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Trip Report Dec 18-21: “The Do-Over Trip”

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Cincinnati, OH
posts: 315
reviews: 10
Trip Report Dec 18-21: “The Do-Over Trip”

As you may recall, my trip this last October was a partial letdown as I came down with the flu and was confined to my hotel room for almost 2 days. With that as motivation, my wife and I booked a “do-over” trip to take in the Christmas sights of Nola, this time with our kids (the princesses).

Cincinnati, OH
posts: 315
reviews: 10
1. Re: Trip Report Dec 18-21: “The Do-Over Trip”

Got in later on Friday than we usually do, due to attending my youngest’s school holiday party earlier in the day. Cabbed it from the airport to the Omni Royal to drop our bags and discovered we’d been upgraded to a suite, sweet! Set out for dinner deciding upon the Gumbo Shop, which we had never tried before. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was pleased with both the food and the service. The eldest princess surprised us by ordering chicken and Andouille gumbo which she gave a glowing review. I tried it (while she wasn’t looking) and thought it rivaled some of the better ones I’ve tried. The etouffee and boudin were also tasty.

After dinner we did a quick lap of Jackson Square but the princesses claimed to be too tired for beignet. What?!?!?! So we took them back to the hotel where my wife kindly stayed with them while I headed out for some me-time. Our deal is we trade off watching them so I can gamble at night and she can shop unencumbered during the day. On my walk up Bourbon I found it curious how many people were walking their pitbull-looking dogs. I haven’t seen that before perhaps because it was the least crowded I’d seen it on a non-rainy Friday night at ~10pm. Funny how the lack of a crowd (and sobriety) exposes all manner of nuance. Kind of like low-tide. Decided it to move it along, and after a quick beer at the Old Absinthe House, I headed over to Harrah’s where after a few hours of play I wished I’d been the one who stayed in watching the kids.

Needed to drown my sorrows a little bit so I stopped in at the new Saints & Sinners, where Sammy’s used to be on Bourbon. I don’t care for what they’ve done to the outdoor patio, but the bar inside is beautiful if you can get beyond the blaring dance music, which without a crowd dancing seems a little pathetic. The upstairs bar is just as beautiful and much much quieter. I really liked the old meets new vibe. Definitely planning a return stop for the next guys trip in April. Made the trek down to Lafitte’s where I got the last seat at the piano and before I knew it, it was almost 2am. How does that happen? I also brokered a deal to buy some of the Lafitte’s hurricane cups for me to use at my annual summer party (more on that tomorrow).

Cincinnati, OH
posts: 315
reviews: 10
2. Re: Trip Report Dec 18-21: “The Do-Over Trip”

Saturday saw us getting up really early as the kids were still on EST and raring to go at 6:30. If you’ve never tried to keep two youngsters quiet in a hotel room, it’s no fun at all. At some point you realize you are making as much noise constantly correcting them as they are making by being unruly. It’s a losing proposition, but I still put in the effort. All I could hope was that the folks in neighboring rooms had stayed out as late as I had and were beyond being woken by a little incidental noise. Got the kids ready and out as quickly as I could while my wife headed out to do yoga in the Cabildo which she thoroughly enjoyed, raving about the beautiful setting and the personality of the instructor. Met for breakfast at the Old Coffee Pot. Food was good as usual. Service picked up its pace as the restaurant filled up.

My wife and I each took a kid so we could go Christmas shopping for each other, but was so overwhelmed with options that I didn’t end up buying anything. Too many things to commit to any one thing. My wife encountered the same challenge and Christmas day had us giving each other only a few Nola inspired gifts. I got her a fleur de lis table runner to match an embroidered tablecloth I’d found online, and she got me a collage of three prints by John Guillaume, one of my favorite local artists who sells his work at the French Market and on-line

