New Orleans: A City of Creole Magic

 

Another year in the books and we find ourselves in 2018. My last post was a year ago in February and so many things have happened in the last year. I accepted a job at a brewery back in April and my life has changed so much since then. Not only did I take a new job in a field that I’m passionate about, but I also fell head over heels in love with my soul-mate at 31. Many say that soul-mates don’t exist, but I beg to differ. There are so many wonderful adventures that we have had over the summer and fall that I cant wait to share. But first, I want to talk about our first out of state trip together and it just happened to be to one of my most favorite cities in the United States, NEW ORLEANS!

I hate going back so much in time and having those long overdue posts. I feel like I forget small details that I would have liked to include, but I’m going to do my best because it was the most memorable time I have had in New Orleans yet! The inspiration behind this trip in November was a wedding of a good friend of mine. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard that it was going to be a parade through the streets of the French Quarter, but if you knew how creative this couple was you wouldn’t question(more details about the Second Line wedding below!)

DAY 1. The Beginning

We started our adventure early on a Thursday morning. I always try to take early flights so I feel like I have basically a whole extra day at my destination. We arrived at the airport a couple hours earlier than necessary so we could have pre-flight drinks at the airport before we boarded.  Never a bad idea getting on the plane with a little buzz, especially if you are a nervous flyer like me.

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We landed around 1 PM at Louis Armstrong International Airport and headed straight to the ground transportation area. They offer cab rides for $35(not including tip) for up to two people into anywhere in the French Quarter. I also compared the prices on Uber and it was going to be about the same at that time of day, and the cab was already conveniently located by the curb. He was also local and gave us some good advice when it came to staying safe and where to avoid.

We stayed in an area called Marigny which is known for it’s Bohemian charm, quaint bars, and a great food variety. We rented a room through Airbnb a few weeks earlier that was right on Frenchmen Street and only a few blocks away from some of the most awesome music venues in New Orleans such as The Spotted Cat. It was also far enough away where we got a good night’s sleep in our quiet room(most bars don’t close here!) After we dropped off our luggage, we were both antsy to get out and explore(not to mention hungry!) We took the 10 minute walk into the French Quarter and decided to stop at Acme Oyster House. Normally I’m all about more local fare as opposed to more of the chains, but this was one of the only places with a short wait at the time, and we were STARVING. It also had pretty great reviews. We ordered Chargrilled Oysters and a cup of Gumbo each. We also had a couple tropical beverages because when in Rome. After our meal, we decided to walk around some more to burn off the calories. We grabbed a daiquiri at one of the endless shops and walked the French Quarter(totally legal to walk around with drinks). We walked around the dock for awhile and watched the riverboats, walked the streets including around Bourbon Street so Nathan could get the full experience in New Orleans. Normally I would not recommend going here because it’s a drunken shit-show and it smells like vomit most of the time, but that’s all part of the experience. I highly recommend checking out Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. It is one of the oldest bars in America and is only lit by candlelight in the evening. Most nights they have a piano player that plays requests. Try to grab a spot at the piano if you can, but keep in mind that this place can get pretty packed. Since we were both pretty tired from a day of travels we decided to hit it pretty early to get ready for the next day of adventures. We decided to grab a pedi-cab to Frenchmen and walk the rest of the way.

 

Day 2-Friday. A bit more hustle and bustle than when we arrived because of the long holiday weekend. We decided to start our morning with a nice breakfast to get moving. There is a Ruby Slipper that was a five minute walk away from our place. Keep in mind that it is popular so get your name on the list, and they will text you when your table is ready. This place is so worth it, that we visited twice while we were in town. There are other locations as it is a franchise, but don’t let that steer you away. I enjoyed the Skinny Migas which was so yummy and it hit the spot for a healthy way to start the day. I knew other unhealthy decisions would be made later in the day. One of my most favorite place to go when in New Orleans is the Carousel Bar located inside the Hotel Monteleone. Who wouldn’t want to have a classy cocktail on an actual carousel? Order a Pimm’s Cup or an Old Fashioned you will not be disappointed. Best. Cocktails. Ever! The bartenders really know their stuff and are happy to make you a wonderful cocktail. Again, this place is very popular and spots at the bar can be hard to come by but it’s worth the wait in my opinion. We spent the rest of the day wandering around and to my surprise, my wonderful boyfriend booked us a dinner and cruise on the Riverboat Natchez. It included a dinner, music, and a two hour cruise on the Mississippi. This was such a fun experience and a great way spend an evening. I highly recommend this if you have time.

 

Day 3-Saturday. Wedding Day!

Since it was an evening wedding, we had some time to hang out. We went to Ruby Slipper again for brunch(yes, it’s that good!) and then walked back to the Airbnb to catch up on some rest because I had a bit of a headache from drinking too much the night before. We took a short hiatus from the 90 degree weather outside and hung out in the AC. It was a much needed little break from the go, go, go that we both needed. We got dressed in our fancy wedding clothes and decided to go grab a Hurricane at the famous Pat O’Brien’s. This is one of the most famous New Orleans staple drinks you can get. It’s sweet and so, so rummy but you gotta try one once. They have an awesome courtyard seating area, but with the weather being what it was, we decided to stay in the air conditioning. It was about wedding time so we went to the courthouse a few blocks away to wait for everything to start.

