we survived new orleans!

well friends, we made it home in one piece with plenty of pictures and stories to tell of our new orleans escapades.  originally, this trip was intended for work but we booked a.'s ticket on a whim, turning the past week into a nice balance of work and play.

the conference went great.  one of the best yet.  and believe it or not, i can honestly say most of the stress and tears and late nights were worth it.  that's why i love events...the same breath that drains the last bit of life from you, revives you solely on the energy and excitement of a successful conference.

the nights we found the energy, we (as in my co-workers) made our way to the infamous bourbon street for the sights and sounds of nola.  on more than one of occasion, i danced my way onto the stage of the cat's meow (thank goodness the live web-feed is only up for 24 hours otherwise i think i'd have to live in the hills of timbuktu).  once the conference was over, that's when we really got to stop and see the city.
a. and i have such a fun time traveling together.  we're really low-key and never make any plans.  we prefer to wander and let the activities come to us.  turns out, that was the most perfect way to see the city.  we ate, drank and walked our way through the french quarter, where we spent most of our time.  we found the french market, an open-air shopping center boasting of locally made treats, coffees, local tummy pleasers and of course, in true new orleans fashion, plenty of beverages.
we enjoyed dinner at emeril's delmonico (thanks to a co-workers hook-up) where i had the blue crab gnocchi with grilled asparagus & goat cheese and dried tomatoes.  yum.  we later enjoyed a beer by candlelight at lafitte's black shop bar, a unique bar that boasts of no electricity and a very dark ambiance. we sat outside, enjoying the warm fall air, some great laughs & long talks of our future.

that's one thing that happens when you're finally reunited after a year hiatus, you can't stop talking about what's next.  sure we make it a point to live in the now and always enjoy each day, being very aware that we can't take this time for granted, but we also have never been in a place where a deployment isn't looming over our relationship.  so this is very new territory for us, and we feel a bit like newly-graduated college grads, trying to figure out our next move.
in an effort to help these upcoming questions and our unknown challenges ahead, i thought it might be fun to visit a voodoo shop, and possibly get our fortunes read.  a., to say the least, humored me throughout this endeavor and while we did visit both a voodoo shop and the grave of marie laveau, a renowned voodoo priestess, we never did get our fortunes read.instead we stumbled across cooking classes and signed up to participate.  it wasn't hands-on, but it sure was fun.  miss sandra filled us in on the history of new orleans as she demonstrated traditional recipes such as crawfish etouffee and coconut bread pudding.  we learned how each newcomer into the region affected food, language and the cities customs today.  a. and i loved it.
we later ventured down to frenchmans street.  a very eclectic (this should say a lot considering we were in new orleans) part of the city.  frenchmans is known for jazz and upcoming restaurants.  and we found both.  the stopped at three muses, a quaint jazz bar just in time to catch an fabulous trio, new orleans moonshine trio.  three muses had to die for cocktails (try the muse, dirty dan or the caipirinha) and we enjoyed the feta fries as well.  walking home, we were lucky enough to walk in on moonshine and caroline, another amazing jazz band, where we stayed until their gig ended.
the drinks, the art, the food, the architecture.  new orleans completely exceeded all my expectations.  we  had so much fun and the week before halloween, was a very cool time to be there.  the bright lights and spooky tales of the city only added to the mystique (not to mention all the crazy costumes).  there was so much to do that it was hard to fit it all in a few days, but in addition to the highlights listed above, we'd recommend dinner at the green goddess, bloody mary's at mothers, and both emeril's strawberry lemonade and drum fish from nola.
if you have the opportunity, go.  we had such a great time & while there's no plans for travel in our future, we'll hold this trip and the memories and conversations close to our hearts.  thank you new orleans for the southern hospitality and a wonderful stay.  we'll be humming your tunes always.

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