New Orleans Experience – Day Five and Six

Yes 2 days in one! I know, I know!  I needed another day in bed to recover from this cold! It sucks getting sick on vacation.  Thankfully the hubby got me cold meds and a huge bottle of vitamin C, which I have been probably overdosing on but it works!

So moving forward to Day Six…I made myself get up and get ready.  We strolled through the streets of the French Quarter searching for an authentic voodoo shop.  I desperately wanted to find something for my best friend.  After browsing through a few shops claiming to be voodoo, I quickly discovered that these shops are not really authentic at all but mostly commercialized.

They all had multiple displays of oils, incense, and even voodoo dolls that seemed of cheap quality but were for sale with a high price tag.  Now, for those with an open mind and soul, you know who you are, when you go into certain places, places that you know have a certain mystical attraction, you can feel the energy.  Something in the air whether it is the hair on the back of your neck standing, a calm or nervous feeling, or a small breeze that whispers through your hair that feels like a touch.

Well I expected to feel something.  All of these shops had an altar on display, roped off with a sign that said “Do Not Touch”.  Even with that altar display, there was no energy, no feeling…nothing.  The only vibe I got was the feel of someone trying to take advantage of tourists, claiming to be authentic and persuade visitors to empty their pockets and wallets for the cheap trinkets that they sold.

I knew right away they weren’t real.  But remembering what a Haitan waiter told us that the truly authentic voodoo shops could only be found in the swamps, I was about to give up on finding that special gift for my friend.  I decided to buy a coffee mug and a poster from the Marie Laveau VooDoo Shop (yes it felt commercialized as well) instead of that special charmed gift that I had hoped would call out to me.

After making my purchases and feeling very disappointed, the hubby and I cut down one of the smaller side streets, enjoying the view and the hubby found a spot that was filmed on NCIS New Orleans that he took a picture of.

Right close to the spot where he took his picture I found this little shop that caught my attention right away.  Mind you this shop was on a side street, no traffic at all, on foot or in a car.  There was nothing else on this street but residential homes and a gated parking area.

IMG_1299The sign hanging above the door had an energy and called out to me!  We went inside and I could feel the energy right away.  There was a feeling of peace and excitement at the same time.  There were items for sale but there weren’t huge supplies of these items.  Also these items didn’t seem cheap in quality either.

We browsed and chatted with the lady in the shop.  Come to find out, she was a palm-reader and she hosted (by appointment only) sessions for readings as well as special vampire/ghost tours that you would not find in the tourist attraction brochures.  If you would like to visit their website, click on the picture.  If you want to visit physically, their address is:

Carpe Noctem Boutique du Vampyre

709 1/2 St. Ann

New Orleans, LA  70116

As we kept chatting with her I found a shelf with special items on display.  No I won’t tell you what that item was because that was what called out to me, that special gift for my best friend, and I don’t want her to read this before I get home and know what her gift is, (Love you Gwen).

Anyways, there a little sign attached to the shelf giving instructions that you choose the main gift, but the lady in the shop would pick out special charms for you that would go inside the item.  So I asked her about those items.  She explained she would get a feel or read from you and she would pick out the charms just for you.

Butterflies exploded in my stomach!  I explained to her that I was searching for a gift for my best friend and asked if she could get a feel for her.  She said sure after she asked some questions about my friend.

PERFECT!

I answered her questions and she  picked out the charms.  I didn’t get to see the charms, so I don’t know what they are and they are hidden inside the gift.

This wonderful lady also gave us a special map to some hidden places that you don’t find on any of the ghost tours.  I loved her!!  And there were many more items in the shop I really wanted to buy.

But after saying our goodbyes and an invitation to come back for a private session and tour with my best friend, we made our way to Frenchman Street.  There we found the jazz and blues clubs.

We picked one and ordered a cocktail…only $5…and listened to the music while we relaxed.  I loved it!

Later we strolled down the streets heading back to our resort but made a quick stop at a Cigar Factory while hubby bought and enjoyed a hand-rolled cigar.

Today was a wonderful day and I look forward to what we have on the schedule for tomorrow.

