Upon stepping off the cable car at the City Park stop, I immediately saw an expansive park to my left, with towering oak trees, a large lake, and a promenade leading up to the impressive New Orleans Museum of Art, the centerpiece of City Park. Singing the chorus from Hey Jude (inspired by a visit from the Beatles to the park in the 1960s), I made my way to the Singing Tree, a majestic oak near the shore of the lake. Seven chimes of various sizes hang from the Spanish moss covered branches, ringing out with a bravado of choruses, as if the spirits from the nearby cemeteries are unleashing the long pent-up anguish of the dead.
New York City is known for its bustling, fast-paced culture, but that’s not all the city offers. The Met Cloisters, located in northern Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park, is a museum that provides solitude and silence to its visitors.
Harlem in New York City has been jumping with jazz for over 100 years, and it’s still going strong if you know where to find it. Clubs, restaurants, and jazz joints are listed in guidebooks, but I decided to get the real deal on uptown jazz with a tour guide who’s got all the information — and then some! She’s my friend, and she invited me to tag along on one of her Friday night ’Round Midnight Tour jaunts through Harlem.
Wat Mongkolratanaram of Florida, or the “Thai Temple” as locals call it, was established in 1981, and launched its Sunday Market six years later with just two tables. The market has since grown, achieving cult status among area foodies. Today, it features vendors selling everything from Pad Thai and fried bananas to orchids and preserves. Hungry visitors walk along a large wooden wrap-around deck, enticed by the smell of bubbling soup broth, steaming dumplings, and peppery spices emanating from the various food tables. It is the most authentic Thai cuisine you can get in the area — and the cheapest. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better value in Tampa Bay.
The journey begins where Bourbon Street meets Canal. Stepping aboard, the feeling is immediate. Lacquered mahogany seats with brass fittings are original design. No molded plastic seats, no graffiti, and no air conditioning signal that this is the real deal. For air conditioning, simply open one of the large glass windows to get a face full of sultry air.