Last day in New Orleans. We started with a brunch at Josephine Estelle and a walk around the CBD/Downtown District, the Warehouse District, down Canal Street, through the French Quarter again and then to Herbsaint for an early dinner before we left for the airport.
The highlight of this meal was one with Fideo noodles, a toasted pasta dish with creamy mustard sauce with tomatoes. We’ve never had it before. Sounds like it wouldn’t be good but it was.
After the 5-hour flight, we got home in Seattle at 10:30pm. The kids were asleep, we let Megan go home and we went right to bed.
It was a great 72 hours. I was impressed with New Orleans when I was in my mid-20s and even moreso this time. It’s fun just walking around the city and experiencing how unique the place is and how friendly the people are. The food, which is wonderful everywhere, the culture and the history make it so special. It was hard to leave, I could have stayed another night. We can’t wait come back with the kids, but maybe we should wait until they’re 21+.
Everyone else went out again for brunch at Atchafalaya, which I’m told was amazing and had a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar. Yum.
But I’m not in New Orleans during football season on a Sunday often, so I wanted to watch a Saints game at a sports bar with locals. If I was smart and had planned ahead, I would have gone to Manning’s Sports Bar & Grill, named for famous Saints QB, Archie Manning, and father of Peyton and Eli, but there were 42+ people waiting ahead of me to get in. So I went alone to The American Sports Saloon. The place was full but a big family of Saints fans let me sit at their table. As a thanks, I bought them a “bucket of beer” (cans of Miller Lite in a bucket of ice, sadly) and nachos. The Saints beat the Buccaneers. After the game, I got a coffee and spent 3 hours walking around the French Quarter by myself enjoying the unique character of the city. Bourbon Street seemed to be cleaned up since my first visit but too touristy and still a little seedy.
Gay met up with me later and we walked home. We had made a reservation at Maison de la Luz for the night, so we packed up and left to check-in there. We had drinks in the hotel bar and then had a late 9:30pm and another great dinner by ourselves at Peche. The group of friends was a lot of fun, but I don’t get many opportunities to have dinner alone with my wife so I needed that.
11pm was too early, so we then met up with everyone else at The Elysian Bar again!
We slept in until 11am. Well, I did, Gay got up and went running. Most of everyone else went to brunch at Cane & Table (like Cain & Abel, get it?). Gay and I got ready, drank coffee and finally left by 1pm to go to the same place, who had just left, and had our own delicious brunch.
The weather was clear but chilly, similar to Seattle’s, about 50°F, thanks to a cold snap that hit the Midwest this week. Apparently, it’s normally 20°F warmer.
We walked around the French Quarter and then to Louis Armstrong Park, where a Gumbo festival was going on with a jazz concert, of course. We stayed there for a while and then walked across town to The Elysian Bar, a very stately bar for cocktails.
After a brief rest at our houses, we all went to Cochon and had a fantastic dinner.
We went back to the French Quarter and hung out on Frenchmen Street in Jazz clubs, got one of every hot dog (except the vegan one) from Dat Dog and we all ate them on the street outside the jazz clubs. Another 4am night for almost everyone.
No one is quite sure how it happened that Matt cut his eye right on his eyebrow. Gay always thinks stitches are necessary and convinced him to go to the emergency room. At 1:30am. Gay, Cathy and I got an Uber and we were off to the hospital. I had the brilliant idea to bring some beers along knowing we’d be waiting a while in a boring hospital.
I didn’t get through the metal detector because of the beer cans, the security guard opened my bag and told me that beer cans have to go around the metal detector. Duh! I walked through and the guard put the beer back in my bag. Southern hospitality! New Orleans’ casualness with public alcohol would soon be apparent to us all.
While in the operating room with Matt waiting for the doctor I passed out beers to the others but thought better of having my own until just before the doctor came in 30 minutes later. He kicked us out and outside the room I dropped my just-opened can and beer spilled all over the floor. Now what do I do?! Immediately someone yelled down the hall “Don’t worry, I’ll call it urine and have it cleaned up!” More southern hospitality!
New Orleans people are so friendly. The doctor knew we were out-of-towners and asked where we were from. I asked him how he got to New Orleans and he matter-of-factly explained “I met a girl online from New Orleans so I moved here, she turned out to be a man, then I met a real girl, got her pregnant and now I’m stuck.” It was an interesting night. We got home at 4:30am and everyone was asleep.
Gay and I left the kids at home and left for New Orleans this morning. Gay’s friends from college organized the trip and I’m tagging along. Jon & Megan are watching the house and Barley. Hudson is spending the night at Bowie’s for his birthday party, which worked out well, Eva is spending tonight at Fiona’s and Havana is staying home. We’ll see how Jon & Megan handle 4 kids!
