Here's my trip report - it's long! Thanks to everyone for ideas and suggestions beforehand. I went with a big list of definite and possible things to do and try and I came home happy - well not happy to have to come home but happy with the time spent in New Orleans! Enjoy!
Arrived in New Orleans just before noon on Sunday, Feb 20....departed New Orleans just after noon on Friday, Feb 25.
Weather - GREAT! Daytime temperatures mid-70's to low 80's the entire time. Sunny/cloudy mix. Jackets were never worn.
After we landed/zipped through customs/claimed our luggage we grabbed a cab and went to drop off our luggage at our hotel - Place D'Armes. Headed out to get some lunch. French Quarter was busy, must be extra people in town because of President's Day weekend? Lots of activity in Jackson Square - tourists, artists, musicians, tarot card readers, etc. Very festive and fun.
Went to Gazebo Cafe (1016 Decatur St) by the French Market. Sat outside listening to music while eating a warm muffuletta (would recommend) and a fried catfish po-boy (also recommended). Both meals were BIG and either could definitely have been shared between us.
Continued walking around and made our way to Seqway Tours (506 Conti St) and booked a tour with them for Tuesday and a swamp tour with Pearl River Eco-Tours on Monday - the booking agent highly recommended this swamp tour company (more on that later).
We kept walking and exploring and then headed back to the hotel to check in and unpack and relax for a bit. Around 6:00 we headed over to Pat O'Briens. We went to the courtyard - beautiful spot - and I tried one of their famous Hurricane's. It was okay but I don't think I would get it again. It reminded me of Hawaiin Punch - remember that stuff? I was feeling nice and relaxed by the time I finished it. *Thanks for the tip about returning the glass to the bar for $3....if I hadn't read that on TA I would have just left it on the table. Most of the people were taking the glasses with them - well the servers were bringing them well-packaged glasses to take.
We continued to Bourbon Street - sensory overload. Busy night and music playing everywhere. We stopped in at the Funky Pirate (727 Bourbon St) and listened to Mark Penton. Unfortunately we only caught a few songs before he left and was replaced by The All Purpose Band with Big Willie. We had to leave after two songs because the music was so loud it hurt! Big Willie did ask if the music was too loud in the back and one guy kept shouting no - so it stayed ear-splittingly loud.
Continued walking and listening and looking and eventually made our way to the Hotel Monteleone to check out the Carousel bar. It looked nice and all but didn't awe us so we carried on. More walking and eventually went into Rouse's Market (701 Royal St) for some supplies and then back to hotel for the night.
We're early risers so we were up and out by 7:45. An adequate continental b'fast is offered at Place D'Armes. Unfortunately we might be raring to go at 8 but most things don't open until closer to 10:00. More walking around quiet streets with the street cleaners and people off to work.
Took the swamp tour this afternoon with Pearl River Eco-Tours. We were both disappointed with this tour. The actual tour was fine and it was similar to what the other companies offer - we kept crisscrossing with about 6 other boats from different companies all in the same sections of the swamp (Honey Island). Our guide was good and provided lots of information - but he also said the two worse months to do a swamp tour are January and February. During these months there aren't many animals to be seen and the swamp is basically grey. I had envisioned lush plants and greenery everywhere - like on the brochure! but there was very little to see other than bare branches. Honestly we have a prettier swamp by our cottage. We did see lots of baby alligators and turtles - the guide told us they had just started appearing the week before. Also saw a few birds but that was it. So, I would still recommend a swamp tour but later in the season and pick any company that you can get a discount coupon for since most of them end up in the same swamp in the same types of boats.
Back to town and over to Chartres House (601 Chartres St) for dinner. We sat in the courtyard and used a coupon from restaurant.com with no problems at all. I had the Taste of New Orleans, 3 small bowls of jambalaya, red beans and rice and gumbo (would recommend). DH had the Fried Shrimp Platter with fries and hush puppies (would recommend).
After dinner more walking around the area and then back to hotel for the night.
Up early again and went to Daisy Dukes (121 Chartres St) for b'fast. Once again we used a restaurant coupon and our waitress Jennifer was great. She worked it so I could try a few things in a way that would work out cheaper and better with the coupon. I tried both fried green tomatoes and grits - both on my to do list. =) F.G.T. good, grits - must be an aquired taste - I tried them both of the ways Jennifer recommended - with butter, salt and pepper and another section with sugar. Preferred the butter/salt/pepper. Would definitely recommend this place.
Walked back to hotel after b'fast and then over to The Shops at Jax Brewery and the Canal Shops for a quick look before our segway tour at 11:00
Segway tour. Another thing on my "list". I was nervous because I had never ridden one of these before and thought it would be a bit complicated. Our tour guide was Dawn and she was perfect. There were only 6 of us in the group and 4 of the people had ridden seqways before. Dawn gave DH & me lessons on how to ride the segway and after a bit of practice we were off. We went through the French Quarter, over to the Frenchmen Street area and down to the waterfront. We were on numerous streets in these areas and would stop frequently for Dawn to tell us some interesting facts or history. It took a while to pick up the techniques but by the end of the 2+ hour tour we were all zooming around like pros. It was definitely a highlight of the trip! SO much fun.