 

New Orleans Experience – Day Four

Well unfortunately, this day was not exciting!  I spent the day in the bed sniffling, sneezing, and coughing.  Yep! I caught a cold while on vacation.  It sucks!

So while I was doped up on NyQuil and binging on Netflix, the hubby got me meds and breakfast before he took off to go see the Veterans Memorial and Museum.  He had a great time! I know my hubby enjoys history just as much as I do, even though we are attracted to different genres of history.

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Afterwards he came back and hung out with Netflix and me.  My big teddy bear had a pizza delivered and we ate in the bed.  I love my man!

New Orleans Experience – Day Three

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Today was a full day of historical learning and exploring.

We hopped into the car and drove an hour outside of New Orleans, headed to the Houmas House Plantation and Gardens.  First we purchased tickets to take a tour of the house and gardens before we strolled over to the restaurant and enjoyed a delightful brunch.

The food was delightful and the atmosphere made me feel like we jumped through a time warp into the colonial days.  I enjoyed a crawfish omelet that was stuffed full of crawfish and spinach.  The hubby enjoyed the buffet that had a little bit of everything including lamb and duck.  As we ate I imagined these were dishes that were made in those grande ole days.

After our lovely brunch, we strolled over to a small building on the grounds that housed a bar and lots of history mounted on the walls.  Here we enjoyed a drink and conversation with the bartender while we waited for our tour to begin.  We discovered bottles of whiskey, scotch, and bourbon that would burn a hole through your pocket or wallet.  The most expensive was over $3,000 a shot and the cheapest was over $100.

There was a beautiful wood display cabinet behind the bar that showed off bottles of liquor that the bartender explained was not for sale or taste.  One of those bottles was as old as the Houmas House itself.  Soon the bell rang out in the gardens indicating the start of a new tour and we quickly headed towards the area to wait for our educational visit to begin.

Our tour guide was a small petite woman named Sandy dressed to represent the colonial times with her hoop skirt and southern accent.  She was funny and interesting and made the tour fun with jokes appropriate to the era and educational at the same time.

She took us through the main part of the house and through all the rooms explaining the history and the purpose of some of the artifacts.

I think my favorite part of the whole house was the spiral staircase that wound up to the second and third stories.  Sandy began her story in the foyer below the stairs explaining that in the prime time of the plantation, the house actually had two sets of stairs, one for the men and one for the women.

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At first I thought it was because that women were believed to be the weaker sex but she explained that during those times a woman’s ankles were precious and only for her husband to see.  So while the men drank bourbon and smoked cigars talked too long of politics, the wives would become bored and decide to retire for the evening.  If the women walked up that steep spiral staircase and the men other than her husband saw her delicate ankles as she climbed, then the husband would have to defend her honor.  They way they would do that would be with a dual including the pistols.  Imagine a dual with pistols just after the men had been drinking.

*Shivers*

What I find ridiculous is that the ankles were hidden from another man’s eyes but the corsets and dresses pushed a woman’s breasts up and tight just barely covering and giving everyone an ample view of cleavage.

After the tour of the house we explored the gardens with sculptures and fountains.  Something in the garden gave me pictures of lovers in those times meeting in secret to steal a kiss or just maybe even more.  Definitely saw props for a romantic novel or two here in this place.

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Well after our wonderful tour and blast in the past, we headed to the nearest commercial area where luckily I found a Tanger Outlet!!  *Dances a jig*  Shoppers paradise for sure.   We strolled through some of the shops and bought a few things for our daughters and granddaughters, then headed back to New Orleans.

The rest of our evening we walked through the shops, diners, and bars on the river side, enjoying beignets and coffee.

Finally after watching some street performers tap-dance or play violins and bagpipes, we wound our way through booths of palm readers to one of the bars on a corner and ordered some appetizers and a couple of drinks.

We sat by an open door/window and listened to the violin while we ate and talked about our days adventures.

I am beginning to fall in love with New Orleans not just for the reputation of it being a party town but for the rich depths of its culture and art.

New Orleans Experience – Day Two

Everybody deserves a Lazy Day!

