Lafayette Cemetery No1 – New Orleans, Louisiana

The Layfayette Cemetary No1 is located in the heart of the Garden District in New Orleans. Which was established at the time of the neighborhood (1833) to bury the family members of the wealthy land owners who built the area up to what it is today. Similar to other famous cemeteries in the area, the burial is done in tombs above ground. The thing that I particularly like about this one above others is that there are trees, and thus it is not in the blazing sun while you tour. It is also the cemetery used in the filming of Interview with a Vampire.

The practices of above ground burial is not uncommon world wide, though it is a bit here in the states. The reasons why the local folks chose above ground burial traditionally is varied, ask anyone and you will get a different answer. But I would image to a certain degree all reasons have some merit and probably played into the decision. For more information check out Prairie Ghosts site.

Regardless of the reasons why, it really is a lovely little plot of land. A large number of companies will provide walking tours if you are interested. I don’t always suggest such a thing but we really enjoyed the one we partook in and would highly suggest using them if you are interested.

The tours provide not only information about the burial practices and types of tombs but also history of some of the more famous residents, so you also get a good deal of local history which I found really interesting. I have been on a few tours, in a few different local cemeteries and this was by far my favorite.  It also happens to be across the street from the Commander’s Palace, famed brunch and jazz location.

Additional Information

  • Google Maps lists address as: Prytania St New Orleans, LA 70130
  • In reality it is a square block between Washington Ave, Prytania St, 6th St and Coliseum St.
  • Take precaution, heat stroke is really common.  Always wear a hat and sunscreen.
  • Muggings are common in all the cemeteries due to the nature of the environment so never go at night and always go with a group.
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Garden District – New Orleans, Louisiana

The Garden District in New Orleans is 250 acres of sprawling mansions, tree lined streets and the most relaxed atmosphere imaginable. Quite the change from the beautiful but very crowded and cramped French Quarter.

Originally established in 1833 on plantation land bought and developed by wealthy tradesmen from all over the country. Who mind you built their large mansions here rather than the French Quarter to avoid interacting with the Creoles.  It wasn’t until 1852 that the area was annexed to become a part of New Orleans. As such everything about the area is a far cry from what you would expect if all you know of New Orleans is the French Quarter.

The large plots still intact with the original Victorian architecture feels like something about of a movie. Which it is in fact often a part of a movie as filming in this area is quite common, as are celebrities, many of whom live in the area. Sandra Bullock being one of them. I did see her house, though not her. Which is too bad, I swear if she just gave me a chance we would be the best of friends.

But the Garden District isn’t just fancy houses and old trees. It is also home to the Lafayette Cemetery No1.  A beautiful example of the traditional above ground burial practices in the area, which also happens to be tree lined and fully shaded unlike the ones in the French Quarter. Uptown, though not a part of the official Garden District is just a hop skip or street car ride down the road and is filled with local shops and restaurants. Food every bit as good as other parts of town, but with more local flair, less touristy.

Many companies offer walking tours of the area which I will admit is kind of fun. There is so much history it is nice to just take a stroll while learning something. Though if you are on a budget there are any number of self guided walking tour printouts you can find on the internet.

If you are looking to experience some of the charm and beauty of the area but you don’t want to listen to party people shouting all night this is the place for you. Quite, beautiful, clean, and safe. Perfect.

Flora Nola – New Orleans, Louisiana

I wanted to split my New Orleans posts up between the north side of Canal Street and the south side. Or more specifically the French Quarter and the Garden District. They are both really fantastic parts of the city but with very different atmospheres. I love the French Quarter, but there is something really special about the Garden District and if you are looking for a more quiet experience of the city sticking to the south end of Canal Street is really advised.

So for no reason other than getting to share some pictures of the flora of the area, here is a ridiculous amount of pictures of plants. The picture above was taken closer to Tulane University right off the main path of the Audubon Park. If you are in the area with young kids this would be a great place to spend some time, there is a zoo, a golf course, a nature institute and I am fairly certain the park as a whole is larger than Central Park, don’t quote me on it though. I had to take a picture of the tree above because my eyes just about popped out of my head when I realized how big it was. From this angle you can see that it stretches from one side of the street to the other but on the other side it also stretches across the next street over AND around the house which shares the property line.