In the afternoon, the girls set off for the Royal Sonesta’s Teddy Bear Tea Party, an event resplendent with all things Christmas and the Saintsations. While they were hobnobbing with the Claus’s, I made a few more shopping stops before parking myself at Harry’s Corner for a refreshment, Abita Jockamo on tap. Decided to pass the time on the video poker machines and on my third play couldn’t believe my eyes when I hit a straight-flush garnering a $500+ payout. Well, drinks were on me as I celebrated my luck with the other patrons at the bar. Took my cloud nine with me as I headed over to Lafitte’s where I used a small portion of my winnings to buy the cups I’d asked for the night before. Upon further sharing the details of my annual summer “Voodoo” party and desire to recreate Lafitte’s in my backyard, complete with piano and candlelight, the price of the cups was halved and I was even provided the recipes for their Hurricane and Voodoo Juice, under strict agreement that I wouldn’t share either. This was turning into one of those awesome New Orlean’s days.

Met up with the family and it was decided that the kids were going to be too tired to make the most of Celebration in the Oaks, so we looked for a plan-b which ended up being a trek out to the Shadowbox Theater on St. Claude for a performance of the “Amazing Acro-Cats” in town for a Christmas performance. The kids got VIP treatment being seated in the first row for an hour or so of performing cats, rats, a chicken, and a groundhog (think Letterman’s stupid pet tricks). I have to admit, it was fun and the small theater was the perfect venue. We preceded the show with dinner at Buffa’s (kid friendly in their back room until 9pm!). The food was very good, with my favorite being their boudin balls appetizer served in a cream sauce, but everything from their Buffa Burger, red beans and rice, and shrimp creole received rave reviews from my hungry family. Our evening ended with beignets at Café du Monde and then all four of us called it a night in preparation for the big day we had planned for Sunday.

Cincinnati, OH
posts: 315
reviews: 10
3. Re: Trip Report Dec 18-21: “The Do-Over Trip”

Sunday again started early with us all donning our Saints gear and taking a walk around the quarter before heading over to Red Gravy for a pregame breakfast. Who would have ever thought of meatballs for breakfast? But it was great as were our other selections, and best of all we got to meet VeraBlue and learn about her incredible story, and meet another forumite Steelergirl.

From there we made our way over to the Superdome by way of the Roosevelt Hotel Lobby decorations (awesome). This was to be our first Saints game in New Orleans and we were excited. Let me tell you, the only disappointing thing about the experience is it went way too quickly. Other than that we were in heaven all day. The pregame festivities at Champion’s Square were incredible, watching the Rebirth Brass Band, a local drum-corp, fans in all measure of costume, and local food that far surpassed our far too typical stadium selections here in Cincinnati (boo Bengals). We took as many pictures as we could to capture the amazing atmosphere before heading into the dome to get to our seats. The fans in our section were so welcoming, we felt like longtime friends by the end of the game, making the 41 to 0 blowout over Tampa Bay fulfilling in every way. My kids who’d never been to a pro football game before had a blast, as there was so much going on. The alligator sausage poboy I bought from one of the cart vendors was sadly but wonderfully one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in New Orleans. The overall warmth of the experience had us feeling like we’d finally found home, which was joyful and disheartening at the same time, as we knew our reality would have us heading back to Cincinnati the following day. Still, there was no time for any type of tears as we had to get back to the hotel to change in order to get to dinner.

Muriel’s had been on my list of places to try for years and it did not disappoint in any way. They were able to seat us a little early as we missed being able to get a seat at the St. Louis Cathedral annual Christmas concert due to a princess meltdown by our eldest. She was enticed back from the depths by a bowl of gumbo and a promise of a free ice cream if she were able to join their clean-plate club for kids. Muriel’s was very kid friendly, complete with a children’s menu and crayons (who would have expected that?). So while my children worked towards clean plates, my wife and I enjoyed bbq shrimp and succulent tournedos. The butterscotch pudding that followed made us glad that the kids had ice cream, because it was simply too good to share. Great service, not too pricey, in a beautiful setting. Couldn’t have asked for more, except then we got more.