That is just what I did.  Exhaustion and the early onset of a cold kept me prisoner.  We watched our Fire Stick/Netflix and binged all day, taking naps here and there.

Finally the latter part of the day around 3:00ish, we decided to get up, take showers, and walk down to Bourbon St, to get some dinner.  This is where everything gets interesting.

We crossed the roads and intersections and finally made it to the French Quarter.  It was like we stepped into another world crossing an invisible barrier.  Now imagine, the streets our resort condo is on, the area looks like any big city with tall buildings, traffic, tons of people on the sidewalks, littered with shops and restaurants.  The only difference is the trolley tracks running right in the middle of the Main strip.

When we stepped through to this new dimension, the buildings shrunk in size, the streets grew thinner, the noise of vehicles and horns blaring disappeared and was quickly replaced by loud music, and laughter.

We crossed over another intersection of these smaller streets where shops, bars, restaurants, and other enticing indulgences housed the street level.  The second and sometimes third story levels contained apartments condos with balconies overlooking the streets below.  Crowds of people lined the streets, drinking, laughing, and watching the street performers.

This was the place!  The whole reason I wanted to come to New Orleans, to step into the world where The Originals and many other favorite TV shows were based.

We walked and walked dodging large crowds until finally we came to a less crowded area and the shops disappeared.  We only assumed this was more of a residential area with a Blacksmith Shop Bar in the center of it all.  So we decided instead of turning around and fighting our way through the drunken crowds, we cut down a side street, and then headed back.

The curb appeal was beyond beautiful and enticing!  This made me wish I owned one of those upper level condos and lived here.  I could imagine sitting on a balcony and watching the crowds below or enjoy the quiet side street with a cup of coffee and my laptop.

When I mentioned this to the hubby, he laughed.  He told me that I would hate it because the all-nite crowds partying and drinking, along with the loud music would keep me awake especially during Mardi Gras.  With a poor imitation of my female voice he quoted something I say quite often at night when I roll over ready to go to sleep, “Honey can you please turn the TV down, just a little bit?”

And with just one giggle and a  teasing comment, the hubby shot an arrow through my dream bubble.  Ugh!!!  The bad thing is, he’s right!!!  I guess I am getting old!

Strolling through the quieter streets where there were more shops emphasizing art and music, we came across a small parade of jazz players leading the way for a bride and groom.  Still dressed in their wedding attire they bounced black and white frilly umbrellas in the air while they walked a dancing jig.  Following behind them I assume were the wedding party, family, and friends dancing the same jig and waving white handkerchiefs in the air.

After they passed we cut down another side street headed back to that invisible barrier between two worlds where we saw a restaurant we wanted to eat.

Before you know it there was another parade with music coming down the small street with two huge floats.  The first float was decorated for the Saints football team.  The people onboard wore the colors and jerseys in spirit of the team while they threw plastic footballs and colored beads out to the onlookers below them.  The second float did the same thing but it was decorated with the colors and jerseys representing the Dallas Cowboys.

Yea, hubby said there was a football game between the two teams this particular weekend.

So on we went finally weaving our way through the crowded street and finally arriving at the Bourbon House.  I hesitated slightly because looking through the windows, the tables and environment itself looked extremely fancy or formal.  The waiters dressed in black with low lighting and white table cloths on the tables.   I felt under-dressed for such a place.

Quickly the hubby pointed out that there were people sitting at some tables that had on shorts and t-shirts.  Well, at least were better dressed than they were.

We were seated pretty quickly and enjoyed a real crab cake for an appetizer.  I mean real!!!  I will forever be comparing crab cakes back home to this crab cake.  Real crab meat without all the breaded fillers.

Hubby ordered a seafood platter and I got a catfish plate.  Of course we had to stick to our alcohol tradition and he ordered a Corona while I ordered on of the signature cocktails, Curious Cat.  All I can tell you is that it had honeysuckle nectar and that is what caught my attention.  It was so sweet and so delicious.  I drank two of them!

While we enjoyed our meal, I noticed on the upper balcony dining area were a group of camera men or crew.  I got excited because you could tell they were professional in the TV world sense.  They seemed to be filming a large table with men dressed in suits.  I couldn’t see the men’s faces only their backs.