The above picture was just down the street in the same neighborhood. It is of a Norfolk Pine (you know those little potted trees you see around at Christmas) well it was at least 20 feet tall. Never in my life have I seen such a large one!

Back over in the Garden District you will see these palm leaves every where, not just in plant form but on wrought iron every where you look. It was a popular pattern during the architectural booms of the city and such a great tribute to the area.

I honestly have no idea what type of leaf this is, but I just loved the vibrant green and curling edges. I found it sitting on a path in the Lafayette Cemetery. Which is full of these gorgeous trees. Did I mention too that this was in November, as someone from the Pacific North West it is so lovely seeing so much green when I had just left so much brown and grey.

These little ferns you can see popping up all over garden walls, house walls, steps and tombstones. Really anywhere, though it always amazes me that life finds a way in the worst growing conditions.

Oleander, deadly and so beautiful. And smells so amazing, though a lot of people are terribly allergic.

I just could not get enough of all the plants, over grown and lush. So incredibly. I could and did spend entire days walking around just looking at plants. If you love the outdoors, love plants/flowers or just enjoy spending your vacations strolling around aimlessly with a cup of coffee the Garden District is the place for you.

French Quarter – New Orleans, Louisiana

I have never been to a place like New Orleans, where just a few blocks away from where you stand you feel like you are a whole world away. Even between several of the Garden District neighborhoods the change in environment is stark. From one side of the Canal Street to the other it’s like being in two very different parts of Europe, all while standing next to the Mississippi River Delta.

The French Quarter, or the north(ish) side of Canal street is in a lot of ways why people come to New Orleans and for good reason. It is gorgeous. Built by the French, in the French style, while Louisiana was a French territory. And it is home to Bourbon street, named as such after the Bourbon Royal line in France, the ever popular party spot. But the district is so much more than just late night drinking.

It changed hands over the years between France, Spain, France again and then finally the United States via the Louisiana Purchase (which included just about the entire middle of the country and a small portion of Canada). As such the history of the area is long and sordid. As well as ridiculously beautiful.

My favorite part of the day is always morning, while everyone else sleeps I like to walk around and experience the world while it is quiet and empty. This is my favorite way to experience the French Quarter, poking my head around every corner discovering all the hidden gems of the area.

It is also a VERY popular filming location everything from the classics like A Street Car Named Desire to the more current American Horror Story. So for all the movie buffs out there if you are planning on taking a trip check out this site to find the must see set locations.

If you aren’t the intrepid explorer type like I am, the area obviously houses any number of other ways to entertain yourself. From top notch food, a variety of museums or of course the night clubs. If you are looking for something other than random wandering check out the French Quarter Website. And maybe if you have a little extra time just stop and look around for a second, I bet you will see something beautiful and unexpected.

Greystone Mansion – Los Angeles, California

Back in June my husband had to be in Los Angeles for work so I tagged a long for a semi cheap vacation. I did a lot of walking while down there, since he had the rental car and I was mostly on my own. I spent a lot of that time wandering around the Sunset Blvd. And one of those ended (not really ended because I had to walk back) at Greystone Mansion. Greystone is the former home of Ned Doheny, son of oil tycoon Edward Doheny .  Ned’s life ended in scandal in a mysterious murder suicide with his male secretary only a short while after having moved into his newly completed home.

He was survived by his wife and five children. The house is now a city park, or at least the grounds are. The house itself is used privately for events and not open to the public normally. Though tours can be arranged through the Friends of Greystone, the organization that currently manages the park.

However the grounds are free to the public for 10am to 6pm daily. To see the interior of the building however, you can check out the wide array of movies and TV shows that used the location. Such as my all time favorite Gilmore Girls, where it was used as Rory’s high school, Chilton Academy. It was also used as the Royal Children’s Hospital in Star Trek into Darkness, where can watch Benedict Cumberbatch stand outside the building looking ever so dreamy.

