Birthday Trip to NOLA with the MR!
We recently decided to take a short trip to celebrate the MR’s birthday; it’s a BIG one too! Since neither of us has ever been New Orleans was the winner and it did not disappoint!
First of all the 3 things no one told me that are very important to know:
- HUMIDITY: even though we went in November and the temperature averages 72 degrees the humidity is about 96%!! Be prepared for bad hair days!! Ponytails!!
- Bring comfy shoes: You will do A LOT of walking and will need comfy shoes. Go ahead and bring your cute shoes for evening, but make sure you bring sneakers or walking shoes to handle the crazy sidewalks and tons of steps you will be doing.
- Gas Lamp’s: There are real working gas lamps all over and they are absolutely beautiful.
We stayed at the La Richelieu Hotel. A very quaint French boutique hotel in the way back of the French Quarter. The neighborhood was tucked away in the residential section, very close to Frenchman Street and the French Market. Would definitely recommend this hotel if you are ok with being in a more quiet area.
There are many tours to choose from in New Orleans to learn the area and I totally recommend taking a tour just to help get your bearings on what you want to see and do. We started with a Haunted Tour of the French Quarter through Voo Doo Bone Lady Tours (http://www.voodooboneladytours.com/); I found them on Trip Advisor. Our tour guide was Brain, please request him, and he was amazing. He was so knowledgeable of the stories, history, and the area as he was born and raised right there in New Orleans.
The above is called The Lalaurie House, which has a history so horrifying that it was almost unbelievable. Look it up and then go to NOLA to see it……. Every hair on my neck and arms stood every time we walked by it, which was several times a day because it is right in the middle of everything. This was just one of the sights from the tour!
We also took a tour of the St Louis Cemetery No.1. I would highly recommend a cemetery tour, there are many. The tour we choose was through Tours by Steven, also found on Trip Advisor, and our guide was Chad. Chad was great, also born and raised right there in New Orleans and his family owns a tomb in the cemetery he toured us through. The history inside the walls was amazing, learning why the cemeteries are all above ground in New Orleans and the whole burial process was truly amazing. You really start to understand the culture of the area through this process and ceremonies.
The French Quarter:
The French Quarter is 14 blocks long by 12 blocks wide. We spent a very full day visiting all the sites packed into this relatively small area. We started with the French Market. This is an open air, covered market packed with local artisans selling their goods. You can find absolutely anything here: Jewelry, artwork, leather goods, clothing, food, soaps, and strange alligator heads, hats, just to name a few things. A must see location!
The French Market sits close to the Mississippi River so next we walked along the river. Beautiful! The best part is that this walk will lead you to Café Du Monde! YES! You will NEED to stop here for your fix of their beignets and café au lait (oh-lay). This is pretty much the only thing on the menu and wow I can see why. DELICIOUS!! Please note that if there is a line, you wait and watch for a table to open up and just go sit. They will clean off the table if it is dirty. Do not wait to be seated. If you are lucky like us you will find a table near the edge of the open patio and there will be an amazing street band entertaining everyone right there!!
Right outside of Café Du Monde is Jackson Square, named after Andrew Jackson. A beautiful green space surrounded by more artists selling their artwork. At the end of the green space is the beautiful St Louis Cathedral. This cathedral was built in 1727 and has a rich history that you must visit. In the evening you must visit the back side of the cathedral and see the shadow from the reflection of the statue of Jesus. The locals refer to it as Touchdown Jesus….
The next must do is a stop at the Hotel Monteleone for a drink at their Carousel Bar. It is a beautifully decorated feature that actually rotates, very slowly, around the bar. It also overlooks Royal Street, so it’s great place to rest after all the walking, have a drink and people watch.
We followed this up with a walk down Bourbon Street! This was not really my cup of tea, but you have to do it once in your lifetime! It is bustling with people, music, and spontaneous street band parades. That part I loved, it’s the bar scene that I did not love so much. If you want a true taste of the Jazz/Blues seen you NEED to take a walk down Frenchman St! Frenchman St is where you will find amazing Jazz clubs/bars such as, the Spotted cat and Bambaolas. Great places to just grab seat for hours and watch the amazing bands that rotate and play all night long. Also, on Frenchman St was another great open air market called Palace Market. Another place to mix with local artist and have a chance to purchase their beautiful goods!
The Garden District:
Street Car ride! The street cars have running since 1923 and are absolutely beautiful.
We took the street car to Washington Ave. in the Garden District. The Garden District is 12 blocks long by 5 blocks wide. Every block is full the most beautiful mansions you will ever see. There are many tours to take here as well. We used this self-guided walking tour from Frommers (Walking Tour 2 New Orleans). One thing to keep in mind as you are touring this beautiful area is that these homes are occupied and you really need to respect that as you are looking around and taking pictures. You will also see many celebrity homes! Make sure you leave time to stroll down Magazine Street for all the shops and eateries!
Whether you are strolling the hustle and bustle of Bourbon St, the residential area of the French Quarter or the Garden District, you will notice the beautiful surroundings and the buildings. As you are passing all these colorful structures you will gain the understanding of the rich history of this area. The locals have done an amazing effort of keeping the original feel of New Orleans and all its beauty and history.
One more thing:
A MUST see attraction is what they advertise as the 2nd best museum in the world, the WWII museum. It is outstanding (as it was described to me)! You will learn things you never knew for sure about this war.