New Orleans - Travel Article #3
Ok, you’ve made the decision to go to one of the neatest, most interesting places in the U.S. New Orleans!!!!! Or, maybe you’re still thinking on it. But read on, and hopefully, be inspired to make that committment! So, anyway, whatever stage of planning you're at....let’s get down to it. First on your agenda…where are you going to stay? My favorite place is the Bourbon Orleans Hotel.
You cannot, I repeat, you cannot find a better location in the Quarter. It’s at 717 Orleans Street, which is about 20 feet off of Royal, and right behind the St. Louis Cathedral.
Prices vary depending on the season so I can’t really help you there…it can range anywhere from about $140 per night to $400, depending on when you will be there. But believe me, this place is nice, and like I said, the location is fantastic.
A side note, last time my husband and I were there, I saw a ghost. I know, you don’t believe me, but I did honestly see a ghost. Our room was at the end of a short hallway. We were walking to our room, my husband behind me. I turned to let him go past so he could unlock the door when I saw a man behind him. The man was rather unusual, to say the least. He had a long beard, raggedy mustache, an old hat and his jacket looked a little tattered, or threadbare. I figured he must be in the room across from ours, which was the only place he could go other than into our room, but as my husband opened the door and I started to enter I looked back, wondering why the man hadn’t passed by me to get to his room, and he wasn’t there. Nowhere. He was completely gone. Only a few seconds had passed since I’d seen him…there was no way he could have gotten back down the hall to the elevators that quickly…but he was gone! Anyway, that was rather bizarre, moving, and unusual. But don’t worry, even though I later discovered that the hotel claimed to have several ghosts, I never encountered one again.
Even when I ventured into the grand ballroom, alone, where it is believed a young lady from the 1800’s still visits to this day, I met no one else. DARN!
The rooms here are spacious and comfortable, the hotel staff friendly and accommodating. But the elevators are small (after all this hotel was once host to the Quadroon Balls in the 1800’s, so they squeezed the elevators in as to not interrupt the ambiance). And here's a picture of it back in the day........
Talk about loaded with history. The place is a wealth of it!!!!!
But, if you can’t get into the Bourbon Orleans, my second favorite hotel in the Quarter is the Royal Sonesta on Bourbon Street.
It can be more pricey than the Bourbon Orleans but if you want to stay on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras,it's a grand place to be. However, the Royal Sonesta is not as close to Jackson Square.
One note, if you stay here during any festival, ask for a courtyard view room. Then you won’t hear all the raucous on Bourbon Street that can last into the wee hours. Pricing is about the same as the Bourbon…$140 to $400+ plus per night, depending on when you’re there.
Okay, you've made the decision where to stay....now its time to plan some fun!!!! and start enjoying the Quarter. Assuming it’s first thing in the morning when you're ready to start your adventure, you need nourishment. So, get yourself to the Café Dumonde for beignets and coffee, or hot chocolate, which we discussed in Article 2. (And beignets are good anytime of the day or night…for breakfast, for a mid day snack, for after dinner desert, or a late night snack before retiring back to your hotel.)
But, if you want a more substantial breakfast, head to Stanley, at 547 Saint Ann St., on the corner across from Jackson Square.
The food is delicious, but, you may have to wait awhile for a table because this place not only has great breakfasts, it has a quaint atmosphere and a great location. So get there a little early. Okay, you’ve eaten, now what to do all day?
Well, first, just wander the French Quarter, or the Vieux Carre as is its proper name. Go into Jackson Square, take photos of the bronze statue of Andrew Jackson on his rearing horse, with the St. Louis Cathedral in the background.
(History….Andrew Jackson is New Orleans hero, as he led the fight during the Battle of New Orleans, 1815, and saved the city from the British.) This statue, with the St. Louis Cathedral in the background, flanked by the Cabildo and the Presbytere (originally government houses…now museums) is one of the most famous sights in all of the Quarter. Then venture into the Cathedral. It was built on this site in 1727, but burned down in 1788. The “new” cathedral was built in 1794. The much beloved pastor was Pere Antoine, from apprx. the 1770s through1829, when he passed away, which is why you will see that name in various places throughout the Quarter. The Bell on the entry wall, above the clock, was named Victory and dedicated in 1815. In 1849 the Cathedral was deemed too small, as its patronage kept increasing through the years, so reconstruction started, resulting in some of the “old” cathedral walls being demolished and rebuilt. oldest in the continental United States.
