A few weeks ago we traveled to New Orleans for the first time. It was Halloween weekend and I haven’t posted about it because I have been recovering until today.
We both had to work on Friday so we didn’t make it to the city until after 10:00 pm. Alas, like New York, the city never sleeps. Well, French Quarter never sleeps. Our friends had booked a place through Airbnb in the Garden District and it couldn’t have been a better location. After dropping our bags, we took a short Uber directly to one end of Boubon Street.
Despite the fact that the driver warned us about the smell, nothing could have prepared me for the foul and strong stench that slapped me in the face as soon as we stepped onto the street. Multiple coworkers told me to wear close-toed shoes in the quarter because as the night goes on, the street gets flooded with unknown liquids.
After getting my bearings and overcoming slight sensory-overload, I was totally engrossed by the lights, balconies, noise and people. It was magical, but not fairy-tail magic, voodoo magic. It took almost two hours for us to walk from one end of Bourbon to the other — we stopped in the occasional bar and shop, paid tribute to Marie Laveaux (the queen of voodoo) and finished the long journey at Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, the oldest bar in America.
Pirate Jean Lafitte was a crucial force in the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans: “American forces lead by General Andrew Jackson were grossly outnumbered. Due to the circumstances an unusual union formed – the notorious pirate Jean Lafitte and his men joined the American forces to defend New Orleans. On January 8, 1815, a polyglot band of 4,000 militia, frontiersmen, former Haitian slaves and Lafitte’s pirates defeated the British at Chalmette Battlefield, just a few miles east of the French Quarter.”
As you enter the bar, it feels like you stepped back in time: the rustic brick and wood structure is dimly lit by candlelight, in the center is a fireplace where it’s said you can gaze into the flames and see spirits and as your round the corner, you’re greeted by the soft glow of … daiquiri machines (similar to gas station Slurpee machines). I’m not sure if Jean Lafitte would be impressed by my Voodoo daiquiri drink choice but I like to think that we found the pirate booty.
We closed the night at Cafe Du Monde, famous for their beignets and coffee. Clayton’s mom, who had been to New Orleans before, told us to go early because we may want to go again … and that is the best piece of advice she could’ve given. I’m telling you: they were heavenly.
After five short hours of sleep we awoke feeling the energy and magic of New Orleans. Okay, that’s a lie. I awoke early and had to wait an hour and a half before I could convince everyone to go get breakfast and start exploring. We started by walking the grounds at Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, the oldest city-operated cemetery in New Orleans.
From the cemetery, we ventured to a street car stop. After waiting over 20 minutes in the pre-storm humidity (and realizing this was on no ones bucket list but mine) we caught a cab to the French Quarter. During the day, the energy was still contagious but it was a different vibe — I feel like New Orleans is the Vegas of the South, complete with a
little lot of southern charm.
The French Quarter is much bigger than I thought — in my mind, I was picturing a town square but the quarter itself is about 13 blocks long by 10 blocks wide and each block has it’s own personality. Bourbon Street (party central in the Big Easy), Royal Street (eclectic shopping and entertainment) and Frenchman Street (features as much entertainment inside venues as it does on the street).
Later that day, after a nap and Florida Gator win, we geared up for our Halloween festivities. We headed straight to Frenchman’s Street, host to one of the biggest annual Halloween celebrations, for locals and tourist alike. Luckily we stopped in a bar as their band was completing sound check and it wasn’t too crowded. A short while later, a penguin playing the sax, gorilla on the keyboard and a few other band-mates rocked our socks off.
We spent the rest of the evening exploring and people-watching. My favorite costumes from the night include: the knights of Monty Python (including one with the coconuts), Richard Simmons and jellyfish (using neon rope lights on umbrellas).
The past few weeks since New Orleans has been filled with socials on socials. We attended a whiskey tasting event with samples from Texas, Kentucky, Japan, Scotland and Ireland; and a 20’s themed gala for a local non-profit’s 20th anniversary. I’m counting down the days until a relaxing reunion in Phoenix.