A weekend in New Orleans

Friday

I was surprisingly unprepared for this trip. I mean, I was packed in advance and all, but I had a lot to do to get all my work done. But ultimately I managed to complete the day, get a haircut, and get moving to the airport. The usual trip (bus to train) was just fine, but took longer than expected. I raced up to the departures level, only to find TSA PreCheck lines were closed. Back to the regular security line, where they thankfully opened up an extra X-ray station to alleviate the crowd. Finally, I was through and ran to the gate to meet Virginia.

We boarded, only to sit for about an hour on the tarmac. The good news was that, once we took off, the flight itself was uneventful. We took a taxi to the hotel, arriving around 1:00am, and crashed. Hard.

Saturday

We rose around 8:00am and pulled ourselves together. We walked over to Cafe du Monde for the traditional (touristy, but still excellent) beignets and coffee with chicory. We saw the extremely long line as we approached and thankfully remembered they have a takeout line (hooray!). After getting cash, we picked up our order and took up residence on a bench immediately outside the cafe’s seating area (and next to the extremely long line). We listened to music and people-watched as we enjoyed our breakfast.

I had dressed way too warmly for the day, so we stopped at the hotel so I could change. I had set Crabby Jack’s as our lunch destination, and it looked walkable from our hotel. So we set off to walk through much, much less touristy areas of New Orleans. We made it about four miles before stopping, realizing we still had a mile and a half to go, and getting a Lyft car to take us the rest of the way.

Crabby Jack’s. Way out of the way from downtown, but worth the trip.

By the time we arrived at Crabby Jack’s, we were ready for lunch. And it didn’t disappoint! I had fried green tomatoes and a catfish PO boy, while Virginia had fried chicken and red beans & rice. Those, along with two iced teas – for about $30 was just perfect. As we ate, we plotted our next move. The forecast called for rain, so we switched up our walking plans and instead went to the National World War II Museum downtown.

We spent four hours at the WWII museum, and we didn’t finish that day. We made it through several exhibits (The Home Front, Pacific theater, most of European theater) and saw the Beyond All Boundaries 4-D movie narrated by Tom Hanks. While the museum doesn’t talk enough about the atomic bomb or Japanese internment, it does an amazing job of depicting (and drawing you into) the narratives they have on display.

Cortados are the ideal form of coffee.

The rain had stopped by the time we left, so we walked to Stumptown for a quick coffee before going back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner. We went to Herbsaint for dinner, and it was simply wonderful. We had eaten at Cochon in the past, but this was our first time at Donald Link’s flagship restaurant. Virginia had rice-crusted jumbo shrimp with boiled peanut stew, while I had duck leg confit with dirty rice. We called it a night early, having ended on such a high note.

Sunday

Despite the early evening, we slept in until after 8am (late for me, at least). We finally roused ourselves and got moving. We had a brunch reservation but definitely needed caffeine. So we found a table at Merchant, a cafe near our hotel, and enjoyed our morning puzzles and games over good coffee.

We then walked over to Jackson Square to have brunch at Muriel’s. It was fairly classic, complete with a jazz trio (bass, horn, guitar). We were perfectly situated to enjoy them from across the room. Others weren’t so lucky; one woman had to keep dodging the guitarist whenever he moved around.

After brunch, we walked along the shore to Hertz to pick up the rental car Virginia needed for work. It took a surprisingly long time to sort everything out, but we eventually got the car and were on our way.

First stop: a return to the WWII museum. We finished walking through the European theater exhibit and toured the Boeing Pavilion where they have a number of WWII-era planes on display.

A view from the top of the Boeing Pavilion.

We drove back to the hotel. I dropped Virginia off to get us ready to check out while I parked in what I thought was a great spot. I went in to assist with getting everything out of our room and out to the car, which turned out to be parked a taxi stand. I endured some well-earned mockery from Virginia, but at least we weren’t ticketed.

We drove to New Orlean’s Uptown neighborhood. We hadn’t visited there on our previous trip, and really liked the laid-back ambience. We wandered up and down Magazine Street, wandering into shops that caught our fancy. We then relaxed with an afternoon coffee at Hey! cafe before going to dinner.

A colleague had recommended Shaya as a must-visit, and we had an early reservation (an indication of its popularity). Shaya melds local ingredients with Israeli techniques, and we settled in for what turned out to be a harmonious meal of shared plates. We particularly enjoyed the butter bean hummus and slow-cooked lamb. After filling ourselves and getting a to-go bag for Virginia, we drove up to the airport hotel we were staying at for the night.

Monday

We woke up extremely early. I had a 7am flight, while Virginia had to get to her client site. She dropped me off at the airport, where I had enough time to check in and get to my gate. The flight itself was just fine, and arrived on schedule. I went straight to work, having had an excellent weekend.

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