I’d known there was to be Christmas caroling in the square that night, but I’d expected it to be one of those things where the hype was bigger than the event, especially as it had been raining on and off through the evening. But no! We walked out of Muriel’s into a crowd of at least 1000 people in the square all holding candles singing songs from a beautifully put together caroling book. We made new friends getting our candles lit, and shared the favor with those arriving after us. In fact, my youngest made it her mission to welcome people to the square. The singing was beautiful, led by a number of local celebrities including Mayor Mitch. We were pinching ourselves taking in how one of our favorite spots in the world could look even more beautiful in the glow of all the candles. One of those moments you’ll always have with you.

An unbelievable night, day, weekend, got even better when we took a carriage ride. Upon asking us if we’d done a French Quarter tour before and discovering we’d done many, our driver took us on an alternate tour of the lower Quarter and the Marigny where the quiet damp streets on a Sunday night and houses and balconies adorned with Christmas decorations had us feeling like we’d stepped back through time. The soothing sound of our mule’s feet and carriage’s rocking eventually had my blanket-wrapped daughters’ eyes closing, and though they fought it, they eventually drifted off between us towards the end of the ride. Sheer poetry.

After ensuring the babes were tucked snug in their beds and at the insistence of my wife, I took one last stroll by the Cathedral and went to Harry’s for one last nip before myself taking to bed. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Cincinnati, OH
posts: 315
reviews: 10
4. Re: Trip Report Dec 18-21: “The Do-Over Trip”

Monday morning was our last chance for shopping, so I took both kids in a mad dash around the French Market. Breakfast was quick and greasy, but satisfying at the Camellia Grill on Chartres, made more enjoyable by the chef enticing my daughters to join him in a verse or two of PSY’s Gangham Style (which sadly my young daughters know word for word much to the amusement of our server). My eldest, obviously touched by her enjoyment of our weekend, experienced moments of sobbing from the time we left the hotel until we boarded our flight home. I’m sure among this crowd of avid fans, she is not alone in that sentiment.

It was a fantastic trip on all accounts. Loved being back here in December for a seasonal experience. And certainly the absolute best remedy to make up for the last trip.

Next visit in April; back in town with the guys…

Bossier City, LA
posts: 2,584
reviews: 2
5. Re: Trip Report Dec 18-21: “The Do-Over Trip”

So glad you got to "redo" your trip. Sorry we missed meeting you and your wife in October but it sounds like you more than made up for it. I would love to be in Jackson Square to see and hear the carol singing. Thank you for the tr. I really enjoyed reading it.

College Station...
Destination Expert
for New Orleans
posts: 6,613
reviews: 3
6. Re: Trip Report Dec 18-21: “The Do-Over Trip”

Very nice report, in many ways and on many levels. We have experienced and enjoyed early December NOLA. You put a just before Christmas trip on my wish list.

Moncton, Canada
posts: 5,553
reviews: 45
7. Re: Trip Report Dec 18-21: “The Do-Over Trip”

What an awsome week-end!!! And with the kids! When people post questions about taking the kids to NO, there should be a link directly to your trip reviews. What wonderful memories those kids are getting. And you know that they'll repeat it all with their own children someday.

Birmingham, AL
posts: 2,077
reviews: 28
8. Re: Trip Report Dec 18-21: “The Do-Over Trip”

I can't think of a single thing that would have made your trip any better. What an amazing time you had, Drew. Being a cat lover, I saw that the Acro Cats performed there and would have loved to have seen them. The Caroling by candlelight sounded beautiful too. And congratulations on your video poker win! Wow! What a great report!

Orland Park...
posts: 488
reviews: 20
9. Re: Trip Report Dec 18-21: “The Do-Over Trip”

I am so so happy to read a report from you. I was sad at your last one.....again you seem like a wonderful daddy and husband, and I am so glad you had a nice time!!

Schulenburg, Texas
posts: 1,240
reviews: 27
10. Re: Trip Report Dec 18-21: “The Do-Over Trip”

Ditto to replies 5,6,7, 8 & 9. Loved it!!!

Edited: 4:56 pm, December 27, 2012