“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
― Marcel Proust
I have a confession to make…I am a big chicken! I play it safe too often in my life. I rarely go out of my comfort zone. I am a picky eater. And given the choice between colouring inside the lines versus drawing my own thing from scratch, I will usually do the most awesome job of shading that colouring book page.
But that is about to change. I have been working on personal change, growth, improvement, etc. for a couple of years now. (please note: I have a FREAKING long way yet to go). Maybe its a mid-life crisis thing (unless that is just for dudes). More likely though is that I am a mom, whose children are all teenagers or older now, and its the first time in a long time that I can focus on what ELSE I plan to do when I grow up (and I have less poop to directly deal with, so there is more time for ME).
Make no mistake, I love everything I have done so far in my life (I just wish I had budgeted my money a bit better and maybe stayed in shape, but if that is all I have as regrets, I think I am good). BUT now I want to do more, something cool, and the possibilities are endless and exciting. I have challenges – the aforementioned lack of savings and the poor fitness state come to mind IMMEDIATELY…but even those can be overcome with a bit of effort and planning.
SO I am working on a bucket list. Yeah, yeah, kinda cliche I guess. Middle age person, suddenly looking down the barrel of their last few decades on the planet, realizes they still have shit to do and they need to get their ass in gear like YESTERDAY. But you know, this bucket list creation process has been highly revealing about myself. I realized that I HAVE done some cool things, but I also realized MOST of those cool things happened before I was 25. Hmmmmm, I am mid-40’s now, so THAT state of affairs is no good.
Traditional old bucket list items often include travel. And no Julie, camping two hours away from home does NOT count as travel. But remember, homebody right here! Picky eater! Also broke girl. Add in there a distinct lack of other languages (how I talk to my golden retriever is not considered a real language apparently). How does one begin to travel, with all those damn restrictions (that are not really restrictions, but excuses)?
Well, for me, in 2014, apparently you just jump right in and tag along with other people on THEIR trips. I stay safe that way, but dip my toe into the wild unknown waters outside of my comfort zone kiddie pool. Last week, I glombed onto my husbands work trip (something I was never able to do because the kids were young and it was just too complicated to organize their schedules to allow for it). You MIGHT suggest that we could have traveled with the kids in tow when they were younger, but that idea makes me want to go hide under a blanket fort in the family room, rocking back and forth on my heels until everyone forgets about that crazy idea.
My husband and I just got back from a week in New Orleans! That city is apparently on EVERYONE’s travel wish list because once I mentioned we were going there to any one, they were all instantly jealous and wistful about it. Which only made me MORE excited for having “chosen” a fabulous place to kick off my new love of travel (I decided I had contracted the travel bug before I even started packing…now that I have returned, my diagnosis was super correct!).
iphone images, including the out of the plane window shot…I am sure as I become a world travellor that view will thrill me less, but for now, I kinda took about 50 of those things!
Now, I am going to bore / show you my vacation photos. Okay, I will try not to be boring and I will not do it all at once. So if you don’t want to know about NOLA from a newbies viewpoint, along with some amazing recommendations for you, then you can click right on past. But if you NEED to see more, I will show you some stuff, and I will even give some links for things in case you want to find out more (trying to be helpful afterall).
view from our room of Canal Street
Because it was a work trip for my hubbie, I had a lot of time to myself, so I planned accordingly. As in, stuff that I wasn’t too scared to do on my own. If I went again, knowing what I know now, I think I could be more adventurous. Scratch that, I KNOW I would be a TOTAL adventure junkie next time (I will however draw the line at flashing my boobs on Bourbon Street…a girl has to have SOME standards of decorum to maintain…or does she?)
The MOST important things you need to know about visiting NOLA as a first time visitor are:
– stay near, but not in the French quarter (this only applies to people that can’t sleep if there is ANY noise, which means me, cause its noisy there at night). We were on Canal Street at the Sheraton…perfect walking distance to the French Quarter, and noise buffering distance.
– if you walk Bourbon Street at night, you will see boobs, penis shaped cups, smell pot and urine, and everyone will be wasted, walking around with alcohol in public (which you can apparently do any time of day, anywhere…and people did! you can go into a bar and get your drinks to go!). Probably not a place to walk with your kids. But even if you are not into that crazy party scene, you should walk it at least once because it is certainly a crazy scene that you will NOT see on the safe streets of any given suburb in any given town.
– you will walk a lot, you will get blisters, you will be hot/sweaty. I had to bandage my feet up for the blisters all week (on the plus side, my Fitbit was counting mad steps for me all week!). My feet are peeling and on the mend now, but last week, they were crying for mercy at the end of every day.
– you will not under any circumstances be able to maintain a weight loss diet in this city. And nor will you want to because the food is simply amazing. Sigh…I am missing the food now. Just had a boring sandwich, and it weren’t no po’boy, that is for sure.
the only food images I took (what a lazy intagrammer I was!!) 1. room service meal cause I was craving fruit and veg, 2. beignets and cafe au lait from Cafe du Monde, 3. fried alligator and a hurricane from Mulates, 4. eggs cochon from The Ruby Slipper, and 5. NOLA lemonade from Emeril Lagasse’s amazing restaurant.
We waited in long lines for some very well recommended restaurants and they were all worth the wait. I googled my little fingers off to narrow down the restaurant options to the very best, since I knew we only had a week there and I didn’t want to waste one bite on average food.
