First Stop! New Orleans!
I have always been drawn to NOLA, I can't remember when I first learned of the beautiful and ugly history, all I know is that I have wanted to visit for the longest time for many reasons. NOLA is amazingly rich in history (good and bad), art, music, culture and food and I couldn’t wait to experience it especially with my hubby by my side.
I felt at home from the moment that we arrived. It was like my soul was finally at home, does that sound weird, oh well I am a little weird anyway. After only a few hours of exploring around the French Quarter I knew it by heart. I could tell you right now where every and anything was. I guess I fit right in because I have always loved the “dark”, “weird”, “unusual”, the “outcast”, “free thinkers”, the artist and of course I have always loved everything related to vampires, witches, voodoo, all religions, and especially HISTORY! I will admit I was an Anne Rice book lover, I also loved the Originals, so that was some of it as well. But the main thing about NOLA is its history. The good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly – it is rich in history and culture like nowhere that I have ever been. I am one of those people who have learned a little about a lot of things, I have dreamed of being a writer so I researched tons of myths and fictions, I love history especially early US History so for me, NOLA has just called to me!!! In a way, NOLA is just like me, I do not fit into one mold, I do not identify with one thing or another – I like a little of everything and I try to respect and learn from everyone and everything. NOLA has a history that is so dark but yet beautiful (just like a lot of historical towns), her past wasn’t easy, it was downright brutal in some aspects but through it all they have remained a place for all to come and be respected. NOLA has examples of so many different races, religions, countries, people and cultures that you have to admire how beautiful it has become because of the good and bad. NOLA has also been a place of inspiration for so many things and without that “melting pot” of a history that was / is there, then we would not have the beautiful history, food, art or sounds that inspired some of the best of our world.
I highly recommend learning as much as you can about the history of this city and take a tour or two of the plantations nearby. We went to the Oak Alley and the Laura Plantation, but there are many beautiful plantations in the area. I will admit that I was expecting a toned down version of the horrors that probably took place so I was shocked when the tour guide at Laura Plantation gave us a very descriptive look at what life may have been like. Our guide didn’t hold anything back as she talked about the past and I enjoyed that deeply. Our past is something that we can’t change, but we can learn from it through honesty, knowledge and respect. We can also look at our past history mistakes and find ways of helping things that are going on today – we can’t forget that slavery is very much still active today in Africa and other parts of the world; along with child labor, trafficking and human sex slave trafficking.
For me touring NOLA was fascinating, the buildings are amazing. The food was delicious and rich and I haven't tasted anything so good. The people were so nice and helpful. It was kind of funny that outside of the religious St. Louis Cathedral you had “pirates”, Palm Readers, homeless people conversing, voodoo sellers and etc. but yet everyone seemed to be respectful of the other. To me that showed that regardless of the past, the present or the future that this city will make it one way or another. I am sure we just had a few good days and it isn’t always so nice, because seriously, come on, what city has peace and harmony all the time, or maybe it was the fact that I have built this place up in my mind so much that I just didn’t see the bad things, whatever it was I loved being there. I loved hearing the jazzy sounds from the bars and restaurants, I loved smelling spicy mixes throughout the Quarter from all of the local shops, I loved walking by the street artist set up everywhere, I loved walking into the Voodoo shops and looking around after meditating in St. Louis Cathedral, I loved walking into the Cemeteries and exploring the history after riding in one of the many carriage rides around town. So for me this is my favorite place out of all of the places that I have ever been.
But I wasn’t nervous, or anxious about being here I was just comfortable and excited. I wanted to take in as much as I could about the history, the people, the sights and sounds and especially the food. We took pictures of everything that we could. Did I say that the old buildings are absolutely gorgeous. Learning the history of where the people came from, the traditions that they brought with them (including voodoo) was enjoyable to say the least.
We explored the Garden District, the Lafayette Cemetery, the St. Louis Cemetery (this one cost and you must go in with a guide now), Jackson Square, the water front area, the French Market, and so on. I think we walked over 10 miles a day while we were here just looking at everything we could. I personally wouldn’t do one of those paid tours, although they do give tons of history on everything that you may not otherwise have unless you google everything. We explored most of the city on our own with the help of my pre planning and tourist guide books, but I kinda wished we did a few tours but they are just so expensive. We did have to pay for the tour of St. Louis Cemetery and we did one of the mule driven carriage rides and that guy gave us more history and information then we could have asked for. The few cabs that we took also had drivers that were more than eager to give you the insiders scoop as well.
***I will post our itinerary and tons of pictures (they will be available for purchase as well) once I get my computer back from the shop so you can see how we did it all in the short time frame that we had.
One of my favorite stores that we visited while we were there: Wicked Orleans – you must stop in there and tell them that we sent you. The staff was excellent and they shipped a jacket that my husband had fell for while browsing around so that we didn’t have to carry it too all of our destinations. I plan to contact them some upcoming photo shoots that I am planning because they had an excellent variety of out of the norm clothing (pin up is what I am looking for right now). Also don't forget to stop by the French Market for your local items. While shopping there we made some friends with people from all over the world.
We stayed at Hotel Modern and it was small but very nice. The staff were attentive and helpful.
As you will read from the next trips, somehow I subconsciously booked hotels that were all in that “art deco” early 1900ish style.
