How y’all doing? Here are the last few days in Gulf Shores and then on to our New Orleans trip!
Friday, Nov 28 – Black Friday in Gulf Shores
This was our first official Black Friday – sure wish we had something to shop for! We did pop into The Pottery Store; it was a giant home decor place so we just did a run through. We went to Chick-fil-A for lunch. It was pretty good; upscale fast food chicken. This was the first place that we noticed they displayed the calories for each item. We think that’s great!
We went for a mile hike and caught up on some future bookings.
Now I can always remember this water at sunset:
Saturday, Nov 29
Went to Moe’s BBQ for lunch – I was craving some pulled pork so this hit the spot. The servers’ Southern accents were so strong here we missed a lot of the conversation. That happens quite a bit.
While we were in Orange Beach, we went on a great hiking trail. There were several swamps and warning signs about alligators in the area but we did not see any. We did see several armadillos so that was pretty cool. They madly dig in the ground with their snouts and didn’t seem to care we were there.
Orange Beach Zipline:
The beautuful stilted beach homes at sunset:
I finished the Europe accommodation bookings up to Jan 5. Here is our Itinerary so far:
Madrid: Dec 12-18
Granada: Dec 18-21
Gibraltar: Dec 21-24
Seville: Dec 24-28
Faro (Portugal): Dec 28-Jan 1
Lisbon: Jan 1-5
Sunday, Nov 30
Double patience (two fishermen):
Boardwalk over a swamp:
Tonight we went for dinner to Lamert’s Cafe; home to the ‘Throwed Rolls’.
The servers looked very wholesome in their bow ties. They do not serve liquor nor do they accept debit or credit cards – just cash or checks are welcome! The portions are very generous; look at my ham steak – that is a full size frying pan! Plus you get a choice of 2 sides:
Corn, Baked Potato, Green Beans, Sliced Beets, Cole Slaw, Turnip Greens, Cucumbers & Onions, Cottage Cheese, Baby Carrots, Potato Salad, Cold Chunking Applesauce, Sliced Peaches, Baked Beans or White Beans, Candied Yams and Homemade Mashed Potatoes.
A server wheels around a cart with fresh, warm, large rolls and yells out ‘rolls?’ Then he proceeds to pick one up and literally throw it across the room to whomever requested it. Not sure what their accuracy rate is; only heard glasses crashing once. The rolls are huge and so good! I think the secret ingredient is molasses.
Also, throughout your meal, other servers roam the restaurant with huge dishes of ‘Pass Arounds’ – they tell you what they are offering and then scoop a heaping spoonful on to your plate. The Pass-Arounds were:
Fried Potatoes & Onions, Macaroni & Tomatoes, Black-Eyed Peas, Fried Okra, Hot Rolls & Sorghum, Apple Butter
Unique dining concept and very popular. People wait for hours for a table. My Dad would love it here!
Monday, Dec 1 – New Orleans!
Before we left Gulf Shores this morning, I got confirmation that the Paris apartment I found is a go! I spent many hours trying to find what we hope to be the perfect place to lay down our hats for a month. We knew Paris would be expensive but we know it will be worth it. In the end, the apartment I found is a little out of the tourist core, but easy transportation to where ever we want to go. AND it is half the price of everything I looked at. The kitchen looks huge and there is a great balcony! Very happy!!
We sure enjoyed our stay at Gulf Shores and are very grateful to Nick and Lyn Mitchell for the use of their condo. We will truly miss it there!
The drive to New Orleans today took us through Alabama, Mississippi and then into Louisanna. So cool and so many swamps! Another huge bridge into New Orleans over Lake Pontchartrain, about 5 miles long. They seem to have no trouble building bridges in swamps.
Hello New Orleans! Wow, was I surprised how big this city is. Not what I imagined at all. The downtown has many very tall hotels. Our hotel was just outside of the French Quarter but on a trendy street. It was a fabulous hotel with original brick and beams. We could see down into the lobby – loved it:
We took a walk over to Burbon Street – crazy! It was still early in the night and week, so the craziness just went up, up, up during our stay. We loved this whole experience.
Other hotel lobby’s – we get the added bonus of Christmas now too!
Tuesday, Dec 2
Our friends Nick and Lyn Mitchell joined us in New Orleans today. Our adventures together started with an authentic Louisana lunch at the Gumbo Shop; Gumbo for the guys and Jambalaya for the ladies. Everyone enjoyed their dishes immensely! The Mitchell’s were great tour guides and shared many stories of Mardi Gras, ‘bumping into’ Greg Allman and Cher, Katrina, and state corruption.
As we strolled through the French Quarter, we came to a Voodoo store and Lyn and I went in to check it out. This wasn’t a store selling voodoo shirts to tourists; this was a voodoo supply store. Signs everywhere said NO PHOTOS and we happily obliged. I had a very uneasy feeling in this store, and for a long time after.
