Sunday, November 11, 2012

NOLA: First Bite!

Sometimes you just gotta take a vacation to hit the reset button on life.  What better place to live it up, eat well, and soak up the sun, sights and sounds....but the Big Easy aka Crescent City aka the Northernmost Caribbean City aka Nawlins aka NOLA aka New Orleans, Louisiana.

NOLA was a place I'd always wanted to visit.  I'm from the Midwest and spent time in the South- but I never did make it down to Nawlins.  And now that I make my home in Seattle, WA, I decided to book that trip to NOLA when my special friend Jimmy moved there for school this past August.  I booked my trip for 5 days in NOLA and in that time I was just able to sink my teeth into the crusty tip of an overpacked, steaming hot PoBoy!  There's so much more I still need to bite off!

Let me take you on my journey, my first trip to NOLA.  From the Emerald City to OZ.......

NOLA- Regal and Brimming with History:
Clockwise from the top left- Jackson Square, Andrew Jackson statue, below is the Crescent City Water Meter cover, St. Louis Cathedral, Audubon Place on St. Charles Ave, The St. Charles Streetcar, Statue in honor of the New Immigrant, Joan of Arc Statue, Steamboat Natchez sign

Not only did I want to see my friend Jimmy, but I planned my first trip to NOLA during Halloween!  It's my favorite holiday-  I've been making costumes and dressing up for it as long as I can remember.  This year, since I was going to The Birthplace of Jazz, I decided to be a flapper girl!  I made my costume inspired by NOLA, the art deco '20s, and the flappers:

Me in my Flapper Garb!

Nawlins was a blast on Halloween.  Jimmy and I spent the night in the French Quarter- bar-hopping and people watching.  It was too much fun!  People dressed up in hilarious costumes...and the entire city was festooned with Halloween decorations!  My kind of Place!  Boo Dat!
Clockwise from the top:  Butterfly lady, Drink Bot- and yes, he had a straw poking out from his costume where you'd stick your daquiri for him to slurp, Mitt Romney (ahhhh!  the horror!)  French Quarter revelers, Mothra Babe!
Boo Dat!  NOLA loves Halloween!

All that partying in the French Quarter can whip up an appetite!  Time to get a Real Taste of the Big Easy!

Clockwise Left to Right:  Jimmy eating Red Beans 'n Rice, Me about to bite into a Muffiletta, In Nola they put fried chicken on their pasta- with Shrimp Monica Sauce, Muffiletta as big as a dinner plate, Shrimp Remoulade salad garnished with fried green tomato
Plenty of Cooks in the Kitchen to get your Gumbo Ya Ya on and Pig out with Crawfish as you dance the Walk of Flame! that Jimmy Flame on the Walk of Flame?!!
Something to humor you and your stomach?  Look no further in NOLA!
King Cakes, Pralines & Pies, Snowballs......enough to give you a Buddha Belly!
Cafe Au Lait & Beignets at Cafe Du Monde...A NOLA institution!  Lower left corner is Jimmy posing with his favorite local coffee.  

Ah, I was a glutton for I need to repent!  They don't call them the Saints for nothing....
New Orleans is a highly spiritual place.  Clockwise from Left to Right:  Thou Shalt Not Kill signs dotted the front yards thoughout NOLA, A meditative place in Audubon Park, A handmade Gods Eye nailed to a pole on Magazine Street. I love the handwritten 'Geaux Tigers' (as in LSU Tigers) sign paying homage on All Saints Day, Ol Man River, the Mississippi....there is mystic in the mud here!
Religion is grand in the Big Easy-  Just a few pics of places of worship.  Clockwise Left to Right-  St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square, a Baptist church on Magazine Street,  some church in the French Quarter, Holy Name of Jesus Parish Church with palm tree and with gnarly tree next to Loyola University,  St. Louis Cathedral with cloud.
Being inside St. Louis Cathedral brought back memories of touring the various Cathedrals in Italy- particularly Venice.  So ornate and is a sight to behold!

One thing I couldn't leave without seeing in NOLA was a cemetery.  My trip took place on Halloween,  All Saints Day, and All Souls Day.  I didn't make it to a cemetery on any of those days.  With an hour to spare on my last day in NOLA, I visited Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in the Garden District.  I was sad to leave NOLA and leave Jimmy.  But the tears on my cheeks were disguised by the giant raindrops ploppin' down from a big Louisiana rainstorm going on. A bittersweet ending to my NOLA trip!
Note the Grave on the left, second down from the top, Death from Yellow Fever

What's not to love about New Orleans??!!  The architecture, music, and culture add flavor to the city and pepper your heart!
Brightly colored buildings with contrast shutters and wrought-iron balconies....a symbol of the French Quarter
Buildings older than your daddy's socks....I can't believe we're still in the US!
Brightly colored Shotgun Houses, Shutters, Ornate rigeur of buildings found in NOLA
The Icing on the Cake:  More architectural and interior embellishments found around NOLA
Gorgeous buildings on St. Charles Ave and Carrollton Ave are shielded by Southern Live Oak trees
Southern Decadence:  Mansions held in place by ornately carved columns
 Music is the Heart and Soul of NOLA.  Strolling around in the French Quarter- street performers busking or a blues band in a small club off Frenchmen St.-- it's all music to your ears!  Music is so synonymous with the city- it's also paid homage to in its visual art!

 A side trip to Lafayette, LA allowed me to live out one of my dreams-- to see a live Zydeco band in Lafayette!  Jimmy and I just happened to stumble upon a free outdoor concert of Cedric Watson and Bijou Creole.  Lots of dancing and good was so much fun!!!
Maybe it's the hot tropical climate, the palm trees, the sunshine....NOLA is Bright and Bold and Bursting with all kinds of Art and Visual Eye-Candy!
At the top right are the famous 'Blue Dogs' painted by New Orleanian & self-proclaimed 'Cajun Artist' George Rodrigue,  Below that is one of the many art galleries in the French Quarter, At the bottom right- they even paint their electric meters in's a very colorful place.  Bottom left is the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts on Magazine Street.  Above that is one of many brightly colored murals you will find around NOLA.  This one is on Frenchmen St.
Nola at Night-  We happened to stumble upon an outdoor art fair setting up at dusk on Saturday evening near the French Quarter.  Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler-  love the daily events signage on the side of this club!

NOLA- full of Flair and Quirkiness!

Mardi Gras seems to linger on, even through Halloween!  NOLA is literally dripping with beads and Green-Gold-Purple Swag!

Stick a Fleur'd on it!  Portlandia has their birds....and Nola has their Fleur De Lis:

Can't find the name of the street you're on?  Look down on the sidewalk or on a building:

And how could I forget Loyola!  Jimmy is a lucky man to be attending school here!

If there's one thing I learned on my journey to New Orleans....
There's NOLA place like any other!!!
(I gotta geaux back!!)

I couldn't leave ya without a little music.  Let's hear it for Cedric Watson, ya'll!!


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