Friday, April 30, 2010

Inside the French Quarter

Last month, my boyfriend and I had the privilege of visiting New Orleans, LA.

Unfortunately, I don't have an abundance of photographs from this trip, simply because I knew that the pictures wouldn't do it justice. You cannot truly capture the lively atmosphere and experience with photographs or words, but below I will give you a snapshot of my experience inside the French Quarter.

Friday 03/12/10

We got into the city around 8:00 pm on Friday night, and called for directions to the place we were staying. My boyfriend's boss lives inside the French Quarter and invited us to stay in his guest room. Austin's boss met us on one of the main streets on his bicycle so we could follow him thru the twists and turns of all the one-way streets leading up to his house.

After navigating through the hectic New Orleans traffic, we finally got parked and settled in. We took a tour of our host's luxurious million-dollar home and sipped on some red wine before leaving for dinner.

We literally walked down the street with my boyfriend's boss and his wife to a great little Japanese Dim Sum restaurant, Yuki Izakaya, located on the corner of Frenchmen St. and Decatur St.
This was my first time to try Dim Sum and I loved it!

A heads-up about dim sum, if you've never had it - you should order several items off the menu because the portions are very small! This meal consisted of many firsts for me! I had never drank sake or eaten edamame before. We also ordered curry fries, spring rolls, shiitake mushrooms, fried chicken, seared tuna, and a few other items that I couldn't eat because of my shellfish allergy. Everything was amazing - I was surprised with how tasty the curry fries were.

The atmosphere of the restaurant was very upbeat. As the night went on, it turned into more of a club than a restaurant. There was loud music playing and you could hear the chaos of Frenchmen street in the background. As we were eating dinner, a parade passed by. In New Orleans, there's always something to celebrate!

After dinner, we took a stroll down Frenchmen Street and stepped into a couple bars along the way. We visited The Spotted Cat, which is a very popular and famous music club.

Since we had driven over 6 hours that day, we were pretty tired, so we called it a night.

Saturday 03/13/10

On Saturday, we got up around 9:30 and took Dozer for a walk. I'm sure he was wondering where all the grass was. We had to walk half a mile to find even a few square inches of grass. There is no grass inside the French Quarter! It's all sidewalks and pavement. Not that I was expecting big lawns or backyards like I see in Texas, but I was surprised by the fact that there was no grass whatsoever! Instead, residents and restaurants alike have courtyards, with great landscaping of course!

For breakfast, we walked down the street a couple of blocks to a bakery called Croissant D'Or Patisserie. Once again, my taste buds were very pleased. I can still taste the sweetness of the carrot-cake muffin.

We came back and relaxed in the courtyard for a little while before taking another walk around the French Quarter.

Royal Street is filled with little art galleries and shops. We passed by a gallery window and spotted this monkey art.

We continued down Royal Street, passing by Cornstalk Fence Hotel.

We stepped inside of a fancy hotel to see this Carousel Bar. The entire bar spins as you sit and drink. Be careful not drink too much, or the entire room will be spinning faster than you can handle!

We made our way down Bourbon Street until it intersected with Canal Street.

Canal Street is one of the main streets bordering the French Quarter, so from here we turned and walked towards the river.
Everywhere we went, the famous Blue Dog Paintings made their appearance.

Next, we turned and walked down Decatur Street. We saw magicians, musicians, and entertainers of all sorts along the way.

Jackson Square was one of the coolest places we saw on our walk. It was filled with people enjoying the wonderful weather and gorgeous day.

We walked back to our host's house and relaxed in the courtyard for a while before heading back out again for lunch.

Along the way, we decided to take a tour of St. Mary's Church and the Old Ursuline Convent. For an admission price of $5/person, we were able to take a self-guided tour of the grounds.

Inside the courtyard, we found a satsuma tree, where we were encouraged to endulge in our first taste of this delicious citrus. Satsumas are essentially tiny little oranges that do not have to be peeled - you can eat the entire fruit in one bite.

We admired the gorgeous church.

And then our stomachs started to growl. Those little satsumas were a great snack, but we needed to find some lunch!

We ate lunch at Desire Oyster Bar, where Austin and I shared catfish nuggets and a spinach & oyster salad (I didn't eat the oysters).

After lunch, we met some of our host's friends at the oldest bar in the world - Jean Lafittes Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street.

As we conversed, one of the ladies mentioned she'd found a great shoe sale at a nearby store called Shoe Be Do. Needless to say, the women took off and left the men to fend for themselves. Not that they had any trouble, since they were already sitting in a bar.

I stepped out of my comfort zone and bought a pair of thigh-high snakeskin boots for $20!

After our shopping excursion, we stepped into Muriel's for another drink before meeting back up with the men.

We walked home and got ready to go out for the night. I wore my new boots!

We walked to a local jazz club, Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, to hear a stellar performance by John Boutte.

For dinner, we met up with a couple of our host's friends at The Marigny Brasserie.

We ordered a couple bottles of wine and some appetizers. For starters, I had fried green tomatoes. I also ordered the catch of the day, which happened to be delicious, but I've forgotten what type of fish it was. Austin ordered blackened alligator sausage, which was also quite tasty.

After dinner, we went straight to bed, realizing that we'd have to sleep fast since the time change occurred that night. Time to spring forward for Daylight Savings!

Sunday 03/14/10

We woke up and took Dozer on another walk in the City of No Grass. At this point, I was slightly worried that Dozer's successful potty-training was in jeopardy, as we were pretty much encouraging him to do his business on the sidewalk (cleaning up after him of course).

After the dog-duties were taken care of, Austin and I grabbed a cup of tea and started walking towards Cafe Du Monde for breakfast. Appartently that is what every other tourist had in mind for their breakfast.

Upon discovering that the line wrapped around Decatur Street and appeared to represent at least 2 hours of waiting, we decided we would try our luck elsewhere.

We walked a little further and found Cafe' Beignet. The line was still over 45 minutes long, but that was better than the alternative. After all, you can't exactly go to New Orleans without trying the beignets.

I do have to admit, I spoiled my appetite before I even had the chance to try the beignets. Austin and I split a piece of carrot cake while waiting on our breakfast to be delivered to our table. Not to worry, that didn't stop me from devouring almost an entire order of 3 beignets. We also purchased the beignet mix so that we could make them again at home.

Thankfully, we only bought one box of the mix, or else I would need to go shopping for an entire new wardrobe - hello, plus size!

Speaking of a new wardrobe, I did manage to squeeze in a shopping trip while Austin helped his boss move some furniture. I bought two cute dresses for this summer!

Before we knew it, the afternoon was gone. We ate a couple of sandwiches for a quick lunch, and then we headed back to Houston.

I had such a great time in New Orleans! I can't wait to go back. We were so fortunate to have wonderful hosts that showed us around the best of the city.

My best travel advice is to stay inside the French Quarter, go while the weather is moderately cool to avoid the heat and humidity, bring comfortable shoes for walking, and try the beignets while you're there!

Have you ever been to New Orleans? If so, what was your experience like?

The only part of the city that we visited was the French Quarter. I am sure that the rest of New Orleans is a completely different experience.

No comments:

Post a Comment