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NOLA 3

Posted on October 11th, 2014

Dave!S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y- NIGHT!

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y- NIGHT!

But let's start off with my morning, shall we? Because that was spent at Cafe Du Monde, and it doesn't get much better than that...

Beignets at Cafe Du Monde.

Beignets at Cafe Du Monde.

But the morning actually began at my hotel, where I am residing in Room No. 1...

My Hotel Room Door.

And this is the courtyard where the housekeeping staff yells their head off each morning while you're trying to sleep...

My Hotel Room Door.

Lunch was at my favorite place for falafel in New Orleans... Attiki (which I've written about here)...

Attiki for Halloween.

Mail call...

Cast Iron Mail Box.

Shopping in the French Quarter, when... CREEPY BABY!!!

CREEPY BABY!

A walk through Jackson Square...

Jackson Square

Dinner at my favorite restaurant in the city, Carmo...

Carmo Banquette

Carmo Rico Sandwich

As a vegetarian, eating at Deanie's Seafood wasn't in the cards for me. But the huge portions were entirely too alluring for the meat-eaters...

Deanie's Dinner New Orleans

And then? Bourbon Street madness!

Bourbon Street!

I was quite proud of myself for getting to bed before 1:00am... but was dragged back to Alcohol Central by a friend who was in town at 1:30am. A couple of Hand Grenades and two-and-a-half hours later, my Saturday night was over.

As was my liver.

   

NOLA 2

Posted on October 10th, 2014

Dave!A typical day in New Orleans.

If there is such a thing here.

Starting the day out right with beignets at Cafe Du Monde...

Cafe Du Monde

A walk through the French Market... Halloween-style...

The French Market New Orleans

The French Market New Orleans

The power of voodoo! Who do? You do!

Madame Laveau's Voodoo Shop

Paying respect to the local Saints...

Light a Candle for St. Brees!

One of the many cats of New Orlean's many shops...

Shopcat!

It's the new drink here!

Ginger Mint: The NEW Drink of New Orleans!

Incredible Mac & Cheese at St. Lawrence... home of divine food!

Mac & Cheese New Orleans!

Tattoo No. Six. It's been my motto for decades. Of all the quotes I've ever heard, who knew it would be a line from Buckaroo Banzai that would end up defining my life? Thanks to Electric Ladyland Tattoo for the ultimate New Orleans souvenir.

Electric Ladyland Tattoo.

Tattooing No matter where you go... there you are.

No matter where you go... there you are.

I love it. But still wonder if I should have gone with my second choice...

Pirate Love

After another dinner at Coop's, it was time to wander Bourbon Street for an evening of debauchery, drunkenness, fist-fights, and famous acts of love (not by any of us, of course... so far as you know)...

Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street

And... it's 1:45am. Since the bars close in 15 minutes, I guess I'll just call it a night.

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NOLA 1

Posted on October 9th, 2014

Dave!Time to decompress in one of my favorite places on earth.

Which is not hard to do... they don't call it "The Big Easy" for nothing.


Coops Place New Orleans

Coops Place New Orleans

Coops Place New Orleans

Coops Place New Orleans

Laissez les bons temps rouler.

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King

Posted on March 4th, 2014

Dave!IT'S FAT TUESDAY, PEOPLE!!!

I know I've posted this DaveToon before, but it's one of my all-time favorites. Just like New Orleans. Happy Mardi Gras, everybody...

DAVETOON: Baby Dave on a King Cake!

   

And now I want a piece of King Cake.

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NOLA ROLLA

Posted on December 5th, 2013

Dave!Them: "It's too bad you're not there on a weekend when there's stuff going on."

Me: "BWAH HA HA HA HAAAA!"

Yes, things are busier on the weekend... but New Orleans doesn't shut down during the week. Bourbon Street, in particular, is up and running and open for business...

