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Trip Report New Orleans Trip Report: Being (in) John Malkovich's chair

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Day 1 (Tues Ap 6): A short flight/trip from Omaha to Memphis to MSY turned into a 16 hour odyssey. Made it to Memphis but there was an engine issue and instead of getting into town at 3:45, midnight was the arrival time in the Crescent City. So we were cheated a fun night on the town. Delta was the airline w/the issues. Hotel was the JW Marriott on Canal street. The good things are the beds (so soft) and we had a great view of the river and city (room 2811). Towels were big and soft. Staff were very nice. Bad thing: not enough bathroom counter space, so my female roomie and I had to jostle for space for our makeup/toiletries. The free Internet in the lobby/lounge was ok, but very slow at times.

Yes, would stay there again. Got used to walking from Canal to the Quarter, but you might as well give yourself some exercise if you're going to be eating well. Also, always felt safe in the area---plenty of people. Interestingly, if walking alone late at night, I'd rather take Bourbon than one of the other less populated/residential streets as there's always a police presence.

Day 2 (Wed Ap 7): My SIL and her boyfriend were also a long for the trip and we all agreed to go on a high speed boat tour of the swamps. Set it up through hotel concierge and it was $70 pp for a 16 seater boat (includes pickup at hotel). I think it was Airboat Adventures http://www.airboatadventures.com/. It was a lot of fun and we did see some gators and turtles. Would recommend a swamp tour of any sort as it's a good change of pace from the city.

Back in town we walked around the Quarter and we're on our way to Cafe du Monde. Just as we're crossing the street, my SIL says that's Bruce Willis! I quickly ran behind him to double check and yes it was him, a friend and his wife just taking a casual stroll. Bruce had on a white hat, skinny blue jeans and cool red sneakers. He'd casually tip his hat, but for the most part everyone left him alone. Maybe they didn't realize who he was, but he walked around without getting bothered. Normally I don't shy away from asking for a picture from celebrities, but Bruce made me shy and I let him be. He looked friendly and I think he would have obliged me for a photo, but oh well. I did get a picture of the back of his head. He still looks great (yes his wife is very beautiful too).

Had my beignets and cafe au lait. I love Cafe du Monde so much I'd marry it. Since this was my 3rd trip to the city I showed my SIL and her BF around and we wound up in the Napoleon House (http://www.napoleonhouse.com/) for a drink. Cool establishment and it was recommended in the guidebooks and by several locals. We asked to sit in the courtyard and our waiter asks me if I knew who John Malkovich was (of course I do--he's cool and kinda scary hot). He and the director (they must be shooting a movie w/Bruce) had just left 15 min. prior and I was sitting in his chair. That bit of info was kind of exciting so pictures were taken and of course I rolled around in the chair to get the JM vibe (none came, nor did I feel like I was a better actor).

Per watching Anthony Bourdain, I had seen the restaurant Cochon (http://www.cochonrestaurant.com/) on his show and was very intrigued. Also a local in the airport recommended it so yes we had to go. Now the rest of my traveling party were not as intrigued with the menu as I, but most of them had $10 ribs appetizer (which was a good amount for dinner) and I ordered the "Louisiana cochon with turnips, cabbage & cracklins $22." You know what? I was kinda disappointed. The piggy part was just like a ball of pulled pork--something similar to what I've made in my own crock pot at home. And I thought I'd get more cabbage, but there wasn't near enough. The crackling part was nice, but my expectations were a bit deflated with this meal selection. Given the chance I would return to Cochon again.

As I looked around the restaurant, I say a guy who looked familiar to me. And I'm thinking, did we work together, did you do something with the last United Way campaign (I work for a non-profit)??? And I look a little harder and realize it's Steve from Sex in the City! Real name is David Eigenberg (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0251678/) and he's as cute in real life as he appears on TV. He was with his mom, wife and little boy who was very cute and blonde. The restaurant manager told us Bruce Willis was also there earlier in the week so this must be a hot spot for celebs.

And now for the drinking.
Took a walk down Bourbon St. Went to Pat O'Briens (http://www.patobriens.com) drank a hurricane (earlier we had a Bloody Mary there--not bad either). But if you turn in the glass back to the bartender, you get $3 back so not too bad for the price of a cocktail. More drinks to follow, more bands to listen to and the night became a blur.

Somehow, on the way back to the hotel I fell. Now it could have been my new sandals, it could have been the pothole/uneven street, the alcohol, or maybe a combination of all 3, but stumble I did and on my left knee I had a souvenir bruise. We all made it back to the hotel in one piece and I went to sleep happily knowing I had done my best to keep many local New Orleans establishments' cash registers filled with my money.

The next morning I called my SIL and told her I didn't appreciate her pushing me down on Bourbon street and hitting my head with a baseball bat while I slept because it didn't feel nice to wake up with a headache. She said "your welcome." With 2 ibuprofrens, I started my 3rd day in the Crescent City with a plan to shop.

