NOLA Halloween

 

Audubon Park

Usually when I visit NOLA I hit up my old haunts, the same places I’ve been to time and time again. This time was different. This time my sister and I went for Halloween weekend and almost all the things we did were novel to me.

Friday: We drove all day. Traffic made the trip 11 hours, a stretch from the usual 8 1/2. Once in our hostel off Canal street, we decided to head to Frenchman street.  We brought bikes to transport our fleshy exteriors, which made getting around a breeze. No need to call for an Uber driver (a hip service I have never used). We rode to Frenchman and parked where we pleased. We found some good music at our spot Vaso. We meanderd some more, and ran into a group playing on the street. There was a keyboardist, a guy on an effects machine, and an extremely skilled violinist. The genre seemed to be hip hop/trance style beats with wicked gypsy violin. My sister also plays violin, and we were amazed at how dexterous this guy was with the thing. He danced around wildly whilst sawing out electric clear notes all jambled together to produce his hypnotic tunes. In the middle of a lick he would throw the bow to the ground in one blurry motion and play the thing staccato horizontally. We danced at the front of the crowd alternating faces of enthusiasm and disbelief with sips of high-quality spirits. After a while, we decided to retire and started the thigh-strengthening ride back to the hostel.

Robby and Andi NOLA

Saturday: Oak Alley Plantation, a place straight outta Interview with a Vampire. Our frugal energy manifested itself once again. Adult tickets were $22 and for minors it was $8. I told my sister we’d try to get her in as a minor to save some fundage for drinks and food later. Luckily for us, the lad at the ticket booth gave her a toddler ticket. Free entry for her! The ticket checker ripped them up, and we were elated to have gotten two people in for the price of one. The house was gorgeous. But, none of the info signs described the horror of the institution of slavery for what it was. We joined a tour around 2:00 pm. One tidbit of info that stood out to me: Back in the day: “it took a rich cotton plantation owner to make a poor sugar plantation owner.” Later that night we hit Frenchman again. Not quite the same scene as the previous. We dressed up as a pirate and mime. Enter a slew of drunken political and social justice conversations, subjects on which my little sister is highly keen.

14882180_10210821327509879_4150279418238515308_o

Sunday: We rode around the Bywater on our bikes. We rumaged through some old thrift stores. We ate at the delicious Willie Mae’s, the best fried chicken and catfish this side of the Mississippi. We took a nap at Audubon park. Mosquitos seem to like my sister more, nay, way more than they do me. That night we didn’t go out. We drank wine and played music at front part of the hostel. Some people seemed to really enjoy our practice which was uplifting.

Monday: One last walk around French Quarter and one last fried chicken and catfish lunch at Willie Mae’s. The trip back took the expected 9 hours with stops for food and gas. It was Halloween day, and to set the mood we found a Spotify station that had a man reading ghost stories that people sent in to the show. That seemed to pass the time I and enjoyed listening to people’s accounts of encounters with the paranormal. Finally, we made it to Austin. Another NOLA trip down, extra love for la Nouvelle Orleans, and some nice sibling quality-time.

Advertisements

Austin to New Orleans by Moto

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Recently I spent the 4th of July in one of my favorite cities, New Orleans! After living there in 2011 – 2012, I try to make it there at least once a year. Since I’ve already done most of the touristy things, when I go I just visit some of my old haunts. The thing that made this trip different was time this time I went by motorcycle.

The ride there was long and tiresome. I broke it up by spending the night in Houston at a friend’s house. Even so, the trip the next day was hard. It was close to 100 degrees (38 Celsius) and humid as hell. I ran into rain at the start of the trip. Also, a wasp hit my helmet face shield and somehow ended up inside my helmet with me! He seemed unconscious but I could see him waking up and I had to stop and try to take my helmet off to shake him out. Despite the heat and humidity, it was a pretty drive. I especially like the tall coniferous trees around Bastrop, TX. The bridge over Lake Ponchartrain in LA is breathtaking, it’s such a huge lake you can’t see the other side.  I also like the view from the bridges over the Mississippi river in Baton Rouge.

A friend of mine who lives in New Orleans was nice enough to let me crash his place. During the days, I spent my time riding around and visiting places I used to frequent. I had drinks on Magazine St. I walked the Quarter, especially the quieter parts away from Bourbon. In fact, I didn’t go to Bourbon St. at all. I cruised down St. Charles gazing at the old, plantation-style mansions and shotgun houses. I read a book in the Lafayette Cemetery. On Independence Day I went to watch the firework show on the Mississippi. Afterwards I went to Frenchman to watch a show, the Brassaholics at the Blue Nile. They’re a local brass band and they put on a badass show. That was the second time I’d seen them.

