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First Timers Trip Report - April 20-29

Point Pleasant, NJ
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First Timers Trip Report - April 20-29

I don't often post, but for the last year I have been reading this forum on a daily basis in preparation for my first trip to New Orleans. One of my favorite things to read is trip reports, and I have found such great information in the details. I am going to share my report in the hopes that someone can benefit from this information when planning their own trip, and maybe help some of you relive other favorite New Orleans memories.

I travelled to New Orleans with my husband. This was the first visit for both of us, but it certainly won't be the last. I think we have both been bitten by the NOLA bug! We were there for 9 nights, from April 20-29, an extended trip. We wanted to experience the city but we also wanted to go to the first weekend of Jazz Fest. We decided to spend a few days seeing the city, eating, drinking, and sightseeing, before getting absorbed in Jazz Fest.

I am going to post my report day by day, as responses to this initial post.

Point Pleasant, NJ
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1. Re: First Timers Trip Report - April 20-29

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The day has finally come! We were up by 5:30am and on the road by 7, heading to Philadelphia International Airport. We arrived at the airport in good time, with very little traffic on a Saturday morning. We got through baggage check really fast, however the line to get through Security was a mess and took over 35 minutes. Our flight took off on time and we landed 25 minutes early! Got to love that! Our baggage came out quickly and we waited just 2-3 minute wait in the cab line. We were off! We arrived at the Hotel Le Marais at 2:15, though check in time wasn’t until 3pm, they told us our room would be ready in just a few minutes. We waited about 10 minutes so that we could settle in rather than having to store the luggage. My first impressions of the hotel were that the lobby and the courtyard are very pretty and nicely maintained. We were checking in for 9 nights, and the young woman at the check in desk was incredulous that we were staying so long – I guess that is a relatively long length of stay, but we had things to do and see! Our room was located on the 3rd floor, right across from elevator. Our window overlooked Conti Street and the people on their balconies at Royal Sonesta across the street.

Room is a nice size, comfortable and nicely appointed. I had read that the rooms were small, we had a King room which I thought was a good size.

After unpacking and freshening up, it was time for something to eat. I had long planned that my first meal in NOLA would contain oysters. Just after 3:30 we walked around the corner to go to either Acme or Felix. Line at Acme was halfway to the corner, while there were only about 6 people in line at Felix’s. We got in line at Felix's, and within 5 minutes we were seated at the bar. We each had beers - Heineken for him, Abita Amber for me. We ordered a dozen oysters in the half shell, a cup of seafood gumbo, and a half dozen charbroiled oysters. Things were a little hectic behind the bar, with the beer taps pouring the wrong beer, people complaining the food took too long, etc. Our charbroiled took a while, but we were in no hurry and I was under the impression they do take a bit to cook. However the server kept apologizing for the wait. We were surprised when we got our check and were credited for the charbroiled with a note for long wait time. The oysters on the half shell were delicious, just what I was hoping for. The gumbo was really good, and the charbroiled oysters were buttery and garlicky. I wish I was eating the same meal now. They guy next to us was asking why Acme had such a longer line, and the bartender said that they spend 2.5 million a year on advertising, so "if you want a t-shirt, go to Acme, if you want good food, come here." We didn’t go to Acme, so I have nothing to compare it too, but I liked Felix’s just fine!

We had planned to just spend the rest of our first day wandering around the Quarter and Frenchman Street, with nothing significant planned. We walked down Bourbon Street, and thought it was a little hectic on a Saturday afternoon, so we decided that Bourbon Street on a Saturday is not our scene. Went into Lafitte's, but it was so crowded we couldn't make our way to the bar, so decided to come back during the week when the crowds weren’t so heavy.

We wandered through the Quarter and down to the French Market, just looking around and getting our bearings. We Headed Down to Frenchman Street. It was quiet, and a lot of the daytime music had ended and the evening music hadn't yet started. We walked up and down the street, checking out all the clubs I had been reading about. We decided to stop in for a drink at the bar at Marigny Brasserie. Craig was glad to see Fat Tire beer. I had read on online article a few weeks ago that New Belgium brewery from Colorado was coming to Louisiana effective April 1 and knew Craig would be happy since we don't have it in NJ. I decided to have a Cucumber Collins, which was aviation gin, cucumber, lemon, and a splash of soda. Very refreshing!

I checked the Offbeat app on my phone to see what music would be starting soon. We decided on Three Muses because we were hungry again and wanted something more substantial to eat. We got to Three Muses @ 5:30 and a table was available right away. We both had beers, and for food we ordered, Lamb sliders, Lobster egg rolls, and Feta fries. The fries and sliders were really good, but the egg rolls were just Ok. We listened to singer Debbie Davis for a while and then headed out.

We walked over to Jackson Square, and wandered over to the river bank for a look at the Mississippi. We decided to go back to the room, but first we stopped to watch a Wedding 2nd line in Jackson Square. What fun!

We headed back to room a little after 7 with plans to relax for an hour and then head out for the night. Craig was asleep by 7:30, so I figured I would let him nap and then wake him up in an hour or so. I was watching TV and relaxing, and then around 8:30, I started getting chills and felt very feverish. I took some ibuprofen and downed some Airborne, and decided to get into bed myself, and soon went to sleep. I woke up many times, soaked with sweat. I guess I did get a fever, and it broke during the night. I don’t want to start the trip sick! Oh we'll, guess we can't party like we used too....

Ottawa
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2. Re: First Timers Trip Report - April 20-29

Oh I hope the fever breaking meant you were feeling better!!! Thanks for the great start to your trip report. I especially love reviews from first-timers.... it reminds me of the exitement I had on our very first visit.... anxious for more....