So now you’ve taken all your Jackson Square and Cathedral pictures, and it’s time to move on to……shopping! You can go into all those little quaint shops that border the Square, but my advice is to first head to the French Market at 1008 N. Peters St. This was once the fresh food market where locals and restauranteurs once bought all their fish, meat fruits and vegetables for the day.
Now, it is a mecca of souvenirs, tee and sweat shirts, masks, jewelry, original artwork, purses, etc.
How to find the market? If you’ve eaten at Stanley, just walk one block toward the Mississippi river (with the Café Dumonde directly across the street when you get to the corner) and turn to your left. If you’ve indulged in beignets and coffee at the Café Dumonde, just come out to the sidewalk, turn to your right and walk. Within minutes you will see the entrance to the French Market.
(I recommend going to the Market on your first day there and get it over with. Otherwise you might be tempted to purchase things while out sightseeing, then groan when you finally get to the French Market and realize there is so much there you want and you’ve already spent half your spending money elsewhere. You can’t beat the prices or the variety you can find at the French Market. And you can find just about any thing you could want there, from artwork by locals, to imported treasures, masks, Mardi Gras beads, king cakes, jewelry, purses, wallets, frames, phone cases, dresses, oh and so much more! And food! Delicious to go food. Just find yourself a table, buy your food, and enjoy in an atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else. Music, food, and shopping…what more could you want.
Plan to spend several hours here if you’re really into shopping for yourself or gifts to take home. There’s so much to see, and buy. And don’t be afraid to haggle on those prices. Some vendors will, some won’t. But at least give it a try. You might save a few bucks on that treasure you just have to have!
Okay, now you’ve had breakfast at Stanley’s or the Café Dumonde, you’ve visted Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral,
and maybe even the museums in the Calbildo and Presbytere which border the cathedral, you’ve eaten lunch in the French Market, and shopped til you’re about to drop. Now, maybe after a short rest at your hotel, you want dinner. So, where should you go? Fancy or casual? How about going inbetween? To one of the oldest restaurants in the Quarter....Tujagues. (That's pronounced Two Jacks.)
This restaurant has a PreFixe menu, which means they have a couple of specials of the day, with all the trimmings, for one price. It’s a small menu, so I recommend stopping by and checking it out before you make reservations to make sure they are serving something you’d like. And this is easy to do while you’re going or coming from the French Market because it is right across the street. The restaurant is small and cozy, with pictures of historical visitors to the restaurant decorating the walls.
Oh boy, the end of Day One in the French Quarter of New Orleans is approaching fast, but wait, you want to end the night with a little spirits and music, right? Okay, spirits…..head to the famous of the famous, Pat O’Brien’s Bar and get the famous of the famous drinks, The Hurricane! It's delicious!
Now you’re ready for that music. You can go anywhere you want on Bourbon Street, but most of the music there now is one or another form of rock music. If you want REAL New Orleans music, head to Preservation Hall at 726 St. Peter for old time Jazz. It’s free, it’s great, it’s authentic.
it’s also crowded as all get out, so be prepared to stand, and if it’s summertime, be even more prepared, because there is no A/C. There is wood floors, a small room, benches and only a few chairs, if you’re lucky. But it’s classic Dixieland music you cannot beat! Check their performance times before you go, you may have to go before you have that drink at O’Brien’s.....and you may have to stand in line awhile before getting in. But it's well worth it.
Well, you’ve made it through your first day in New Orleans, and you’re exhausted, right? But I bet you had a heck of a good time. Maybe there’s still enough energy in you to get yourself down to the Café DuMonde and have a few more of those beignets and coffee, just to satisfy that sweet tooth while you relax and chill out a bit before calling it a night. But don’t stay out all night. Go back to your hotel room and crash, because remember, you have another busy day coming up tomorrow!!!!!