine again, at Juan’s Flying Burrito, which was super yummy. That night we cashed in the groupon I had bought to see the Hot 8 Brass Band at a place called the Howling Wolf Den with Justin before having an early night. The intent was to get up early on Monday to check out of the apartment, and head down to the Quarter for the last of acting touristy. Again, it was a bitch to get a cab on Monday, so we ended up walking through the garden district toward St Charles, which allowed us to stop by Lafayette Cemetery after all. Finally found a cab on St Charles and headed to Cafe du Monde for beignets, stopped into St Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square (which is nice, but by the standards set by all the other churches I’ve been to on travels, it’s not really fancy or special), visited the Ursuline Convent, and just walked around to more voodoo shops, and to find the absinthe decanter I had seen in a shop window (which we did find, and I did buy, it’s being shipped this week!!). Lunch was at a place called Fiorella’s Cafe which was recommended by a lady in the Voodoo museum (which we didn’t go in). By then it was time to head back to the apartment to get our bags, and wait for our ride to the airport….which never came. I had bought a groupon for roundtrip limo service, which ended up not being a limo, and ended up having a ton of issues with. I called to find out where he was, he was in traffic and didn’t know how long it would take to get us, so we were advised to call a cab. It was a little nerve wracking, there was a lot of traffic, but we made it in time and got to Atlanta. We knew we had a good chance of not getting home because of hurricane Sandy, and indeed our flight from Atl to Buffalo was canceled. We were rebooked on a Tues morning flight, but given the uncertainty of the hurricane, we didn’t know if that would end up getting canceled as well, and we needed to get home. So we asked to get on a flight that night to Detroit, where we rented a car, stayed the night with Uncle Ed and Aunt Laurice, and then we drove home on Tuesday. Unfortunately, we had to go the long way around Lake Erie, since there was no reason for me to have my passport on this trip, and thus we couldn’t go through Canada. We finally got home around 4, a nice 7 hour drive. Thankfully even though we were still driving through the “hurricane”, the wind and rain weren’t all that bad.
Had great fun, ate lots of good food, drank a whole lot, good music and good company. I enjoyed the city much more this time than last time, it didn’t smell as bad, and it wasn’t as hot haha. Though I do wish the temperature hadn’t dropped SO much.