Bourbon Street Thursday

Bourbon Street Thursday

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Since this is my last day in The Big Easy, I wanted to be sure I hit Surrey's Cafe & Juice Bar for my favorite breakfast in the city, Bananas Foster French Toast...

Surrey's French Toast

From their menu... "New Orleans-style French toast stuff ed with banana-cream cheese. Topped with a classic Bananas Foster sauce of rum, brown sugar and butter, dusted with powdered sugar." And, yes, it's just as delicious as it sounds.

My main goal today was to hunt down stuff for my Holiday Gift Exchange present. It's kind of tough to do given the $20 spending limit but, luckily, I known where to get cheap crap for cheap in New Orleans, so I managed just fine. All that was left to do was dance, but One-Eyed Jacks wasn't open yet...

Fast Times at One-Eyed Jacks

After an afternoon spent working, my Bananas Foster French Toast was wearing off, so I made plans for dinner back at Carmo. The food is just too good there to be denied. I had the amazing Vegetarian Rico and an order of Banquette Bread...

Carmo Rico Deliciousness

From their menu... "A breadless fork sandwich made of a grilled plantain patty topped with melted cheese, spicy smoked 'n' pulled pork, avocado, salsa fresca and our tangy sweet spicy "Rico" sauce. Served with organic greens drizzled with mango vinaigrette. Or have it Veggie: dairy cheese & vegan meat; or Vegan: vegan cheese & vegan meat." And, yes, it's just as delicious as it sounds. More delicious, even.

I head to the airport at 9:30 tomorrow, and was worried that I wouldn't wake up early enough to have one last plate of beignets at Cafe Du Monde... so that was my next stop for some dessert...

Beignets at Cafe Du Monde

Yeah, they never get old.

I don't know that I've noticed this painting hanging in the cafe before, but it's pretty awesome...

Coffee with Jesus at Cafe Du Monde
"It seemed like an ordinary day until... I had coffee with Jesus at the Cafe Du Monde."

   
After dessert, I wandered through the French Quarter for a couple hours... had a couple Hurricanes... managed to stay out of trouble... and remembered all over again just why I love this city so much.

I haven't left yet, but I already want to come back.

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NOLA LA LA LA!

Posted on December 4th, 2013

Dave!Yesterday's flight was completely uneventful, which wasn't surprising given that it's only an hour long (which is a lot nicer than driving 6-1/2 hours, which I've done before).

At first I had thought that I would just stay in the hotel for dinner since I was exhausted from work and the drive back to Atlanta, but it's pretty tough to be in New Orleans and not want to spend time in the city. And so I hopped on a cable car to Attiki Bar & Grill, which makes a mean falafel wrap and has great hummus (with cajun spice!). It's also a nice place to sit and watch the French Quarter light up as the sun goes down...

Dinner in New Orleans

Dinner in New Orleans

This morning I decided to sleep in. One of the great things about being in New Orleans is that I've been here a dozen times before, so there's not compulsion to wake up at the crack of dawn and play tourist. The only compulsion I had was to make it to one of my favorite restaurants in the city, Cafe Carmo. They have really good sandwiches (I get the Veggie King)... but the reason I love the place so much is for their Banquette Breads. It's a type of flatbread that's been smothered with Havarti cheese and scallions and it is absolutely amazing...

Carmo Lunch

Then it was time to do one of my most favorite things in New Orleans... wander aimlessly through the French Quarter. There is always so much to see, and it's changing constantly, so it's an activity I never tire of. Along the way I saw an awesome ShopCat in the window of one of the Royal Street galleries...

Shop Cat!

After I walked past, I had to take out my camera because the painting behind the cat was pretty funny...

Shop Cat!

Then, of course, it was time for Cafe Du Monde. Absolutely no trip to Ner Orleans is complete unless you visit here at least once...

