So, we’ve decided that instead of giving each other extravagant Christmas gifts, that we really don’t need, we’d focus our funds on a short trip each December. Last year, we hit New York City. It was amazing.
This year, we headed to one of the few places left where it’s perfectly acceptable to be walking the streets at 7 am sipping vodka/Kool-aid from a Big Gulp cup….. (*clears throat* Not that either of us would do that)…….New Orleans.
Just an hour flight away, we parked ourselves smack dab in the middle of the French Quarter for 3 nights.
The French Quarter, ironically most of the architecture became Spanish after the first Great Fire, is the oldest neighborhood in the city of New Orleans and around every corner there’s music, food, art and the occasional impromptu wedding parade.
Jackson Square started as a military parade ground, in fact it’s where Louisiana officially became a US territory, but was designated a park when the central statue of Andrew Jackson, a Battle of New Orleans hero, was erected in 1856.
With its stunning spires, and founded in 1720, the St Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in the United States, flanks the western side of the park.
My dear friend Ellett recommended a carriage ride. He said it was a little “touristy” but everyone always enjoys them. The carriages line up in front of Jackson Square. (some nice lady on the street grabbed my Iphone a took a few excellent shots for us)
I’m pretty sure that I bonded with our mule, Elvis.
On the half-hour ride, our driver, Thiebaud, regaled us with historic tales of Napoleon, Joan of Arc, Andrew Jackson, Tennessee Williams, Lee Harvey Oswald, and, of course, Richard Simmons. Why is it that the locals always bring up Richard Simmons? We also heard about the Great Fire, the Second Great Fire, the Big Hurricane, the Next Big Hurricane, and the flood. Seems that God has done his best to take down this city, but the locals aren’t having any of that. They are a strong, spiritual people, eager to share their culture and great city with anyone who can handle all the humidity.
Sunday morning we hit the House of Blues for the legendary Gospel Brunch.
Great music, and Great food. They stuffed us full of chicken and waffles, man-n-cheese, biscuits and gravy, grits, and bottom-less mimosas. We highly recommend this one folks.
Pat O’Brien’s off of Bourbon St is a must for tourists. They claim to have invented the hurricane. For the most part, hurricanes seem to be entirely made of; sugar, rum and red dye number 5.
BTW, the glass is a gift with a hurricane purchase. I suppose that was to appease tourists who wanted to take them. (The bar will buy them back at the end of your meal if you choose not to keep them.) We choose not to keep them.
Anyone who comes to the French Quarter is also required to stop by Cafe Du Monde for cafe au lait (1/2 coffee / 1/2 hot milk) and beignets (french-style doughnuts). Pretty sure it’s a city ordinance. Cafe Du Monde opened in 1862 as a coffee stand in the French market and is open 24 hours a day, every day, except Christmas…..or during a hurricane.
Jamie wanted to check out the Mardi Gras World and I’m so glad that he did. Part museum and part workshop, it’s a bit of a walk from Cafe Du Monde but luckily there’s a free shuttle service as part of the admission price. During the 12 days of Marti Gras, there are 55 different 3-4 hour parades traveling down 5 different routes. And all of them are privately funded. We watched a short movie on the history of these Mardi Gras parades, learned what a “costume” is, and had a slice of King’s cake. Then we were free to roam and photograph the warehouse.
My pictures can’t possibly convey how enormous all these pieces were. Hardly anything was under 8 foot tall, and some were nearly 20.
The artisans sculpt huge sheets of Styrofoam, that are then covered in paper mache, into all the embellishments, or “props” we learned, that decorate the floats. The props are rarely used twice, but are sometimes reworked. This chick was reworking an old bust into an Indian maiden for an upcoming “Dream Catcher”themed float.
How could we possibly come to New Orleans, one of the most haunted cities in the U.S., and not take a ghost Tour? (Y’all can read about my obsession with haunted travel here.) We choose the Voodoo Bone Lady Tours.
For about an hour and a half our guide, Brian, walked us down the dark, moist streets of the French Quarter telling our small group tales of pirates, Voodoo, ghosts, zombies, and interviews with vampires. We even stopped in the middle of the tour for a drink at LaFitte’s Blacksmith Shop…one of the oldest bars in the country. (It never really was a blacksmith shop, but a place for the LaFitte brothers to fence stolen goods.)
I loved every minute of the tour.
It was all over way too soon. (just 3 nights)
What a magical place.
To quote one of my favorite Simpson’s episodes; A Streetcar Named Marge S5E2
Home of pirates, drunks and whores.
Tacky, overpriced souvenir stores.
If you wanna go to Hell
You should take a trip
To the Sodom and Gomorrah on the Mississip’,
Not sure we want to go to hell, (I know there were quite a few pictures of indulging in libations)
But we’ll definitely be going back to New Orleans.