Beginning and Ending with Beignets–with WWII & Mike in the Middle

On our last day together before I went full-on board meeting, we started with breakfast at our hotel restaurant, Cafe Adelaide.  The vibe was perfect–plush grey-blue velvet banquettes, huge Warhol-tinted portraits of Adelaide, mid-century modern accessories.  The service was average and the food–outside of the stand-out beignets and chickory coffee–was so, so.  But, it was convenient.

The view from our window, one last time before we switched hotels.  Overall, I’d give the Loews a solid B+.

We then packed our bags and hiked up Poydras to the conference hotel–the massive Hilton Riverside, where I do believe every single NOLA conference is required, by law, to set up shop.  After checking in, we elected to wander in the direction of the World War II Museum.

In practice, this meant that we somehow walked in a perfect square and wound up about two blocks from our hotel at an amazing Mexican restaurant, El Gato Negro.  The food was delicious–super fresh and perfectly seasoned, and the service was impeccable and crazy friendly.

Why this face? I don’t know.

Love!

We walked right past Meril’s again and snapped a door selfie.

Our trek took us through the arts district, which is home to these Tardis-blue doors, behind which is the NOLA Children’s Museum.  Ned and I remembered the days when we would spend hours in kiddie museums with our kiddies.  Sigh.

Star Feet!

Ned and Dr. John

While we were walking down this street in the clearly banner identified “Art District,” a guy was walking toward us on the phone: “I don’t know, man, it’s like art gallery, art gallery, art gallery here.  It’s weird.”

Tiny art

Art in action

Inserted art

We didn’t take many photos in the WWII Museum.  Much like our trip to the National Civil Rights Museum last summer, this just didn’t seem like the place to shoot a selfie.  The museum is huge and powerful.  Like the many, many, many men and women who enlisted, visitors begin on a train bound for history.  Each guest is assigned a card with the story of one soldier or nurse; some will not make it to the end of the museum.  

You trace the European and Asian fronts on separate floors with each journey revealing the reasons and the costs of the war.  The centerpiece of the museum is a 4D film–which is somehow the property of Tom Hanks, who also narrates the story.  The film begins with a stark reminder that 65 million people died in WWII.  That brought us up cold.  65 million.  Let that sink in.  One out of every 100 people on earth at that time died in the war.
If you’re ever in New Orleans, be certain to go to the museum; you owe it to those who came back, those who did not, and those who never had a choice.  The museum is filled with their voices narrating the sweep of a global conflict that was unimaginable then and too imaginable now.
Walking away from the museum, we took a new route back to the hotel–on what was clearly a picture perfect blue sky-puffy cloud day–and found more faded signs.  I love that these have not been lost, even as the buildings have changed hands, purposes, and price tags.  It gives the city such an immediate sense of history of place: why these buildings were built to begin with.  These are in the Warehouse District. 

Now you know where to get your pipe, valves, hose, wire rope, belting, and boiler tubes. You’re welcome.

 
Dinner that night was at Cochon, where the food was delicious, the service solid, and the chef would make no GF accommodations whatsoever.  Don’t big it up, dude, it’s a restaurant not the Louvre (where, by the way, we could buy Roast Chicken potato chips).  Still, Harper got to eat her fair share of a 2 and 1/2 pound perfectly cooked pork shank and reject some yummy bacon braised lima beans. 

Oh, and the desserts were to die for.  This banana pudding is warmed in a small Mason jar and topped with meringue.  Ned and I battled to get every smidge out.

Penn attacked his German Chocolate cake.

 
We were running late and needed to hightail to the Quarter for our 5-in-1 Voodoo Bone Lady Ghost Tour, so we caught a cab.  Our Russian driver spent the entire trip explaining how much everything in the cab cost and how he was going broke as a cabbie.  So much so that after Jazz Fest each year, he goes to Houston to work in a plastics plant.  He also narrated his entire trip: “Look at lady going shopping.” And, then gave the kids candy.  Later, Ned noticed Penn sucking on something, which triggered this exchange:
“What is that?” 
“The candy that guy gave us.” 
“Oh my God, spit it out!”
“It was wrapped.”
“I told him.” (Harper)
For the record, he survived.

Waiting for the Voodoo Bone Lady tour

Having never done a French Quarter ghost tour, I had no idea that about a ch-thousand of them set off each night.  Ours was so packed, it split in two.  We won and got Mike.  Mike was simply the coolest person ever, somehow able to tell horrifying stories in a way that was PG rated enough for the little kids in our group but still suggestive enough that the rest of us got the drift.  He was also a world class citizen, making sure we minded the traffic, stayed together, didn’t block curbs or corners, avoided wobbly paving stones, and more.  If Mike ran the world, it would be a nicer, more orderly, story-filled, enthusiastic place.  One of my favorite memories from the trip is Penn doing his Mike impression the next day–it’s sitting right in my heart.

Digging Mike!

The energetic story-telling and ponytail of Mike lit by a random ambulance.

We got stories about suicidal gamblers, vampires in a nunnery, pirates in a churchyard, and the horrors behind the house Nic Cage lost to the IRS.  Seriously, don’t let the window boxes fool you, that house has a messed up history.

Because the tour took us far into the French Quarter, we wound up walking around lots of actual houses, including this crazy disco ball accented one.

And, this house party populated by the glowing bike people.

We stopped for a bathroom break at a cafe, where the owner took an immediate liking to Ned and let him and Penn use a secret bathroom so they wouldn’t have to wait in line.  Next door to that place was the Clover Grill, where it seems to be Eggs, Eggs, 24/7.

Around the corner, we discovered Touchdown Jesus!  I like to think of him as the cousin to Buddy Christ.

Mike told us we were in front of the most haunted hotel in NOLA and that many people report unusual orbs of light showing up in their photos.

Look at the upper right corner in the photo below  See that green dot.  Totally paranormal.  Mike knows all.

After giving us a couple spells to use in case we need money or love or both, Mike told us we had awesome eyewear.  Best tour guide ever!

We capped off our last night on the town with a trip to Cafe Du Monde.  Beignets for three.

Disaffection for one

 A fab New Orleans vacation for four!

On behalf of Mike, the Ursuline vampires, the dayglo bikers, and our late night beignets, we bid you and the Crescent City a fond farewell.  I think, much like the ghost of the still living Nic Cage, we will be back.

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