My father is a good man. In fact, the dedication of my latest novel is made “To my father, Bob Cotto – the best man I know.” What occurred to me, post-dedication, was why wasn’t I spending more time with the best man I know? So, when this June rolled around, marking his 80th birthday the same week as Father’s Day, I suggested a vacation.
Just us. Father & son. A Dad-Cation.
We kicked around a couple of ideas, but settled on New Orleans due to our love of food, music, and drink. I’m a huge believer in the importance of accommodations when traveling since where you stay sets the tone for the trip and informs the sense of place that matters when, well, displaced. So, I booked us rooms at Maison de la Luz on Carondelet Street in the Warehouse District. The hotel is brand new and affiliated with the Ace Hotel next door.
I love Ace Hotels, and especially the NOLA location, but my dad, though forever hip, probably wouldn’t dig the well-heeled hipster vibe on full parade at the Ace. The Maison de la Luz was the perfect solution. It’s like an Ace Hotel for (real) adults. Elegant and funky, housed in a formidable brick edifice that was once City Hall, the luminous space has been refurbished for modern times in elegance and glorious, funky, swank. It even has a speakeasy accessed through a rotating bookshelf.
So cool. So my dad. And the perfect home base for our NOLA adventures.
And our adventures involved lazy mornings around the hotel, reservations for lunch and dinner at desired eateries, some museums and trolley rides out to destinations, mid-afternoon oysters, late afternoon naps, and post-dinner jazz clubs in the French Quarter or Frenchman Street.
Crash. Wake. Repeat. Boom!
Each day felt like a great weekend, and three nights was the perfect amount of time together. I hadn’t spent this much time with my father, alone, perhaps ever, and it was like a buddy trip; we were partners, each other’s wingman, tearing up that town like a two-person wrecking crew who also happen to be father & son.
We shared some secrets and bared our souls a bit; we talked about some silly shit and reminisced about our family’s unconventional story; we spoke of those we’ve lost and those we’ve been fortunate to find; we drank French 75s and Sazeracs and martinis; we washed down exquisite meals with glasses of wine and ended those meals with digestives. There were comfortable periods where we didn’t talk, among the rattle and hum of streetcars, the din of restaurant ambiance, and rhythm sections backing horns. And all along, it was just me and my father…the best man I know.
We don’t do mushy, so there were no emoji moments. At the airport, we exchanged a hug, agreed upon having had a great time, and made a promise to do it again soon. Dad-Cation 2.0. Where should we go?
I’m thinking NOLA again…In case you are thinking about NOLA, here are the deets on what we did:
Where we stayed:
Masion de la Luz / 546 Carondelet Street (Warehouse District)
Where we ate & drank:
Galatoir’s – 209 Bourbon Street (French Quarter)
Upperline – 1413 Upperline Street (Uptown)
Arnaud’s – 813 Rue Bienville (French Quarter)
Commander’s Palace – 1403 Washington Avenue (Garden District)
Seaworthy – 630 Carondelet Street (Warehouse District)
Luke – 333 St. Charles Street (Warehouse District)
Herbsaint – 701 St. Charles Avenue (Warehouse District)
Willa Jean – 611 O’Keefe Avenue (Warehouse District)
Where we listened:
The Spotted Cat – 621 Frenchman Street (Marigny)
21st Amendment – 725 Iberville Street (French Quarter)
Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub – 733 Bourbon Street (French Quarter)
d.b.a. – 618 Frenchman Street (Marigny)