More than Mardi Gras

This past October I had the privilege of taking an epic road trip with two of my best friends. This was something that had always on our bucket list; we had dreamed and talked about it so many times. One night around 2 a.m. we decided to go for it! We chose our dates and the planning began! New Orleans was top of the list! Now, I am most definitely a planner and one of my favorite hobbies is reading travel blogs. I believe you get a better sense of what to expect when you see a everyday human’s perspective and first hand experience rather than a tourist website. This can lead to fun for us travel blog junkies and misery for your friends who are saying “We don’t care!! Just plan the itinerary!!” So here is a breakdown of some of our adventures!

We reached New Orleans early in the morning since we opted to drive all night. We wanted to capitalize on every second we had in New Orleans! We stayed at the Crowne Plaza New Orleans French Quarter. The location was perfect, we were located on the corner of Canal and Bourbon Street. It was the perfect place to stay. We were close to restaurants, street car stops, Bourbon Street, and a very convenient Walgreens where we had to run and get ponchos and umbrellas to wear in what felt like a monsoon on one of the days we were there! The hotel staff was so gracious and let us check in early so we could get a good nap before we ventured out to explore!

We chose to buy passes for the street cars. It cut down on some of the walking and gave us a chance to see a glimpse of most of the city. We figured out the street car map very quickly and had a blast riding through the city just to take it in. The street car made for some pretty epic people watching. You have to remember, certain parts of New Orleans never stop partying. So be prepared for all walks of life to end up on your street car. First on our list, was Cafe Du Monde. We drove 12 hours for beignets and it was worth every hour!! We rode the Canal Street street car down to right outside the French Market. Everything at Cafe Du Monde moves VERY quickly. We barely had sat down and our beignets and coffee were in front of us! If I could eat something every day for the rest of my life, it would be a beignet and a Cafe Au Lait from Cafe Du Monde. Pure Heaven!

After eating all the beignets we could (and coming away from the deliciousness covered in powdered sugar), it was abundantly obvious we needed to walk! So we strolled Decatur street and took in the gorgeous architecture.We took in the sights and sounds of people enjoying their Sunday. We stopped to take pictures of the different monuments and unique structures along the way. The view of the Mississippi River is incredible! You can stop at a park bench and watch the riverboats come in and drop passengers off.

We ventured down to the French Market which was bustling with activity! Everyone was shopping for unique knick-knacks and trinkets. It was fun to walk around the area and listen to people haggling for the best price on their fabulous find! By the time we were done walking around the French Market, we were ready for some real New Orleans cooking! We wandered into the French Market Restaurant. My friends and I, LOVE food! We love to try new things and New Orleans is the perfect place to try new types of food! Typically, we plan our trips around where we are going to eat. So at The French Market Restaurant we each ordered something difference and decided to share. Between the three of us we ordered a Shrimp Po’ Boy, Jambalaya, and Alligator Bites with Tiger Sauce. Everything was DELICIOUS! I would eat jambalaya every day for breakfast it is so good! The Po’ Boy was good and even the alligator was tasty! It truly tasted like chewy chicken! I would eat anything covered in that tiger sauce! We mentioned to the waitress how much we loved the tiger sauce and she told us the ingredients! Now, I have never been able to replicate the recipe, even though I have definitely tried! I love that she was so excited that we loved the tiger sauce that she was willing to share it with us!

Next stop was Jackson Square! Jackson Square was probably my favorite spot in New Orleans. It has everything, history, architecture, music, and artistry! Paintings from local artists hung from the wrought iron fence. Street performers played their instruments or showcased their unique talents. We happened to arrive right before St. Louis Cathedral was closing. Thankfully we got the chance to go inside. The inside of the Cathedral was breathtaking. Between the murals on the ceiling and the alter down front you could not help but remain in a attitude of reverence and awe. There were people praying and lighting candles for loved ones they had lost. It was beautiful. I wish we could have spent more time in the St. Louis Cathedral. I definitely want to visit it again someday.

We decided to head back to the hotel for some rest time and showers before heading back out for the night. We decided that night to tackle Bourbon Street. We had a great time on Bourbon Street and if that is your scene you will love it. We had more fun people watching from the balcony of the restaurant we chose for the evening. We ate at Bourbon Cowboy. It was a yummy burger joint, but what drew us to it was the prime people watching location. We walked around Bourbon Street for a few hours and listened to all the live music. It was a fun experience, but definitely wasn’t the highlight of New Orleans for us.

After a amazing night’s sleep we headed to The Ruby Slipper Cafe for breakfast. I read about The Ruby Slipper Cafe on numerous travel blogs and from friends who had been there before! It was so much fun! The food was delicious and our waiter was hysterical! *Shout Out Trevor* I had the most amazing fried green tomatoes! I love the story behind The Ruby Slipper Cafe and was totally worth out 45 minute wait for a table. By the time we finished breakfast the skies had opened up and the rain was falling rapidly. This is where that perfectly located Walgreens comes in! We bought our rain gear and headed out to the garden district. Unfortunately, the rain would not subside for us to get off of our street car so we took the St. Charles Street Street Car to the end of the line and road it back. It surprisingly took hours to ride there and back to our hotel. Although, we didn’t get the chance to explore we did however get to watch New Orleanians go about their day, driving to work dropping their kids off at the schools on our route. It was a fun afternoon, just a very soggy afternoon.

Once we headed back to the hotel we decided to dry off and rest for a bit. The rain was still coming down and sometimes you just get to the point where there is just too much rain! I know there are plenty of places we could have gone to pass the time, but we really wanted to tour the garden district and the cemeteries. We didn’t get the chance to do either of those the way we wanted to this trip so I guess that means we will have to go back! After the rain subsided and our stomachs were growling we got back on the St. Charles Street street car and headed to the Camellia Grill. I could write an entire blog post about this place. We first heard about The Camellia Grill on The Harry Connick Jr Show. Harry Connick Jr, a native of New Orleans, was showcasing some of his favorite places in New Orleans. Let me tell you, we were not disappointed. From the service to the food, every detail was perfect. We loved it so much we went back for breakfast on our way out of town the next day. We had delicious gumbo and the perfect bacon cheeseburger. They were so gracious and treated us like family, asking about our trip and what we loved about the city. There’s no doubt The Camellia Grill was our favorite restaurant in New Orleans!

After dinner we decided to ride the street car back down the French Market Area and did some late night final exploring before our departure early the next morning. We got beignets and coffee from Cafe Du Monde one final time and bid farewell to the city that welcomed us with open arms. New Orleans is much more than the Mardi Gras parade every February. We were there three very short days and we barely scratched the surface of what this magical city has to offer. The people touched my heart the most. New Orleans has been through so much,but they LOVE their city. They’re passionate about its food and culture. I am so thankful I got to experience it with two of my favorite people. It is the perfect place to build memories that will last a lifetime.

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