The crap part of travel is the waiting.
Not that there aren't other crap parts as well, but it's the waiting that wears you down and makes you go crazy. Every moment spent waiting is time wasted because you're not going anywhere. And, odds are, you're doing your waiting in a place you really don't want to be with a bunch of people you'd just as soon not have to be with.
For me, today was mostly spent waiting.
Though I did manage to get a chunk of work done while I was waiting, so there's that.
And when my flight finally took off out of Atlanta, I was upgraded to First Class, so there's that.
And my plane didn't crash to the earth in a ball of flames, so there's that.
And I landed earlier than scheduled despite leaving the gate late, so there's that.
And my luggage wasn't lost... in fact, it was the third bag on the carrousel, so there's that.
And Portland's light rail from the airport has a stop just four blocks from my hotel, so there's that.
And I didn't get mugged or stabbed walking to my hotel in the dark, so there's that.
And my room is a nice corner spot that's very quiet, so there's that.
And the hotel has free internet, so there's that.
And... wait a second... what in the hell was I complaining about again?
If only I could have stayed a few more days...
Alas, I could not, and so I had to bid farewell to The Big Easy this morning. Which ended up being a piece of cake, despite a lot of fog that crept into New Orleans overnight. Fortunately (unfortunately?) for me the airport was clear, and so the only thing troubling was watching the airport shuttle driver fume because a family of five with tons of luggage stiffed him with no tip.
The flight was a non-event.
Which seems an odd thing to say when you're talking about flying... up in the air... in a metal tube... but it was. I watched half of Despicable Me 2 and didn't even notice the time go by.
I was landing in Atlanta before I knew it.
Taking a MARTA train into town for dinner with some bloggy friends was pretty much my day.
Well... and this...
Now I want hot chocolate, because a torrential flood of rain soaked me while I was waiting for the hotel shuttle and nothing makes you feel better when you're cold and wet than hot chocolate. But I don't think hot chocolate is on the room service menu, so I guess this is goodnight.
Them: "It's too bad you're not there on a weekend when there's stuff going on."
Me: "BWAH HA HA HA HAAAA!"
Yes, things are busier on the weekend... but New Orleans doesn't shut down during the week. Bourbon Street, in particular, is up and running and open for business...
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Since this is my last day in The Big Easy, I wanted to be sure I hit Surrey's Cafe & Juice Bar for my favorite breakfast in the city, Bananas Foster French Toast...
From their menu... "New Orleans-style French toast stuff ed with banana-cream cheese. Topped with a classic Bananas Foster sauce of rum, brown sugar and butter, dusted with powdered sugar." And, yes, it's just as delicious as it sounds.
My main goal today was to hunt down stuff for my Holiday Gift Exchange present. It's kind of tough to do given the $20 spending limit but, luckily, I known where to get cheap crap for cheap in New Orleans, so I managed just fine. All that was left to do was dance, but One-Eyed Jacks wasn't open yet...
After an afternoon spent working, my Bananas Foster French Toast was wearing off, so I made plans for dinner back at Carmo. The food is just too good there to be denied. I had the amazing Vegetarian Rico and an order of Banquette Bread...
From their menu... "A breadless fork sandwich made of a grilled plantain patty topped with melted cheese, spicy smoked 'n' pulled pork, avocado, salsa fresca and our tangy sweet spicy "Rico" sauce. Served with organic greens drizzled with mango vinaigrette. Or have it Veggie: dairy cheese & vegan meat; or Vegan: vegan cheese & vegan meat." And, yes, it's just as delicious as it sounds. More delicious, even.
I head to the airport at 9:30 tomorrow, and was worried that I wouldn't wake up early enough to have one last plate of beignets at Cafe Du Monde... so that was my next stop for some dessert...
Yeah, they never get old.
I don't know that I've noticed this painting hanging in the cafe before, but it's pretty awesome...
"It seemed like an ordinary day until... I had coffee with Jesus at the Cafe Du Monde."
After dessert, I wandered through the French Quarter for a couple hours... had a couple Hurricanes... managed to stay out of trouble... and remembered all over again just why I love this city so much.
I haven't left yet, but I already want to come back.
Yesterday's flight was completely uneventful, which wasn't surprising given that it's only an hour long (which is a lot nicer than driving 6-1/2 hours, which I've done before).
