At long last: Trip Report, October 26–November 1, 2010
After working through Monday night and catching an early flight, we arrived at Louis Armstrong International Airport around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. We were in a cab heading to the Quarter by 10:45 and walking through the doors of Olivier House by 11:15 a.m.
We headed straight to the river. Its what I used to do as ritual but somewhere along the way I think I took it for granted. I wanted to reclaim the simple sweetness. Breezy, Bethanie, and I sat for time on a bench at the Moon Walk while a soft drizzle fell and the river soothed our souls.
We went from there to El Gato Negro, a wonderful Mexican restaurant located on lower Decatur, just across from the French Market. Sadly, this place has ruined us for Mexican food anywhere close to home. Nothing compares. We started with an appetizer of Queso Fundido con Chorizo.
Entrees for all of us were Chicken Enchiladas.
I’m guilty of never having tried anything else there. People often wonder why we get so excited about Mexican food in a city like New Orleans where there are so many specialty dishes. My answer would be this: we make those dishes at home on a regular basis. Mexican food? Not so much. Not to mention the hand-squeezed Margaritas.
After lunch, we passed an hour or two walking through the Quarter, just feasting our senses, so happy to be there again after a 7 month absence. It was a beautiful, sunny day, about 86 degrees. We picked up groceries and headed back to the house.
Olivier House is my favorite hotel in the French Quarter. I’ve stayed in many others. I’ve rented spacious antique-filled apartments, but there is something about this house that I love. I’ve felt that way since the first time I stayed there. Olivier House has been owned since the early 70’s by the Danner’s, a family that I’ve grown to love. Seeing them is always a joy. The house that weekend seemed to have about 50% repeat guests. This never surprises me. It is also host to European travelers. Again, no surprise. Writers, artists, and musicians seem to gravitate there. Francis Ford Coppola was a regular guest until he purchased his own French Quarter home. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, Robert Olen Butler, has written a book about his stay in room 303 that is yet to be published. The house is fabulous yet unpretentious– elegant and bohemian all in one fell swoop.
The history of the house is fascinating. You can read a very condensed version here: History of Olivier House. The house was once over-taken by Union soldiers in the War Between the States but thankfully, it was not destroyed.
From a Toulouse Street sidewalk, you walk through a massive doorway into the beautiful entry. A glorious chandelier hangs from a 16 foot ceiling. To the left are tropical potted plants flanking a massive mirror. To the right is an antique sofa covered in red velvet. If I close my eyes, I can almost imagine being there. It smells like history with a pinch of cloves, blended with something exotic from the tropics. Just ahead, beyond the desk, the main courtyard is visible, lush with banana trees and all kinds of greenery.
Halfway through the entry to the right is the parlor. Music plays softly day and night. In the evenings when the breeze off the river cools the air, the fireplace is lit and everywhere you look there is candle light. We spend many evenings “in”. The draw of the parlor is simply too persuasive.
Once home in the late afternoon, the girls fell asleep. We had worked through Monday night, finished packing, and went straight to the airport Tuesday morning. None of us had slept. While the girls rested, I worked on some finishing touches for Halloween costumes. When the girls woke from their nap, we all decided that eating again sounded like a great idea.
We went downstairs, stepped out into the warm air and headed to Angeli on Decatur. The girls ordered Linguini Alfredo with Chicken.
I had a beautiful Grilled Chicken Salad.
The food was delicious, as usual, and service was very good.
Here’s a cool balcony we saw on the way home:
It’s a pirate ship, complete with creepy little guy walking the plank. I love the shadow on the building.
Once home, we spent a relaxing evening at home enjoying the familiar balcony view.
All too soon, sleep overtook us.