Welcome to Naw'lins!! A city with houses so cute, small, and full of color you might think you're in the Caribbean. A city with people so full of color you might think you've landed on Kaleidescope Island or perhaps in the looney bin. It's a place that knows how to have fun and let the flow of the day take it where it will. It's so unique in it's architecture and vibe that it's no wonder it has become a treasure of American cities.
Megan and I got the pleasure of being able to stay at her Aunt Terry, Uncle John, and Aunt Chris's house while we were there. I was very excited to be staying in a residential area of town and getting the chance to experience the city from an insiders view. In my three times before in New Orleans, I had always been in the tourist areas, having a blast but never fully getting the flavor of the city, and boy is there some flavor to be tasted!! Once I met Megan's Aunts, it wasn't long before I realized why they had chosen N.O. as their home .... they were a perfect fit to a place like
Terry and Chris were so happy that we had come with our bikes and once unpacked, we headed straight out to hit the road. Though N.O. is a bike friendly city, I have to admit that I didn't feel the safest riding my bike around on the road. Terry was the leader of the pack and her frequent swerves and pulling outs in front of moving cars left me feeling like I was witnessing one too many close calls. This of course, was equally hilarious as it was scary, because Terry rides a red low rider bike with flags sticking up the back and CD's dangling for reflection, as well as a doll on the front of her bike basket and many beads for added decoration. She is a wonderfully wild sight to see! We headed on through a lush green park full of squiggly trees and then into some neighborhoods to view all the beautiful and bright houses.
Our next day lead us on an all day bike adventure through the heart of the French Quarter and around to all the sights. We walked through the French Market, ate at a lovely little restaurant, went to
the canal, walked Decatur street, visited Jackson Square, and went to visit my grandfathers cousin Don! He sure was surprised when a group of four unknown ladies on bikes (a.k.a. The Biking Betties) showed up at his porch to see him. He and my grandfather pen-pal with each other so it was really nice to meet the man behind the letters. I just know he was tickled to meet us too!
The next day we drove down to magazine street to check out some of the cool, hipster shops. The four of us got lost in the vintage clothing store, Funky Monkeys, trying on clothes and having a blast from the past. I walked away with a new (to me) red dress and Megan got herself some fabulous new (to her) dresses too! I loved this area of town with all the shops and fun things, but more than that I loved that it was all totally local. It was yet another insight into the truth of New Orleans and it's people, and I loved it!
We were spoiled this night to a lovely dinner out on Uncle John. We all went to this super nice and delicious
restaurant of Susan Spicer's called Bayona. It is fittingly located in the French Quarter and has a wonderful staff who also bring the heart (and accent) of New Orleans to it. Since there were three vegetarians, the chef asked us to pick a couple items from the menu and then would pair our dish how he felt suited. I ended up with an incredible mushroom, butternut squash, parsnip mash, and grilled asparagus dish. O M G ... YUM!! We then all headed down for the much needed and necessary visit to Cafe Du Monde where we finished off our evening meal with cafe au laits and beignets. I was covered in powdered sugar (which is really wonderful when you wear a black top) but was happy and surrounded by great company. The night couldn't get any better!!
Or could it??
Well it could because we were headed out to Bourbon Street!!!! Bourbon Street is always a wild and crazy good time and this night didn't fail us! We walked around sampling beers and bars that suited us, and stumbled across a few that were keepers. However, so much of the entertainment was in the street that you didn't
necessarily want to go inside. My favorite was witnessing two men out there after midnight with their two toddlers in strollers talking to another man who was wearing a denim thong, a neon color cut off top, and a guarder stuffed with bills. Only on Bourbon Street. Only on Bourbon Street.
Much to our surprise, we met a group of Indiana boys (mostly) in for the weekend to celebrate for one of their bachelor's party. It was nice to stomp around with good ol' IU boys and talk about the home land while having fun and partying. The one getting married was wearing this hideous shirt covered in wolves which we had to ask about and learned it was because he was the leader of the wolf pack (just like Terry was the leader of our bike pack). I needed a picture.
Our last day we got to visit the Lower 9th Ward and it really solidified to me just how much this city has come back. All the days we were there I was silently taking it in, taking in the life that had been brought back to this wonderful city. Being there for Katrina relief work
three years earlier and seeing how much farther the city still had to go, I was just so pleased to know that the rhythm of New Orleans was finally beating once again. It is a place that I hope beats on forever and ever.
NEW ORLEANS ROCKS!
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