The rules of the grounds are quite strict. Though given how incredible they are and how impeccably well kept I can’t blame them. No dog, picnics, skate boarding allowed. And professional photography is only allowed via permit attained at the park office (so please forgive my unprofessional photos, which they always are, because I am lazy).

To get into the grounds you surprisingly go past the main gate up the road….and turn left. Then continue up past the house to the parking lot. The hill is steep, and I was on foot. I thought I was going to keel over, I was so thrilled when I got to the top and caught my breath enough to enjoy the gardens. I walked all over the grounds, snapping unprofessional photos and enjoying the view.

The mansions exterior is stunning. I walked so far around the grounds I wound up at the bottom of the property on the inside of the main gate, which was not an exit. I was promptly turned back around by the security guard and told to exit the same way I came in. Which was at the top of the giant hill I had just walked up and down. I may have whimpered a bit at the realization that I had to walk back up it. Oh well, I took the stairs with my chin held high, well I was actually watching the stairs because I was about 8 miles into my day and my legs were getting a little jello-ie.

The voyeuristic side of me wished I could have toured the interior. And I may have more than once tried to tiptoe through the rose bushes to see into the windows. That being said, the grounds were truly stunning and the view unforgettable. For everyone with time on their hands and an affinity for architecture or garden design I would highly suggest a visit.

Sunset Blvd – Los Angeles, California

Back in June of last year as I have mentioned in the previous few posts we were in LA for a part work part play trip. We were also lucky enough to stay with extended family rather than the hotel my husbands office wanted to put us up in.

So while we was off working for half the week (with our rental car) I was on foot. Luckily the house we were fortunate enough to stay in was in a nice part of town and near some pretty  fabulous areas to walk, the Sunset strip being one of them.

The strip, long famous for its night clubs such as the Viper Room, is still packed with venues of all sorts. But the streets are clean, the sidewalks wide and it is dotted with shops, countless restaurants, and plenty of watering holes if you fancy yourself a drink.

I spent a couple days walking around the area, one day I walked east and found myself down at the Farifax Farmers Market. And another day I walked west and found myself on palm lined streets of Beverly Hills.

My favorite spot to stop was of course the book store called Book Soup which famously takes its name from the Groucho Marx movie Duck Soup. I went to the store more than once, wandering around the winding stacks. I never did quite figure out their system. There was certainly a fiction section in the center of the store. Off to the right seemed to be books on California and celebrity biographies. Where as the left offered up art books of all kinds. I didn’t buy any books as I was already toting three library books with me, but I bought some fabulous cards to send to some friends in the upcoming months.

Needless to say, whether you are a person who likes urban hiking like myself or if you would rather tour via a tour bus. Or anything in between, I think the Sunset Strip is well worth exploration while in Los Angeles. There is a lot of see, a lot to eat and plenty of opportunities to see filming locations or possible celebrity sightings.

Pioneertown, California

I am a huge fan of strange and unique sites and my family is a huge fans of old westerns.  So when I stumbled on the existence of Pioneertown an old live in western town movie set that happened to be pretty close to Palm Springs I jumped on the chance to take my family while we were already down there for a hiking trip.

 

The town was built up in the 1940s and it include several blocks of a an old western town, a sound stage, a functioning blowing ally and post office as well as a working restaurant. The restaurant Pappy and Harriett’s Pioneertown Palace started as a movie set cantina but continues today as a popular restaurant and music venue.

 

Most of the building while interactive are mostly facade’s. You can go into the store fronts but not much more and the heights are all faked to look real by scale but in fact are not true to life two story buildings.

It felt a little bit like being in Disneyland’s Frontierland, which makes sense because it was a movie set meant to evoke a feeling while also being compact and manageable. Much like Disneyland as a whole. We spent about an hour poking around the buildings pretending we were in old movies, dashing between sets and running down the dirt road. We had planned on having dinner at Pappy & Harriett’s but sadly we forgot to check their hours and open days and they were closed. So we hungrily drove back into Palm Springs and had dinner back in the valley. Moral of the story the restaurant and the set is worth the trip but make sure you check the restaurants open hours before you drive up because it does take a bit to get there.

