New Orleans: Celebrating a Princess's Birthday in a Fabled City.
Neither one of us wanted a big party at home. We both knew she would just be working her tail off to make sure everybody had a good time. I wanted HER to have not just a good time -- but a great time.
New Orleans is a story in itself. But I write here not so much about New Orleans but primarily about Barbara's birthday celebration in an ancient, fabled city. And it is less "write" and more letting photos tell the story. And so here we go:
|Here we are on Bourbon St. in the French Quarter. Our hotel, the Royal Sonesta, is across the street.|
The princess in the Royal Sonesta lobby -- with properly uniformed servants.
Milady in the lobby of the Royal Sonesta Hotel.
For Barbara's actual birthday dinner, I had tipped off the restaurant managers that this was her big day -- and they went all out. Bowing and scraping before the princess, they presented her with a special birthday desert.
At the after-dinner jazz performance, the female singer of the jazz group, shown below, suddenly looked at Barbara and said, " happy birthday, Barbara" -- and began singing happy birthday to her. The whole audience joined in.
How did the jazz singer know it was Barbara's birthday? I tipped her off, of course. Barbara was taken totally by surprise. And, judging by her huge, nonstop smile, she was okay with it -- maybe more than that.
I was surprised she was surprised. Earlier at lunch I had pulled the same trick. Saying that I had to go to the men's room, I clued in the restaurant staff that it was her birthday. In no time at all, the staff surrounded our table singing happy birthday and presenting Barbara with a birthday cake with lit candles.
Here are photos of Barbara with a New Orleans lunch fit for a princess and fellow diners clapping.
Now scenes of Bourbon Street's non-stop partying, street artists, music, and crowds -- and you never know what.
The police were on duty, but they never took me aside. They give street performers a lot a leeway. While the non-stop street entertainment is risque for sure, the police also know that it draws the free-spending crowds that feed the New Orleans economy.
However, I was taken aback by the human sculpture giving me the finger and the near-naked woman enticing and posing with passersby.
Stop! Don't go away. Let me make up for the risque scenes with more respectable ones.
Another big highlight was meeting Nicky Connor in New Orleans and spending the day with her. She is shown above with Barbara taking in a common sight, a colorful horse drawn carriage. Nicky and her sister Kim grew up next door to our house in Worcester, Mass. As little girls, they used to knock on our door and ask if I could come out and play. After big snowstorms, the three of us would build a big snowman in our front yard.
Great memories. But now, having graduated from WPI with a BS and MS in biomedical engineering, Nicky is all grown up and living in Baton Rouge and starting a new job at LSU. At LSU, Nicky is a clinical associate at the university's health science cancer center.
Nicky came and picked us up and chauffeured us all over the place. She took us to her favorite restaurant where the three of us had lunch, talked of the old days, laughed, and had a ball. At interesting places, we got out and walked. In the course of the day, we probably walked 10 miles!
Following are photos from our great day with Nicky:
One day we spent most of the afternoon on a guided tour of the site. The driver of the van, born in New Orleans and lived there his whole life, told story after story as he took us to old above-ground cemeteries, along the path of Hurricane Katrina, through old neighborhoods, past the home of Brad Pitt. (There was no sign of him, bummer.)
In the photo below, he explains why burials are above ground. The October 5 cover of the New York Times Magazine summed it up this way: "Every hour, an acre of Louisiana sinks into the sea."
We also took the the St. Charles streetcar, the oldest in the world, it's entire distance and back. For $1.25 each in exact change, we could ride the streetcar all day, getting off and on at interesting stops. We got off and walked around some of New Orlean's oldest, most beautiful, storied neighborhoods.
Following are photos from our streetcar hopping:
The last photo was a panorama of the swimming pool at the Royal Sonesta. Quite a change from Bourbon Street just steps away outside. I had some great swims while Barbara watched, read, looked around, and was at peace. I even caught her napping.
Mission accomplished? I hope so.