It was not a typical wedding, but it was by far the coolest wedding I have ever been to. It’s called a Second Line and basically the wedding was in front of the courthouse. You are open and vulnerable to having people watching, but it’s all part of the fun. The ceremony took 5 minutes and then we all took pictures before we went off into a parade through the streets. The main line leading the parade for a wedding is made up of the married couple, the brass band and usually a grand marshal. The second line is the wedding party and any passersby who want to join the celebration. The bride carried a white umbrella, and the ladies that paraded carried white napkins or hankies that we waved around for good luck. So many people were watching all of us and cheering. Definitely one of the coolest experiences I have had. We then had dinner at New Orleans Creole Cookery that I highly recommend for unique, Creole cuisine and it’s fabulous courtyard. After all the celebrating, we made our way back toward Frenchmen Street and checked out two local bands. One was reggae, one was more of a brass band. You get so much variety on Frenchmen and I highly recommend it if you love dancing and seeing live music. We called it a night about 12:30.

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Day 4-Sunday. Football and burgers

We slept in a little bit and did not go to Ruby Slipper this time. We decided to head into the French Quarter to try to find a place with food and football. We ended up at The Jimani which is a little local haunt(literally, there was a huge fire upstairs and it’s rumored to have ghosts). We enjoyed some pretty good food while having the option to watch any game though we really wanted to watch the local Saints. I enjoyed a BBQ Shrimp Po Boy and a Cajun style Bloody Mary that were both awesome. We then met up with a friend of mine who lived in Colorado and walked around. We checked out a lot of independent art galleries and antique shops on Royal Street. My personal favorite was the Craig Tracy Fine Body-Art Gallery. We then had an early dinner at Port of Call which is one of my most favorite places in New Orleans. No, it’s not Cajun food. Yes, it’s burgers and baked potatoes. It is one of those unsuspecting amazing places you find with great service, and the drinks….you have to get a Windjammer! A large one so you can take the awesome cup home with you.

Day 5. Monday. Our last day.

We have arrived at the last day of our adventure. Let me tell you, I love New Orleans but five days is PLENTY. We were pretty ready to get back to our own bed and out of the humidity. Our last day was really special because we actually got out of the French Quarter and went to one of the most wonderful restaurants in the world, Commander’s Palace! I made a reservation for lunch a month in advance, because yes, it gets that busy. Also keep in mind when packing that they have a dress code that I would describe as office professional. Men must wear collared shirts, closed toe shoes, and NO jeans or shorts! I would check the website to make sure, just be prepared. While we waited for our reservation time, we walked around the neighborhood a bit and looked at all the beautiful houses(Sandra Bullock lives practically next door to Commanders). There is also Lafayette Cemetery right across the street that is a MUST! It’s one of the older cemeteries in the city and the burial method in New Orleans is a little different than any other place. All the graves are built above ground because of the city being below sea level. You can always take a guided tour if you want to learn more, but we just walked around. When we were finally seated we ordered a 25 cent martini to start. Yes, you heard me right, This is a thing at Commander’s Palace with the purchase of a meal. They are decent, but they have other wonderful cocktails as well. They are known for their Turtle Soup, but I decided on the Crab Bisque, which is an absolute must if available though their menu changes all the time. I also had a fish dish that was superb. You really cant go wrong here.

To complete the experience, we rode the streetcar back to the French Quarter and stopped for another round of drinks with our newly married friends before we grabbed our luggage and hopped in an Uber to go back to the airport. It was an amazing trip that I will never forget.

 

NEW ORLEANS QUICK TIPS!

Weather: Early November, still very hot and humid. I brought dresses, shorts, tank tops, and short sleeves. We both brought light jackets that were only needed for the riverboat cruise for me at least. We wore our Chuck T’s as comfortable walking shoes, because you walk A LOT!!

Food: A reason to visit the city all in itself!

*Deanie’s Charbroiled Oysters

*The Jimani-they serve food practically ALL night if you are looking for a simple late night bite.

*Ruby Slipper-best breakfast/brunch in the city in my opinion. They are located all over the city.

*Port of Call-best burgers in NOLA. Sometimes you grow tired of the rich Cajun/Creole food.

*New Orleans Creole Cookery- great place to try a variety of Cajun dishes ranging from pasta to meat dishes.

*Commander’s Palace-don’t miss this place! It is always rated one of the best in the whole city.

*Verti Marte-need Tums and a sandwich at the same time? This little corner mart and deli has awesome food at all hours of the night!

BARS-because let’s face it, you are going to get drunk in New Orleans! 🙂

*The Golden Lantern-One of my favorite bars in the quarter. It’s a gay bar, and everyone here is always so friendly. Best Bloody Mary in town.

*Pat O’Briens-At least stop here for a World Famous Hurricane. Sit in the courtyard if you can.

*Molly’s-The frozen Irish Coffee here is amazing!

*Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar– the oldest bar in America. All lit up by candlelight at night, piano players, and a cute little courtyard.

*Carousel Bar– My favorite place in the Quarter! Located inside the Hotel Monteleone. You must order a Pimm’s Cup!

*The Olde Absinthe Bar in Pirate Alley- absinthe is not for everyone. This place is worth checking out though just to see how they make these drinks and the history.

*The Rum Shack– located on Magazine Street. Great cocktails, away from the quarter, and really good food. Think tacos and rum!

OTHER THINGS

*Visit an old cemetery(many in the area but keep in mind most lock up around 3 PM)

*Explore the city’s haunted history, there is a lot of it, EVERYWHERE!

*Take a Riverboat cruise

*Walk. Explore. Shop local galleries and boutiques!

*Check out a museum. Museum of Death, Mardi Gras museum, and New Orleans history museum are all in the city.

*Music on Frenchmen. So many different genres! It’s a must!

*Ride a streetcar if time allows!

Though we felt safe in New Orleans, please be cautious and keep a very close eye on your belongings at all times. Use your street smarts and only walk in well lit areas and never leave your drink alone! Most importantly, have a blast!

 

 

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