Monday, August 23, 2010

Oh, The Places You'll Go! - #1

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!
~Dr. Seuss
Tinkerbell and Chloe are packed and ready for college. They weren't too happy when we taped them up inside the box, but I'm sure they'll be fine once they get there and can stretch their legs... just kidding. But they did like the box for a while.

So, the time has come.
The time to take Joey off to college.
I decided to make it an exciting occasion by planning a fun vacation around the event. I have not forgotten about our budget concerns now that we are actually paying for private college tuition. As a matter of fact, Joey does not start classes until next month, and I am nearly done paying for the first term, so believe me, I have not forgotten about it.

I chose a visit to the South for a few reasons (1) Joey has not been (2) things are cheap this time of year because apparently people do not want to visit beautiful Southern US cities when the temperatures are nearing 100 degrees with take your breath away humidity and (3) I LOVE the South.

Joey threw himself a going away party with hor d'oeuvres and dancing and said good-bye to friends that hadn't already left for college.

Of course it was at our house the night before we were due to leave for vacation and lasted into the a.m. hours. Did I mention before that there will be some things I will not miss so much once Joey is studying hard at College?

Well, Saturday morning we hopped a plane for New Orleans and arrived in the city just in time to get caught in a crazy onslaught of traffic as die hard Saints fans made their way to the Super Dome for the first pre-season home game. It was a very enthusiastic crowd, and I don't blame them--and it was all Saints jerseys all the way. No competing team colors in this town (nope, I am not going to mention anything about a certain Seattle team right now, I'm not, I won't, phew, I didn't--sort of).

We checked into our beautiful junior suite (which is actually a very large room with separate entry, living room, walk in closet, large bedroom and humongous marble bathroom) for a mere $175/night. Gotta love the off season.

We got a fantastic recommendation for dinner from the concierge and had the most delicious French food at Le Foret Restaurant. We did not bring the camera, but we devoured everything that was put in front of us including the dessert souffles, one was vanilla with chocolate sauce, the other chocolate with cherries and ice cream.

After dinner we took a stroll over to Bourbon street so that Joey could see the nightlife. Of course it was packed with tourists as well as post Saints game partiers. We thought about hitting the bars, but decided to call it a night (of course anyone who knows us knows that is a joke--I was just testing to see if "you" were still reading).

Sunday morning in New Orleans was gloriously sunny. We hopped a cab to Commander's Palace in the Garden District for their famous Jazz Brunch.
Wow, was that food good. The Jazz wasn't bad either. The musicians were very entertaining.

Joey enjoyed a house speciality: Eggs Couchon De Lait
"Smoky braised pork debris over black pepper rosemary biscuits with soft poached eggs, winter mushrooms & bourbon-bacon fat hollandaise."

I had the Buttermilk Pancakes with Peaches, Pecans & Bourbon Syrup

To be honest we shared everything. It was a very decadent 3-course meal which also included lobster tacos, grilled crab and cheese sandwich with a spicy tomato hollandaise dipping sauce, an amazing local fish and shrimp dish PLUS desserts. We were barely able to touch the desserts which included bread pudding souffle, praline parfait and pecan pie. By the time we left the Restaurant we thought surely we would not need to eat for the rest of the trip, but we were wrong, of course!

We had planned to take a walk around the Garden District which is full of gorgeous homes, however, we took one step outside in our dressy clothes and thought we would faint if we tried to walk a half block. We grabbed an air conditioned taxi back to the hotel for a little after brunch siesta.

Later that evening we embarked on a self-guided walking tour of the French Quarter. Our hotel is really only about 3 blocks from the French Quarter which turns out to be perfectly close. Not so close that you are woken up at night by the noise, but close enough to walk there in less than 5 minutes.

We admired the gorgeous French Quarter architecture.

We saw a totally different Bourbon Street than the night before. One that was just getting started for the evening. We got about 10 historic monuments into the walking tour when a storm unleashed on the French Quarter. There was thunder and lightening and then rain. LOTS OF RAIN!
We ducked for cover under the awning of a shop selling souvenir t-shirts and watched a crazy, only in New Orleans, scene unfold:

There was a young man (looked to be college aged, dressed like a regular kid in shorts and a t-shirt) lying on the ground in the pouring rain with his tennis shoes off, but close by. He was right outside the convenience store on the left. Presumably that is why the police car is there. To get him out of the street and sobered up? Meanwhile there is a couple on the balcony above him wearing very little clothing being serenaded by an African American "soul" singer across the street (on our side of the street). He is singing a crazy song that he is making up as he goes about love and the rain, and anything else he can think of... not quite singing, definitely not rapping, but you can hear it all up and down the street because he has a microphone. And the rain really starts coming down and everyone is drenched. It was a lot of fun.

We abandoned our walking tour for the time being and on the way home stopped in at the Hard Rock Cafe for a bite to eat, because we knew it was dry and air conditioned. They sat us in the "Prince" corner, and I, for one, thought it was destiny.

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