Sunday, June 1, 2014

Road Trip: New Orleans

Last Saturday morning I was sitting on a front porch in New Orleans, a comfortable light breeze blowing through the jasmine and basil, jazz playing in the house next door, and someone practicing trumpet a couple blocks away. (I can’t even make this up.)

So here’s what’s happened over our two days in the Big Easy.

We arrived on Thursday evening, took turns getting ready to go (seven travelers, one bathroom), then went out to dinner: turtle soup! Which is not actually made with real turtles. (I’m upset on the authenticity front, but less upset on the endangered animals front…)

A brief walk down Bourbon Street.

After dinner we hopped in a cab and headed to the Seventh Ward. Just like Broadway in Nashville, three blocks of Frenchman Street are all bars, all with great live bands, and no cover. Both would be the kinda skeezy going-out streets in other cities (18th Street in AdMo I'm looking at you), but because there's live music played by really talented musicians it is a different (classier) story entirely.

The first bar we went to had a bluesy terrific trumpeter, the second had a super sexy reggae-style saxophone, and the third had an old school banging banjo and talented trombone. Clearly New Orleans is where band geeks come to claim their awesomeness. Such a great night! I definitely found myself wondering, what am I doing in the northeast??? (Oh right. The jobz.)


Anywho, Day Two was a blur of snacks and sunshine and all things New Orleans, as we spent it bouncing from one activity to another all day and night.

We started at the famous Café du Monde with the best beignets buried in powdered sugar near the French quarter. They're like donuts, except there's no hole in the middle and the outside is crunchier while the inside is much more dense and chewy. Dipped in black coffee is the way to go here. Mmmmmmmmm!

We spent the rest of the morning wandering around that area – it's pretty touristy but wasn't too crowded.

New Orleans or Disneyland??

Next stop was The Country Club, a European style restaurant/bar/pool party in the Bywater neighborhood. After a long and luxurious afternoon lounging in the sun it was time for our next New Orleans eating experience.

For dinner we got oyster and shrimp po-boys at Acme near Bourbon Street. There was a line out the door of this place, but to be honest I was not particularly impressed. Their signature sandwich filled with fried oysters and shrimp just tasted like fried if you know what I mean. The appetizer of grilled oysters however was delicious!!!

From there it was on to more music and dancing! We started at a wine bar/jazz garden, standing outside and listening to a chill band. Then back to Frenchman Street, where we again went to a series of bars with excellent live bands. It's interesting how much each venue's vibe changes depending on the performers. One of our favorites was a big brass band – so much fun! So much dancing!


Saturday afternoon we sadly bid farewell to New Orleans, but I would definitely go back.

On the way out of the city we had a traditional southern experience between New Orleans and Baton Rough. Called Oak Alley for the line of trees leading up to the front door from the Mississippi, this old plantation had a lot of interesting history, both bad and good.

We toured the slave quarters, then the big house – on the bright side, it was beautiful! On the downside, slavery. I felt like a character in Gone With the Wind, the only thing missing was an antebellum ball gown...

Next stop: Memphis!