Travel

A Very, Very, Very Late Recap of my New Orleans Trip

Cafe du MondeMY GOODNESS, 2013 is flying by. Flying by so fast that I’m just now writing about a trip I took in March. It was mega fun though, so it still feel the need to share where I went through my meager Instagram photos.

Real Truth About Adulthood #58: No more Spring Breaks. Actually, aside from very generous four-day weekends that only occur twice a year, there are no built in vacays. I am a very restless lady, always planning and dreaming about the next big trip, so this poses a bit of an inconvenience to me. My equally restless friends, Jordan and Jess (remember her from the Brooklyn trip?), decided to head out of our respective cities for a good ol’ gals trip to the city of po boys, jambalaya, gators and a kind of romantic feeling that you just can’t find anywhere else. (Yeah, I like a little romance on my girls trip. What about it?)

We stayed at the Marriot Pere Marquette, which was small, neat and located right near all the action. Nothing too fancy, but just perfect for us because we didn’t spend a whole lot of time there aside from evening naps and those very long evening naps called sleep. After I cabbed it from the airport to the hotel, I greeted Jess and Jordan who had come together, with some screaming, squealing, hugging and jumping up and down like every sorority sister wannabe you’ve ever seen. SWEET JESUS, it’s good to hug friends you’ve missed very much. First on the agenda: FOOD. Because duh. Because it was noontime and basically one of my favorite parts of being in New Orleans is food–there’s so much of it and it’s basically all good. We went to the famed ACME Oyster House and chowed down on raw oysters, fried fish, hushpuppies, po boys and allllll that good stuff. To walk off our fried food bellies and indulge in our touristy curiosity, we had a jaunt around the French Quarter, which is 100 percent just as charming and sweet and picturesque as you’d want it to be. We walked to Jackson Square, which has a HUGE lovely church in it as well as this cute little greenery area. We rested out feet, soaked in some sunshine and did some general people-watching (this is a coded term for making snide remarks at strangers).

Jackson Square: The perfect place to take in the French Quarter and make fun of people.

Jackson Square: The perfect place to take in the French Quarter and make fun of people.

As we walked around some more, we happened upon some handsome gentlemen with old-timey facial hair singing and playing instruments. We politely observed them from the sidewalk and swooned. We totally gave them a tip because they were very cute and they knew it. Damn you, boys of the South. Then, we went to the Voodoo Museum and met the interesting owner, who lives above the museum. He also does psychic readings. We were interested in doing something a little spooky and paranormal in the city, but we were a little creeped out and too chicken to ask the sure-to-be outrageous price. BUT we did make our way around the tiny museum (two rooms and a hallway) and seeing all the altars and factoids about voodoo practices and priestesses was actually SUPER cool. It’s a subject I knew nothing about, so I soaked it all up without a bit of skepticism, because skepticism kills any kind of magic there is about paranormal stuff, so leave that shit at the door. For a pretty cheap $5, it was an cool, random detour.

A little tip from me to you, ladeeezzzz.

A little tip from me to you, ladeeezzzz.

That night we ventured out to the down and dirty, 21-plus right of passage that is Bourbon Street. It’s…fun, I guess. A lot of uncomfortable grabbing and sexual harassment, which it seemed we were the only ones seriously perturbed by, but I guess it was kind of cool to see. That’s the kind of place you go to and do stuff that you never talk about in polite company. So, let’s not. I’m a mere 23 years old and I felt super old being there. I was just like “WHERE ARE YA’LLS MOTHERS?!” Definitely leaving it to the brothers of Kappa Delta Grope next time.

After a Hurricane cocktail-induced sleep, we woke up fresh (kinda) and started off day two with a trip on the cute little trolley to the Garden District. For those not in the know, it’s the place with the really sick houses and neatly manicured lawns. We hitched onto an ongoing tour about the different properties and saw John Goodman’s home (!!!) and other really sweet pads. We also wandered around Lafayette Cemetery No.1 to see the eerie-in-a-beautiful-way above ground tombs. It’s so interesting to me that some method developed out of logical necessity (frequent flooding brining buried bodies to the surface) can create something so magical and cool. We walked down to Magazine Street, a quaint neighborhood known mostly for shopping and dining and grabbed lunch at The Bulldog, which had great burgers and draft beer selection, but not-so-great queso (gonna leave queso consumption to Texas now). We idled over sipping our beers in the courtyard. Bliss!

At Lafayette Cemetery No. 1- I hitched onto a different tour group here, too. Beginning to think that's my specialty.

At Lafayette Cemetery No. 1- I hitched onto a different tour group here, too. Beginning to think that’s my specialty.

