Thursday O&I each packed a small suitcase, locked our bikes into the pick-up and headed to New Orleans for a long weekend. Good Friday 2013 marked not only the annual family reunion but also my 35th birthday: two reasons to get away! During the four years we've been together we've visited NOLA at least half a dozen times but until last weekend it'd never been just the two of us following our own agenda.
Friday day was spent with family at the St. James Boat Club. As usual, the food (crawfish, oysters and shrimp) was exceptional; if you want to read more about it be sure to check out last year's post. That night we drove 45 minutes into New Orleans and checked into our AirBnb. We picked this particular AirBnb because of it's location and price: Garden District, walking distance to both the St. Charles streetcar as well as the shops along Magazine Street. We were satisfied to find even one AirBnb that fit our criteria and since beggars can't be choosers we agreed to be happy there regardless of it's condition. Walking in with medium expectations we were blown away by how much this AirBnb over-delivered (since we booked it has posted all new photos that more accurately document the home). More about this amazing home at the bottom of this post.
Saturday morning O&I were eager to hop on our bikes and get started on the 15 mile route I'd mapped out back home. The morning was spent visiting boutiques, antique shops and vintage clothing stores on Magazine Street (it was my birthday so he indulged my shopping kick). Just before lunch we picked up a sandwich at the French bakery, La Boulangerie, and continued towards Audubon Park. Outside of the zoo we climbed into an ancient Oak tree and shared our sandwich.
From the park it was back the way we came and onward to Avenue Pub (a world class beer bar on par with Atlanta's Porter). From Avenue Pub we went weaving in and out of rick-shaws and streetcars on St. Charles to riding down the tracks on Canal Street. Canal Street to the French Quarter. Near the French Market we darted between tourists and stopped traffic occasionally glancing back to make sure the other hadn't been lost in the thick crowds. Left on Esplanade. A few laps around Royal and Bourbon (with a stop for to-go beers at Verti Marte) and then back to Avenue Pub. It was here that I came face to face with a man on a motorcycle with an adorable pup in his sidecar (photo above). Avenue Pub back to the AirBnb.
Back at home base we cleaned up and prepared to head back out for a night on the town. This time we walked to the St. Charles streetcar. The sun was setting and the breeze was warm; I was in heaven. We disembarked at Canal Street (the same spot we'd biked through earlier in the day) and walked to Galatoire's. (Galatoire's - there's so much to say about this historic restaurant - so much that I think I'll finish this thought at a later date.) Galatoire's to Arnaud's French 75 to Frenchmen street in search of live music. On Frenchmen we enjoyed a small art fair, bought a triptych of painted oysters, eggs and a bottle of hot sauce and then headed into the Blue Nile for fun. Very late in the night we rode the streetcar "home" again. Everything was wonderful.
More about the Parks Bowman Mansion
The "Parks Bowman Mansion" is everything an outsider hopes to find in an antebellum New Orleans home. Imagine a mash-up of Interview with a Vampire, Tim Burton and Dia Dos Muertos. The two nights we stayed there we had the entire third floor to ourselves; this included a library, private balcony and very comfortable bed. To top it off our hosts were far and away the most generous, warmest and most interesting AirBnb hosts we have ever encountered. (Thanks again to Adrienne, Bill and their lovely menagerie). If you go, be sure to visit at least one of the two timeless and romantic restaurants just blocks from their home (Commander's Palace and Coquettes) and tell them we sent you!