Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NOLA 04-2014

I've spent a few weekends and week vacations in New Orleans. All of them tied to the Jazz Festival that is so popular and famous each spring.

This year I managed to hit the city once again over one of the two weekends. The weather was perfect; a lovely 80+ degrees F. My host owns a convertible so driving around with the top down through the tree lined streets and the unbelievable old mansion neighborhoods is a real treat.

The first stop in town, as odd as it may seem, was at the cemetery. Once before, when I was in Argentina, I'd stopped at a famous cemetery in Punto Arenas and just wandered around for a while. This time my host drove me all around the grounds, stopping sometimes to get out and look inside the mausoleums at the statues and stained glass. The cemetery is incredible and there are so many varied nationalities and monuments to the dead. We spent quite some time there just enjoying the interesting things people decide to leave behind as their legacy.

It was a lazy start to the day so after the cemetery it was time for dinner and dancing. Frenchmen street was where we headed for some food and fun. Snug Harbor restaurant nicely accommodated my request for a plate of sautéed vegetables and a salad instead of anything off their menu :)  Then after dinner, it was time to dance off the calories. Frenchmen street is very eclectic so you can walk around for a while just perusing the wares people have for sale and sticking your head in the unique shops along the way. There are of course a lot of bars with live bands to enjoy...it is New Orleans after all! So we stuck our heads in several before finding just the right one, Vaso LLC. The bands change nightly so you just have to wander around to find one that suits your tastes at the time. Once we found ours, it was time to dance. And dance we did! We had the whole front of the room to ourselves, right in front of the band. Of course they complimented us and I'm sure enjoyed playing for active participants. People sitting down clearly enjoyed the show as well from the claps and murmurs of appreciation I randomly heard as I twirled and sashayed my way around the floor. After we had danced a while and were sitting for a spell, a lady came up and sat down next to me. I thought she was asking my partner for a dance, but she just wanted to say how much she enjoyed watching us dance. She wasn't American so her English was hard to understand, especially through the band sound, but her point was understood and greatly appreciated. We danced well and weren't snobby lol!

Everyday was wonderfully the same; wake up at noon, enjoy a late brunch, walk around or drive around a new neighborhood, take a nap, get ready for dinner and dancing, go to bed super late and repeat :)

One of the afternoons my friend had a terrific surprise for me, my first gondola ride on the Nola Gondola! Our gondolier, Robert, was a fabulous tour guide. I asked him all about gondoliering (is that a word?) and he graciously answered all my normal and outrageous questions. He told us all about how he discovered and entered the gondolier life and it was very apparent how much he loves what he does! What a trip! And he let me practice my rowing skills (even complimented me that I was a natural) and said that next time I could take her out on open water~!~!~ These are some pictures taken along the ride through City Park.

For our dancing hot spots we hit up Rock N' Bowl and Frenchman Street and then dined in all the favorite local restaurants. It was such a refreshing (yet exhausting) trip! I'll never forget the charbroiled oysters at Vaso, the brussel sprouts and bread pudding at Blue Oak BBQ inside Chickie Wah Wahs, the tasty veggie pita wrap at Fellini's, and the atmosphere and live music almost everywhere. One of my favorite things about New Orleans is the mood in each of the neighborhoods. I love sitting outside at the different cafes and soaking up the local atmosphere, the local music (and the sun too)!

One week of dining, drinking, and dancing went by so fast. Now I'm back in Nashville for a short week before heading off to Florida for some more fun in the sun!