I continued to watch upstairs as I ate and they hubby caught my attention and asked me if I was fascinated by what was going up there.  Of course!!!  There are so many shows and movies filmed in New Orleans, I was really hoping to see some celebrity, maybe sneak a picture with my iPhone.

When the cocktail waitress came to check on us we asked her what was going on with the camera crew.  She told us that it was some Southern Living Reality show.

Hmmm, interesting.  I will be on the lookout for that.  Just so the hubby and I can point out the moment they are in the restaurant and we can point at the TV and tell our daughters, that we sat just down below them. Ha ha.

We finished our meal without dessert, bellies full, and hubby went to pay the bill!  I am so lucky he didn’t have stroke right there!  Of course we knew the entrees were a little pricey but our bill was just at a hundred and fifty.  Eeeeck!  Those alcohol drinks were twelve a piece.

Oh well! We are on vacation right!!!!

We ventured back towards the main strip that would lead us back to our condo and enjoyed the walk there as well.  At night all the lights are bright on the tall buildings and for a moment, I felt like I was in New York or something.  I kept looking up into the sky to see the lit up buildings.  I had to stop though before I ran into someone.

We hit the Starbucks and then walked back to the condo to enjoy our warm beverages.

I have to say that I LOVE the French Quarter.  Everyone is friendly, smiling, and just having a great time enjoying life!

 

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New Orleans Experience – Day One!

The day started off with my husband and I enjoying a casual southern breakfast in our hometown before heading to the airport. Yes it was the first day of our long-awaited vacation to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary that took place two years ago.

Huh?  Grins…well yes, we were not able to do anything special for our 20th so we planned to celebrate a couple of years later.

Anyways, we arrived at the airport, very excited because we also obtained First class tickets and couldn’t wait to begin our journey.

Checking in our bags, we were delayed because apparently MY ticket had an error.  Because my name is Christina and my husband’s name is Christopher, with our last name being the same, customer service mistakenly booked both of the tickets under my husband’s name.  AAARRRRGGGHHHH!  I swear we did not plan it that way with our names.  Luckily the mistake was fixed and we headed to the priority security access gate.

There we both were chosen for Random pat-downs.  All of the security personnel were male so we had to wait a few minutes for them to call a female security officer to pat ME down.  Another UGH!

Not caring that  it was still before 12:00pm, we headed straight to the bar and ordered a double Bay Breeze and Bloody Mary to melt away the small mishaps.  Little did I know that particular moment would begin an alcohol pattern for the rest of the day.

After finishing our drinks, we casually made our way to the gate where we would board the First plane towards our destination. There wasn’t a long wait but there were a lot of people waiting to board.  I grinned secretly knowing that this time, I would not be one of those people waiting a long time to board the plane.  Sure enough, the intercom came on, with the pleasant voice of airport employee announcing that First Class could now board.

We were the last ones to arrive at the gate and the first ones to walk through the long tunnel leading to the plane.  What a wonderful feeling! Selfish I know but it still felt great!

We sat in the first two seats near the front of the plane with wide comfortable seats and plenty of leg room.  Already I was hooked on this First class thing!

Before the coach passengers boarded, the flight attendants asked us if we wanted a drink.  She then began to name all of the drinks available, lo and behold there was a long list of alcoholic drinks.  We both chose a liquor and coke.  Remembering that my recently passed Grandmother used to enjoy a Jack and coke, that is what I ordered.  The hubby chose Disaronno and coke.

After a few sips, I realized that I did NOT have a taste for Jack and Coke, maybe because it was so STRONG, but whatever the case I didn’t like it.  Hubby let me taste his drink and instantly I fell in love.

Yep, that’s right!!! I stole his drink.

Our flight was quick and we knew there would be NO time for any bathroom breaks, so we both decided to use the bathroom before we began the descent.  I went first with no problems and hubby went after me.  What I am going to tell you next was the highlight of my day and I still giggle just thinking about it.  First let me explain that when we left our hometown, there was a storm brewing, a result from Hurricane Joaquin beating on the East coast.  This caused the flight turbulence to be a little more rough than usual.