That night we wanted to see this jazz thing that New Orleans is fairly famous for, so we took a cab to Frenchman Street (it was a bit too far for our sore feet to walk) and had dinner at The Marigny Brasserie. We ended up having a lovely meal there (NEVER ENOUGH JAMBALAYA), but we ended up there after realizing the wait for every other restaurant on the street was an hour long. This is something we experienced quite often when headed out to late dinners around 8 or 9 p.m. Everywhere was crazy busy and we ended up having to search around a lot for a place to grab a bite. So my tip is to either plan out dinner in advance and make reservations or eat an early dinner and have snacks on hand for later. Lesson learned. We did some jazz club hopping with our first stop being The Spotted Cat, which ended up being my favorite of the night. The band was young, hip and crazy-talented and the crowd was really feeling them. I think that’s what makes an awesome jazz club experience–the crowd. You need a lot of diversity and a lot of shameless, careless, totally un-self conscious dancing. I mean, who can mean-mug or simply nod their head when a live sextet is playing. Not me. I need hip shaking, twirling, smiling, flirting–all that good stuff. All the places we hit up later in the night, d.b.a., Maison and Blue Nile) all had great bands, but the crowds in those places were pretty lackluster. Bonus points of the night go to that guy selling grilled oysters on the side of the street, who let us help him grill the oysters in our heels and dresses.

I think this band had a pretty vague name, so if you know who they are let me know so I can credit them. They were so rad.

I think this band had a pretty vague name, so if you know who they are let me know so I can credit them. They were so rad.

The next day, we did the second most touristy thing we could do: A swap tour! Now, I am a massive animal lover and have always been fascinated by them. Just seeing the gators in their natural habitat swimming, eating marshmallows provided by our guide (gators love marshmallows apparently) was really cool. Even the simple activity of cruising along muddy swamp waters surrounded by these huge trees was so relaxing and a good natural antithesis to the very concrete-heavy activities we’d been doing.

Dun-Dun. Dun-Dun.

Dun-Dun. Dun-Dun.

When we got back to the city, we had a bite from the first most touristy thing to do: Cafe du Monde. Yes, the line is worth it. We got our beignets to-go (a slightly shorter line) and ate them back at the hotel a while later, which I totally do not suggest. If you don’t eat beignets right away when they’re at their hottest and puffiest, they sink into this dense, cold, hard-to-chew thing, which just kills the experience. We ambled around the French Quarter a bit and ran into the St.Patrick’s Parade going on right the middle of Decateur Street, with bands, people in funny outfits riding bikes and business people in trolleys all throwing out beads into the crowd.

St. Patrick's Day Parade from Decateur Street.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade from Decateur Street.

On our last night in town, we went to the very chic and very classic Hotel Monteleone. This place is home to the famous carousel bar, which looks exactly like you think it would and has been temporary home to writers (and drinkers!) like Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote and, of course, Tennessee Williams. We couldn’t grab a spot there, so we went to a separate bar close to the makeshift stage where Louis Prima’s daughter, Lena was playing with her band. Let me reiterate: the crowd is everything when it comes to have a good time in a jazz club. There were a lot of elite looking folks not really paying attention to the music or just sitting and nodding somberly. Not us, through. We jumped up from the couch and danced to just about every damn song she played, eliciting glares from future Stepford Wives and words of encouragement for the older folks around us we seemed to be genuinely happy to see young people enjoying jazz. We sweat out those calories from previously consumed fried alligator bites and even made a new friend: a Southern law student with a sassy attitude and huge sparkler on her hand from her very handsome fiancee. When you dance around a fancy hotel lounge like a maniac, people’s reactions are typically polar opposites. Needless to say, it was a total blast.

Lena Prima performing at Hotel Monteleone.

Lena Prima performing at Hotel Monteleone.

The next day was our last day, and we wanted to have one last hurrah before we jetted back to our homes. We had our tea leaves read at The Bottom of the Cup Tea Room–a supposedly haunted building with a very esteemed reputation for accurate readings. What’s especially cool about this place is that they record your reading on a CD and you get to take it home with you to refresh your memory on what you should expect in the coming years. My reading was very positive and sort of vague, where as Jess’s was very precise and detailed, so it all depends on who reads you and what they choose to share with you. It’s a fun thing to do on a girls trip–it made for a lot of conversation afterward about who we were supposedly marrying and when.

It was fabulous trip, and it gave me a better idea for what I’d like to do next time. I’d love to see the fine arts museum and spend more effort on finding the hip and happening dining and cocktail experiences like Cochon or Bar Tonique. I have a feeling that next time around it will be more of a ladies trip, rather than a girls trip. Don’t worry though, the enthusiastic dancing will continue.

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