Cafe Du Monde

One of the things I keep meaning to do, but always forget to do... is visit the courtyard of the Napoleon House Bar & Cafe. This is one of the locations used in one of my all-time favorite movies, Undercover Blues, starring Kathleen Turner, Dennis Quaid, Fiona Shaw, and Stanley Tucci. I've been to most of the other filming locations on previous trips, but this one has eluded me for far too long...

Napoleon House Bar and Cafe

This is where Jeff and Jane Blue went for oysters, only to have both Muerte and Novacek's men show up to spoil lunch. One of the funniest scenes in the movie... which is saying a lot, because there are a lot of funny scenes in the film. If you haven't seen it yet, I give Undercover Blues my highest recommendation...

Dinner was at a new pizza place called Dolce Vita that I was told was good. And indeed it was. The decor is very plain... almost depressing... but they make up for it with the food. Their pizza crust was wood-fired and perfect. I don't know that it will replace Slice as my favorite pizza in New Orleans, but it's nice to have options.

And there it goes... my first night in New Orleans.

Time. She flies too fast.

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Easy

Posted on December 2nd, 2013

Dave!When planning my travel for this trip, I found that I had a nice gap of time between work in Atlanta and a wedding party in Portland. It was perfectly-sized for a quick trip to someplace new, and I was excited at the world of possibilities before me. But where to go? Usually, I just take a look at my Hard Rock Cafe map and see where there's a cafe I haven't visited...

Florence. I've already seen the major sights, so I thought that Florence was the perfect candidate. Just fly in for two days to see the Hard Rock and maybe visit the Accademia Gallery, then zip back to the USA. The problem being that all the tickets available for purchase with airline miles had horrible schedules that made a trip unrealistic. I could have gone with Ibiza, Nice, Budapest, Krakow, or Glasgow, but these are cities I want to explore for much longer than two days.

St. Maarten. Another place I've already been, so two days would be plenty. Except the mileage required to get a free ticket was insane for some reason.

Buenos Aires. Did you know that the visa entry fee to Argentina is ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS?!? I ain't spending that kind of money for just two-days!

Punta Cana & Santo Domingo. The Dominican Republic seemed ideal... a short flight and only a $10 fee to enter the country. Not only that, but they have two Hard Rocks on the island (three if you count the hotel in Punta Cana!). But, ultimately, the logistics of the trip were too time-consuming to work out, so I took a pass.

At this point, I was going to look into Costa Rica... or perhaps Brazil... or even Guatamala City... but these are all places I'd want to visit for more time than I had available. So what to do? A part of me just wanted to hang around Atlanta until my flight on Saturday. It's a great city and I've plenty of friends in town, so why not kick back and relax?

But then...

Then...

For some reason I glanced up and saw the souvenir street sign I had bought for Bourbon Street that was pinned to my wall.

A moment of clarity ensued.

Yes, I've been to New Orleans a dozen times. Yes, I was just there earlier this year in March. Yes, I've already seen the Hard Rock Cafe New Orleans (both of them). Yes, there are plenty of new and exciting places I could go.

But holy crap do I love The Big Easy.

It's a city I know well. It's a city I love to visit. It's a city where I can just relax for three days and do as much or as little as I want. It's the ultimate no-pressure mini-getaway for me and, at that moment, I knew exactly where I wanted to be. So I cashed in some airline miles, used a hotel voucher I had saved up, and that was that.

So away I go.

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NOLA Two

Posted on March 20th, 2013

Dave!I awoke to rain and overcast skies on a cold New Orleans morning.

My motivation to get out of bed and wander out into that dreary morning was effectively zero. But to waste a day in one of my favorite cities on earth would be a terrible sin, so I sucked it up and decided to visit some places I hadn't been before.

I started out with The Pharmacy Museum, which is a little place on Chartres Street I had never even heard of. As far as museums go, it's pretty tame... but it only costs $5 and there's loads of beautiful old bottle labels to explore...

