Monday, June 22, 2015

Our Travels | New Orleans | part trois

Monday, June 22, 2015
On our way back to the house we were renting, we caught a second line! The wedding tradition in New Orleans is that after the ceremony, the bride and groom lead their own personal parade with their weddings guests following them and a live band. It's magnificent. 
That night, we signed  up for a ghost and vampire tour. The tour I went on during my previous visit was a haunted history tour. We heard fun things about the ghost tour, so we decided to try it. It was so fun hearing the tales and stories about spooky happenings and crime from the past. There were stories of windows boarded up with 800 silver nails blessed by cardinals of the Catholic church in Italy. And stories of two brothers that were convicted murderers, put to death and cremated, only to find their tombs empty of ashes. There are reports of sightings of these two men, centuries after their death, committing more crimes... ::Shivers::
We, of course, visited Cafe du Monde for some chicory coffee and beignets. They are delicious little puffs of heaven. 
Like the oysters, another must-have-meal on our list was a crawboil. We walked toward the river and found a stall in the French Marketplace that was serving up fresh crawfish. I've had crawfish in Orlando multiple times, and the last time they were really small and a bit muddy-tasting. This time, it was exactly what crawfish were supposed to taste like. Their tails were huge and delicious. 
A museum on my must-visit list this time was the Pharmacy Museum in the French Quarter. The history of this once operational pharmacy was incredible. All of the little things that were first created in pharmacies were so interesting, like soda machines, tonic created onsite so that bitter medicine tasted better.
For our last dinner, we had nowhere specific in mind. Our friend looked up an African restaurant and it was a great choice. We asked if they had a drink menu, and our kind server let us know that they don't serve alcohol. She said we could go across the street to Verti Marte, buy a six pack, and drink it with dinner. We later returned to Verti Marte to enjoy an "All That Jazz" sandwich on our car-ride home. Everything about this is making me hungry!

Lastly, it's been weeks since I've posted! I meant to schedule this before I left for Paris, but alas, life got in the way. I hope you were following along on Instagram, because my sweet and adorable friend "A" and I explored my favorite city! And if you have Snapchat, my username is TENDERROOTS and I shared the gorgeous streets of Paris. Photos, video, and a proper post to come. 

Monday, June 08, 2015

Our Travels | New Orleans | part deux

Monday, June 08, 2015
NOLA, part two out of three! There are endless amazing photos and fun things that I want to share. Here, we visited the aquarium! 

We called this a "slow motion underwater ballet."

View from Jackson Square.
Fried oysters and pork benedict and bloody mary's. We had this brunch at Stanley's and oh my, delicious. 
We also went to the insectarium! At my own museum we had one of the bug exhibits as our traveling exhibit when I first started working there so I most definitely wanted to see it. Plus, if you know me, I love bugs. 
I like to think that these cockroaches are having a casual dinner party. 
Spooky spider.

And how beautiful are these insect displays? I set the first collection as my desktop background and it is the most gorgeous sight. 
A live atlas moth!!! ::Shivers::
S had mentioned off-hand about going to a John Besh restaurant. I figured we would need reservations and that it would be expensive, and we weren't planning anything the whole time. We had a list of things we wanted to see and whatever we felt like doing at that moment, we did it. We all decided that we wanted oysters. And when I saw oysters, I mean we wanted dozens upon dozens of raw oysters and drinks. I found a place online listed as having one of the best happy hours: 75 cent oysters and half off drinks. I brought us there and while they readied a table for the five of us, we noticed the magazine articles on the walls... the small print under the restaurant name... "LUKE | A John Besh Restaurant" 

We started with 4 dozen raw oysters and were impressed with the half off cocktails and champagne. What could be more decadent than getting raw oysters and champagne for a steal? After that, we had another 4 dozen raw oysters and I'm pretty certain that our kind server brought us some extra, just because. It was one of the best meals, which is so hard to chose because all of the meals were amazing.

Lastly, Bacchanal. The definition of bacchanal is an occasion of wild and drunken revelry. That, we did have. After dinner on Frenchmen St, where all the jazz clubs were, we hailed a taxi and sailed to the Bywater. We thought about walking it, but on our way through the window we saw the graffiti, lamp-less streets, and quiet sidewalks, so we were glad we thought differently. Already having a good time, our drinks sloshed in our seats on our way to Bacchanal, a wine and cheese store. 

At Bacchanal, you enter into the storefront where there are racks of stacked wine bottles and coolers full of a vast variety of cheese. You pick your wine, and you pick your cheese, and they'll create a cheese plate for you of baguette slices, nuts, olives, jams, and little pickles. The rest is up to you; grab a table by the band or inside a cozy corner, grab your wine glasses, your ice bucket, your water cups, etc. The rest of the agenda is to converse, eat, drink, and laugh. 

I looked at everyone's pleased faces in the dim lighting, our tummies full of delicious cheese and the wine having it's effect on us, making us silly throughout the night. We were all really content. This place was new to us, in a city foreign to us, and yet we found our home. We discussed how much Orlando needs a place like that (any investors?) and we should have known then that it would be a place we visit twice. 