I was in New Orleans only once before in 1994 or 1995, can’t remember, on a business trip and really liked the place. But I’m wondering if it surpassed my low expectations or if I really do like it and I’m about to find out.
We landed in New Orleans at 5pm. Nice new airport. Cathy, Deina and Jeff, who I met for the first time, were on our flight and we Uber’d to our Airbnb house in the 7th Ward. Everyone else from New York (Eric & Sandi and Cindy), Jasper from Saratoga, and Matt from Arizona, who I also met for the first time, were already there having snacks and drinks.
Eric, Sandi, Matt, Cindy and I went out looking for groceries, got some jerk chicken from a street vendor, found a market where we ran into everyone from the other house: Jason & Nancy (I haven’t seen them since … 2002?!), Peter and Justin. We took our groceries back to our house.
For an end of summer trip, we booked a couple nights at Snug Harbor Resort. That means we had to drive to Anacortes to get on a 1-hour ferry. Ferries are much more enjoyable when they’re rare compared to our life on Vashon Island when ferries were a hardship.
We got to San Juan Island and had lunch at San Juan Island Brewing, walked around Friday Harbor and then drove to the other side of the island to Mitchell Bay.
Out on the dock looking at Henry Island and Vancouver Island, Canada:
We had dinner and picked up some groceries in Roche Harbor.
We took the boat from Forio on Ischia to Naples saying goodbye to our captain Flavio and our boat, Liberty. The first mate, Pasquale, left abruptly yesterday after getting a phone call to join a cargo ship on a 5-6 month trip through the Panama Canal, Mexico and Los Angeles and back – the start of his career.
We took a car from the port for fantastic pizza at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michelle. There was a crowd of people waiting to get in for a 1-hour wait so we got takeout instead. The place was a pizza factory that made only 2 pizzas: Margherita and Marinara. We got 2 of each. While I waited in line to get our pizzas I watched one guy flatten the dough, another put the sauce and toppings on, another guy took the pizza to the wood-fired oven and another guy plated or boxed and cut the pizzas. Over and over.
We sat across the street at a cafe that seemed to exist solely as overflow seating for the pizzeria, despite 4 other much less busy pizzerias in the same 2 blocks.
Both were great but I preferred the marinara, surprising to me, because of the garlic.
The driver gave us a short tour of Naples before dropping us at the train station. The train left right on time at 5pm.
We left Amalfi this morning after breakfast and went to the island of Capri, boated all the way around it checking out the grottos and all the mega yachts, had lunch in Marina Piccola, jumped off the boat’s gangway, went swimming and floating in the Mediterranean and then docked in the town of Capri for dinner.
We had to catch a 10am train to Naples, so here we are waiting for our taxi at the “front door” of our hotel, Palazzo Barbarigo:
On the train to Naples… train travel in Europe is always so comfortable (and the trains are almost always half-full):
Simona, our yacht person and pictured on the left pouring a Sprite, arranged for a car to pick us up at the Naples train station to take us across town and drove us right up on the dock to our boat, a Fairline Squadron 60:
Minutes later, we were leaving Naples and heading across the Bay of Naples.
Mt Vesuvius, the still-active volcano that is best known for erupting and immortalizing Pompeii in 79AD:
A view that became very usual to me over the next 5 days, wakes can be mesmerizing to watch:
We dropped Simona off at a small town next to Sorrento, went past Sorrento and around the tip of the Amalfi Coast and stopped for dinner in Positano:
Aperol Spritzes are a big thing in Italy, which seem like a good idea on a hot day and are pretty, but are usually too bitter for me:
We started America’s birthday with a walk around Venice and riding the water buses on the Grand Canal.
We went to get cicchetti, small pieces of bread with various toppings that is apparently a Venice-specific food, for lunch at Cantine del Vino gia Schiavi, one of Rick Steves’ favorite places, and ate it outside standing by the canal with wine. This was Hudson’s favorite restaurant of the entire trip I think and he tried every weird thing we ordered, even discovering that he really likes salmon. We’ll see if he eats salmon at home from now on!
This is not an alley between two buildings, this is the width of a street in Venice:
Then we did some more walking/boating around Venice.
Peggy Guggenheim’s old house on the Grand Canal, where she lived the classic life of a wealthy dilletante, is now a modern art museum — the Guggenheim’s only satellite museum:
Then more walking around, another stop for cichetti at, as it turns out, a place down the street from the first place, and then dinner.