Fall in the Swamp – New Orleans in October

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A View from Hot Tin

Well, I don’t mean literally fall in. Fall in New Orleans is a glorious time. We’ve taken full advantage of daughter S’s post college residence there at least twice every year thus far. So two weeks after the hurricane and hail that infused our recent tour of New England – see https://fromswamptosummit.com/2016/10/17/election-year-hurricanes-presidentials-and-mt-jefferson/- with daughter A and boyfriend N, we headed across the Gulf of Mexico to the Louisiana swamp, our reverse summit.

I think of trips to New Orleans like visits to an Auntie Mame. An elderly relative whom you regularly visit but never quite know what will happen when you get there. And always dressed to kill, in long beads and bangles and faded red velvet.

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We arrived before the younger generation had finished work, so started with a walk up Magazine Street. Our AirBnB was a lovely unit behind a bar and restaurant on Magazine. First port of call – and unbeknownst to them – we scoped out the outside of the daughter’s and boyfriend’s house – half of a brightly colored turquoise double shotgun only three blocks away. There wasn’t a square corner anywhere but when we were finally shown the interior the three rooms were huge, with 12 foot ceilings – and close to everything.

After parental espionage, we ventured further up Magazine toward Audubon Park. There we stopped at the Monkey Hill Bar, where J had his first of many Sazaracs of the weekend. Monkeys were the theme – from the lamps to the rest of the decor.

Friday was to be our fancy night, with dinner at Commander’s Palace. In all our trips to NOLA we had never eaten there. Personal favorites – instead of re-filling water glasses, at a certain point in the evening the waiters all showed up with trays of fresh water glasses and swapped out every single diner’s water. The owner, elegantly dressed in a tiger print silk shirt, was very visible, greeting each table and in constant consultation with her staff. Oh, and the Saint 75 cocktail wasn’t bad either.

From there we took a rapid tumble downward to the Bulldog. The weather had turned and there was quite a chill inthe air as we sat drinking beers in the courtyard.

Saturday started with breakfast at Toast. ((Well, upcoming Everest Base Camp Trek in mind I did actually start off with a slow but steady four mile run down Magazine Street, dodging baby strollers and coffee drinkers the whole way.)  Avocado toast with a sunny egg to match the day. Boyfriend P took us on a brief driving tour of some parts of New Orleans we hadn’t seen before. We started in the Bayou, where we have attended the Bayou Bugaloo before, but then drove onward through City Park, which is apparently the biggest urban park after Central Park in New York. After the levees broke following Katrina, this area was all under water. From there we drove on to Lake Pontchartrain.  Such a strange feeling to be behind levees you can’t see over – and all of a sudden to cross to the other side – with an enormous lake spread out before you

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Very hot tin

After the obligatory trip to Costco to restock the offspring’s freezer, the evening’s festivities began in mid-afternoon. Despite all the scare stories we’ve been reading about oysters, we can’t resist, and took full advantage of happy hour raw and chargrilled oysters at The Blind Pelican. From there, we took the streetcar down St. Charles and moved up 14 floors to the rooftop bar, Hot Tin, on the top of the Pontchartrain Hotel. It is chock full of antiques, and is particularly memorable for what at first blush appear to be very prim and proper curtains. Upon closer examination, you can see the pattern are images from the Kama Sutra or some similar manual! There is a long outdoor terrace offering up a spectacular view of the city’s skyline.

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Schooners at Jack Dempsey’s, Bywater, New Orleans

To offset the opulence of Commander’s Palace, P had suggested dinner at Jack Dempsey’s in the Bywater area. It’s an old time restaurant that closes early and serves all sorts of fish, crab, and a thinly cut steak. Some of the best onion rings I’ve ever had. There was a post wedding party going on, and I felt we were practically guests as we listened to the heartfelt toast given by the pastor at the end.

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The restaurant was right by Bacchanal. It isn’t New Orleans without listening to music, and at Bacchanal you buy a bottle of wine from the wine shop, sit outside on the grassy terrace, and listen to jazz.

Heading back to uptown, we stopped at 45 Tchoup where we engaged in a spirited, if somewhat inept, game of darts. But I did get a double bullseye!

Our last day was equally glorious and crisp and sunny. We drove further uptown and had a lovely visit with P’s parents who live right at the location of the annual Po’boy festival. Managed to sample oyster, spinach and Brie and lobster po’boys before we had to hie on off to the airport.

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Did I mention I got a double bull’s eye during our game of darts? That was like the whole trip.

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