Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vacation, Part I

I'm back from vacation. I've been trying to figure out how to blog about it, but there's too much.
So here's part one:


The five of us drove down to New Orleans on Thursday. Fourteen hours or so in the car. 'Nuff said.

We stayed in the French Quarter at a lovely hotel. It was within walking distance of nearly everything we did, and it had a great balcony. It also had a preponderance of mirrored walls, which confused and sometimes startled me.

We visited St. Louis' Cathedral, admired the art at Jackson Square, bought cheesy souvenirs, and ate.

Mary and Jesus have excellent bling, no?

Andrew and I went to City Park to visit the Botanical Garden and its amazing outdoor Train Garden.

There is also a children's playground of epic proportions there, which provided some lovely photo opportunities.

Dear Sheep, Your wool isn't very soft. Love, Bonnie

The Botanical Garden was three feet under water after Katrina, but they've done a great job bringing it back. The day we went was quite cold, and apparently a botanical garden isn't a popular destination in January, so the only people we saw were employees. One passed us pushing a wheelbarrow and said, "It's not much to look at now, but we're working on it." I wanted to give him a hug and tell him how important his job was.

Besides actually seeing a few blooms on real, live outdoor plants in January (the mind just reels), there were birdhouses hanging that represented the different areas of the city.

Despite the optimistic things I had read about eating as a vegetarian in New Orleans, I found it to be difficult. A pescatarian wouldn't have had any problem, but it didn't go terribly well for me. We all actually found the food pretty hit-or-miss, which surprised us immensely. Because my friends love me even though my being a vegetarian can be a giant pain in the ass, they asked around about good vegetarian spots. Someone accosted them in an attempt to collect money to buy vegetarian meals for the homeless--promisepromisepromise I'm not making that up--and they asked him where he liked to eat. That's how we ended up at Mona's Cafe, which was delicious.

Besides Mona's, do you know what IS vegetarian and available in the French Quarter? Beignets and cafe au lait. We ate at Cafe du Monde five times in two and a half days. We began and ended each day there. I wouldn't have been opposed to eating there in the middle of the day as well, although I probably would have ended up in a hyperglycemic coma. When Andrew and I went through the French Market, we found a print of a drawing of a typical table at Cafe du Monde. We bought it, and now we can't hang it up for fear it will make us sad every time we eat anything at all that isn't a beignet.*

We also took a cemetery tour. It was fascinating, and I left there more committed than ever to being cremated when I kick off.

The tour happened rain or shine. Can you guess which one we had?

I visited two yarn shops and bought souvenir yarn. I shall someday have socks that remind me of New Orleans. I'll have to search for the proper patterns.

While two friends were visiting with Dixie, a mule who gave carriage rides, they learned that Dixie was going to be in a Mardi Gras parade** on January 30. It was just a couple blocks from the hotel, so we went. Although I had tried to plan this trip so we would be well ahead of any Mardi Gras festivities, I am really glad we went. Yes, I have beads. No, nothing was bared to get them.

Sunday we boarded the ship! More about that to come.

*A beignet is a square donut covered in powdered sugar. They're served warm and taste like heaven. Despite how much you hunch over the table while eating, you will not be able to leave without being covered in powdered sugar yourself. Surprisingly, this isn't such a bad thing.

**Careful with the clicking. The pictures are not for the Puritan at heart.

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