This was, personally, a challenging week. I am the type that tends to always look forward to and toward something - usually it involves seeing my family, friends or a trip. More often than not, it involves all of the above. With all of my work and personal travel canceled or in question for 2020, I thought I might enjoy sharing about our favorite 2019 trips.
First up, New Orleans.
Pictured with my nieces Mary Adelaide and Lanier
As long as I can remember we've spent my birthday week/Memorial Day on 30A. A southern, beach community that sits along the emerald green gulf coast panhandle of Florida. This area has long been loved by southerners, but my midwestern and northeast friends are likely familiar as it is now inundated with folks from all over that have discovered the charm. After a fun-filled beach vacay with my fam, we were Louisiana bound.
Mike and I both love New Orleans, but had never been as ..uh..responsible adults. We were seeking a different type of experience this trip and wow - it was like a different town. We left 30A and drove along the coast through Alabama, Mississippi and into Louisiana. It was a beautiful June day in my happy place. We rolled into town and headed straight for our hotel - the stunning Eliza Jane , located on historic Magazine Street and part of Hyatt's Unbound Collection. I'll admit it - I'm a hotel snob. I just love design and textiles and history and...ok, luxury. To me, it's worth it to find interesting places to stay - I find it inspiring. The Eliza Jane Hotel consists of nine historic warehouses that were home to the famous Peychaud Bitters Factory , The Daily Picayune, and several others. The Daily Picayune is my favorite piece of the boutique hotel's history because the daily publication's former and first US female publisher of a major newspaper serves as the namesake. Eliza Jane Nicholson ran the paper from 1876 - 1896.
The design of this property is flawless and my favorite part was the late afternoon cocktails in the courtyard. Dreamy.
A lot of people don't know that New Orleans has a heavy Italian influence and community, not to mention the best limoncello I've ever had in the US. We loved our dinner at the Italian Barrel - authentic cuisine in a dark, candle-lit, tiny corner of the French Quarter. Highly recommend for a quiet, romantic night. After dinner we ventured over to the Palace Night Market on Frenchman and bought a piece of local art. My favorite thing about the market is that it's framed by mimosa trees - one of my absolute favorite plants and scents. My mom always talked about them in her yard growing up in Savannah. Can't walk down Frenchman without stopping at the famous Spotted Cat in the heart of the Faubourg Marigny District. We stopped in Blue Nile across the street and happened to catch the famous Kermit Ruffins - a famous New Orleans jazz trumpeter and composer who plays himself in HBO's, Treme. Mike had a moment - he's a huge fan.
The next day we jumped in the rental car and adventured out to Oak Alley Plantation. We are not really the tour bus type of folks, but if you are, all of the plantations have those, too. Oak Alley, a 200 year old sugar plantation, is about an hour drive outside New Orleans and located in Vacherie, LA. I can't mention a Historic plantation without mentioning the emotional anguish this causes around slavery. There is a song by the Drive-By-Truckers, a southern rock band, that talks about the duality of the South and what it's like to be a native southerner that believes in and fights for a better south, while appreciating the good parts of it and the people -that's where I fit in. What I can say is that Oak Alley historians did an exceptional job of highlighting the fight, perseverance, and humanity that the slaves of Oak Alley strived for. We went on one of the history tours and while you cannot take photos in the home, the views alone are breathtaking. These are evergreen Live Oaks so they keep their leaves year round. It is a haunting piece of land in many ways and has served as the location for Beyonce's Déjà Vu music video, Interview With a Vampire, and much more. It was also over 100 degrees.
One of my favorite things we did was the Saint Charles Street Car through the Garden District. It's the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world, as it has been in operation since 1835. You can hop on and off as you travel through a tunnel of Live Oaks passing dozens of antebellum mansions, Loyola and Tulane universities, and breathtaking Audubon Park. We got off an ventured through the streets to look at the beautiful homes and enjoyed some local grub. We ended up back at Mother's (Mike's favorite) for a po'boy and a nap in the AC. It was a great, HOT afternoon.
Going to New Orleans and not having a beignet is like going to Chicago or New York and not having Pizza. We decided to hit the French Quarter and some of the tourist spots early one morning to miss the crowds. It was fun to walk an empty Bourbon Street with a daiquiri, check out the musicians in front of St. Louis Cathedral, and enjoy some beignets at Cafe Du Monde - all before noon. My favorite part was stopping at Goorin Brothers to add to my own Goorin hat collection. I've been buying from their Brooklyn store for many years and they are in my opinion, the best American hat maker. This was the most elaborate location I've been in (they are all over the US now), with an eccentric accoutrements bar. It was so much fun to pick the added elements myself!
It was by far our favorite trip to New Orleans and honestly, maybe my favorite of 2019. Until next time, Nola!