I did a post awhile back about my Bouchercon pre-reading and research as we draw closer to hopping on a plane to attend this annual event.
As I mentioned then, I'm one who likes to read about where I'm going to get a feel for the city. Hank suggested that I report back on things I found to be of particular interest.
Since Boucheron is in New Orleans this year, it's been some fascinating reading.
That, of course, is not to say I don't enjoy the spontaneous adventures that come with traveling.
What's more fun than stumbling into a delightful little bookstore? The perfect cafe?
Or, as happened to us in Greece - a wedding.
We were having a late lunch at an outdoor taverna when a gloriously happy bride, groom and very large wedding party came out of a small church about a half block away from where we were sitting.
We were able to enjoy watching them having wedding pictures taken, posing in front of the church, in front on a fountain, sitting on an ancient wall, with church bells ringing and people laughing. Pure sweet magic.
It was fun for us to watch and try to figure out who was who - easy to figure out the mother of the bride, and the father of the bride - he was the one who thought no one saw him wipe away a few stray tears as he stood back watching his beautiful daughter as she smiled, laughed and hugged the many friends and family members.
That's a big part of travel, after all, isn't it? Being open to whatever might happen. As well as new ideas, new cultures?
I like to have at least a little smidge of knowledge about where I'm headed though.
The history, the culture, and in the case of New Orleans - the restaurants!
The French Quarter!
The Garden District!
Elegant homes, magnificent architecture and sumptuous hidden gardens.
This amateur photographer's dream come true. I do intend to sign up for a walking photo tour, it's just trying to figure out when I can do it!
And the more I learn about New Orleans, the more interesting it becomes.
I've also learned that some of the things I thought I knew were just plain wrong.
Proving, once again, that we might not want to believe everything we think.
I'm fascinated and intrigued by old cemeteries.
There's an abundance of history and beauty in the cemeteries of New Orleans, and I was happy to learn there's an active group dedicated to the preservation of those cemeteries. All 31 of them.
Save Our Cemeteries has been in existence since 1974. It was through their webpage that I learned that not all of New Orleans' dead are placed in burial crypts above ground like I had always believed.
This from their FAQ - "Are burials conducted in-ground today? Yes, many cemeteries offer single burial plots for burial in ground, with a simple marker, much like the rest of the United States. Modern pumping stations allow for this practice. However, the multiple burial above-ground system still remains the most popular, and traditional, mode of burial.
In addition to the Save Our Cemeteries group, there are other groups doing cemetery tours, as well.
The one I've signed up to take, along with some friends, is a Cemetery/Voodoo tour. (Note - Visiting the cemeteries is not one of those things you should consider doing alone)
Since the particular tour we've signed up for will include St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, I plan on paying Madame Laveau a little visit.
Marie Laveau was known as New Orleans' Voodoo Queen. She still is, I guess, even though she died in 1881. She has been, and continues to be, the inspiration of many books and novels.
She's had songs written about her, and she's still a popular artistic figure.
No one seems completely sure where the real Madame Laveau ends and the fictional Laveau begins, but it's all interesting and compelling.
What else do I plan on doing in New Orleans?
Besides all things Bouchercon, I mean?
Well, I've signed up to take a cooking class.
It's a two and a half hour class where we'll be leaning how to make gumbo, jambalaya, bananas foster and pralines. I'm excited.
And I'll be doing some shopping, I'm sure.
A lot of walking, and some exploring via streetcar. Taking the streetcar down St. Charles Avenue sounds heavenly.
I'm interested in finding a shop by the name of Maskarade, " . . . carries a large selection of masks from some of the best local and national artists whose fabulous creations are done in a variety of mediums. We also carry fine Italian masks handmade in the old traditional Venetian style by Master Maskmakers"
I'll browse Royal Street, of course.
Also, one of the areas I hope to visit is Julia Street, also known as Gallery Row. I enjoy seeking out the work of local artists and artisans, and this looks like an area of New Orleans I'll be able to do just that.
Esplanade Avenue is on my list to feed my interest in architecture and local history. My camera is itching to get some shots of some of the charm of this historical treasure.
There are some voodoo temples I'd like to visit. In fact, one is included in our cemetery/voodoo tour.
As far as I know, there are no voodoo temples in Boone, NC, or the near vicinity, so I'm pretty excited about this. I'm interested in learning a little more about this ancient religion which is believed in and taken quite seriously by many in Louisiana.
I'm pretty sure I'll be eating well. Too well.
I'm going to be in New Orleans for quite a few days. Going early and staying late, as are some Bouchercon Buddies. It will be fun exploring New Orleans with these friends I usually only get to see once a year.
Who knows if I'll get to everything on my list or not. We'll just have to see. If I do, or if I don't, I have not a doubt in the world that it's going to be a pretty special trip. And - I can always go back again, after all.
While the convention's going on I'll be involved with a good bit of volunteering.
Which reminds me - if you're going and haven't signed up to help, I encourage you to do so. It's a great way to meet some fun people, including the authors. And, since Bouchercon relies solely on volunteers, it's just a good thing to do.
If you're interested, here's a couple email address for you -
There are lots of different volunteer opportunities available. Give it a thought.
I'm excited about the fact that I'm going to be on a panel Thursday at noon with my pals Lesa Holstine, Dru Ann Love, Kristopher Zigorski and Erica Neubauer, moderated by Penny Halle. We're going to discuss books we recommend. How fun is that going to be? I'm pretty sure Bouchercon attendees enjoy talking about books, huh? I hope to see some of you there!
AND, I'll be joining the contributors to this year's anthology, Blood on the Bayou, for a group signing on Saturday at 2:00. Hope to see you there too!
I'm beyond pleased to be included and, truth be told, I thank Madame Laveau for her help in writing the story. Which is one reason I intend to visit her in the cemetery so I can say "thanks."
So, Dear Reds, raise your hands - who's going to New Orleans for Bouchercon? And what fun things do you have planned?