Address and Additional Information: It doesn’t really have an address since it is an unincorporated community in the Morongo Basin but here are the coordinates 34°9′26″N 116°29′41″W.

 

 

Baixa – Lisbon, Portugal

Another one of my favorites in Lisbon was the Baixa neighborhood. This is the area of town that was flattened during the giant earthquake in 1755. When it was rebuilt it was rebuilt in the “modern” style (modern for the time) and with straight roads. It is one of the only areas of Lisbon with straight roads. It reminded me a lot of the main shopping district in Vienna, though Vienna’s pedestrian only shopping street seems to be endless, where as Lisbon’s is just the right size.

The central street is a pedestrian only street choc-a-bloc full of restaurants, cafes and shops. The side streets off the main pedestrian only space are also pedestrian only, though as you get further out more and more streets have car traffic as well. At one end you have the Terreiro Do Paço a public square on the waterfront that is ringed by cafes and restaurants. And at the other end a rather busy square that houses hotels, public transit stops and the Rossio Train Station.

The mix of architecture in the area is overwhelming, sings from the 1920’s standing on buildings built in the 1700s and everything in between. The main square which I think may be called Rossio Square though I couldn’t find any definitive information, has a large fountain in the center and is surrounded by a stunning array of services from old shoe shops, tabaco shops, modern hotels, pawn shops, fancy restaurants, bars,  jewelers, and even a McDonalds.

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The apartments at the top of each building in the square reminded of apartment’s in Paris though I suppose that shouldn’t have been surprising given they probably belong to the same architectural time.

We spent a lot of time in the Baixa, it was close to where we were staying and given the time of year and that it is a fairly bustling tourist hub a lot of the services were open where other areas may not have been. There were loads of shops for me to spend my evenings wandering around in, as a non night-scene person it was really nice to have a reason to be out without all the drama of bars and clubs. There was also this ridiculously cute pug having a ride about town.

There was also several pastry shops that we visited on more than one occasion. They were crowded and frenetic and made amazing coffee. They were always stuffed full of locals and severed everything from pizza to Portuguese pastries like our favorite, Chocolate Salami.

Chocolate Salami in fact has nothing to do with meat but is a chocolate fudgy dessert that is rolled up with cookies and nuts and then sliced to serve.  We ate a lot of it, and I mean A LOT OF IT. I think I probably had some everyday. Lisbon is known for the Pastel De Nata which are very good but I Chocolate Salami really blew me away.

Part of the draw for me to the Baixa was the use of it in the filming of the Spanish Language TV show El Tiempo Entre Costuras or The Time In Between. Which is adapted from the book of the same name. Most of the show is filmed on location in Moracco and Madrid but the later part of the story heavily highlights Portugal and Lisbon and Estoril were used in filming.

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One such filming location, though technically in the Chiado district it is only a block or so down from the Baixia, is the glove shop Luvaria Ulisses which has been operational since 1925. As a lover of all things Art Deco I knew I had to go there and buy a pair of handmade gloves. The shop is so tiny there is only room for the shop attendant and one or two customers. What you see below is literally the whole shop, when you walk in there is nothing more but the small door to the closet like stockroom. But it was charming and wonderful and we all of course walked out with gloves.

 

 

Twin Peaks-ing in Washington

As a happy accident my best friend decided to get married at the Salish Lodge, which to the happy couple was a place of retreat and celebration throughout their relationship. But to me was in fact, the exterior filming site for the Great Northern Lodge in David Lynch’s epic cult classic TV show Twin Peaks.

**A damn fine cup of coffee**

 

I have been a fan of Twin Peaks since the very first time I heard the theme music play while watching the show for the very first time. The show itself has managed to drum up thousands of oddly obsessed fans world wide. There is something uniquely special and easily identifiable about the show and the themes that drive the story. As such, rather than fans, the show has the kinds of crazed fanatics that make pilgrimages to filming locations. Which is exactly who I am and exactly what I did at the end of August 2016.