At first I had thought that I would just stay in the hotel for dinner since I was exhausted from work and the drive back to Atlanta, but it's pretty tough to be in New Orleans and not want to spend time in the city. And so I hopped on a cable car to Attiki Bar & Grill, which makes a mean falafel wrap and has great hummus (with cajun spice!). It's also a nice place to sit and watch the French Quarter light up as the sun goes down...
This morning I decided to sleep in. One of the great things about being in New Orleans is that I've been here a dozen times before, so there's not compulsion to wake up at the crack of dawn and play tourist. The only compulsion I had was to make it to one of my favorite restaurants in the city, Cafe Carmo. They have really good sandwiches (I get the Veggie King)... but the reason I love the place so much is for their Banquette Breads. It's a type of flatbread that's been smothered with Havarti cheese and scallions and it is absolutely amazing...
Then it was time to do one of my most favorite things in New Orleans... wander aimlessly through the French Quarter. There is always so much to see, and it's changing constantly, so it's an activity I never tire of. Along the way I saw an awesome ShopCat in the window of one of the Royal Street galleries...
After I walked past, I had to take out my camera because the painting behind the cat was pretty funny...
Then, of course, it was time for Cafe Du Monde. Absolutely no trip to Ner Orleans is complete unless you visit here at least once...
One of the things I keep meaning to do, but always forget to do... is visit the courtyard of the Napoleon House Bar & Cafe. This is one of the locations used in one of my all-time favorite movies, Undercover Blues, starring Kathleen Turner, Dennis Quaid, Fiona Shaw, and Stanley Tucci. I've been to most of the other filming locations on previous trips, but this one has eluded me for far too long...
This is where Jeff and Jane Blue went for oysters, only to have both Muerte and Novacek's men show up to spoil lunch. One of the funniest scenes in the movie... which is saying a lot, because there are a lot of funny scenes in the film. If you haven't seen it yet, I give Undercover Blues my highest recommendation...
Dinner was at a new pizza place called Dolce Vita that I was told was good. And indeed it was. The decor is very plain... almost depressing... but they make up for it with the food. Their pizza crust was wood-fired and perfect. I don't know that it will replace Slice as my favorite pizza in New Orleans, but it's nice to have options.
And there it goes... my first night in New Orleans.
Time. She flies too fast.
Gutted. Just gutted.
Catcher A.J. Pierznyski has landed a one-year deal with my beloved Boston Red Sox, leaving no room for my favorite MLB player, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, on my favorite team...
A moment of silence, please...
Rumor has it that Salty will be picked up by the Marlins, which is not so bad. At least with Miami I can still root for him... unlike if he ended up with the Yankees or something.
Ah well. I can still wear my Boston Saltalamacchia jerseys in remembrance of some good times.
And now? Onwards and upwards, I suppose.
BOSTON RED SOX BASEBALL RULES!
UPDATE: And it's official... Salty is a Marlin now. Enjoy that 21 million dollars, buddy.
When planning my travel for this trip, I found that I had a nice gap of time between work in Atlanta and a wedding party in Portland. It was perfectly-sized for a quick trip to someplace new, and I was excited at the world of possibilities before me. But where to go? Usually, I just take a look at my Hard Rock Cafe map and see where there's a cafe I haven't visited...
Florence. I've already seen the major sights, so I thought that Florence was the perfect candidate. Just fly in for two days to see the Hard Rock and maybe visit the Accademia Gallery, then zip back to the USA. The problem being that all the tickets available for purchase with airline miles had horrible schedules that made a trip unrealistic. I could have gone with Ibiza, Nice, Budapest, Krakow, or Glasgow, but these are cities I want to explore for much longer than two days.
St. Maarten. Another place I've already been, so two days would be plenty. Except the mileage required to get a free ticket was insane for some reason.
Buenos Aires. Did you know that the visa entry fee to Argentina is ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS?!? I ain't spending that kind of money for just two-days!
Punta Cana & Santo Domingo. The Dominican Republic seemed ideal... a short flight and only a $10 fee to enter the country. Not only that, but they have two Hard Rocks on the island (three if you count the hotel in Punta Cana!). But, ultimately, the logistics of the trip were too time-consuming to work out, so I took a pass.
At this point, I was going to look into Costa Rica... or perhaps Brazil... or even Guatamala City... but these are all places I'd want to visit for more time than I had available. So what to do? A part of me just wanted to hang around Atlanta until my flight on Saturday. It's a great city and I've plenty of friends in town, so why not kick back and relax?