Pharmacy Museum

Pharmacy Museum Shelves

Pharmacy Museum Bottle Label

They also have a collection of very old eyeglasses and other cool stuff, but a French tour group had their shit spread out all over the cases and would not fucking leave the exhibit, even though there were people trying to take a look. The worst part? THEY WEREN'T EVEN DISCUSSING THE STUFF IN THE ROOM! They were talking about historical figures or something (I'm guessing they didn't want to take it outside because it was raining). What a bunch of rude assholes thinking only of themselves and ruining the experience for everybody else.

Tired of walking in the cold, I decided to take in a couple of book shops, then grab lunch before heading back to my hotel room. But I kept seeing advertisements for Mardi Gras World that looked interesting. I had never visited there before because it used to be across the river. But now it's moved down by the convention center, so I decided to take the piece of shit Riverfront Streetcar* and take a look.

Mardi Gras World is a working facility where they build most of the floats for the 12 days of Mardi Gras parades that happen here every year. They're rather ornate affairs, and the work that goes into building them is pretty intense. So intense that as soon as one Mardi Gras ends (as 2013's just did in February) they immediately start work on next year's 500 floats...

Mardi Gras World Float

There are dozens of huge warehouses packed with floats and the equipment needed to pull them through the streets of New Orleans. The factory tour only runs through half of one warehouse, but it's still a lot to see...

Mardi Gras World Warehouse

Every year, each of the "krewes" responsible for the various parades come up with a new theme. Since the theme is always changing, they have to start from scratch every year. This means building or remodeling all the various big props that are stuck on the floats...

Mardi Gras World Worker

Mardi Gras World Props

Mardi Gras World ALIEN Prop

The tour lasts about an hour and, much to my surprise, the clouds and rain had completely disappeared by the time I was finished, and it was all sunshine and blue skies...

Mardi Gras World Sunny

Now that I wouldn't be slogging around in the cold and rain, I decided to use the free ticket I got from my hotel to visit the Ogden Museum of Southern Art...

Ogden Museum of Southern Art

From their roof terrace, you get a great view of the massive expansion efforts going on at the World War II Museum I visited yesterday...

Ogden Museum Terrace View

On the top floor of the museum there's an exhibit dedicated to the elaborate Indian costumes used during Mardi Gras...

OgdencMuseum Mardi Gras Indian Costume

And, of course, paintings and photos and sculpture featuring Southern life... including this painting of the levies...

Ogden Museum Painting

Next door to the Ogden Museum is the Civil War Museum at Confederate Memorial Hall. It's a very nice place, and has quite a few very old artifacts from the war...

Civil War Museum

Unfortunately, there's no photography allowed... but the guy manning the ticket desk said it was okay if I took a long shot of the beautiful building interior...

Civil War Museum Hall

After going back to the hotel and working for a few hours, I decided to go hunt down a falafel wrap for dinner...

Falafel Wrap!

Dessert was at Cafe Du Monde again, of course...

Cafe Du Monde Redux

And thus ends my second (and last) day in The Crescent City. Hopefully it won't be another ten long years before I can visit again... and hopefully that visit will be longer than two days!

   
*Streetcars in New Orleans are always late, never seem to run on schedule, and will skip a stop at random with absolutely no warning. I started at the Ursulines Street stop where the streetcar was 12 minutes late. The stop for Mardi Gras World was the end of the line (John Churchill Chase stop), but the operator decided that he'd randomly eliminate it, forcing me to get off at the Julia Street stop. No warning. No Explanation. No notice of any kind at any station or on the website. Nothing. Just get the fuck out and walk 20 minutes around the convention center because he felt like it, I guess. So, yeah, the streetcars may be a charming New Orleans throwback, but they are complete bullshit for actual transportation needs

   

NOLA One

Posted on March 19th, 2013

Dave!One of these days I am going to visit New Orleans and never leave.

It was here in The Crescent City that my life of travel began. Back in 1983 at 17 years old I took my first "real" trip on my own with no parents and no rules. Many important things were found... and lost... in New Orleans 30 years ago, and the city has had a hold on me ever since.

