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Trip Report Back from the Big Easy

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My boyfriend of 4 months and I just returned from our first trip together. He'd been to New Orleans 14 times over the past 30 years, but it was the first time for me. Michael was excited to show me one of his favorite cities. I was happy to leave the planning to him and follow along for a long weekend. Check out my new profile pic!

Thurs 12/1
We flew from Chicago to Nola at 7 am, leaving behind a forecast of snow.
Checked in at the Hyatt Centric on Iberville and Dauphine. Beautiful room - we were upgraded to one on the second floor courtyard.
First stop: the Monteleone carousel bar for a milk punch.
Then on to Antoine's for their three course $20 lunch and 25 cent martinis. We were seated right next to the Christmas tree. Our waiter was a fount of knowledge, and the food was wonderful.
After lunch we walked the river front, meeting a delightful couple from Germany who had shipped their RV to Halifax and driven South to New Orleans. We rounded Jackson square and returned to the hotel. Dinner was across the street at Deanie's, a recommendation from our shuttle bus driver. Afterward we bar hopped on Bourbon St. I stopped in a shop for a Christmas ornament and we wandered in to the Court of Two Sisters, through the alley. The Host?/Doorman? kindly gave us a tour of the courtyard and restaurant even though they had stopped serving for the evening.

Fri 12/2
We took the trolleys to both the cemeteries and the garden district, which was a long time sitting on hard wooden benches :) The garden district was the better destination, IMO.
Went to Frank's for muffalettas for dinner, and since oddly we were the only customers in the place, held a long conversation with Frank, his wife (?) and our waitress, which was a lot of fun. Frank recommended Frenchmen St over Bourbon St, citing clubs with no cover charge and drinks at half the Bourbon St. prices.
What a great recommendation! Michael had never been to Frenchmen St, having previously adhered to the idea that tourists should stick to the Quarter. What bunk. We had a blast! Frenchmen St has a younger, livelier crowd, while in comparison Bourbon St was full of corporate types in town for their a convention. I mean that literally - every balcony we looked up at was full of people in suits.
Our favorite stop of the night was Bamboulas, where we heard Lucky Greenwell and his band perform some awesome blues. I slipped our waitress a $20 to stealthily buy their CD for me to give to Michael for Christmas. Shh, don't tell! The band after them was very good too but we only stayed for a couple of songs since we were really tired.

Sat 12/3
On the advice of the doorman at the Monteleone, went to Jimmy J's for breakfast. Yum! Michael is all about asking locals for their recommendations, and I have to say it's a sound strategy.
Next we went to the French market, where I spent too much money, but I bought Christmas presents for my nieces and nephews and a new ring and earrings for myself, among other things.
We then hopped the trolley to Harrahs, where we spent about a half hour, as neither of us is much of a gambler.
For lunch we had Oysters at Felix's. It was a first for me for raw oysters, and I surprised myself by liking them.
Then we went to Brennan's for Bananas Foster, where they sat us in the bar and veteran waiter Gordon put on a show for us. They were excellent and we promised him we'd be back for brunch.
That night we took the ferry across the river to Algiers. They were having a Christmas festival with a band, food trucks, and a huge bonfire. We stayed out in the rain for 3 hours having a great time.
Band bag of donuts

Sun 12/4
Michael is a huge football fan. He has Bears season tickets and wanted to experience a Saints game. He bought a ticket online and set off for the game, while I went for a massage and a movie. We both spent the day recharging our batteries in our own way, which was probably a good thing after so much togetherness :)
That night we had the only bad meal of our trip, but it was our own fault for choosing the Hard Rock Cafe. In our defense, it was in our hotel and we both claimed not to be very hungry. Just the previous day I had said, "Who comes to NOLA and eats at the Hard Rock?" Should've listened to myself, LOL.

Mon 12/5
Brunch at Brennan's. We asked for our pal Gordon and as a result were seated in the front room rather than in the back (it was raining, so the courtyard wasn't an option). At Christmas they place little ornaments on the tables for their guests to take home. A jingle bell with a ribbon tied to it, which was stamped with "Brennan's." Needless to say, the food was outstanding.
After brunch we went to the WWII museum, which had been recommended to us by several of the locals, including Gordon. Since it was a rainy day it was a perfect activity. The museum was very well done and definitely worth a visit.
Then it was back to Felix's for more oysters, and we received two recommendations for that night's agenda.
We went to the Coop for dinner, which is basically a dive bar with food. Very small and the staff is all business, but the food was good. More importantly, is was on the way to Frenchmen St. The second reco was for Snug Harbor to hear Charmaine Neville, daughter of Charles of the Neville Brothers.
As we entered we saw them filming NCIS New Orleans next door. Charmaine is a Monday night regular, and she is definitely talented, but the show was a little too loosey-goosey for us. More talking to the audience than singing.
The fun part was that Charmaine's aunt was in the audience that night, and she was brought on stage to sing. She was a member of the Dixie Cups in the 60s, known for Chapel of Love and Iko Iko. She got us all singing along to some Christmas songs. Then Charmaine pulled Michael and another audience member up on stage and they all sang Chapel of Love and Iko Iko. Extrovert that he is, Michael loved it!
When her show was over we returned to Bamboulas for the Sunshine Brass Band - OMG, were they high energy! Six members, a trumpet, 2 saxes, a slide trombone, a drummer and a backup singer who played the xylophone on some songs.
This band was loud and AWESOME. They played songs everyone knows, with very little in the way of vocals. The audience sang along and danced up a storm. Just like Heaven (The Cure}, the Bond theme song, Enjoy Yourself, even Justin Bieber with tongues firmly in cheeks. They were so high energy and so much fun, but we had to leave before they were done due to sheer exhaustion.

Tues 12/6
Time to leave NOLA. We had a final breakfast at Jimmy J's, walked to Loius Armstrong park and back through the Quarter, and stopped for a quick lunch at Cafe Beignet and a farewell milk punch at the Monteleone.
Then off to the airport, where our flight was slightly delayed due to snow back home. This was not a restful trip by any means - Michael is six years older and I had a hard time keeping up with him, LOL. He succeeded in showing me a city he loves, though. We'll be back!

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