Saturday, August 31, 2013

New Orleans (May 2013)

After squeezing in a trip to Easter Island, it was time to head back to the States for a two week trip. Because of recent events, we have a lot to fit in. First we are flying to New Orleans for six days. Tom’s sister Jeanne is an OB/GYN doctor and has been elected president of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG). She will be inaugurated at their annual meeting which is being held in New Orleans. From there we fly home to Sacramento and will attend the memorial service and funeral for Tom’s mom and then we go to Los Angeles to see our niece Haley graduate from USC (University of Southern California) and to watch her swim at a meet in Santa Monica before flying back to Santiago. For regular readers of my blog, Haley won the silver medal in the 10K marathon swim at the Olympics in London last year. We will leave Winston with Isabel and her family and the motorhome in Algarrobo at Hans’ place. We are really excited about our trip to New Orleans. Tom has never been there and it is years, 20 or more, since I have. Danny will be joining us for 5 of the days and then travel with us to Sacramento. From Santiago, we will fly into Dallas and on to New Orleans. The flight was uneventful and we actually spend the flight catching up on new movies that we missed seeing while traveling. As the plane descends, we fly over swamp land and then follow the Mississippi River with Lake Pontchartrain in the distance before landing. The city is named after Orléans; a city located on the Loire River in France, and is always on the ten most visited cities in the USA list, every year. Well known for its distinct French Creole architecture as well as its cross-cultural and multilingual heritage, the city is also famous for its cuisine, music (particularly jazz), and its annual celebrations and festivals, most notably Mardi Gras and the Jazz Festival. And we are going to be able to enjoy it with most of the family. In addition to us and Danny, within the next couple of days, all of Toms other siblings will be here along with Jeanne’s two children, Ryan and Erin and Ryan’s fiancé, Sandra. We have booked a suite at the La Quinta in downtown since it has two bedrooms and large enough for us and Danny who arrives tomorrow night. The rest of the family is staying at the Hilton and it is already arranged that we will go there, meet up and have dinner together, this evening. Jeannie and Bruce’s corner penthouse suite at the Hilton also has two bedrooms but is three times the size of ours and is the largest we have seen. From the top floor windows, there are fabulous views of the Mississippi and it is luxurious by anyone’s standards. Over the next few days we spent many times enjoying all the amenities the suite offered as because she is “president elect” she has a lot of entertaining to do and a star feature was an extremely well stocked bar. Dinner is at Brennans in the French Quarter and there are only six of us. Jeannie, Bruce, Tom and I and Ryan and Sandra. Erin has been at the Jazz Festival all day and is exhausted, she lives in France and is battling jet lag, and Brian, Tom’s brother has a flight mix-up and is running late. As we walk to the French Quarter, we are enthralled by all the sights. The French Quarter (known locally as "the Quarter" or Vieux Carré), which dates from the French and Spanish eras, contains many popular hotels, bars, restaurants and nightclubs and the Brennan family own a few different restaurants in the Quarter. New Orleans is world-famous for its food. The indigenous cuisine is distinctive and is the result of centuries of amalgamation from French, Spanish, Italian, African, Native American, Cajun, Chinese, and a hint of Cuban traditions which combine to produce the truly unique and easily recognizable Louisiana flavor. This is the first of many restaurants we will try and we are looking forward to experience the different styles and tastes of the city. Brennans is upscale and impeccable. Food, service and ambiance, it had it all. As we all ate and caught up on one another’s news we make plans for the next few days. Jeanne and Bruce are busy with convention and ACOG business but Ryan and Sandra decide they will accompany us to the Jazz Festival tomorrow along with Brian, Tom’s brother and niece, Erin. It is the final day of the festival and we are fortunate to be able to go for at least one day. Both Tom and I love jazz so we are anticipating some good music, food and of course the company of our family.

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