Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Summer Fun, Over and Done

I can't believe it's been nearly two months since my last blog entry. In my defense, August was a busy month, and September's pace is also crazy. However, I never reported on my Girls' Weekend in NOLA, or on some other fun summer happenings, so here we go!

Like France in August, when it seems that 90 percent of the population is on vacation (and many restaurants closed), NOLA is normally best avoided in July and August, due to extreme heat and humidity. However, when you plan a long weekend with friends, everyone has to compromise for each other's personal schedules. And so it was that Kelly, Dianna and I left for New Orleans in mid-July. Heck, we'd been through worse weather and made it back. We just figured we'd pop into a handy drinking establishment when the weather proved overwhelming. After all, there's one every five yards or so.

As it turned out, I'd had hotter, more humid days in New York this summer, so it wasn't so bad. And the city wasn't as quiet as expected. The EssenceFest had happened the previous weekend, but there was a special epicurean mini-convention going on, so we were not the only tourists. We checked into our Penthouse suite right in the French Quarter (a place I'd been to before on business travel) and could not believe our eyes. It was a two bedroom, three bathroom (with Jacuzzi tubs!) duplex with a gorgeous living room, dining room and full kitchen, including a washer/dryer! (Yes, we returned home with clean clothes, always a bonus!) We found the cutest little A&P on Royal and stocked up, happy as could be.

Friday was exploration day. We wandered out of the Quarter and down to a very upscale mall near the Mississippi River, which was a great way to cool off and do a bit of shopping. The girls dragged me into the shoe department at Sak's, and I dragged them right out, noting that the Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahniks they were drooling over averaged $800 a pair. A two block walk to Harrah's and Kelly was in her element. I left the two of them at their favored slot machines and made my way to the Video Poker machines, the only thing I really have any luck with, due to my Yahtzee addiction. After losing $20, I found the girls again and out we went to the Quarter. Dianna was craving sweet potato fries and damn it if she didn't find the one place that had them on the menu! We poked around Jackson Square, had fun talking to a white male Voodoo priest (he swears he's the only one who fits that criteria) who runs the Voodoo Museum, and then made our way over to Bourbon Street, where we would be partying later that night. It was only mid-afternoon, but there were frat boys a-plenty, spilling out from the bars. We popped into Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo and a few other shops, then went back to our lovely suite for some R&R.

The Court of Two Sisters is one of the older restaurants in the city, and always a reliable place to dine. We had dinner there, made friends with another group of Girls' Weekenders who were well on their way to being plastered, and planned to meet up with them later. Out to Bourbon Street we went. We visited many fine and not-so-fine drinking establishments (I'm not even going to tell you the names of some of the drinks/shots we did, except for my favorite, called "Gator Piss," said to be a version of the Hand Grenade). Eventually we made it back to the suite. This was my first time on Bourbon Street that did not include a parade or beads, so that was sad, but the street was jumping and the atmosphere was hopping. We were just six weeks shy of the two year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, so it was nice to see a good amount of activity in the Quarter, especially at that time of year.

Naturally, our next day got to a late start. More fun in the Quarter, dinner at Kelly's favorite restaurant, Mr. B's, then some last minute souvenir shopping. We called it a relatively early night, as checkout was at 11 the next morning. It was okay, actually, because spending time with each other in such beautiful and luxurious surroundings certainly didn't suck! (When I learn how to post photos on this blog, I will put up some snaps from the weekend, including our suite.)

Our last day. Waah. We checked out, left our bags, and met my cousin Christine and hubby Jason for brunch. The place we had chosen in the Quarter had a two hour wait, so Jason took us to a little place they frequent just past the Garden District. We not only got breakfast, but a little tour of that beautiful section of town, which was lovely. They dropped us back at our hotel and we took off for the airport. It's going to be hard to top this weekend, but we will do our best next year!

In August, I actually had a lovely business trip up in New England, staying at a gorgeous B&B on the ocean in New Hampshire. The drive up took only four hours, relatively painless, and the entire trip was great, except for the vicious attacks I suffered at the hands of Red Sox fans. Even clients! It's hard to be a New Yorker in Red Sox Nation, especially so if you're a Yankee fan (and I deliberately left all identifying marks back home, or so I thought!). Even a state trooper harassed me! However, I had a terrific time with my colleagues, dined lavishly (one night overlooking the beach, complete with fireworks!), and hated to leave. We'll do it again next year.

Then came the official end of summer: Labor Day weekend. I had off from Friday through Tuesday, so it was a nice block of time away from the office. I basically took it easy, visiting with different friends daily, except for Monday, which was a total day of rest. Wednesday was back to reality, but I then ended the week with an unexpected and most pleasant client visit in Sheepshead Bay on Friday. This week is the first five day workweek I've had in more than a month, and I've managed to get through the first three days. You know what? After a great summer like this past one, reality TRULY bites!