**I am clearly underwhelmed by my experience (except not at all)**

We didn’t have a lot of time to spend in the area, as we were both fairly busy at work and couldn’t take any time off to drive all over Washington to see every single filming location in the state. And truth be told not all filming locations are in Washington, a large portion of sites are actually in California.

**Look at that fine example of 80’s neon lighting**

My main intent for the trip (aside from attending a wedding) was to visit the famous Double R Diner. Which is currently named Twede’s Café and is not in fact the original diner from the show.

 

**Twede’s exterior shot**

Thompson’s Café was built in the early 1940’s. The pilot for David Lynch’s television show was filmed at the original café, but sets were built to look exactly like the café in California for the remainder of the shooting. The café changed hands over the years and was bought by a couple who renamed the location Twede’s Café.

**Twede’s**

However in 2000 the location burnt down, and was then rebuilt. I am happy to report that since the rebuilt the owners have attempted to insert some Twin Peaks-ness into it. It is as expected a greasy spoon type diner, and loved every minuet of my visit.

**Crazy diner interiors, I love them all**

 

 

As I mentioned the wedding later that weekend took place at the Salish Lodge. Which was used for exterior film scenes and the site of the famous waterfall in the intro of the show. I was fairly busy with wedding attendant duties, but did manage to take a couple shots between photo shoots.

**Snoqualmie Falls**

For more Washington film locations you can visit these sites:

Laura Palmers House is located at: 708 33rd St, Everett, WA.

Double R Diner(ish): Twede’s Café North Bend, Washinton.

Exterior of Great Northern and Waterfall: Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie, Washington.

Interior Filming of the Great Northern:Kiana Lodge in Poulsbo, Washington

Ronnett’s Bridge: Snoqualmie River on the Reinig Bridge in Snoqualmie, Washington.

Roadhouse Exteriors: Fall City Roadhouse and Inn in Fall City, Washington.

Roadhouse Interiors:Raisbeck Performance Hall at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington.

How I Made My Friend Marry An Ax Murderer – San Francisco, California

One of my all time favorite movies is So I Married An Ax Murderer, and lucky for me many of my friends equally enjoy this 90s romcom (is it really a romcom?). And in a perfect storm of movie madness a number of years ago one of my closest friends who also loved the movie moved to San Francisco. So of course the first thing I did once she was properly settled was visit her and then visit all the film sites quoting the movie and taking ridiculous pictures.

In our defense we are probably insane. Also in our defense we did do other things, sort of. Like visit film locations from the movie Vertigo.

We visited the Fog City Diner and quoted the entire conversation from the movie. Then we walked away in broad daylight on a sunny day saying “It’s really raining out here!”

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**Fog City Diner from So I Married an Ax Murderer**

We visited the Palace of Royal Arts, and did terrible dance moves while saying “evillllle, like froo-its of the devil, evil” and “come Nadia, let’s dance like the spirits of the night”.

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**Palace of Fine Arts**

We even went to Alcatraz and kept commenting on what a great tour guide we had but that we were expecting “John Johnson, or Vickie” as most people know him. Did I mention we are insane?

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**This guy was so not Phil Hartman**

Like I said we did do other things too, like visit the Cliff House and Haight-Asbury Street. As well as the California Palace of Legion of Honor  and the Presidio from Vertigo. Surprisingly we managed to fill nearly a whole week visiting film locations and cackling at our own jokes. It was one of my favorite trips of all time.

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**20 something me making friends with a lion outside the California Palace of the Legion of Honor**

In case you are also a lover of this classic Mike Myers film, and want to visit some of the filming locations I have included all our favorite sites below.

  • Fog City Diner – 1300 Battery St, San Francisco, CA 94111
  • Alcatraz Island – San Francisco Pier 33 – Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, CA 94111
  • Coit Tower – 1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94133
  • Palace of Fine Arts Theater – 3301 Lyon St, San Francisco, CA 94123
  • San Francisco War Memorial – 401 Van Ness Ave #110, San Francisco, CA 94102