Welcome to a new blog series written by my husband Sam and me!
One of the things we talked about most while dating (other than what flavor of ice cream we should try next) was our desire to travel. In our first year of marriage, we were lucky enough to make trips to Charleston, NYC, Seattle, Louisville, Orange Beach, and Asheville. We quickly learned that we have similar ideas of what our trips should consist of: a spirit of adventure, no set-in-stone itineraries, and finding (delicious) hole-in-the-wall eats. We absolutely loved traveling together and knew it was something we wanted to make a priority in our marriage. Fast forward to a few months ago, when Sam had the great idea to share our travels on my site – combining our love of exploring, food, and photography! It may take a while to backtrack and post about last year’s trips, so we’re starting with our most current vacation!
(Side note – we’re trying to figure out how to best write these posts, because we have pretty different written ‘voices’. Bear with us…another fun marriage adventure!)
New Orleans. N’awlins. NOLA. Whatever you want to call it, we got to experience this colorful city just a few months ago. NOLA is hodgepodge of cultures. It’s largely based in Spanish, French, African, Haitian, and American culture melded in 19th century, creating New Orleans’s signature style socially, architecturally, and gastronomically. New Orleans is the Big Easy, and things do move at a very different pace. It’s nice that no one really seems to be stressed out or hurried during their day. However, it also takes a while to see and do all the things the city has to offer. New Orleans is not the place you want to visit if you have a strict schedule for all things you want to do. It’s best just to be flexible, relax (preferably with a Hurricane from Pat O’Brien’s), and enjoy.
We all know that the French Quarter is synonymous with NOLA. Most of the Quarter includes shops, bars, and restaurants. However, there are plenty of historical sites you might enjoy checking out as well, including the St. Louis Cathedral, the nearby Old Ursuline Convent, or the Cabildo, which has played a significant role in American history. Street performers including artists, musicians, magicians, and dancers abound. We even got a personal poem written for us – that was actually pretty fun. We gave the poet a word – ours was “happiness” – and he promised to create a unique poem with that word within 15 minutes. We love it, and are now trying to find a good spot for this souvenir around the house!
The Bywater area is for the adventurous types. Downriver from the Quarter, it’s now transforming itself into hipster central. It’s filled with streets of beautiful shotgun houses, art galleries, thrift shops, and eateries. We found an incredible photography gallery owned by Christopher Porsche-West, a few blocks down from Booty’s Restaurant. It’s hosted in an old pharmacy storefront, and his work is signature “Nawlins”: colorful and full of emotion. If you are a photographer, this is a place you definitely need to visit.
If you’re tourists like us, go during the day. Some sections are heavily populated and bohemian, others aren’t. And watch out for falling Magnolia cones. As we were walking toward the French Market through a few neighborhoods, one fell and hit Molly square on the head. After a quick scream (it hurt, y’all!), she was ok, but with all the blood streaming down her face and onto the sidewalk, I thought she was trying to become a WWE wrestler. Needless to say, we never made it to the market, but we hear it’s fun to explore.
The Garden District is another quintessential New Orleans location. This picturesque section includes street after street of plantation style homes built by wealthier American merchants during the mid-19th century. Home to celebrities and every day people, it’s good to take a day and just walk around. Step inside the only home which can be publicly toured at the New Orleans Opera Guild. This was a great stop after we’d been exploring for a few hours, but as we’re looking back at it now, all we can remember was being terrified by a creepy child-size doll used to display an old christening gown. That doll is not necessary to show off the beauty of the home, Opera Guild. Not necessary.
Right across the street from Commander’s Palace is Lafayette Cemetery, New Orleans’s oldest. We took a few minutes before our meal to stroll through it, reading a few tombstones here and there. The two that stood out the most to us were the ones below…hello, 19th-century cougar! (I also would like to go out in style with a green mausoleum. Why hadn’t I thought of that before?!)
Commander’s Palace: Our good friends said we HAD to make reservations at Commander’s Palace. This was, by far, our favorite dining experience – yes, it was an experience – during the trip. Gracious waiters who pulled the chairs out for women (me likey), $0.25 martinis, outstanding three-course meals for a reasonable cost…we felt fancy. Did I mention 25-cent martinis?! Try the turtle soup, too.
Cafe Du Monde: We always try to find at least one donut and ice cream shop on trips to satisfy our cravings. For donuts, there is nothing better than the beignets at Cafe Du Monde. Their hot chocolate (if mounds of powdered sugar on fried dough isn’t enough for that sweet tooth) is out of this world, folks. Just have a bed handy for the sugar crash after your visit. Angelo Brocato’s on N. Carrollton was good for ice cream if you are in the area.
Surrey’s: After a couple of days of dining out, we were craving some healthy green juice, which is our usual breakfast at home. Surrey’s was the solution! Sam still raves about their bananas foster french toast and they also made the BEST granola I’ve ever had! Do yourself a favor and have breakfast there one morning.
Booty’s Street Food. Booty’s was a great find our first morning in the city. We wanted something out of the ordinary – not cajun/creole-based – and this restaurant featured many ethnic foods that hit the spot (Nutella crepe? Don’t mind if I do). Plus, it was in a funky old building that Molly couldn’t stop taking pictures of. Great food + good picture ops = a perfect travel breakfast. If you can’t make it for breakfast, that’s okay – it’s open for all three meals.
The New Orleans Streetcar line is very user friendly and is great way to see the city for tourists. Unfortunately for us, the St. Charles Line wasn’t as reliable as some of the other lines because of some road construction creating detours.
Go to Cafe Du Monde before 7am or after 9pm for the shortest wait time. Worth it!
We don’t recommend using the public bathrooms downtown after dark….that’s all you need to know.
That was our trip to the Big Easy! We are glad to share it with you today, and hope to post more of our trips in the next few months!