Here is where we did eat and loved:
1. Acme Oyster House – I have never had oysters before (sheltered country girl here…surprised, am I right? ha!) And I was NOT quite brave enough to go raw, but I did go charbroiled. We also ordered soft shell crab and beer on tap from who knows where (l was living on the edge when I ordered that LOL). This meal was our first in NOLA and set a very high standard for the rest of the week. http://www.acmeoyster.com/
2. Cafe du Monde – Having a snack or breakfast at this place is apparently a thing that EVERY SINGLE TOURIST IN THE HISTORY OF NEW ORLEANS MUST do, but I didn’t care if I was being cliche/predictable/copying everyone else, because it was SO yum! They are known for very long line ups, fresh beignets covered with powdered sugar and cafe au lait OR coffee and chickory. (in case you are a yokel like me, “beignet” is french for fritter. And its pronounced “ben-YAY” . Newb!) We went twice. The second time it was pouring rain and while we got there at the perfect time, by the time we left there was a line up down the street…like a 45 minute or more wait. And it was raining. Just saying… http://www.cafedumonde.com/
3. The Ruby Slipper – This was recommended for breakfast, but we accidentally ate there twice, once for breakfast, once for lunch…accidentally because we didn’t realize they had several locations and we thought we should see if they were different. They weren’t. We liked the style of the Magazine Street restaurant the best (if decor matters to you). I had the eggs chochon the first time (OMG YUM!) and Chicken St. Charles the second time (it was good, but not blow me away good). http://www.therubyslippercafe.net/
4. Mulate’s – Next we went for cajun and this is where I got completely crazy! I voluntarily ate alligator. Yes I did (tastes like chicken haha…but it kinda does). I would even eat it again, I liked it that much. I also had the cocktail of choice in NOLA, a hurricane. Not related to Katrina, which I thought was a bit tacky at first, but in fact, it was just created in New Orleans in the 1940’s. Other interesting note – from that point on, I ordered a hurricane at every restaurant so I could compare and none of them tasted the same…weird. We had shrimp gumbo (eh…I am not a gumbo fan I think, as I tried it in another place it didn’t thrill me either) and John had the French Muffaletta (that was yum!). And there was live music and the dancing had just started when we were leaving. http://www.mulates.com/
5. Mr. B’s Bistro – I am starting to get tired listing off all the food…I need to digest first. This place was a cool spot, the food was good (I had red fish, John had steak…another interesting note, not a lot of places had much beef on the menu. It was mostly all fish/seafood, chicken or pork). http://www.mrbsbistro.com/
7. NOLA – We saved the best for last. We didn’t KNOW that is what we were doing when we made reservations (the only place we had reservations for other than Mr. B’s Bistro, but that was a work function). But NOLA Restaurant was simply a fantastic food experience. Delicious, AMAZING table service (okay, I have NEVER had that level of table service. As a reformed waitress from my university years, I realize how much better table service could be now that I experienced it at NOLA). Our waiter recommended a white wine for us (I am not partial to white wine, but I LOVED this one). I had BBQ shrimp to start and followed with the buttermilk fried breast of chicken. Many people online that review this restaurant recommend the duck and I almost ordered it. Next time ;) Dessert was red sangria sorbet. I will leave it at that LOL http://www.emerilsrestaurants.com/nola-restaurant/menus
I did order some room service one night when John was out at a conference event. One thing to note, is that alot of these meals have next to ZERO fruits or vegetables. SO I ordered a salad (with more shrimp of course) and a bowl of plain berries. I SO needed that. And at the airport on the way home, I bought a box of cut veggies and fruit. Some detoxing was in order!
John’s work party was a very cool event. It was held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, ON THE FIELD! So cool. Music, food, drink, entertainment! It was a great event.
Places we had hoped to go include Willie Mae’s Scotch House , Commanders Place (I did go there, but they were just finished serving lunch), August (I walked past, people were VERY Dressed up and we were very sweaty LOL), and Cochon Butcher. Lots of great places to try NEXT TIME.
Okay, next week, I will post something that involves less writing, less eating and more walking around (thank goodness! I gained 20 lbs just writing all of that!) New Orleans has much to offer culture wise (especially if the nudity and wanton behaviours of Bourbon Street are not your thing!). And I did bring more than my iphone for a camera, so these are the only iphone shots you will see.
Advice for planning food for your trip to New Orleans: read a lot of restaurant reviews on Tripadvisor ahead of time . Also I love personal recommendations the most, so I also asked friends on facebook for ideas, as well as read ALL the comments on this blog post I found (restaurants that had muliple recommendations where the ones that we made time for) http://thepointsguy.com/2013/08/help-me-plan-my-last-minute-trip-to-new-orleans/ . I had a very detailed working plan for our meals before we left.
Okay, it has been pointed out that MAYBE I am not quite in the adventureous spirit just yet, with all this research and planning out of this inaugural trip out of my comfort zone. All I can say to that is, mind your own beeswax, man! I am on the path, but totally flying by the seat of my pants isn’t really in my nature. You can only change so much, so fast.
Whatevs…I am now a world travellor, with ONE stamp in her passport! Woo HOOOO! And I will be getting more later this year, as I travel off of the freaking North American continent! I am working on learning a new language for that one – okay, I have learned ONE phrase. While we were at the party at the Superdome, we sat with a group of people from the country I am going be visiting, and I was “bragging” about that phrase I had learned but totally forgot half of the phrase when I tried to demonstrate it…the phrase that is 4 words long. They were kind, corrected my lame attempt (probably rolled their eyes after we left) and now I can remember it…Olá! Como vai você?
iphone selfies – I realize that I must have freakishly short arms, because I could NOT get far enough away to also capture the scenes behind us.
Julie Tauro is a Kitchener Waterloo photographer and the owner at Tauro Photography. Tauro Photography has been providing photography services for families in the Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge since 2002. She is leaving on a jet plane, baby!