Welcome to Louisiana!
We’re here for 4 nights and two days and Tajah gives NOLA a huge thumbs up...or she would if she had thumbs.
Why? Because she's got 2 full days of rest with no car time! Plus she got this bitchin’ necklace (but isn't admitting to flashing bewbs to get it).
Although we drink (often), we’re not exactly bar-hopping fiends, in fact prior to this trip the last mixed drink I had in a bar was at least a year prior. We’re also not late night party animals, I’m a night owl but my partying tendencies were curtailed when I married a guy who is snoring after a few drinks or after the clock strikes 10. So I was a little concerned about visiting New Orleans, especially just a week before they really start rolling out the Mardi Gras crazy. I shouldn’t have worried, this place is so much more than just alcohol, revelry, beads and boobies.
But yeah, they do have a few bars here.
Because we have senorita gato along for the ride, our hotel options are limited, especially when we’re trying to book in larger cities. I know we’ll need on-site parking and a place that’s not going to be crazy loud at night OR during the day, and nothing I found in the heart of things really fit the bill, so we ended up at a LaQuinta in Metarie. The place was cheap as heck and it was in a good part of town, but was more motel than hotel. I won’t dwell on details, but let’s just say we found the night clerk at the front desk with her head on a pillow sound asleep at 9pm and again the next morning at 7am, all three days! Needless to say there wasn’t any fresh morning coffee brewed to go with our beignets.
We planned two full days in New Orleans, our first would be spent wandering from the French Quarter to the Garden District, the second day is reserved for the WWII museum.
Mike is militantly an early morning person, so I’ve been forced into this weird lifestyle where we’re usually up way before normal humans, which means that we get to see a side of party towns like New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Key West that most people miss out on. Of course we also miss out on a lot of sleep, but I think it’s worth it (most of the time, just don’t talk to me during that first hour or two).
We made it into the city and found cheap parking right on the waterfront in front of Jackson Square and there was no line for beignets at Cafe du Monde, so of course Mike got to crow about how the early bird blah blah blah, whatever, I needed more coffee.
We spent the next few hours wandering the streets as the city woke up. What an amazing place! I took entirely too many photos, most of which looked like 99% of every other tourist’s photos of the French Quarter, well, except mine were sans boobs. Sorry. Oh, I do have a pic of an A$$ though.
On the advice of a friend who lived in New Orleans for years I booked two walking tours, both through Free Tours by Foot. If you’re not familiar with this company they offer tours where you decide how much you think the tour is worth after it’s completed. It seemed a smart bet that the tour guides would be pretty good if they trusted a bunch of idiot tourists to not stiff them on a daily basis.
Our first tour started at the base of Mr. Jackson’s fine statue.
Our tour guide Sean was a native of the city whose family had lived here for generations. And he didn’t have an accent. Whaaaaa??? So yeah the first thing we learned is that not everyone here sounds like they’re extras in The Big Easy, in fact most locals don’t have an accent, but Hollywood thought they should, so that’s how they’re portrayed. Mind...blown.
We spent two hours walking the streets, gawking at beautiful buildings and learning the ugly, amazing, crazy and awesome stories behind them.
Sean also pointed out his favorite places to eat so we had some ideas for lunch. After the tour we headed to the farmer’s market on Poydras to see if we could find anything remotely vegetarian for Mike - yep, he’s one of those non-meat-eating weirdos, but I can’t tease him about it too much because he’s skinny and healthy and I’m fat, so yeah. Anywhoo, if you’re a vegetarian in New Orleans you’d better take up drinking because that’s about all you’re going to find to eat. So we did, and had an incredible (and incredibly huge) daiquiri made with fresh fruit from one of the market stands. With a nice afternoon buzz well in hand I opened the NOLA transportation app and attempted to navigate their bus system to get us to our 1:30pm tour that would begin at Lafayette Cemetery. After standing at the wrong bus stop for about 10 minutes some kind drunk told us we were obviously country mice and pointed us to the correct stop across the street. I’ll admit, he’s right, we’re from the country and I never learned to comfortably navigate city public transportation. I’d rather be lost in the middle of nowhere on motorcycles with no cell phone signal and only a paper map and compass than have to figure out a transfer on a city bus system. Pathetic, I know. On the plus side, Mike did find a cat.
Fortunately, our bus drivers were ever so kind to the idiots from Oregon and we got where we needed to be with time to spare.
Our second tour included Lafayette Cemetery and the Garden District. I can’t remember our guide’s name, but he was cool and we learned a lot about architecture, history, why dead people aren’t put in the ground around here, and where John Goodman lives. Here (John Goodman, that is).
The cemetery was artistically gorgeous, but touristicly overcrowded. I would have killed to have a few hours of quiet time here in the early morning or evening to shoot photos, as it was I had to time shots carefully to avoid the unwashed masses, which is frustrating and sort of wrecks the ethereal and sombre mood that should surround a place like this. Still, if you’re in NO, do NOT miss seeing this cemetery.This picture was an oops as I was doing some long shutter work and moved the camera too quickly, but I sort of liked the effect.
The Garden District is made up of impeccably maintained historic homes. Our tour guide filled our brains with history, building facts and details about details, it was fascinating and I’ve sadly forgotten it all! I’m blaming the Lethe effect on lack of food and sufficiency of alcohol in my system. Still, we had a wonderful time.
Luckily my “local” friend had given me the names of a few vegetarian places in town that she recommended, one was this tiny hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese place called Lilly’s Cafe. The food was plentiful and absolutely wonderful. Ahhhhh.
We spent the another few hours after our early dinner racing around to the antique stores in the French Quarter. Mike is a crazy collector of all things moto, so typically while I’m riding coasters, he’s buying crap at antique stores. There weren’t any coasters around so I was stuck wandering these tiny stores crammed full of everything from antebellum oddities to modern knick-knacks. He did find a few cool things, and I had some fun just wandering, shooting pictures and soaking up atmosphere.
We were both happy and tired as we walked back to the car that night.It's impossible to be unhappy when you spy a horse with wings on the way to your car.