Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Big Easy

 Good morning!
I'm feeling a bit nostalgic about my vacation this morning. I felt happy to be back in Austin last night, but waking up alone in my own bed this morning was a little harsh. It's hard to believe it's already over. I really enjoyed getting to spend some time with my family, and it's funny how even after just spending a few days in a city like New Orleans, you feel sort of attached. It always feels strange to leave a place just as you feel like you're getting to know it.

I'm coping by brewing some of the Cafe Du Monde coffee I brought home with me. The 24 hour outdoor coffee shop is one of my favorite things about New Orleans, and we made sure to make a late night trip there for beignets (french donuts with powdered sugar) and cafe au lait (coffee with hot milk) every single night. If you ever go to New Orleans, be sure to put this on your list. It's a wonderful place to wind down after a night on Bourbon Street. I have yet to make it there for breakfast, but I'm sure it's a lovely way to wake up, too! Look for the inviting, classic white and green awnings!

Alright, so let me share some of the memories and photos I took over the course of my trip. I'll be happy to go through them myself.

Starving in New Orleans, with all its amazing food, would be a real travesty, so be on your best behavior (a sign from Coop's Place, the first restaurant we went to for dinner)!

Some of Louisiana's own Abita beers. I particularly liked the Strawberry, which I've never see anywhere else, but I also enjoyed the Purple Haze (raspberry beer), which is a little more common in other states. (Sorry this photo's so dark!)

 Alligator Sausage at K-Paul's. This was quite a sophisticated place with lots of interesting menu items. A great place for a quiet dinner and a glass of wine.

"Mother's" was one of the most casual and simple places we went to, but I think this was the best meal we had! We tried the works: shrimp po boys (the bread was so soft!), seafood gumbo, crawfish etouffee', and bread pudding (I actually had bread pudding two different times that day. Ha!). I'm tempted to make the drive back right now for lunch! Ha. This place almost constantly has a line of people out the door, and once you try the food, it's no surprise why.

An amazing little swing/jazz band at "The Spotted Cat" on Frenchman's Street, which seemed to have a whole strip of small, retro-like clubs. We felt like we'd been transported to the 1940s while watching this band, who's name unfortunately escapes me now! When the girl in the red dress wasn't singing, she was swing dancing with a male partner. She was very good at both! The woman playing the trumpet would sing some of the time, and I thought she had even a better voice, which is really saying something! Both women could just wail, with no microphone over the loud band (impressive!). The whole group was extremely talented and fun to watch. They had wonderful chemistry and looked like they were having such a fun time performing.
Many of the people at the club and around Frenchman's Street had the "rockabilly" look going, and I couldn't help but get some retro fashion ideas.

Steve and me by the Mississippi River

I think my mom and her husband had more energy than me, Steve, and my brother and sister combined! They were always up for another trip to Bourbon St. or one more set at one more jazz club. We were able to fit a lot of activities into two and a half days. Shopping on Royal and Decatur Street was also really fun, with all their souvenir shops and art galleries (carrying along a frozen banana daiquiri adds to the experience, I have to say). I think one of my fondest memories was of my whole family, tromping down Bourbon Street (after a few rounds of drinks, of course), our first night in town, singing show tunes at the top of our lungs (three part harmonies with my siblings - not bad!). We always have a good time together, and I miss them already!

After New Orleans, we drove straight up to Arkansas so I could see some old friends before heading back to Austin. We only had one night in town, but it was a great time. We followed some of our old traditions, including dinner at our favorite kinda-crappy-but-so-delicious Chinese buffet, drinks at U.S. Pizza Company (a Little Rock staple), and Fox and Hound Pub for karaoke.

 My sister and I outside Fox and Hound

 Steve and I getting ready to rock the mic at karaoke. I finally debuted my white dress from Bebe (which I got in Vegas in May). Love it!!

I don't have any trips coming up for quite a while. As much as I'll miss the traveling adventures, I am sort of looking forward to settling in to Austin again and enjoying the rest of the summer here. There's lot to do and  friends I'm excited about spending more time with. I also miss those simple nights with Steve and just a movie and a bottle of wine, whenever we don't have one for too long.

What are you looking forward to for the rest of the summer? Do you have any vacations planned, or are you staying close to home?

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