Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Crawdads and Jazz

I did have a post in the making about my upcoming trips, but it's now in blog-limbo and will not be published.  Instead, I will write my review about my trip to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Oscar and I flew down to NOLA Friday morning.  We already had a hostel booked, but I refused to pay the $33 ONE WAY airport shuttle to the hostel.  This made Oscar a little nervous, but I assured him I'd figured it out before, I could do it again.  After a bit of wandering in the airport we came across a tourist booth and the nice man gave us a map, and told us where to catch the bus.  From the airport to Canal St/downtown you need to take the E2 bus.  It costs $2.00 (you need exact change), it leaves from the top of the airport and takes about an hour to get downtown.  We then walked to the Amtrak station where our hostel had free pick up.

Waiting for the E2 bus at the airport

After 5 minutes of calling the hostel, the owner, Anna, was there to pick us up.  We stayed at AAE Bourbon House in a 6 bed dorm.  I found the hostel to be extremely clean, the owners super nice, and in a great location.  It was generally quiet except for the ridiculously loud Nigerians who would shout at each other at 6am.  The bathrooms were kept clean and it was a short 5 minute walk to a bus on Magazine St, and 10 min walk to the street car on St Charles.  It also has a HUGE kitchen for hostel standards, and 2 common areas.  The porch outside has a warped pool table and a que stick that has been shot to hell, but Oscar still enjoyed shooting around a bit.

On Friday Oscar and I were pooped from so much traveling so we hung around the hostel common room and met a few other travelers.  An Australian, Tiwell, suggested going to the Bayou Boogaloo.  So around 5pm we headed out.  We met up with an American, Chris, and another Aussie, Lucy.  The boogaloo was pretty great.  Oscar had shrimp and grits, I had a tomato/basil crepe, and the others had gumbo and ice cream.  The music was pretty great, though the name of the band slips my mind.  After that Oscar and I headed home to get some sleep before the wedding the next day.

The Bayou Boogaloo

Saturday we caught the Magazine #11 bus over to Audubon Park where the Tree of Life stands.  The tree of life is supposedly over 200 years old.  Evidently some plantation owner planted it for his daughter on her wedding day and so now it symbolizes love and what not.  We eventually made it to the Tree of Life and it seriously is a HUGE tree.  There was a great little 4-piece band that played for the ceremony.  The ceremony was really sweet, and short.

The Tree of Life.  Those things at the bottom are PEOPLE.

The bride kicking off her shoes as she walks down the "aisle"

After everyone yelled MAZEL TOV and the glass was broken, we were passed out handkerchiefs to use as we "third lined" down the street.  The third line is traditional in NOLA.  It is when the bride and groom (1st line) are followed down a street by a playing jazz band (2nd line) who are then followed by all their friends/family who are dancing and singing and such (3rd line).  It was way too much fun.

Dom and Dov heading up the "third line" as we head into the street

The reception was held at this beautiful little area and there was delicious hors d'oeuvres (gazpacho, boulin balls, and mozzarella/tomato/basil skewers) served while the jazz continued to flow.  There was also red and white wine, beer, and water so you could dance more.  We boogied down until the food was served.  Fantastic food-- jambalaya, ribs, salad, stuffed mushrooms, stir fry veggies, and garlic bread.

Wedding food has NEVER been this good.  On the side you see the gazpacho.

The cake, beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.

We scarfed down just in time to see the first dance and the cutting of the cake (which was also fantastic!)  We continued to dance until the jazz band literally packed their stuff up and left.  After a quick shower and power nap at the hostel, we returned to Dom and Dov's house where the after party was in full swing.  There was a huge amount of crawfish being boiled by the crawfish master-- Bruce, a Louisianian born and bred.  After even more eating and drinking, Oscar and I stumbled back to our hostel to get a good night's sleep.

Bruce pouring out the 2nd of 3 batches of crawdads

Sunday Oscar really wanted to see the World War II museum, and I wanted to get some gifts.  Oscar was about to pass out he was so excited to see all the big trucks, planes, and what nots.  We also saw a 50 minute movie about WWII which was full of all sorts of crazy effects.  The ground would shake when a tank went by, smoke came out of the ground when a bomb went off, a plane even dropped from the ceiling!  But as cool as it was, it was about WWII and was very sad.  I still recommend seeing both the movie and the museum.  Bring your student ID, it's $12 for students and a whopping $23 for adults.

Oscar falling in love with airplanes at the WWII museum

Finally, we went down to Decatur St which is evidently where all the action is.  We walked a good mile to get to Cafe du Monde where everyone says you have to go to get the famous beignets.  But as we sat down Oscar was offended not only by the smell of the place, but the fact that they only served donuts and coffee.  He wanted a steak so we left sans powedered sugary goodness and ate instead at a pricey Riverfront Restaurant.  I ordered a $10 mojito that was not worth that much, but I certainly enjoyed it that much.

The Riverfront Restaurant had a great view.

After that excursion my feet were hurting pretty bad so we stayed in Sunday night, and Monday morning as we awaited our flight.  Because I smoozed with the hostel owners so much, they gave us a ride to the airport bus stop instead of just the Amtrak station.  One hour later we were in the airport, and 2 hours after that on our way back to good old NC.