Back in the fall I took a blogging break. During that break, my youngest son got married. Yes, my baby. He and his bride married in New Orleans, Louisiana at a small private wedding in the courtyard of the Place d’ Armes hotel. The newlyweds boarded the Carnival Dream cruise ship the following day for a 7-day Caribbean honeymoon Cruise which they thoroughly enjoyed. We were thankful that the very busy hurricane season that we had been eyeing so anxiously for many weeks did not affect their wedding or honeymoon cruise at all. Whew!
My husband, oldest son, and I flew to NOLA for the wedding with a couple who are dear friends of ours and who travel to New Orleans about twice a year. They love it there. I’ve always wanted to visit New Orleans and so I finally got to. I had been told that everyone needs to see New Orleans at least once. While it was a good trip and I’m glad I got to see it, I guess you could say New Orleans was not quite what I had visualized in my mind. My oldest son and I had thought there would be more jazz bands and jazz music everywhere but surprisingly, there wasn’t. And hey New Orleans, what’s up with not having sweet tea?!
I did not read or research much about New Orleans before I went since the couple we traveled with both go there so often and know it well. What I did keep reading over and over was how hot and humid it was going to be (yes, even at the end of September). And it most definitely was. The hottest day was of course the wedding day! But you know what? It was not one bit hotter or more humid there than it was in dear ole Tennessee where I’ve lived all my life. I’m very used to heat and humidity and though I don’t particularly LIKE it, I’m quite used to it. In fact, it was hotter and more humid in Tennessee when we returned home. So yes, New Orleans was blazing hot and humid but not really any more than Tennessee was.
Though others had tried to give me fair warning about New Orleans and its ahem… variety of smells, that was something I just had to experience for myself to truly understand what they were talking about. Yes, New Orleans is a smelly city. It smells mostly like hot garbage. And vomit. And marijuana. And urine. And horse manure. After a short stroll down Bourbon street the first night there, I asked my friend if marijuana was legal there and he laughed and said NO! You could have fooled me! Bourbon street was all torn up as they were rebuilding the street’s infrastructure to help with drainage, flooding, etc. So there was fencing up on both sides of the street with black barriers obstructing the view to the opposite side. The fencing narrowed the sidewalks (which are ordinarily quite narrow anyway). After 2-3 blocks of strolling down a very crowded Bourbon street and having more than one inebriated individual fall into me as they struggled to walk, I decided I had seen enough. I’ll just say Bourbon street is not the life for me. I’m glad I saw it, have always wanted to see it, it but I didn’t care for it. And yes, it’s true that you do have to watch where you walk in New Orleans. What? You’ve never heard of the vomit strewn streets of New Orleans? Google it if you don’t believe me.
I’m sorry to say that I didn’t always feel real safe walking around in New Orleans at night. Seeing the following video of two tourists getting violently sucker punched and robbed on our local news just weeks before we traveled there sure didn’t help matters much. I constantly looked over my shoulder and I didn’t feel safe carrying a purse there.
Our friends told us you just have to be vigilant and careful as to where you go at night, stay alert, and stay with crowds.
We stayed in the French Quarter for the four nights we were there. When you’re strolling the sidewalks and look up in the trees lining those sidewalks, you see lots of Mardi Gras beads. That was interesting to me and quite festive. You could tell that some of those beads had hung there for many, many years. I kinda liked seeing those.
I loved seeing the St. Louis Cathedral, both inside and out. It is the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States. The first night there we walked around Jackson Square. I was surprised by all the soothsayers who had set up shop right in front of the cathedral. I was also surprised at the number of homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks. The second night we were there, we walked to the backside of the cathedral and saw the statue of Jesus with His arms outstretched. The floodlights at night project the shadow of Jesus onto the cathedral which was pretty amazing to see. If you ever go to New Orleans, don’t miss that. I thought the inside of the cathedral was just beautiful. I have to say, seeing the cathedral and the Jesus shadow at night were two of my most favorite “things” about New Orleans.
I’ve always heard that some people travel to New Orleans just for the food. We definitely ate good while there. We enjoyed Antoine’s, The Court of Two Sisters, The Gumbo Shop, Mr. B’s Bistro, Royal House, Acme Oyster House, Cafe Maspero, and Cafe Beignet. There were a couple of other places that we ate lunch at but their names have left my brain. I didn’t have a bad meal while there and had some scrumptious bread pudding a couple of nights. I have a shellfish allergy so I didn’t dare try the oysters but my son and husband did and liked them. I had a killer Po Boy at Acme Oyster House for lunch and tasted my son’s Jambalaya and it was delicious as well. I had every intention of going to Cafe du Monde for their famous beignets and coffee (our hotel was just down the street) but somehow I never made it and I’m still kicking myself for that. My oldest son braved the lines the last morning we were there to get some beignets.
The night of the wedding our friends took us to The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone for Hurricanes. That was one busy place. The hotel was lovely. We did hear some live jazz music there.
We visited the aquarium which was fun and educational. Another day, while my friend and I shopped on Royal street and the French Market, her hubby and my hubby and son visited the WWII museum which they really enjoyed.
We stayed at the Historic French Market Inn which is in the central French Quarter of New Orleans and dates back to the 1800s. It’s old people, but that’s what made it interesting to stay there. Yes, interesting to say the least. I learned after we returned home that The French Market Inn is rumored to be haunted and I decided it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t know that little tidbit of information when I was staying there. But then again, isn’t just about everything in New Orleans haunted? At nights we enjoyed sitting and soaking our tired feet in the little garden pool in the quaint little courtyard. At night the courtyard is lit by gas lanterns. Oh how I loved those rustic little lanterns!
We couldn’t leave New Orleans without getting pralines, so we went to Southern Candymakers as my friend assured me they had the best pralines in all of New Orleans. I do believe she was right! We sampled the original creamy pralines (made fresh every day) and it was like eating a little bit of heaven. So good! Needless to say we came home with a box of those. And unfortunately, they didn’t last long. They also had delicious praline ice cream which yours truly enjoyed tremendously. If you’re ever in New Orleans, don’t pass up this candy store!
So that was my trip to New Orleans. It’s a lively place and the people there are friendly. What about you? Have you ever been to New Orleans? What was your experience like?