This is my first visit to New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina devastated the region in 2005. My previous trip coincided with the 200th anniversary of The Louisiana Purchase in 2003, and I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that it has been an entire decade since I was here last. It doesn't feel like it's been that long.

But a visit to the National World War II Museum makes me feel the time passing. When I last visited there in 2000 after it opened, it was called "The D-Day Museum" and half the size it is now...

WW2 Museum

The new "Victory Theater" expansion houses a special "4-D" movie titled Beyond All Boundaries which features narration by Tom Hanks and other stars. It was pretty good. What was not good was the boring-as-hell Final Mission submarine "simulation" which felt pointless and stupid. Not at all worth the extra money to see. But even if you skip Final Mission, walking to the massive Freedom Pavilion is still worthwhile because of the planes they've got on display...

Freedom Pavilion

There are walkways which literally allow you to walk around the full-size aircraft suspended there...

Freedom Pavilion Walkways

NOT for the faint of heart, however. Those upper walkways really took a toll on my sanity given my crippling fear of heights. Not that they don't warn you...

Freedom Pavilion WARNING!

The exhibits in the main museum are still nice, and has some terrific artifacts to look at...

WW2 Museum

After an early dinner, it was time for a trip to the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, which always looks so tame during daylight hours...

Bourbon Street Daytime

Dessert was (obviously) freshly-cooked beignets at Cafe Du Monde...

NOLA Cafe Du Monde

NOLA Beignets

Dusk falls over Jackson Square as I walk the riverfront...

Jackson Square Neew Orleans at Dusk

Apparently Bad Monkey now has his own Mardi Gras beads...

NOLA Monkey Beads

Things start to heat up on Bourbon Street as the sun goes down. Never mind that it's a TUESDAY, it's time to get your party on...

Bourbon Street at Dusk

Bourbon Street Famous Love Acts

And, lest I forget the reason I came here... Hard Rock visit No. 150!

New Orleans New Hard Rock Cafe

New Orleans New Hard Rock Cafe

It's a nice enough cafe... but it's decorated in the shitty "new-style" hipster lounge motif that I hate. The original New Orleans Hard Rock may have had a less-desirable location on Jackson Square, but at least it had a beautiful selection of memorabilia and the classic Hard Rock stylings that define the chain.

And so ends my first packed day in The Big Easy.

   

Katrina5

Posted on August 28th, 2010

Dave!It was five years ago.

But it seems like only yesterday I was on my way to Asia as Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on the Gulf States. At the time I remember being sick with worry as I boarded the plane, not knowing whether I would ever see New Orleans again. Since it's one of my favorite cities on earth, this was a horrible thought. The flight time to my first stop in Seoul, Korea was nearly 13 hours, which meant that Katrina would hit The Big Easy while I was in the air. There was no way for me to keep up with what was happening while in-flight, so all I could do was cling to the hope that some miracle would occur, and the hurricane would fade away before it ever made landfall.

But of course there was no miracle. At least not a miracle like that.

The struggle in The Gulf to recover from Katrina is ongoing.

Despite a number of people who believe that we should give it up. "Most of New Orleans is under sea level and can't be saved!" they say. "The city is in the bottom of a bowl and will be flooded again!" they cry. "Stop spending tax dollars on a losing battle!" they scream.

And yet... modern-day engineering can change the face of the planet. Technology exists which can accomplish those miracles. The battle over natural disasters cannot be won, but it's getting easier not to lose. Except it costs money, and cities like New Orleans are poor.

You'd think the same school of thought that calls for the abandonment of New Orleans would also apply to a city like San Francisco which is plagued by earthquakes, but it doesn't. Probably because San Francisco is one of this nation's wealthiest cities. Sadly, it's all about the money, as usual.

Though how people can put a dollar value on people is beyond me.

Thankfully.

New Orleans Park Stop

Laissez les bons temps rouler, New Orleans.

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