Education Outside LA – NOLA

The lovely ladies of the PAA made their way to the exciting city of New Orleans April 4-7, beginning the festivities with a welcome reception at the hotel featuring a selection of wines and an “artfully arranged tray of crudites.” Wow. No expense spared here. Our first dinner was around the corner from the hotel in a private dining room of Antoine’s Restaurant built in the late 1700’s. Yes, older than us.
The next day we toured the French Quarter on foot. The two hours of walking earned us a light lunch of beignets and lattes. Our minibus picked us up and drove us to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art — 3 floors of inspiring art. That night’s dinner was at the Napoleon House Bar & Cafe. Again, a private upstairs room with champagne and house specialty Pimm’s Cup. This restaurant defines “vintage.” Yes, as do we.
On Wednesday we walked to the 100-year-old St. Charles Avenue street car which rumbled past some of the South’s most prized real estate. Met our guide across from the cemetery and he was a hoot and a holler. Soooooo funny but assured us he knew his history and regaled us with many stories of New Orleans, the houses, the paint colors, the movie stars who lived there, and MORE. We then descended upon the New Orleans Museum of Art with a docent-led tour, again 3 stories, and excellent gift shop. Stunning outdoor sculpture gardens. But wait, it actually gets better!! Preservation Hall which looked older than Methuselah was a joy. R-Lene assured me that the $50 price for the front row tix was the only way to go, and it was, except for the rickety backless wooden benches. R-Lene was right—it was a blast!! More walking to the Hotel Roosevelt, built in 1893, cocktails, then dinner next door at Dominica Restaurant. Highlight of the trip—we were asked by the hostess if we would like to walk down the long hallway to our private dining room or take the short cut through the kitchen. Of course, we said kitchen and when the doors opened, the kitchen exploded with all the chefs and sous chefs banging on their pots and pans and rattling plates together and cheering for us. Well, we gave it right back to them and applauded them. So much fun!!!!! Just like home.
Thursday, we started with a plantation tour and another highlight of the trip was the private collection of a real Southern gentleman who had art to rival any museum. He had a very contemporary home that was devoted to his collection and we were all awed by the breadth of it. I wanted to put him on our guest list for the benefit but they wouldn’t let me. Maybe next year—I still have his address. Farewell dinner at Galatrois on Bourbon Street where we hung out on the balcony and laughed and waved at all our fans below. I think this is where we had Turtle Soup.
On our last day we visited the #1 tourist attraction in New Orleans—World War II Museum. They partnered with Disney to create this masterpiece, and it showed. Yes, a few tears were shed. Super yummy cafe. We got our overworked bus driver to take us to Longue Vue House & Gardens. It consists of 14 separate gardens arranged throughout the 8 acres of beautifully maintained property, embellished with fountains, architectural flourishes and pathways. A National Historic Landmark—just like us!
Thank you all for being well-mannered and not too loud. The entire trip was a pleasure. Don’t miss out next year!

Mary Alexander

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