Places we ate at:
I don’t know what it was about NOLA but everything we ate was just amazing. It’s like people put their heart and souls into the seasoning or something because I have never tasted food like I did there and I am not exaggerating. We have traveled a lot in the past few years and have tried everything from Wildebeest sausage to Turkish Kabob’s. Do not get me wrong we have tasted some amazing food but for me there was just something about the food in NOLA. You also have to remember that I get sick extremely easy after all of my surgeries. There is no rhyme or reason for it and it isn’t one food over the other so there is no way for me to plan or predict it. But I didn’t get sick once while in NOLA, nothing that I ate bothered me in the least bit, which was a very nice surprise (and more reasons for me to just move here right lol).
I must explain the story on how we found this place and I swear every time we tell people the story we can’t help but laugh and I guess you just have to know me to understand. We were walking down the street on the day full day in NOLA and I guess the person handing out flyers (probably the owner or manager) seen us looking at the buildings discussing our breakfast options and this man suggested Hobnobbers. Okay, I got to back up a little let me just say I mean this in the most positive good way I can explain this story but this was a bigger man, with tattoos, wearing a tank top and a hat; he had an outspoken personality and as I am typing this I am laughing to myself because we didn’t know what to think of this person and he was pointing to a place that was literally a hole in the wall. But his personality won us over, he reminded me one of my favorite cousins and I just trusted him or maybe I was a little afraid but none the less we allowed him to walk us down the street into a building, down a hall way to our destination. You know me I reference movies a lot so I was a little panicked by this point but I was so in love with the city that I just like okay, let’s do this thing (besides I had my amazing husband with me so I knew I was safe). When I say hole in the wall, trust me I mean it and had he not personally walked us in I do not know that I would have tried it. But OMG I am telling you the people were so friendly, good downhome southern people. The food was perfectly priced (cheap I might add), the portions were huge and it tasted so good. I hate we found it on our last day and that they closed so early because I was wanting to try everything on their menu.
We went out to explore the Garden District and got caught in the middle of a horrible storm, but since we were on a time crunch we explored the area any way. What is a little rain? This place was definitely needed for that chilly rainy day, we both ordered a nice cup of coffee (mine had a little amaretto in it!) along with our meal. It was very good food, decent prices and it was a nice location.
While touring the area, stop on in for one of their amazing frozen daiquiris. I tried the peach and let me tell you it was awesome!!! We split a ½ portion of Muffuletta along with a sampling of Fried Alligator. The staff was friendly, it is an outdoorsy environment so you get the sights and sounds while enjoying lunch or dinner. It was an amazing little lunch.
813 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA
I had honestly forgotten about this famous little café when we booked our trips. I know it is mentioned a lot in the different movies and it is world renowned but it totally slipped my mind until my aunt reminded me to stop by. I am so pleased we did (at least 2 times actually). We split an order of their Beignets and we had to try the Iced Au Lait. Did I mention that I fell in love with the city and the food here? Ok, I will say it again, we were not ever let down while in NOLA. Later when we got home we had some items shipped to us from several of the little stores that sold pralines and coffee and such – well we also got a box of mix for the Beignets and I hate myself for looking but these things are horrible in calories!!!! Just do not ever look up the calories in one of these amazingly tasty donuts. Also make sure you have cash when you come here because they do not take cards.
Another tip from our cab driver who by the way was the best and I wish we got his name because he gave us a lot of insight into the history and city while we were riding around with him. But he stated to take refrigerated biscuits broken up a little fried in a little oil then topped with powdered sugar is close to the Beignet.
1000 Decatur Street
Again another restaurant with outdoor seating and usually a band playing. We stopped here one night for dinner and we got the same thing here … Muffuletta, their version of the Taste of NOLA (red beans and rice, jambalaya and gumbo – like usual I omitted the gumbo for safety with my food allergy to shell fish). And once again we were pleasantly surprised with the taste and sounds of this beautiful city.
1068 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
This was one of our late night dinners in the room after walking all day sightseeing, not eating but snacking. We ordered a Philly Pizza and it was very good and not expensive. They didn’t take forever to deliver either.
We had taken one of the carriage ride tours around the French Quarter and our guide suggested Frank’s. Since I get sick so easy I was scared to eat at the restaurant, so we did take out and enjoyed it in our room. Just like most of the buildings in NOLA, this one was narrow and small but pleasant. With that said, they were extremely nice to us and even catered to my food allergies by allowing me to switch the Gumbo for extra Red Beans & Rice on their Taste of New Orleans Plate. My husband ordered the Muffuletta (1/2 portion that is) and we got the Tiramisu for desert. Let me just say that OMG this was some amazing food. Who knew that something so simple as Red Beans and Rice could taste so good!!!! The Muffuletta and the Tiramisu were both equally as tasty!!!
Hard Rock Café
125 Bourbon St
New Orleans, LA
After our flight and checking into the hotel, we stumbled across Hard Rock while walking around. We have a habit of stopping in at all Hard Rocks and getting a drink at least. I have glasses from all over the world. The staff were very very good here and gave us a lot of tips and advice for the area. Unfortunately, I feel that Hard Rock should change up their menu per location because I am starting to grow tired of the same menu. We had the same thing in Johannesburg, Finland, New Orleans, Seattle, etc. They have maybe one “area favorite” that is more of a local taste but usually it is expensive and I haven’t found them to be very tasty.
1104 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA
We enjoyed the atmosphere here, they had a group performing and I will tell you that they were really, really good! The food was enjoyable as well. The staff was very nice and attentive both times that we went here (we went twice one because of the music playing).
We will be coming back to NOLA, probably a lot so I will update our guide as often as I can.
Keywords: Expat, Explore, Family, French Quarter, Garden District, History, JustDrive, Louisiana, Love, NC Photography, NOLA, New Orleans, Photography, South, Travel, Travel, Vampires, Wanderlust, Wicked
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