Left the tour at Conti St and walked over to Cafe Du Monde for beignets and coffee and pop (I don't drink coffee). Good to know that other beverages are offered besides coffee.
We continued through the French Market and the Flea Market and then I headed to Royal St and Chartres St to check out all of the stores I had listed to see.
Walked along the riverfront, picked up quick, light meal at Riverwalk and went to Harrah's for a few hours.
Woke up around 6 and saw that it was a great foggy morning. I got dressed and headed out to get some photos. Jackson Square and the riverfront are amazing on foggy mornings.
After b'fast DH & I split up for the morning. He headed to the National WW II Museum (said it was okay, especially the 4-D movie). I went to the Lake Lawn Metairie cemetery. I almost didn't go because I couldn't get a lot of info about this place and there were no organized tours. I asked at the hotel and was told how to get there and the staff said it was worth the trip.
It was quite easy to get there - much less complicated than I had read. I took the Canal St. (marked Cemeteries) streetcar to the end of the line - got off and crossed the street (City Park Ave) - turned left and walked under Interstate 90 and the corner of the cemetery was right there. It was only about a 5 minute walk. Once at the corner I entered through the gate which is closed, but unlocked between 9 and 5:30. This is the interesting and older part of the cemetery. I wandered around here for a bit and then headed to the main building to check that I was allowed to walk around and hopefully get a map.
I arrived at the main office/funeral home and the woman at the desk was very pleasant and said of course I could walk around and she gave me two maps and showed me areas I should visit....like Millionaire's Row. I had also seen a beautiful photo of a weeping angel in a shop on Royal St, the store clerk said the angel was in Metairie Cemetery. The woman at the funeral home showed me exactly where I could fine it. I did go to the Chapman H. Hyams crypt and did see the angel through the glass door and an open window on the side of the crypt. Beautiful. Well worth the trip to this cemetery.
This is a working cemetery. There were several funerals taking place on the day I was there - but not in the older section where I was most of the time. There were also several walkers/joggers and numerous groundskeepers driving around. I felt quite safe the whole time I was there - even at the very end when I swore I heard someone talking, but there was no one around!
Left the cemetery and caught the streetcar back into town. Got off at Royal and walked back to the hotel where I grabbed and drink and sat in the courtyard writing postcards and relaxing.
Later we headed over to El Gato Negro (81 French Market Place). Had some great margaritas *thanks Deny777! and some loaded nachos.
After b'fast we were planning on taking the St. Charles street car from end to end. We also were thinking of checking out a cooking class so we walked over to The New Orleans School of Cooking (524 St Louis Street) to see if they had any openings in their 10:00 class. We got there around 8:40 and their sign said they opened at 10. We didn't want to wait around and hope they had openings so we passed on that and went for the streetcar.
I still like riding the streetcar through the different areas of town. It was a beautiful day and we had the windows wide open. We passed all the seating being set up for the upcoming parades and saw so many decorated houses and buildings along the route.
When we got back to the French Quarter we went to Fleur-de-Lis (307 Chartres St). DH had the seafood omelet and said it was good. I needed some vegetables and something that wasn't fried so ordered the Fleur-de-Lis salad - it was very ordinary, not very fresh, only ate about half and wouldn't recommend. This is another place we used a restaurant coupon at with no problem. Perhaps the breakfasts are the draw here and the other foods might be better avoided.
More walking/exploring for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Friday - home
Woke up at 6:30 and went out to wander around and take more photos. Back to hotel for b'fast and back out for more walking, absorbing, soaking it all in......time goes so quickly.
The Irish parade participants were on Royal when I got back to the hotel - unfortunately I missed the parade. I don't think every little parade is listed. Grabbed a cab to the airport and waited for our flight home.
This is most of what we did - mainly walking and exploring and enjoying it all.
The end...........until next time!
*I still love Place D'Armes - I think that will always be my hotel
*if you are at all tempted to try a Segway - do it! I'm so glad I did
*liked how so many of the restaurants and bars sold the same t'shirts that the staff wore - great souveniers.
*saw Uncle Sam several times - lovely man
*one day I did see (and take a photo of) the "fake" silver-painted mime on top of the newspaper box in Jackson Square. I asked the closest tarot card reader/psychic if that was the fake and she said yes, that's the dummy.
*check out Walgreens and CVS for Mardi Gras things, including masks - good prices
*get tourist magazines/brouchures and check for coupons for everything before you book any tours
*Riverwalk has a coupon to take to a shop there - you will get a brochure with discounts and a free jazz cd
*streetcars still $1.25 exact change or $5.00 for a day pass
*good tourist office in Jackson Square
*stamps, etc at Postal Emporium, 1000 Bourbon St.Edited: 27 February 2011, 02:12