So the BF arrived in New Orleans,where he met Katie for the first time. They like each other! Whew! 🙂 Several years ago, the BF gave me Louie Armstrong’s autobiography, which talks about his growing up in NOLA, his time in the orphanage, where he learned to play the trumpet, and how he moved from hard labor into a musical career. He grew up 5 blocks from our B&B.
So when we went walking in the neighborhood looking for dinner, we were delighted to find this park. We found a corner grocery store and picked up some local cuisine to go (red beans & rice, crawfish gumbo) and headed back to the hotel. The next day was a work day, but that night, we took a walk all the way through the French Quarter, found a restaurant that Katie and I had eaten in two years ago when I had visited. OMG, the food is so rich. Tasty, but rich. We walked all the way to the Mississippi river and saw the lights on the bridge and on the boats lazily making use of the waterway. It was quiet and beautiful. I think it was that moment that NOLA got him. He decided to stay the weekend. Woot!
We had an anxious couple of hours looking for places to stay (we found out later that it was graduation weekend at Tulane and there were 2 conventions in town). The only AirB&B places were in locations Katie had warned us against, and the one that we eventually booked turned out to be across the street from abandoned buildings covered in graffiti. Um, no thanks. AirB&B was great about refunding our money, but we were still without a place to stay. Hotwire to the rescue (thanks to Tonei for the traveler tip).
We went to lunch where we saw this van. Only in NOLA, for sure. After sustenance, we snagged a mid-range hotel at $86/nt that was over our budget, but we were thrilled to have a place to lay our heads. We were assuming it was the Holiday Inn Express on the edge of downtown, but it turned out to be a super-cool new hotel chain catering to business travelers called Aloft. The chain is all over, but I had never heard of them. It was a great room, speak and modern and there was a Outdoor POOL on the 19th floor!
Parking was $$, and it was the weekend again and time for the BF to buckle down and get work done, so we decided I would take Toa over to Katie’s and park for free and spend the weekend with her. More Katie time! Yea! And this decision led me to downloading the Uber app for the first time. NOLA is a city, like SF, built for Uber. Lots of tourist so easy to snag a ride. I used it quite a bit for the next few days, and was really impressed. It was an Uber driver who solved the mystery of the unknown building (I asked the concierge at the hotel — she had no clue). It turns out to be an abandoned office building. Built in the 70’s it served as office space for some major company (she thought insurance of some kind). They moved out to more current digs in the early 2000s (before Katrina). It has been standing empty since that time. Its location makes it pretty much impossible to demolish because it is so close to so many other buildings (e.g., the bus station where I saw it). So it just stands.
Katie took me to lunch with her good friend Dr. Caroline, and although we didn’t go to Landry’s restaurant, I had to take the sign for my friend Lynn Landry. Thinking of you, girl! Lunch on Lake Pontchartrain, sun shining, sipping cocktails, eating crawfish and BBQ shrimp, oh my yes.
The next day we lunched with Ms. Rachel, who is on the board of this awesome non-profit that provides medical services to remote villages in Bali. I’d met her and her chef husband when I came down to visit Katie for the launch of the last Harry Potter book, back in 2007 or 2008. She has a delightfully acerbic view of the world and we had a good time and more rich food.
That night, I went back to the hotel room to swim and the BF took off to enjoy NOLA, hitting the French Quarter and listening to iconic jazz in Preservation Hall with the consummate musicians there.
Next up: More NOLA, of course!
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