A lot of the time, having visitors means that you'll be spending a lot of time enjoying the NOLA nightlife, bar hopping, listening to tunes and listening to friends talk about how they can't believe they're actually walking down the street with an alcoholic drink in their hand. It's usually a long weekend of drinking and eating, and while that's all fine and good, I find that the older I get, the more recuperation time I need. After saying goodbye to friends at the airport, you can probably find me falling face-down onto my bed, where I will need to take the world's most glorious and restorative nap.
While that kind of thing can be exhausting, it's usually pretty easy to please – unless you are met with other visitors, such as my little brother. He's not the partying type, so it means that I have to get a bit creative. Over the Easter weekend, he and my sister-in-law made the trek down from Ohio – in order to get away from their grad school blues, as they were on spring break. I knew that things would probably be a bit different when we went to the pub on Thursday night for dinner. Instead of staying out until 2 AM as per usual with spring breakers, he looked at his watch at around 9 and was like, "time to go?"
I admit, I was relieved, as I would actually get sleep that night. I also accepted the challenge of how I was going to entertain these guys for a whole weekend. Here's a rundown.
• Bookshops/Comic store – My brother and sister-in-law have been poor college/grad students for about as long as I've lived down here, so we had to do cheap things. I couldn't take them on a shopping spree on Magazine St. Instead, we explored several used bookshops in the French Quarter – places I've never been before. Places that seemed like they belonged in an Indiana Jones movie or The Goonies.
Most of these shops have seriously narrow aisles with piles and piles of books everywhere. I kept thinking that somewhere, buried underneath the hundreds and hundreds of old tomes, was a real Neverending Story-like book. I also took them to my favorite comic shop, Crescent City Comics over on Freret St.. It's always nice having my brother around so that we can speak in our own fluent nerd language.
• Scenic drives – Garden District, Magazine Street, Freret Street, Esplanade Avenue, Bayou St. John. We drove all around the city, looking at the architecture and pointing out famous landmarks. I'm sure I was about as accurate in my story-telling as any of the spooky history tours in the French Quarter, except I was much cheaper. Everything I said was probably at least 80% true.
• City Park – My sister-in-law, Jenn, was fascinated by the Spanish moss on the trees. I had to admit, it is pretty beautiful. I'm reminded each time someone comes to town, of how I felt when I first moved here, still enamored by all the little unique details of the area. And you can easily make a day out of the park, as there's so much to do – there's the rides, the museum, sculpture garden and my fave, "City Putt." As kids, my brother and I loved us some miniature golf, and it never gets old.
• Crescent City Park – This park is by my house, with the "rusty rainbow". It has an amazing view of the river and the city skyline. You can also burn off the thousands of calories consumed in Creole food and Easter candy by running up and down the steps over and over again. Or perhaps crawling up and down the steps – it was probably more like that.
• The Food – We mainly stuck to neighborhood staples for food, as it's relatively affordable. Markey's, Pizza Delicious, Booty's, The Joint and Piety Street Sno-balls all made the list. I was excited for that last one, because it was my first sno-ball of the year, and the Vietnamese coffee flavor with sweetened condensed milk is my favorite summer treat.
• Parades – On Easter Sunday I was very excited to take my brother and sister-in-law to their very first New Orleans parades. I try to get them to come down for Mardi Gras every year, but they can never make it, so Easter had to do. It was cool because there was supposed to be three different parades and we were planning on making them all, but the first one never actually showed up. Chris Owens, however, did not disappoint, and Jenn was showered with beads, stuffed animals and plastic eggs filled with candy. We also made sure to stick around for the Gay Easter Parade, which was about as far as you can get from the boring and stuffy Easter Sundays that my brother and I remember from back home. It was wonderful.
• Drive-thru daiquiri – The most risque part of the weekend. My sister-in-law's friends had trouble believing that this was an actual thing, so we were in a "pics or it didn't happen" situation. I made sure to take her to get a daiquiri so that she could produce solid evidence back home.
All in all, I think I was successful. Hell, they even want to move here.