A very enthusiastic, young, street band:
Perfect spot for an afternoon cocktail:
We had dinner at one of Emeril Lagassie’s flagship restaurants, NOLA’s. The food was fantastic; I thought it was a bit over-serviced but certainly worth a visit. Lyn’s sweet pototoes were the best she ever had; now that’s something from someone who has lived in the South all her life.
The four of us wandered through Bourbon Street and stopped at a Dueling Piano Bar – very entertaining!
The players are all about the tips in New Orleans and really push it. In some places, one musician will go through the bar with their tip can. Between them, the street ‘entertainers’ and the needy, there is always somewhere to show your support, compassion or just plain annoyance.
Wednesday, Dec 3
We all agreed today on a road trip to Oak Alley Plantation; a French Creole sugar cane plantation. Nick was kind enough to play chauffer today and during the 1.5 hour drive, he and Lyn filled us with tales of swamps and bodies, and life in the South. My Lord there is a lot of swamps in Louisiana! Joe and Nick reminisced about the Movie Gallery days. Lyn proved to be a little encylopedia and knows a lot of interesting things!
We went on a self-guided tour of the historic grounds of the beautiful Oak Alley. The information cards in the slave cabins were filled with heartbreaking facts of how the men, women and children were enslaved from 1835 to the end of the Civil War in 1865. It was horribly sad and a real eye-opener for us all. Oak Alley is run by a non-profit foundation and visits to the plantation support research, and educate the public about its history and plantation life.
Each cabin would house two families of 4-5 :
The main house on the plantation was by contrast, quite grand.
A tour guide provided the history of both the house, and the residents.
Nick and Lyn!
This is a fan over the dining table:
The grounds were beautiful – 300 year old Virginia Live Oak Trees do paint an awe-inspiring landscape.
Joe and Nick:
We had a nice lunch that was a sampling of creole food.
Lyn told the waiter she had never tasted better catfish in her life and their sweet tea was the best. As we left the plantation, the air was filled with smoke as they burned off the Sugarcane field in preparation for harvest. That made the experience a little more realistic.
Back in New Orleans, we dined at a spot recommended by our concierge. Muierl’s had a 3 course dinner special that was incredible:
That chocolate cake had me counting sheep for too long that night. We really enjoyed this restaurant! We capped off the night with a Dixieland Jazz Band that had the fastest piano player we have ever seen. It was crazy man, crazy!!
We said goodbye to the Mitchell’s tonight – what a great time we had with them. We missed them and their Southern accents for many days after.
Thursday. Dec 4
On our own again; and we continued to explore other parts of New Orleans by hopping on the trolley. We saw such big, beautiful homes, parks, statues; a quieter side of the city.
You can’t tell here, but the Christmas balls in these trees were huge – like 6 ft around:
This street must be on the Mardi Gras parade route because all the trees are loaded with beads!
When we came to the end the trolley line, the conductor stopped the car, picked up her belongings and headed down the aisle – hitting the chair backs and thus reversing the seat positions at the same time. Then she started to drive from the other end. That’s one way of backing up!
We discovered a whole new area in our neighbourhood that evening. Fulton Street was a closed off street that mostly serviced the guests from the prestigious Harrod’s Hotel. We had already supported the Harrod’s Casino, so we invited ourselves in. Very nice!
We walked along the mighty Mississippi Riverwalk and through the shopping areas:
Two of our concierges had recommended we go to Frenchman Street for the best music in NOLA; but after a drive through yesterday with Nick and Lyn, we decided it didn’t look like the best of areas. Tonight, Joe and I decided to brave it – and we were glad we did! Frenchman Street had a younger vibe, less hustlers and more great music! A nice alternative to Bourbon Street.
Friday. Dec 5
Homes in the French Quarter:
This guy stood frozen like this for very long periods of time:
This guy on Bourbon Street was really good! Wish I could have seen the little boys face:
Legend has it one of these is The House of the Rising Sun!
We strolled through Louie Armstrong Park today. Pretty nice, very quiet – not many visitors but lots of musical inspirations!
We walked down Fulton Street again tonight during a private function and it was crazy busy. Giant snowflakes reflected on the buildings and something annoying was in the air and getting in my eyes. Ah! It was a snow machine. Closest thing to winter we’ve seen!
Had our last walk through the French Quarter. Here is a little video I took about 9pm:
Saturday, Dec 6
Today we sadly said goodbye New Orleans and are working are way back to Atlanta.
Here’s a great tune and video by Dr. John that captures New Orleans:
Our schedule this week:
Saturday – Tuscalosa, AL
Sunday – Huntsville, AL (going to see my friend Alexa!!)
Monday – Chattennoga TN
Tues/Wednesday night – Atlanta
Thursday – depart for Madrid via Philly
Friday, Dec 12 we arrive in Madrid – so hard to believe!
Enjoy your week!!
Paula and Joe