Monday, June 21, 2010

A BIG EASY WEEKEND

I haven't had an impromptu trip like this is quite some time.  Friday night Smita and I were just sitting with the computer open to Delta and checking the flight availability for this weekend.  (Ernesto was in Connecticut for a bachelor party)
Miami was our first choice.  Yes! Short flight, gorgeous beach, cuban sandwiches, great nightlife.

But no!  No Miami, no Ft. Lauderdale, No West Palm, no San Juan, no Tampa, no Hilton Head, no Myrtle Beach, no Hilton Head, no Savannah???  What was going on at all the beaches this weekend?  None of the flights were open.  I think it is called "summer", but come on. What about us standby people? ha!
We went through many many destinations before finally settling on......
New Orleans.  Wide open flights, nice hotel, good food, lots of culture in a gorgeous part of town.  Done.  We picked the W New Orleans  in the French Quarter.  It was a perfect location.  A $33 taxi ride got us there from the airport in 20 minutes.  
I used my starwood points, so the hotel was free. (Smita used her points and booked our NY hotel for the New Years trip, so it was my turn)  I have never stayed in a W I didn't like, and this one was no different. I  loved how it was the signature modern style of W Hotels, but brought in a taste of New Orleans.   I loved it the second I walked into the small welcome center, complete with old chandeliers and club chairs. 
Missing was the hot club/lounge that is always in a W, but the cute garden, pool and outdoor beds made up for that.  Besides we had more bars than we could ever need just steps away.
With the one hour time change, we were in the French Quarter by 830 Saturday morning.   Although I have been to New Orleans a few times, it has been a while.  Smita went to LSU for grad school and was excited to revisit. She wanted to take me for the beignets (french doughnuts) and chicory coffee at Cafe Du Monde.  This place is famous and had a long line and packed patio to prove it.
On our way back to the hotel for some pool time, we walked by The New Orleans School of Cooking and saw they had a cooking class from 2-4pm that day.  On the menu:  crawfish ettoufee, shrimp & artichoke bisque followed by pralines.  Sold! We immediately agreed it would be worth the $27.
We lounged at the pool for a couple hours and joined the cooking class.  I was a bit dissapointed that it was a demo class instead of us actually being involved in the cooking.  It was cool watching though, and I now know how to make a perfect rue for soups and stews. 
The teacher was very informative about the interesting history of Louisiana.  The food was phenomenal!   And the recipes came home with us, so we are already talking about having a cajun/creole night.

After the class we did some window shopping.  Im telling you the stores here are so cool.  The vintage and antiques, and oh, the chandeliers!  I was in heaven!   They were a little out of my price range.  We saw one for $34,000?!
My favorite store was a hat shop called Fleur de Paris.  We weren't allowed to take pictures because they hand make all of the hats and are all one-of-a-kind.  Outrageously gorgeous hats! We played around trying on a bunch.  My favorites are these small vintage cocktail hats/caps with feathers.  I was so inspired, I have decided I will make my own vintage hat [for an upcoming wedding] this fall. 

   Just like Atlanta, the weather in New Orleans was HOT AS HELL!  The humidity felt like 100%!  We popped in and out of shops to cool off and then, the clouds came in for an afternoon shower. 
And it poured! We waited for it to die down a bit before heading back to our  "heavenly beds" for a little cat nap.  
Ok, it was more than a cat nap, but by 8p, we were recharged to hit the city baby-dead on!
Randomly, an old-co-worker of mine from the Delta Sky Clubs was going to be in N.O. Saturday night too.  She saw my status on Facebook saying I was going to be there, and commented that she was too.  She was at an anniversary party of friends of a friend at the Omni Hotel (right around the corner from the W).  We crashed a anniversary party [with open bar]!  Ha! It was great to see Barbara, and she was ready to head out to Bourbon Street with us.
I was in New Orleans for Marti Gras once in college.  C-R-A-Z-Y!  Although the "bead business" was at a minimum Saturday night (compared to Marti Gras), there were still a few balconies lined with people throwing beads to passers by.  Some girls had one strand.
Others had more.  haha!
Just for the record, we didn't see any flashing, or show anything ourselves to get those beads.  Come on, we are ladies.  Plus,  it just wasn't Marti Gras. 
We bar hopped and ordered a hurricane at the famous Pat O' Brien's, supposedly a must in N.O.  
 Im not a fan.  Way. Too. Sweet!  Makes a pretty picture though.
There was a plethora of drinks to choose from, and although I liked this concept:
I don't drink Bud Light.  Period.  Smita and I didn't go overboard with drinks that night, but I can't say that for everyone else.  Drunk people galore.  Here is a PG-13 example:  We asked a guy to take our picture on Burboun Street.  We joked about him running away with my camera.  Instead this happened: 
Luckily, we felt good in the morning, despite staying out late the night before.  We had coffe and croissants at Le Bucherie, across from our hotel, sat out at the pool for a couple hours checked out of the hotel.  We were not done yet though.  I had a few things on my "must eat" list while in N.O.  We already had, beignets, crawfish etoufee, and shrimp/artichoke bisque.  I still needed gumbo, red beans & rice, jambalaya and a po'boy.   Gumbo Shop was recommended to us by a bookstore owner where we were browsing.  Smita bought the restaurants' cookbook and we walked around the block to make sure the recipes were good enough to try at home.  
Sitting under an umbrella in the courtyard, we ordered everything on my list...minus the po'boys.  I didn't have room after the all that and the praline sundae. ugh!  I think with all the rues and pralines, I may have ate all the calories I burned in my workouts this week. 
Oh well, such is life.  New Orleans,  I love you!

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