Hubby came out of the lavatory and whispered to me that he had hard time relieving himself.  Breaking my attention away from reading, I asked him why.

The turbulence was so bad that he couldn’t aim for the toilet and was all over the place!  I laughed so hard, now having that mental picture in my head.  There was a new reinforced appreciation for being a female that welled up within me.

We talked and laughed and before long, we had to exit the plane, the first ones off, and RUN to our next gate.  Literally we had to run dodging people along the way, from one side of the airport to the other side with only ten minutes to get there.

Finally after losing our breath and our calves burning, we made it to the next gate with a couple of minutes to spare before boarding, again the first ones to board.

On this flight when asked what kind of drink I wanted, I ordered the drink I stole from the hubby on the first flight.  Our flight attendant was amazing and really super nice.  She suggested that I try ginger ale instead of coke.  I went with her suggestion and that drink was amazing!  I have discovered a NEW favorite drink.

Well the beginning of the trip started off slightly stressful but if it hadn’t then we wouldn’t have wanted a drink, therefore discovering something new and adding another item to our favorite list.  I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason!!

We arrived in New Orleans, grabbed our luggage and our rental car, and made it safely to the resort in downtown.  We are in walking distance of EVERYTHING.  We went to a local favorite Mother’s Restaurant, found a Walmart (whoo hoo!) to get a few groceries for the condo, and then retired to relax and watch tv.

Not sure if we are going to return the rental car or not.  Possibly will use the car to travel to River Road just outside of downtown to explore some plantations, etc but I believe the rest of the trip, we will explore everything in downtown and especially in the French Quarter.

Until Day 2…

Anticipation and Excitement!

I love the feeling in the pit of your stomach that flutters like little butterflies when you are looking forward to something new.  Quality time and family are always the most important things in life, or they should be anyway, but sometimes we all get caught up in our daily routines and before long our careers or jobs become the highest priority.

I hate that.  Life is too short.  We should enjoy life.  Savor our experiences and bask in the things that make us happy.  Time with family and friends.  Laughing and enjoying each other’s company should be the most important goal and our highest priority.

I realized as I have gotten older that I absolutely hate the daily routines and desire nothing more than to have fun and enjoy life. I want to savor the good times spent with close friends just riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway exploring new things and newly discovered attractions.  The jokes and laughing on the way to those new explorations and the beauty found in nature.  Creating memories of happy times.

I want to spend more time with family even if it’s just conversation over a cup of coffee or dinner and spend more time with the things that I am passionate about such as writing and reading.

My new goal is to do just that.  Participate in the activities that I want to do and experiment.  Going to break out of the daily routines and schedules that please others, but be spontaneous for myself.

Don’t get me wrong, there will still be responsibilities and those will still be done as it is necessary to survive but from now on I will strive to do things that make me happy and I will not have any regrets or worry if it will upset someone else.

Regrets, worry, and stress are something I will avoid at all cost.  I have to for my sanity.

Life, family, love, friends, laughter, and happiness!  That is what we should be about.

Life is too short not to!

Interesting thoughts to ponder…

Some suggestions were laid out before me today.  Ideas that some I have already been thinking and others that I never really thought twice about.  All of these were suggested to me by someone close that I would have never guessed in a million years would even suggest to me.  Shocking but also very sweet and interesting.  Thanks Bro!

Now my passionate itch to write is ignited again even though lately I have not had the time with this crazy busy schedule of life.  I have realized though that I have to make time to express my passion or I become overflowing with imagination and feel drained.

I am going to make the time for myself.  My life belongs to me and I have got to quit giving it to others.

So on that note…I am jumping back in and going to turn that faucet back and let the water flow regardless of the distractions all around me.  I have to.  I am not living if I don’t.

As soon as I can will start obtaining the materials needed to start some real submissions, marketing, and promotions.  And possibly now looking into or rather researching some screen-writing.

The other spark has excited me a tiny bit in the regards of a future possible memoir that is not my usual genre of expression but one I think will be fun, sad, and liberating.

The possibilities are endless and I look forward to what the future may hold in store!

Happy Saturday evening!