Karen

maryland
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3. Re: First Timers Trip Report - April 20-29

I hope you were feeling better when you woke up. Sounds like you had a full day even with starting at 2p

Boise, Idaho
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4. Re: First Timers Trip Report - April 20-29

Thank you for sharing your trip with us. Hope you got better quickly. Can't wait to read the rest of your tr...

Point Pleasant, NJ
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5. Re: First Timers Trip Report - April 20-29

Sunday, April 21, 2013

OK, so we were in bed so early that we got a good night’s sleep, and we were up at 6am. We had Sunday brunch planned, but it was early and we were hungry, so we had a light breakfast in hotel lobby which was included in our room rate.

Walked down Royal, and stopped @ Walgreens to purchase 3 day jazzy pass for the streetcar. We were out early and had a few hours before our brunch reservation, so we decided to walk around. We walked down Canal to Harrah’s and took in the sights. We walked around a bit, and then walked up to St. Charles. We walked around, stopping at Lafayette Square, and then onto Lee Circle. Just after Lee Circle we got the St. Charles Street streetcar and rode the line to Louisiana Street.

The walk down Louisiana Street was beautiful. What a gorgeous neighborhood with lots of amazing houses. The sidewalks were an experience, as where we live the towns are very strict about having flat, safe, sidewalks. We even walked by a little street side lending library which is operated on the honor system.

We arrived at our destination – Atchafalaya Restaurant. We arrived a few minutes early for our 11am reservation, but we were able to be seated immediately. We were seated in the main dining room, and it was lovely. Atchafalaya has a Bloody Mary bar and we decide to indulge in that option. We were brought glasses with ice and vodka, and then could add what we wanted at the Bloody Mary bar. They had Bloody Mary mix, tomato juice, and green tomato juice. The accompaniments included horse radish, whostershire, lemon, lime and seasoning. There were lots of toppings, including pickled okra, spicy green beans, celery, carrots, olives, and many other items. I love a good Bloody Mary and was pleased with the Bloody Mary bar. For our meals, I opted for the Duck hash, which was really good, and Craig chose the Eggs Atchafalaya, which included fried green tomatoes, which is one of his favorite things. This is a Jazz Brunch, and the Jazz band started just after 11am. If you are not in the bar area or the main dining room, I don’t know that you would be able to hear the band very well. We left around noon, and when we left there was a large crowd outside drinking cocktails and waiting to be seated for brunch. Having an earlier reservation really worked out for us.

After brunch we walked up to Magazine Street and spent some time shopping and window shopping. We stopped at the Goorin Brothers store and each of us got a hat – a big floppy sun had for me and a fedora style hat for Craig. While we were purchasing our hats, the salesman grabbed a pin from a basket and added it to Craig’s hat. It wasn’t until hours later that I was looking at the receipt and realized that we were charged $5 for that little pin. There weren’t any prices at the basket, and I guess we just assumed that if we were spending so much on a hat, that the little accessory that the salesperson added would have been complimentary. Wrong!

We walked further down Magazine Street until we got to the WW II Museum. We toured the museum, and then saw the Beyond All Boundaries movie, which was very powerful and very well done. After the movie we walked through more exhibits. We spent most of the afternoon in the museum and I felt it was a good use of our time, as there was so much to see and learn.

After the WW II Museum, we walked back to the French Quarter to the room to rest. I was feeling feverish again, just like last night, and was thinking that maybe I was dehydrated? I was so searching for explanations because I did not want to be sick!

We rested in the room and the decided to go down to the hotel bar, Vive, as we had received a coupon for a complimentary drink upon check in. I had a French martini, and Craig had Mojito. After our drinks we headed to the Hotel Monteleone and immediately found 2 empty seats at the bar! I had a Sazerac and Craig had a vodka tonic. We had a fun time timing the trip around the bar and trying to catch a photo of us in the overhead mirrors.

It was now time for dinner. I had originally planned to go to Bacchanal for wine and dinner, but since I hadn't been feeling well and I had been feeling so chilly, I wasn't up to outside dining. I checked Open Table for reservations, and found we could dine at Luke with an 8:15 reservation. I had the Luke salad which I thought was bland. Craig selected the beet salad which was excellent. I opted for the shrimp/grits dish, which I loved. Craig selected the Jägerschnitzel which was huge! He has a good appetite, but was only able to eat half. For dessert we shared the baked chocolate mousse, at the recommendation of our server, but we were not impressed. Not a good dessert option.

We were back to room by 11, ready for another good night’s sleep.

Birmingham, AL
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6. Re: First Timers Trip Report - April 20-29

I'm really enjoying your report and looking forward to reading about more of your adventures.

maryland
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for Baltimore
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7. Re: First Timers Trip Report - April 20-29

We are always in search of a good bloody mary so I was happy to have another option at Atchafalaya.

We did the WWII Museum on our last trip and I would highly recommend it as well.

Looking forward to hearing more!

Point Pleasant, NJ
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8. Re: First Timers Trip Report - April 20-29

Thanks for the feedback. I'll be getting the next few days up shortly!

Wilmington, North...
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9. Re: First Timers Trip Report - April 20-29

We are leaving for NOLA in less than 2 weeks, I am really enjoying your report, and hope to read more soon. We have our dinner resv made, but could be easily changed. Our trip is only 4 days, so hoping to get some highlights on "Must Do"

Seattle, WA
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10. Re: First Timers Trip Report - April 20-29

I'm a Bloody Mary fiend and made it a point to have one at every bar I entered last year. Result? They're all good. But I think the consensus would be, if there is such a thing, is that Lafitte's and The Old Absinthe House would very high on the list. Cheers.

Edited: 05 May 2013, 16:38