Wednesday, June 3, 2015

How I Did New Orleans in a Day (Even in the Rain!)

Earlier this week I had the chance to spend some time in New Orleans for the first time. It's a city that I've always wanted to visit, but with my ship docking early Sunday at 8a.m. I finally had the chance spend some time there before flying back home early Monday morning. While I didn't have as much time as I wanted (a long weekend would be ideal), here are a few things I got to experience while there. I took a taxi with a few other people from the port to Harrah's Hotel, checked my bag with the valet then started walking!

Mr. Lovebird makes fun of me for doing touristy-type things at times, and if he had been with me he definitely would've poked fun at me going here, but guess what? It was totally worth it! I had already drank way too much coffee that morning on the ship so I only got one order of beignets (and it's officially pronounced "beh-nays" not "been-yays" as I often hear). I made a video showing the crazy line then shot the one below just before I finished my last beignet and was sure to give fair warning to my last minute table mate so she didn't think I was talking to myself (the waiter did and was so confused!):

St. Louis Cathedral/Jackson Square

There was the annual Oyster Festival taking place that day (it seems like there's always some type of festival on the Riverwalk!) but before I planned to head there I couldn't help but notice the St. Louis Cathedral. It is a beauty! I read the book Pillars of the Earth so anytime I see a cathedral I can't help but think of it. As I walked through the park at Jackson Square and took a few pictures I  noticed a procession (quick video here), and it dawned on me that mass was starting. I was able to join just on time, and it was a beautiful experience - the property is undergoing renovation too. 

French Quarter

While the general area I was at was within the French Quarter, I included this as its own experience because simply walking the streets was an event!

From the art galleries, quaint shoes, experiencing the architecture and the live music, strolling through the French Quarter is definitely recommended. It started raining while I was walking, but it stopped briefly before an onslaught came which brings me to...


I started with homemade boudin
The last meal I ate before disembarking was French toast, eggs and bacon so when it was raining after mass I chose this restaurant which is adjacent to St. Louis Cathedral (plus it was highly rated on Yelp!). My waiter Bill was very helpful with all of my questions and when I told him I had a hard time making up my mind, he made a special combo order for me! 

Once the rain started pouring down again he let me know I was welcome to stay (I stayed for over an hour, but finally gave up!) and added some extra pineapple on my Chunky Chatres sundae (a special Stanley flavor like Rocky Road). When I had to be rolled ventured back outside I ducked under awnings until I was back across from Cafe Du Monde trying to hail a taxi back to Harrah's. Several others had the same idea so after 20 minutes of waiting in the pouring rain I was thankful for a slowdown so I could walk back. I considered Uber, but it's relatively new to New Orleans and ridiculously overpriced - my .7mi walk which took me 15 minutes was $22 and that wasn't even surge pricing. 


Along this waterfront area I finally made my way to what remained of the Oyster Festival, but it appeared to be rained out so I kept walking. That's when I noticed my ship was still there! It was scheduled for a 4p.m. departure (it's amazing how quickly they turn a ship around), but it was delayed by 30 minutes due to the rain. The Mississippi River is so curvy, and I watched in amazement as the ship made the first curve tilting dramatically. While I didn't get that part on video, I did capture the ship as it passed by - and yes, I waved to the cruisers!:

From here I noticed the Audubon Aquarium, but it was closing time so I made a mental note to check it out in the future especially if I'm back in town with the kids. I continued walking praying I wouldn't get rained on and remembered my umbrella was in my suitcase back at Harrah's. 

A few more street scene pics, and I was back at Harrah's and in a taxi to my hotel by the airport. I stayed at the Crowne Plaza, which had free wifi and a free shuttle starting at 4a.m. just in time for my flight, so I was happy to decompress for the evening.

It was a fun quick visit, but New Orleans, I'll definitely be back!

Have you been to New Orleans? Any must-dos for my next visit?