Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hot Proper Ladies in Hats Take On NOLA

Hot Proper Ladies in Hats
I had one of the most exquisite weekender experiences of my life recently. 

My friend Linda invited a few girlfriends to join her in New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) to help her celebrate her 40th birthday and upcoming nuptials.  I was honored and excited to be included but, what set this girls trip apart from the rest, is that Linda is currently residing in NOLA. 

So – us Angelenos – got to experience N’Oleans not so much as tourists but as locals.

We started off the weekend lunching at the grand dame of New Orleans’ old-line restaurants, Galatoire’s, located right on Bourbon Street.  We arrived eight strong decked out in party dresses and fancy hats ranging from Kentucky Derby to the Royal Wedding.

For more than 100 years, Galatoire’s has catered to NOLA’s high society and last Friday was no exception.  The Galatoire’s experience is less about food – which is French Creole cuisine and delicious – but more about the scene.  My girlfriends and I were tickled pink to see so many grown men dressed in a seersucker suits and straw hats.  Oddly, it did not look out of place with the lime green (with a hint of pea) walls adorned with The Fleur di Lis.

Table-hopping is mandatory and reservations are not accepted for the coveted first floor portion of the restaurant, unless you are the crème de la crème.  We, of course, had a ressie.

Our four hour lunch was filled with intriguing conversation, scrumptious Creole cuisine and the Grand Dame of Champagne flowed like water.  (Which may be why the tête-à-tête was so intriguing.)  I was so sad when our lunch ended because it truly felt like we were royalty and I didn’t want it to end.

However, I didn’t need to shed a tear because, as our little posse traveled down the streets of the French Quarter, it soon became evident that we were still holding court.

My good friend Tracy scheduled a carriage ride through the French Quarter.  However, we stopped in for a quick refreshment to kill time until our chariot arrived. 

At Pat O’Brien’s (also on Bourbon Street), our group of women were officially named Hot Proper Ladies in Hats.  It was so apropos and we all loved the moniker which remained with us all weekend long.

Our driver for the carriage ride was Tracy’s niece, Molly, a young woman who also hails from the Los Angeles area.  As we trotted through the cobblestone streets, Molly revealed a passion for her new home and profession while keeping us enthralled by the rich history and beauty of the landmark city.  It was a beautiful day and, by far, a once in lifetime experience.

Afterward, we bounced around the French Quarter some more and eventually found ourselves back home at Linda’s house before it was too, too late.

The next morning, we all slept in and enjoyed a lazy morning.  The city was under fire by severe thunder showers and it was surreal for me to just lie in bed and listen to the boom of thunder, crack of lightening and the drumming of the rain.

Linda’s rental house in itself was almost as interesting as the buildings we saw during our carriage ride.  The home, which was built in the mid-1800s, was a showpiece.

Three stories high with a myriad of rooms and hallways, it was easy to forget which century I was actually in as I lay in bed watching the colors of the stain glass window in my room filter the shadows of the rain.

It was such a relaxing day that it was almost hard to get ourselves out bed…I mean the door … to explore, but I am so glad that we finally did. 

Linda, who takes her new residency very seriously, was just as knowledgeable about NOLA as Molly. As we drove through her neighborhood – the Lower Garden District, and then onto the Garden District, Uptown (the Bel Air of NOLA), Audubon Place (an exclusive gated community next to Tulane University that boasts mansions as big as college halls) – she pointed out non-stop historical landmarks to significant cultural references as well as celebrity homes.

We ended our tour in New Orleans’s most haunted cemetery, St. Louise #1.  The day was grey and dreary; the perfect time to traipse through rows and rows of crypts that memorialized lost souls from the early 19th century.  However, our friend Jen, who is a conduit to the afterlife, let us know that there were more spirits floating around Linda’s house than the actual cemetery.

The rest of the trip was a blast and our fantastic weekend ended with a celebratory dinner for Linda and a night out listening to live jazz by local musicians.

On the last night of the trip, as I snuggled down into bed, I couldn’t get Jen’s comments about the lost souls in Linda’s house out of my head.

I wasn’t disputing her claims at all because I kept hearing heavy breathing in my room late at night when everyone was asleep. Now, I could be rest assured knowing it was just a spirit but, can you blame him, with all those Hot Proper Ladies in Hats staying in Linda’s haunted house?

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