The Big Easy

I’ve just returned from four days in New Orleans. Despite growing up in Houston, somehow I’ve always managed to skip this destination. I have my current occupation to thank for finally getting me there, as my trip was a business retreat. As the plane descended from the clouds, I caught my first glimpse of the Crescent City…or rather, the water which surrounds New Orleans, plentiful on all sides. Having never been there, I can’t really speak about what it was like pre-Hurricane Katrina but I must say, despite all the negative things I’ve heard about the city, I was extremely pleased to find most of the historic parts in tact and bustling with energy.

We stayed  at the W Hotel in the French Quarter. Be warned, there are two W Hotels in New Orleans and they are literally one block away from each other. The W French Quarter is by far superior in both design and location. Tucked away on a quiet street in the French Quarter, the W is convenient to many of the best things New Orleans has to offer.

The hotel courtyard:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are five things that are essential for your trip to New Orleans:

1. Beignets and Coffee at Cafe Du Monde.

One word- Delicious.

 2. Bloody Mary’s at Napoleon House.

This 200 hundred year old landmark was originally intended as a safe-house for Napoleon himself after exile. Although ol’ Bonaparte never quite made it, his namesake building lives on. The wonderfully open, airy barroom, beautiful garden patio and constant stream of classical music, the Napoleon House is a great refuge to the lameness of nearby Bourbon Street.

 

3.P&J Oysters at ACME Oyster House

The line was enormous in front of this legendary Oyster House, but it’s definitely worth the wait. More than just delicious oysters on the half shell, this might just be the most scrumptious fried seafood I’ve ever had.

4. Book browsing at Faulkner House Books.

William Faulkner rented a room at the base of the building, wrote and published his first novel while living here.  Just 15 years ago it was transformed into a bookstore, specializing in new and used books with an emphasis on Louisiana writers and themes. It’s a great place to find first editions from some of Louisiana’s greatest writers.

5. Take a stroll through the Garden District.

Hop on the Trolley at Canal street and take it up St Charles Place. Jump on an off as you wish and behold some of the most beautiful and unique homes in all of the US. For an extra moody touch, make a stop at the Lafayette Cemetery #1. New Orleans’ infamous position below sea level makes it impossible to bury the dead below ground, which allows for the eerie atmosphere of aboveground tombs and crypts to enshrine the dead. 

Honorable Mentions:

Muffulettas at Central Grocery.

Drinks at Lafitte’s, the oldest bar in America.

(Apparently is it also a gay bar. I am not sure that I would have guessed that when I was there but when in doubt, check out their website.)

A drive across The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway.

I don’t even know where this bridge goes, but it scares the crap out of me! I still recommend it as it is the longest bridge in the world, spanning 23 miles from start to finish. Oh, and did I mention that you are terrifying close to the lake? Check it out:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Pontchartrain_Causeway

Last but certainly not least, my fantasy hotel. If I could have stayed anywhere in New Orleans, I wish it would’ve been here.:

The Soniat House

http://www.soniathouse.com/index.asp

Things To Avoid At All Costs:

Bourbon Street:

Some people might argue this is the only place to go when heading to New Orleans, but seeing as these people are most likely male, jocks and of college age, I disagree. This is a sad times place and I couldn’t get away fast enough…

A river cruise on The Queen Creole:

Bad food, bad scenery and waaaaay too long. Avoid at all cost.

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One Response to “The Big Easy”

  1. Tho I hate to take issue with your blog while it’s still in its infancy… I really do not think you gave enough real estate to the Beignets at Cafe Du Monde. So, let me say here and now… the beignet served on Decatur Street is the not simply deep fried dough covered in powdered sugar… it’s so much more than that. I hadn’t felt true love until the moment I received my first plate of these heavenly treats.

    Please make me some… here is an online recipe: http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/BeignetsHistory.htm

    Other than that, good job Jenn… Bully for you!

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