At the end of the night, we waited outside for our cab to hurry back to us. In true southern fashion, the evening rains came. We ran across the street toward the abandoned naval base and ducked under a gazebo to keep dry. From our phones, we played hip hop and sang along. We had our souvenir mug from earlier in the evening, a flashing skull, as our disco ball. We joked up some DJ names for each of us and climbed into the cab, sorry to already say goodnight to this evening. 

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Our Travels | New Orleans | part un

Saturday, June 06, 2015
We drive through the night, each taking turns at the wheel, changing the radio or podcast with each session. We arrived at 6 am and made our way to the top of a parking garage to see the sunrise. After that, we were ready for breakfast.

New Orleans was a place that I never expected to fall in love with. Sure the streets are a little dirty, the trash really smelly, but the people are some of the kindest people I've ever met, coupled with great food, great music, and history. 
For breakfast we went to Mother's where we had their po' boy special called Ferdi, with their in-house "debris." After being up most of the night, it hit the spot. It also gave us the fuel we needed to start our first day.
After breakfast, we were near the Garden District so we stopped to walk around. It's incredibly charming there with beautiful houses, tree-lined streets, and NOLA-specific details like the horse heads to tie your horse to and the gutters that look like fish.
We had to have some doughnuts. I'd read online that District Donuts has a doughnut called cereal milk, and that sounded like pure heaven. Unfortunately, that one wasn't one of the special doughnuts that day. S opted for the classic glazed, and I went for dessert: cookies and cream. 
8:30 am: contemplate mortality at the cemetery. 
We stopped to visit the Lafayette Cemetery. When I was younger, I remember reading about the raised tombs because of area being prone to flooding. I found it fascinating, so much so that when I was in a creative writing class in high school, I wrote a a fictional short story based in New Orleans with images of caskets floating down the street-turned-river. I also am very fond of ornate tombs and crypts. I find these sort of cemeteries to be a very peaceful resting place.
I am a fan of the American Horror Story TV show, so of course, I had to visit the Coven house in the Garden District. No supreme sightings here.
Also, Anne Rice's house was nearby, so we checked it out. A gorgeous house with equally gorgeous gardens. 

Right before we went to pick up our friend from the bus station, we drove over the lake to Abita Springs to tour the brewery, like last time! After we grabbed the 5th and last member of our traveling krewe, it was time for a celebratory lunch. We went to Napoleon House where we enjoyed Muffaletta sandwiches and Pimm's Cups. The sandwiches have a delicious olive tapenade on them and the Pimm's Cup is one of the most refreshing day-time drinks. I'd have to say, it's easily my favorite New Orleans cocktail.

By the afternoon, we parked our car in the garage for good and we checked into our house, taking time to freshen up after that car ride and busy morning. We stayed at Gentry House, where I stayed last time as well. It's a carriage house in the middle of the French Quarter, split into five apartments. We had an apartment with one bedroom, two twin beds, and a pull out couch which easily fit the five of us. Every morning, Brian, the owner, delivered hot and fresh croissants from a bakery. I made sure to have Cafe du Monde chicory coffee made so that we could dip our croissants while we quietly started our morning in the kitchen together, reading our books. It was the perfect start to each day - exactly how vacation should be.
Dinner time! I had some places mapped out that I definitely wanted to try, but we kind of went with whatever we were in the mood for. Of course, the first night we wanted some southern classics. We ended up at a restaurant on Frenchmen St, where all the Jazz clubs are. We enjoyed jumbalaya, gumbo, fried chicken, cornbread, fried oysters, etc. It was a delicious feast.
After dinner, we checked out Frenchmen Street art market, which was on my must-see list! Last time, I went to this market and purchased a ring from a local jewelry maker that I wear every day. My plan was to buy the same ring, being that I've lost - and found - this ring twice now. Unfortunately, the jewelry maker was not there, and although I found a necklace maker with metal castes of iguana skulls from his deceased pet, I wasn't prepared to drop a few hundred dollars for that incredible necklace.

Later in the night, we were walking around Frenchmen St when we heard some good music drifting from a bar. S said he wanted to check it out, and behold, it's The Spotted Cat, a place I've heard great things about and somewhere a friend suggested we visit as well! We headed in and enjoyed an awesome local band called Panorama Jazz Band that sounded somewhat like local Jazz meets Eastern European gypsy bands. They had a trumpet, a trombone, and even an accordion, which is one of the most mesmerizing instruments. It was an enjoyable evening.

There is so much I love about New Orleans and I feel like it's a city such as Paris or New York City, where there is something for everyone. Don't like seafood? Then have a muffuletta. Don't like alcohol? Then enjoy the city's chicory coffee. There's this wonderful culture built around jazz music and I find that many people that live there were not born in the French Quarter, something they loved brought them there. A city comprised of travelers and those not born-and-raised there creates a very fun city beat. 
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