City Breaks, Featured, Foodie Travel, Travel Narrative

New Orleans: A Good Old Fashioned Trip Report

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While I love my semi-new magazine-style format here on The Suitcase Scholar, it’s been far too long since I wrote a good old fashioned trip report.  So while I will be writing individual New Orleans posts, I thought I’d start with a brief overview of the trip as a whole.  You know–because it’s my blog, and I can do things like that.

Of course, it being my blog, it is also semi-obsessively-compulsively designed.  Thus, there are some guidelines I’ve created for this trip report.  First, everything in green italics below will be the topic of a future post.  And second, all photos are iPhone photos only.  I took 1,008 photos with my ‘real’ camera, and you’ll get to see a great many of those in posts-to-come.  Promise.

Arrival Day

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After dropping my bag off at the Maison Dupuy Hotel, I made a beeline for lunch at Mr. B’s Bistro.  After all, it was approaching 2pm, and I’d not even had breakfast yet.  I smiled, knowing that this would be the last time I’d be hungry in at least a week.

Arrival in New Orleans requires at least one day of random walking around, and that’s how I spent the afternoon–randomly walking around.  I’m pretty sure there was drinking involved.  And then, eventually, more eating–this time at K Paul’s.

Of course there was pre-and post-dinner drinking, at Chartres House (among several other locations).  And then a semi-early bedtime, at least by New Orleans standards.  After all, my flight left Philadelphia at 6:30 eastern time that morning.

Good Friday

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–New Orleans is a city that knows how to do breakfast.  And breakfast at Brennan’s on Royal Street did not disappoint.

Because I’d not had the chance to explore any of the city’s cemeteries on my visit last year, my next stop of the morning was St. Louis Cemetery #1, conveniently located two blocks from my hotel.  I did not schedule a tour; instead, I just kind of wandered around, snapping photos.

After a failed attempt at a hop-on hop-off bus tour, I wandered back into the Quarter.  After yet another failed attempt at being a tourist–this time at the Voodoo Museum–I continued my wandering through an accidental bar and then onward towards the river.  I strolled through the French Market–which was a very different experience over Easter weekend than it had been a little more than a year prior, on a random day in late January.

By now you might be thinking ‘gee, it’s been at least three hours since you’ve eaten’.  And you’d be correct!  Central Market Grocery to the rescue!  I enjoyed a quarter of a muffaletta while sitting on the bank of the Mississippi in the sun.  Tip:  if you are going to sit on the bank of the Mississippi in the sun, wear pants.  Not a dress.  Definitely wear underwear.  Just saying.

After a bit more walking, a lot more photo-taking, and two or three Pimms Cups at Napoleon House, it was high time to return to my lovely balcony at the Maison Dupuy to relax (and get a little bit of work done) before my dinner at Arnaud’s. There then may have been some Bourbon Street wandering.  I like to take photos, ok?

Saturday

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Shhh–hear that?  It’s the sound of the seams of my pants already beginning to stretch as I walk towards the Court of the Two Sisters for the Saturday Jazz Brunch.

To counteract aforementioned seam-stretching, I decided to go for a little post-breakfast, pre-lunch walk–this time out of the Quarter, across Esplanade Ave to scope out the fabled Frenchman Street area.  Because it was early on a Saturday, there wasn’t anything actually going on–but I was happy to get my bearings in this part of town so I could return later.

After my morning stroll, it was time to learn how to cook.  You know, so I could continue to eat like this upon returning home.  An afternoon class at The New Orleans School of Cooking was both informative and, I have to say, delicious.

But wait!  I’m not done eating yet!  My dinner at Bourbon House was passable at best, but the view from my Bourbon-Street-facing table was an experience in and of itself.  I highly recommend it for the sheer entertainment factor.  And hey people on Bourbon Street changing your clothes pressed up against the giant window of a restaurant?  Yeah–we can see you!

Easter

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This was, hands down, the best day of my trip.  And I wrote all about it here.

But what I failed to mention is that my day didn’t end after that last parade.  Oh no.  I then hopped in a taxi (I’d have walked, but it was pouring) and headed on over to Frenchman Street and The Three Muses where I remained for the entire evening.

I then returned to the Maison Dupuy to sleep for precisely four hours.

Monday

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I love the French Quarter.  But there’s more to this part of the country than that six-by-twelve block area.  So bright and early on Monday morning, I rented a car and drove out of the city.  Don’t worry–I’m not gone for long.

I spent the morning at Houmas House Plantation, the afternoon at Laura Plantation (driving past but not stoping at Oak Alley), and made it back to the Quarter in time for a drink at the Carousel Bar before my evening reservation at Cafe Adelaide.  Oh–and I even managed to squeeze in a lunchtime po boy at a little seafood shack next to Laura Plantation.  And by ‘squeeze in’ I’m most definitely referring to my ever-tightening pants.

After dinner, I strolled over to possibly-my-favorite-bar-in-Nola-for-no-good-reason, Molly’s on the Market, to meet up with a friend I’d made on my last visit to town.  I determined, once and for all, that I simply must learn to drink beer.  Because when you order wine in New Orleans, people look at you funny.  And one simply can’t drink gin all the time.

And yes, this was another four hour sleep night.  Sleep is for work nights, right?  Right.

Tuesday

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My last day in New Orleans found me once heading out of the city–at least for the morning.  I took an early morning swamp tour with Dr. Wagner’s Honey Island Swamp Tour Company before returning to the city to explore City Park.  Having skipped breakfast, I was actually relieved to have lunch reservations right there at Ralph’s on the Park.

While I really should have driven my rental back to the hotel to have the lovely valet park it for me, I decided instead to do a little Garden District slash cemetery slash Magazine Street drive-slash-stroll.  This is where my camera batter died and, incidentally, where I ran out of energy as well.  I took my dead electronics as a hint and headed back to the hotel to recharge my own batteries.  A twenty minute nap made everything better.

The late afternoon and early evening was spent saying goodbye to the French Quarter–which, incidentally, involved a good deal of drinking.  I returned to some old favorites (Napoleon House, I love you) and even branched out to try some new, totally-unlike-me locales (home of the famous Hand Grenade?  I simply must try it!)

Dinner was both the best of times and the worst of times.  After abandoning my meal at St. Marie, I decided to take a risk and go the ultimate tourist route–oysters at Acme Oyster House.  

Was I sad to leave New Orleans early the next morning?  You have no idea.  Truth be told, had I the time and the money, I’d have happily turned right around at my home airport and boarded a return flight.

But for now, I’ll have to make do with reliving my visit by writing about it.  So what say you–which restaurant, tour, experience, or story do you want to hear about the most?  Please tell me in the comments below and I’ll be happy to make that my next post.  

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