Despite the fact that half my family is from Louisiana I have never traveled to New Orleans! After my friends Jamilah and Kholo visited last year I began to develop an itch for the Big Easy! When I found out Regi would be attending a conference in New Orleans I was thrilled! The trip would be approximately two and a half days and in the middle of the week so I wasn’t quite sure how it would turn out but I was willing to give it a valiant try!
We COULD NOT believe our eyes when we took a look at flights out of Abilene, TX roundtrip to New Orleans for less than $300. Woah! That was a rare find so we snagged it! Now began the countdown. I started following a number of Instagram pages to garner inspiration for the trip. I immediately found @visitneworleans and began perusing their Instagram page! I became OBSESSED with the images of New Orleans; the large oak trees, the brightly colored homes, the po-boys, the live music…I wanted it all.
I decided that for such a short trip I would simply pack a carry on bag and a tote. Crazy, maybe? It made everything I packed very intentional and well planned. I was proud of my travel choices, such as an amazing hoodie pillow my brother-in-law purchased me for Christmas. Best. Gift. Ever.
Not to mention I managed to get the exit row! I was in heaven while watching my in-flight movie, Bad Moms haha!
We stayed at the Marriott on Canal Street which was prime location to catch a trolley, eat, and shop. Day one I was able to travel with my husband’s co-worker’s husband, Terry! We immediately went to the trolley in front of the hotel. I learned a very good lesson almost immediately: Bring Exact Change! There was a line so I quickly inserted my $20 bill to purchase my trolley ticket only to soon learn I would not be receiving my change. The conductor muttered, “You aint gonna get your money back.” Lucky me I had unintentionally purchased a trolley card in the amount of $20 (insert sarcasm here)…I was not impressed to say the least! But it was better to learn my lesson early on in our adventure!
Our first stop was to the “city of the dead”: mausoleums! As we exited the trolley we immediately saw the graveyards. Initially I was nervous to enter such a sacred place. Typically you enter a graveyard and you look down to pay homage to the individuals buried underneath the ground. Sometimes you might even accidently “walk” on the grave site; this always produces a visceral response because no one ever wants to disrespect the dead by walking on them. However, these graveyards were different with beautiful marble slabs like erected, stone crypts. Taking a picture in front of one was an odd feeling …smiling…posting it to Instagram…however, I had never experienced anything like it. Eventually I felt myself feeling emotions that were reflective and proud. What an amazing way to memorialize your family? I didn’t understand why this practice was more prominent here than other places I had visited. Luckily a friend graciously explained to me:
“In New Orleans they bury people this way because of the low sea level and the amount of flooding that occurs. Your family can open the mausoleum for whomever they want to bury with the family.”
Another said, “..if we didn’t cover them with a good solid rock like marble, you’d see them floating down the street down the hurricane season. Not a cute look.”
HA! Yea…not a cute look at all.
Next stop was FOOD! Your girl can eat and Willie Mae’s Restaurant was on the list! Touting to be AMERICA’S BEST FRIED CHICKEN I had to give it a go! When we arrived, the exterior of the restaurant was quite bare and looked just like a house. When we opened the front door we were greeted by our waitress who showcased a toothy smile. “We just opened and you both are our first guests.” Hungry after our trek I was more than happy to be the first guests of the day! Fresh, piping hot fried chicken [CHECK]. I ordered fried chicken (duh!),red beans and rice, and a glass of freshly made lemonade.
Have you ever had an out of body experience? I promise you when she brought the chicken out to me I lost control. Like a ravenous beast I tore into each piece of chicken like I’d never eaten before! It was perfectly crunchy and spicy and the red beans and rice were perfect with a dollop of rice on top.
It was “Hallelujah! filled with the holy spirit” good, smack yo momma good!
After our food coma we decided to venture to back to Canal St. and walk down Bourbon St! Bourbon St. was everything we imagined it would be: lively and festive, full of interesting smells and people, and tons of opportunity for alcohol consumption! It was especially fun on a Tuesday, mid-day! We wandered around and eventually ran into the infamous Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo. Did you know they say her spirit still lives in the home? I was informed of this creepy belief when I tried to take a picture inside of the home. There were all sorts of potions, animal parts, books, candles, herbs, and of course voodoo dolls. We didn’t stay long but this home left an impression on me!
If that wasn’t creepy enough we ventured down Saint Ann St. and ran into Boutique du Vampyre! What an interesting shop. You can purchase custom made teeth for $125! There were shrunken heads, information about vampires, and blood (really its was an energy drink ha!).