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    Day 3 (Thu): SIL's BF is down for the count. He's not ready to do anything till around noon. So she and I hit Royal street where are the antique shops are. I had always heard Magazine street was the place to go for shopping, but since we were short on time, this section of the city didn't get visited from our party.

    Royal Street is a fun place to just window shop, filled with many stores that have been in business for many, many years. The shop keepers themselves are just as interesting and the prices tend to be a bit high. Here are a few of the places visited:

    Sashay: ladies boutique w/lovely hats, jewelry and a fun 20's vibe to it (got gold earrings for $18, bracelet for $19)
    606 Royal Street

    Royal Antiques
    309 Royal St

    Vintage 429: Didn't go in, but an interesting shop with collectible guitars, etc.
    429 Royal

    Fleur De Paris Ltd: great hat store. Many at $400+. Not vintage, but all are hand made and one of a kind. If going to Kentucky Derby type event, gala, or need a lovely chapeau for church, this is the place to visit. There are hats for men too and some dresses.
    523 Royal

    We popped into a side street restaurant (can't remember the name) and split a cup of gumbo and a Bloody Mary. My SIL and BF finally hooked up and they went to the Aquarium
    (http://www.auduboninstitute.org/visit/aquarium) (and liked it I assumed). This left me alone to visit the Quarter.

    Visited Jackson Square area and shopped:

    Langford Market: got 2 long necklaces, $16 each
    907 Decatur

    Muse Inspired Fashion: another necklace for $35
    332 St. Peters

    Also checked out the Absinthe Museum of American, but didn't pay the fee to watch the movie/back room museum part. 823 Royal. http://www.absinthemuseumofamerica.com/home.htm

    Since the other person in our party wanted a traditional crawfish boil (something normally done in the country) the only place I found on the Internet who did that sort of thing was at Harrah's Casino. Sure another tourist thing, but what the heck. It's only done on Thursdays: http://tinyurl.com/y4gqyng. They also have bands. But go early by the time we got there at 7ish, they were almost sold out of food.

    Instead went to a restaurant on the corner of St. Louis and Royal (our balcony perch over looked Antiones). Good food, got a pound of peel and eat shrimp for $19. Also had crab claws in a delicious sauce of some sort.

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    Day 4: Last Day: It's the last of our trip and the first day of the weekend Quarter Festival. There were many smaller bands setting up on Royal Street, a lot of unique music styles. Some very traditional with the brass instruments, some kinda "hippie" like. All were very talented and I wish I could have supported them all.

    Because the Jackson Square area was starting to get crowded, Cafe du Monde was getting a line. Now all the travel books I read say to bypass the line and just go seat yourself. I went around the back where there is another way to get in (by the take out line) and helped myself to a (dirty) table. Even when there are no lines, I've had to sit myself down at a dirty tables. Sometimes the CDM staff are a little behind. My SIL says it was rude, but I thought not since the CDM says "seat yourself." I posted a separate entry on the Louisiana forum to get others' feedback. Check it out if you want to see the replies.

    Had lunch at the Palace Cafe on Canal Street http://www.palacecafe.com/.
    Not too bad--Bloody Mary's were really good. Since I was still pretty full from my 2 beignets and a chickory coffee, I only had the Creole Bouillabaisse for $9. Since it was an appetizer, it was the right amount of food (really just a cup of soup). The others in my party had Boudin Croquettes (awesome) and a grilled shrimp salad.

    We took the cab back to the airport--$14 per person/way.

    After checking into Delta, to the immediate left of Delta is a security check in line. We all got in this line, and then about 1/2 through it, realized it was only for concourse D flights (we were C), so we started running to the other part of the airport. Got to the right security check in and then in the roped off section my SIL says hey that's Sarah Palin (SIL is a good celeb spotter). I look and wasn't convinced so I yelled out "Sarah!" And it was her! She was very good natured about it and waved at us. She was escorted past the checkin point (where you show your ticket/ID) and straight to the metal detector. I think she set the detector off and either had to go through it again or got wanded.

    I chatted w/someone who got a cell phone pic w/her at her gate, so she must have been in a good mood. She looks pretty in real life too! She was in town for a Republican conference.

    As for travel tips...
    My new favorite thing to do is type in an address into Google and many times, you can see the destination/neighborhood. Type in the address in google or (maps.google.com) click on the address link, and a larger map with a ballon pin will show up. If there is a picture imbedded/attached, then click on that picture. You can get an interactive map, and move up/down, left/right in the picture to get an idea on the area looks like.

    I don't think this is 100%, but it's worked for many many times.

    I also like using this because I'd put a destination in, and it will offer you options if you want it mapped out by public transportation, car or by foot.

    This helped me organize whether to take cabs on this trip.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_maps

    That's the end of the Trip Report. Once again, I fell back in love with New Orleans and can't wait to return.

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    Thanks for the wonderful trip report! And I like the part about John Malkovich's chair. I think you were clever to bypass the line at Cafe du Monde. Your detailed report was the next best thing to being there. : )

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