I recently took a trip to New Orleans, Louisina. Such a romantic city with so much to do. I enjoyed the food, the atmosphere, and the architecture. Sightseeing is fantastic and since the French Quarter is a walking city, there are several activities to do and much to see. I went on the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed myself, so much to do and so little time. Personally, I think I enjoyed the day activities more than the night activites.
You could walk New Orleans for free and just take in the magnifecent French and Spanish style homes built centuries ago that have withstood the test of time. Best part was getting to go into the beautiful homes. The locals are proud of theihistory and more than willign to share. One gentleman, a local man who left New Orleans during Katrina had recently come home back to his roots. He was renovating his uncle’s small shotgun house. It was small but perfect and he had updated it without taking away from the original charm of the home. We chatted in his small courtyard that he shared with the house next door to him. We also got to go into an open house, which had been fully renovated and turned into a condo. It was larger but lacked any of the New Orleans charm inside. The realtor was great and offered to show us more homes but we were running out of time. Still the outside was grand and oppulent.
Our hotel overlooked the mighty Mississippi River. We went for strolls along the lovely old port at Riverwalk and went through the mall. There are street vendors with local artwork and many trinkets you can buy to remind you of your stay. I will say this about NEw Orleans, bring lots of cash! I can’t stress this enough. Most places do accept credit card but only establishments that are franchises, but I stay away from them because I want to experience the real deal. If you want authentic art, delicious local food form small restaurants and alcoholic beverages form teh bars, you need cash. there are no banks int eh French Quarter and on the weekends, the business disrtict is closed down, so all you have is ATM’s and they do charge a pretty penny if you use them. Luckily for me before I went, I spoke to a person at the bank who told me about her experiwence and told me to take $200 dollars or more because 2 days there and you will spend it all.
Nighlife in New Orleans is exciting. So many young people and retirees looking for a good time. We went during Spring Break for college students. It was a mad house but nothing on the scale of Mardi Gras. Personally, for me I think I like when it is less crowded so this amount of bodies was just fine. I can only imagine Bourbon Street during fete. There were people on the balconaies throwing beads. I got a few strands, not too bad. It was packed on Bourbon street, which to me seemed to be the businest of all the streets at night. The further you get away from Burboun street the quieter it becomes and it looks cleaner and more residential. The French Quater is a living city, not just a tourist trap and I liked that about it. We stayed out till midnight and felt safe. There were cops on the main streets, so it is safe and no one is acting up or out of control. Along the streets off of Bourbon street there are a catering restaurants. Inside people have weddings, when the wedding is over the party-goers spill outside behind the bride and groom. The wedding party comes out of the halls with women carrying umbrellas and a band preceding it. They clap and dance all the way out onto the street. It was fun to join in on the back and dance along.
My hubby loved that he could carry a solo cup full of beer anytime of the day out in the open and consume his alcoholic beverages on the street. I was just as bad but I preferred the tasty forzen Margaritas. There are so many bars to choose from. We even went into a honky-tonk with a mechanical bull. But overall, my favorite place was Cafe Benignet. It is a small courtyard tucked off of Bourbon Street. I loved the live jazz music and the casual wrought iron tables where I sat and consumed chicory coffee and a sugary powdered confection called a Benignet. Reminded me of funnel cake but smaller. So realxing, and it was nice to watch the pedestrains passing by.
All the walking was good exercise to burn off all the calories I was consuming. The cuisine is unbelievable! I had poboys, jambalaya, chicken gumbo, red beans and rice, and crawfish etouffee! OH my gosh! Traditional New Orleans food is to die for. Best of all I waited in line on a Saturday night to eat at Mother’s Cafe. It was a good thirty minutes before I made it through the door but the wait was well worth it. This is not your typical sit down restaurant. It is so much better! It has a buffet style, hot food set-up with servers who dish out all the freshly made food right in front of your eyes. I think we tried one of everything. the price is very reasonable and then you pay your bill. Cash only! So make sure you have money on you to cover the cost. You get your drink and look for a table. Good luck with this but people do get up and move on. We took up a table with another couple of older women we had chatted wih on the line. So much fun to because they were from New Jersey! Best red beans and rice I ever had.
Sunday Morning, I went on a walking tour to the old cemetary and got to listen to ghost stories and hear about the famous voodoo queen, Marie Laveau. I left some chocolate and a bookmark in hopes that my books would get good vibes. Made sure to walk out backwards and kiss the stone gates on the way out, don’t want to turn my back on my ancestors and offend anyone.
I highly recommend taking a walking tour with an experienced tour guide. You get to learn about the local culture, history and the many people that made New Orleans great.
After the walking tour, we made our way over to the park, which is located on the edge of the French Quarter and seperates the old city from the newer parts. Inside the park is a theater and gardens with benches to sit on and take in the lush foliage. There is also a bandstand, I got to dance and listen to the amazing music of differnt bands from Salsa to African drums to acapella acts in Loius Armstrong Park. The local vendors were selling authentic clothes and jewelry and I even got to taste Hibiscus juice, so yummy! Afterwards, I ate delicious street food off the back of one of the many BBQ trucks that line the street in front of Loius Armstrong Park, every Sunday they gather to entice and feed the hungry crowds of people gathering to see the Social and Pleasure Club Parade. I got to see bands in full regalia dancing and playing brass instruments. It was rocking good fun, I couldn’t stop shaking and tapping my feet and snapping my fingers.
Alas, we had to catch a cab to catch our plane back home. My adventure had ended but I do plan to return to the city. I still would love to explore the outskirts of the city and experince more of the local cuisine and the artwork.
Want to book your trip or learn more about New Orleans and its rich history? Check out http://www.neworleanscvb.com/things-to-do/festivals/summerfun2012/