As we were walking out of the store, the cashier approached me and asked if I was above the age of 21. (I was thrilled! Look at me still looking “young” despite feeling ancient these days.) She then handed me a piece of paper and said that if I went after 9pm, I would be taken to a secret location. Hmm…a little creepy? Yes! But I was still curious about what would be in the “secret location”. Vampires that would suck the blood out of me? Free food? We all know how much I love food! I decided to mention it to Regi once he got out of his conference later that day and we would decide together if we wanted to check it out…
We took Saint Ann St. all the way down to Decatur St. and we ran right in to Café Du Monde!! BEIGNET TIME!
They had about a pound of powdered sugar amazingness atop the fresh beignets. You could purchase them in sets of three so we bought two sets! I gave in to my gluttony-filled desires and in the end I continued by licking my grubby fingers and collecting the leftover sugar left on the saucer. It was heavenly.
We decided it would be best to waddle back to the hotel. A deep food-coma ensued once we made it back to our plush hotel beds. Unapologetically I napped. Several hours later I awoke …hungry again!
Later that night we prepared to reunite with some of our best friends that had relocated. I was so excited to see them again…and to be meeting up at a New Orleans seafood restaurant mecca : Deanie’s Seafood!
Seeing one my best friends after having not seen her in person since FOREVER really just made the entire trip that much more worth it! We celebrated over a delicious meal!
It was sad to say good bye but they had to drive back home and work the next day. We went back to the hotel and took a nap before remembering the sheet of paper I had received from the vampire shop!! Did we want to go???
Step 1: Walk down Bourbon St to Fritzel’s, the oldest operating jazz club in New Orleans!! It was amazing! The place was packed and the musicians were very talented. We could have stayed seated listening the entire night away…but we were on a mission.
Step 2: After listening for about 15 minutes we made our way back to the front of the establishment. I whispered to her, “I forgot to tell you…The. Vampire. Sent. Us!” Her eyes widened and she responded, “Oh you’re not supposed to be down here!” She quickly walked us to the back of the jazz club through a set of doors that had a sign indicating “Do Not Enter”. After paying a $5 cover fee we entered up a windy set of stairs. Propped at the top of the stairs were two large cats. It appeared they had been waiting for us…not gonna lie I was a bit creeped out. Slowly we opened the door to a large room and were beckoned in by a man and woman. “Welcome to Potions!” they warmly greeted us. We had entered a private club on the second floor, how neat! There were plush couches, interesting décor, and there was a special cocktail menu for us to review. With Fleetwood Mac playing in the background, I knew it was meant to be and we made ourselves at home. We found out that they had just opened Potions a month ago and since had about 50 people come through each night! They showed us to the balcony which overlooked Bourbon St and also had a number of fun, nostalgic games we could play. After ordering a cocktail or two we got comfortable and got to know our hosts. It didn’t take long for me to notice an amazing chess table at the front and I ended up playing with one of the owners. What a fun and interesting night!
Around midnight we left and walked back down the cascading stairs. Its always adventure when we are together!
The next day I had scheduled a massage via Groupon at 7th Sense Wellness & Massage with Kristina in the Garden District. Little did I know my massage experience would leave me feeling renewed and rejuvenated in an unexpected way. I was introduced to two new therapies: Aromatherapy and Cupping during my time there. According to cuppingtherapy.net, ” cupping therapy is the method of using glass or plastic cups to create localized pressure by a vacuum. The Chinese have been doing this since ancient times by using heat inside glass or bamboo cups. Nowadays, cupping sets use suction to create the vacuum. The vacuum inside the cups causes the blood to form in the area and help the healing in that area.” Its a form of therapy that helps to release toxins in your body. I have never walked away from a massage feeling as clear as I did. It is difficult to describe. In addition, Kristina took the time to teach me additional ways to stretch which I have already began putting in to practice.
Kristina recommended I walk just a bit further down Jackson St. to see the famous American Horror Story House. There was a lot of construction going on in that area but it was well worth the walk. The huge oak trees were beautiful and the mansions along the street were breathtaking!
Later that night after Regi finished his second day of his conference we had the opportunity to meet up with one of our favorite couples, Elaine and Fred! They met us at our hotel and took our group on a brief tour downtown on our way to experience fine dining at Arnaud’s!
Arnaud’s was such an amazing experience with traditional wait service and a fun museum at the top of the restaurant. Regi ate a compilation of crawfish etouffee, veal and a crab cake, YUM! I had two delicious crab cakes and a fruity cocktail. We all left fat, full and happy.
On our final day we made a point to visit the Mississippi River. Of course I had to sing out “M – I – Crooked Letter- Crooked Letter-I-Crooked Letter- Crooked Letter-I-Humpback Humpback-I”! Am I the only person who remembers that? It’s the only way to spell it out!
New Orleans will always have a special place in our hearts. Until we meet again, NOLA!