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Trip report - while the memory is fresh

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Trip report - while the memory is fresh

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.

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Monday

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.

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Tuesday

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.

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Wednesday

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.

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Thursday

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.

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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!

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random thoughts

*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
Bossier City, LA
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1. Re: Trip report - while the memory is fresh

Thank you for the TR. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Have you booked your next visit yet?!

New Orleans...
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2. Re: Trip report - while the memory is fresh

The "Irish parade" wasn't actually a parade. That was the Irish Channel Marching Club's "practice march." They have their parade the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day and they always "practice" in the French Quarter 2 weeks prior. Basically, they bar hop with a party float (that actually contains bathrooms for the guys) from 7 am to 5 pm. Since Mardi Gras runs so late this year, it's backing up close to St. Patrick's Day. I had to drop the husband off at Harrah's at 6 am and then pick up an unrecognizeable drunk guy at Gordon Biersch at 4:30!

Spring, Texas
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3. Re: Trip report - while the memory is fresh

How much was the Segway tour if you don't mind me asking?

Kansas City
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4. Re: Trip report - while the memory is fresh

Great report Sue, sounds like a good time. Sorry that Big Willie blasted you out. Did you enjoy Mark Penton's performance? Also, thanks for the postcard, it was really fun getting it. I am gonna second Bcla.s question, are you planning a return?

Canada
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5. Re: Trip report - while the memory is fresh

bcla - next trip not planned yet...but I don't tend to plan my trips very far in advance. This trip was booked about 6 weeks before we went.

chapookie - I did see a lot of people dressed in green and white earlier that morning around Cafe Du Monde - some lovely looking lads in kilts too. They must have done a great practice march because the people I saw standing around were very happy - singing, dancing, wearing multiple strands of beads......quenching their thirst. Looked like everyone was having a good time - participants and onlookers.

Maxamuus73 - the segway tour was $70 US each. When we booked it I thought that was a bit expensive but after the tour I had no regrets. I did see a coupon for 10% off in a tourist magazine AFTER we had taken the tour. That's one of the reasons I said to check all the tourist brochures, magazines, tourist offices, etc for discount coupons.

KansCityKid - we really enjoyed Mark Penton and wish either we had gotten their earlier or he had stayed longer. I think the music felt so loud because it was a fairly small place. You're welcome for the card. :)

New Hampshire
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6. Re: Trip report - while the memory is fresh

suriko, great report! The Segway tour sounds like a blast, I've always wanted to try one. You got a lot done in a short time. I have a "list" too, i hope I get near as much done as you ;-) Glad you had good weather - I'm thinking mine will be hot and humid by mid-May.

I'll also be staying at the Place D'Armes. What in particular did you really like about the hotel (or will you post a review?) What type of room did you have if you don't mind me asking? I will be staying in a balcony room for the first 3 nights, then moving to a courtyard deluxe room for the next 4 (thinking that during the weekend I might want to spend OFF the streetside)

I've read some not-so-great reviews about the comfort of the beds - did you have any issues?

Blenheim, Canada
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7. Re: Trip report - while the memory is fresh

Sukiro--OMG what an awesomely, fantastic trip report! Thank you soooooo much for taking the time to write it (even the part about writing out postcards:) I thououghly enjoyed reading every part about it. Almost as good as being in NOLA myself! Makes me feel good--especially because we just got 6 inches of snow last night (and they said "only a dusting"). Glad you liked the El Gato margaritas...we're going to have to look into those yummy sounding nachos! So...when is your next trip?????

:)

Blenheim, Canada
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8. Re: Trip report - while the memory is fresh

su--GREAT report! We love them long! Like Den said, thanks for taking the time to write it! We junkies need it when we can't physically be there! Yeah, our swamp tour in Feb. was kinda disappointing coz there was really nothing green...in May, it's a completely different world out there!

Would I like a nice, Hawaiian punch? SURE!!!! :)

Toronto, Canada
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9. Re: Trip report - while the memory is fresh

The segway tour - hmmm - how fast do you go? They seem very slow! We were at the Distillery district here in Toronto earlier today and I noticed 5 people doing a segway tour there.

Canada
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10. Re: Trip report - while the memory is fresh

willowtree59 - hopefully I'll get around to posting another Place D'Armes review, in the meantime I'll send you an email.

I started a "life" list about 4 years ago (before the movie The Bucket List came out - liked the movie don't like the name for my to-do list). It's amazing how many things get accomplished when you write them all down as things to do. My biggest block about starting one of these lists was thinking that everything on it had to be big and special - once I realized that any and everything should go on that list (as long as it was something I wanted to do) it all was so much easier. For example - riding a segway, trying fried green tomatoes and grits were on the list - not big things but still things I wanted to try "some day". I also have the big things on the list too - they take a bit more time to accomplish but they are getting done.

Deny and Herm - You'll be in New Orleans before you know it and you can enjoy all the Hurricanes and margaritas and nachos you can handle. :) I think I expected the hurricanes to be creamier - like pina coladas. They won't be my NOLA drink of choice but I did enjoy the whole Hurricane/courtyard/flaming fountain experience.

Coming back to Toronto was a shock to my system - I was cold for a day and a half.

SBJEinToronto - I first saw segways at the Distillery district too a few years ago. I wanted to try them but there were too many people around and I didn't have the nerve. The segways used on the tour had governors on them and I think the top speed was about 9 1/2 mph. That doesn't sound like much but if you do hit the limit it does feel fast enough - especially for newbies like me. This tour takes you over some rough roads that are bumpy, sloping, etc. plus we had to stop at crossroads to make sure the coast was clear to cross, pull over for cars, watch for pedestrians, etc. We also went up the ramps at the riverfront to view Jackson Square and the Saint Louis Cathedral across the road. We all had enough power to get up the ramps easily.

Near the end of the tour Dawn let us loose on the Moonwalk, we had about 10 minutes to have fun and we did! Some of the police also are on segways but they have much more industrial machines and obviously can go a lot faster.