The next day, I started the long ride back. My friend gave me a windshield that he didn’t want for his bike anymore. It helped take the wind off my chest and I didn’t get so fatigued  on the way back. By the time I hit Houston, I decided I would just go all the way to Austin. All in all, I was on the road for more than 10 hours that day. When I finally got home I was beat. I just threw my dirty self on my bed and didn’t move. The next day, I decided to take my car instead of riding my bike. On a day without rain! There’s a first for everything I suppose.

This trip, I felt like my feelings for the city changed. Until this trip, I usually felt a sort of longing for the city, a desire to move back there someday. This was the first time I didn’t feel that desire. I now feel that New Orleans was the stage for an important chapter of my life. I guess they’re all important aren’t they? Though, that stage is in the past, and I can’t go back and recreate that place in my life even if I wanted to. So I left there feeling that I had finally made some sort of peace with residual feelings about the past. New Orleans was a wonderful stage for that chapter in my life.

Laissez les bons temps rouler! New Orleans part deux

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I spent my 28th birthday in New Orleans recently, and had the most amazing time! It was so nostalgic to be back in the city I spent a year in (2011 – 2012), that when I tossed my backpack down on the creaky bunk of our hostel in the Garden District my nerves were really on edge. I really miss living in New Orleans. I didn’t realize just how much until I was there and felt the vibe that the city gives off. So much history, so much culture, so much to do and great food, interesting people, an interesting place in time and space. After living overseas next year I plan to have some money set aside and I’d like to move back to New Orleans.

I went with my sister, and two friends Nataly and Stephen. My sis and I stayed at a hostel right off of St. Charles and my friends stayed elsewhere, so it was mostly my sister and I going around seeing the sights, my old stomping grounds, and partying like rock-stars. The first night, we got in after a 9 hour drive, got dressed and went straight to the French quarter. We bar hopped a bit and ended up in a strip club where my sister got a lot of attention. That first night we only stayed out until about 2 am out of exhaustion from the long drive.

The next day, Friday, we spent the whole day sightseeing and took advantage of some free tickets I got to catch a ghost/haunted walking tour. I’ve been on that tour many times and I especially like hearing about the La Laurie mansion. I carried a small backpack loaded with alcohol and we barely spent any money that night, since in NOLA you can drink in public. By the time we headed back to our beds the streetcar had stopped running and we walked for about 30 minutes instead of taking a taxi. As we neared the place on St. Charles the sun was coming up to greet us, something I don’t see often.

The following day, my birthday, we got up at about 10 am despite having went to bed about 5 hours earlier, got ready, and did it all over again. We ate at a great place in the neighborhood called Parasol’s, and I got a b-day shot of some nice whiskey. We took a walk around Audubon Park close to where I used to live and where I used to jog and read. Later on we caught the streetcar from the quarter and hit up the Bayou Boogaloo festival in Mid-City. That night, we went out and my sister and I challenged ourselves to stay out all night until mass at St. Louis Cathedral at 9 am (which we had planned on attending before our drive back to Austin). We hopped around, partying hard on Bourbon, dancing and drinking the night away to live Jazz on Frenchman and in the Marigny, and met some locals at a great dive bar on Decatur. At about 6 am we went to Café du Monde for some Beignets and OJ. We were so exhausted but we found a bench on the boardwalk on the Mississippi and watched a breathtaking sunrise. We took a nap on the bench our heads next to each other until I was awaken by the sun cooking my skin. We started towards the Cathedral but to our dismay a slow moving, very long train was separating us from our destination, so we had to muster the little energy we had and climb over it to the other side. During mass we were dead! Every time we stood to say a prayer or sing I cursed at how much energy such a simple task took. We still sang to the best of our abilities, and the songs they chose that day were particularly beautiful. Afterwards, we collected our friends and drove back to Austin, Texas. A couple days after we got back I bought a trumpet (an instrument I’ve been wanting learn for some time!), and every time I play I remember the jazz and all the good times I’ve had in The Big Easy…Laissez les bons temps rouler mes chères amis! A la prochaine…

New Orleans architecture

My year stint in New Orleans is over. I am currently back in Texas living out of my suitcase until I can move to the outskirts of Paris next month. I think it’s a great time to recap one of my favorite aspects of New Orleans… the architecture. From the houses on St. Charles in Uptown, to the Garden District, to the French Quarter and the Faubourg Marigny, the architecture is by far my favorite in the world. I used to love to walk in the French Quarter gazing at the Spanish Carribean houses with their galleries and balconies overhanging the street. I enjoyed biking down St. Charles and on Magazine street in the Garden District and checking out the houses that are a beautiful mixture of 19th century French and American plantation styles. There are even a few houses throughout uptown and the garden district that seem to be done in the Dutch style with narrow, pointy roofs and a mixture of dark wood and stone on the facades of the exterior. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from these areas of town.