For some reason I glanced up and saw the souvenir street sign I had bought for Bourbon Street that was pinned to my wall.
A moment of clarity ensued.
Yes, I've been to New Orleans a dozen times. Yes, I was just there earlier this year in March. Yes, I've already seen the Hard Rock Cafe New Orleans (both of them). Yes, there are plenty of new and exciting places I could go.
But holy crap do I love The Big Easy.
It's a city I know well. It's a city I love to visit. It's a city where I can just relax for three days and do as much or as little as I want. It's the ultimate no-pressure mini-getaway for me and, at that moment, I knew exactly where I wanted to be. So I cashed in some airline miles, used a hotel voucher I had saved up, and that was that.
So away I go.
Time to strike up the band and pour the champaign... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Walker. I was sad to learn that Paul Walker died yesterday. Not so much for his movies (because I'm not that familiar with them outside of the "Fast and Furious" franchise) but because he was a really decent human being whose humanitarian work helped a lot of people. His Reach Out World Wide is a wonderful organization, and I would hope he gets some recognition for all the amazing work he did in founding it.
I searched and searched for a picture with proper credit, but couldn't find one.
Why don't people credit their photos?
Rest in peace, sir. You did good.
• Comics. I don't read many comics any more... I just don't have the time... but Comixology had a sale on some "Avengers vs. X-Men" titles I've been wanting to read, so I went for it. And ran across this...
Now THAT'S some sparkling dialog right there! I know not every comic book can be Watchmen or Dark Knight or whatever... but this kind of blew my mind.
• Maps. My love of maps is well-documented here at Blogography. Over at Buzzfeed they made me love maps even more when they had Brits label American states on a map. The results are fantastic...
You can see the big version of this one (and many more) by following this link. And, because fair is fair, here's an even more fantastic look at Americans trying to name European countries on a map.
• iTunes Fail. I have numerous issues with iTunes. The biggest one being that I can't stream my movie purchases and am forced to download them if I want to watch... when every other company in the digital movie business allows streaming. Incredibly backwards and stupid, but Apple says "no." But even putting crap that iTunes can't do aside, iTunes is frustrating because it has so many problems with what it can do.
I have a MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It's display capabilities are beyond HD. Way beyond HD. And yet, I still get this ridiculous error message form time to time when trying to purchase HD content...
But even more shocking than that is iTunes occasionally telling me it doesn't support QuickTime... the fundamental video system of every Macintosh computer since video has been on Macs...
Stupid shit like drives me insane. Partly because it's so random, and you never know what's going to cause it... but mostly because it's Apple, and there's no way you can just call them up and have it fixed. Yes, they have "proper channels" you can go through to report problems, but I have never had a problem solved going that route. Hell, I've reported mistakes in Apple's "Maps" application that have gone completely ignored for months (years maybe?). Oh well. It's Apple.
• Nigella. I'm a massive fan of celebrity English foodie Nigella Lawson. She's bright, funny, smart, a heck of a cook, and drop-dead beautiful...
I searched and searched for a picture with proper credit, but couldn't find one. Again.
Why don't people credit their photos?
Lately she's been in the news for some not-so-pleasant things, and it's got me wondering where my breaking point is when it comes to famous people I admire (a more popular American example being Alex Baldwin's recent homophobic rant). Do I care? Should I care? Is it even true? So what if it is? I have the answers to none of those questions. It probably depends on what the issues are and how they affect things I care about. But that doesn't stop the "news" from telling me how I should feel about it. Which is everything "journalistic integrity" is not, but that's where we are now. It's what we erroneously call "being judged by the court of public opinion" when it is, in fact, the media which leads the public to their opinion. And you can be pretty sure that their judgement is going to be on the side of whichever option sells more papers (or whatever). I don't know how we got to this point, but it's been driving me crazy lately because I can't see anything else when stories like Ms. Lawson's hit the newswire. I guess all I can do is grit my teeth, wish Ms. Lawson the best of luck, and hope that she bounces back like Martha Stewart instead of crashing and burning like Paula Deen. I guess. Since all my information comes from the news media on all these people, what do I know?
Alas yon bullets now go gentle into that good night...
-> Click here to see the complete Blogography archives!