New Orleans Trip

9/2/17 – 9/6/17

Lalaurie Mansion
Lalaurie Mansion

The trip we’ve been talking about since we entered college: Palwasha and I finally made it out to New Orleans for the Labor Day weekend, a much deserved vacation if I may add. And yes, everyone says “y’all” all the time. They are also some of the nicest, most polite people I’ve ever met.

Day 1:

We left bright and early Saturday morning — got to the airport at 6 am. When we stepped out of the airport in Louisiana, the humidity hit us square in the face.

We checked into our hotel, then headed to Cafe at the Square for lunch, where we proceeded to eat way too much. The waiter actually told us at the end that he’s “proud of you two” for finishing our food.

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New Orleans has a very specific smell to it. I can’t tell you what it is, but I definitely noticed it from the get go. It also has a very casual and laid-back kinda vibe; things move slower there than SF or LA for sure.

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After lunch, we explored the French quarter. We didn’t know this, but Labor Day weekend in New Orleans was Decadence, which, according to one shop owner, is “the big gay goodbye to summer.” By that evening, the streets (especially Bourbon St.) were filled with people celebrating the holiday.

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We went into a zombie shop where it was filled with items like voodoo dolls and shrunken heads. The lady who worked there gave us a special invite that would get us into an exclusive club, and all we had to say was, “The zombie sent us.” Sad to say we didn’t check it out as we already had other things to do.

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After checking out various stores in the French Quarter, we eventually made our way to the famous Pat O’Briens where the bartender immediately knew what we were there for: the Hurricane. This classic New Orleans cocktail was extremely sweet and fruity, but we knew we had to try it while we were there.

Hurricane
The Hurricane

The tavern itself had a great atmosphere. The place was packed because of Decadence. I enjoyed the AC inside.

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Round two was at the Carousel Bar and Lounge, which is located inside the Hotel Monteleone and features a bar that actually turns! (On our last day, we watched Girls Trip, which was filmed right here. More on that later.) After another cocktail, we headed back to the hotel and called it a night.

Monteleone.JPG

Day 2:

The cool thing about our hotel was that we were served breakfast in our room every morning, as long as we filled out our orders by the previous night. Therefore, we started each morning with fresh croissants, coffee, and orange juice. Perfect way to begin our days.

Breakfast.jpg

On this day, we ate breakfast, then it was onto the shuttle out to Slidell for the swamp tour. It was more humid out there near the swamps (which I didn’t think was possible but it makes total sense). The tour itself was very cool — we got on a boat and a tour guide took us around in the waters. We learned a lot about the Louisiana wildlife.

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The water itself was a muddy brown, which made it scarier to look into because we couldn’t see what was below us the whole time. We saw and fed some wild boars, raccoons, and gators. Who knew they liked hot dogs?

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Gator.JPG

So many bugs though! When we got back to the hotel that night, I found rows and rows of bug bites on my body. I had only brought sunscreen…didn’t even think about bug spray. Still, the swamp tour was fun and a must-do if you’re ever out in Louisiana. Just don’t forget the bug repellent.

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We got back to the city around late afternoon and headed to the Copper Monkey Grill for beer and jambalaya. The bartender, who I think is also the owner, was a nice lady who said she was from Los Angeles but loved being in New Orleans. The food itself was typical bar food level of food.

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After this, we went to Jackson Park, looked at some street art, and got a view of the Cathedral at sundown. We also sat on the docks at the Mississippi River and watched tourists take pictures.

Cathedral
Cathedral and Andrew Jackson statue
Mississippi
The Mississippi

A highlight of the trip for me personally was our stop at Cafe du Monde for beignets and cafe au laite. The pastries were fresh and delicious. I could definitely see why they were world-famous. It wasn’t as crowded as I expected — we managed to snag a table as soon as we walked in. Yep, the coffee is as good as you’ve heard it is.

Beignets.JPG

That night ended with souvenir shopping for our friends and families, and then a lot of Food Network back at the hotel.

Day 3:

A couple years ago, I was super obsessed with American Horror Story (though after Freak Show, I stopped watching). So of course, the one thing we had to do while in New Orleans it the AHS: Coven walking tour. The tour itself was very informational. Our guide, Bea, knew how to separate facts from fiction and even took us into St. Louis Cemetery #1 to visit the tombs of Marie Laveau and Marie Lalaurie.

Witches' Walk
Doing the witches’ walk

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Because it was a holiday, we were the only ones on the tour, which meant we also got the full treatment. We visited the Lalaurie Mansion, which seems to be the highlight of the tour. Bea talked in detail about what was exaggerated on the show for entertainment purposes, and I also learned that voodoo is a religion that was primarily used for keeping medical records. Movies are to thank for its negative stigma.

Po'Boy
BBQ Chicken Po’Boy

After the tour, we got lunch at Killer Po’boys, and yes this sandwich was killer. I was again in luck because Zapp’s potato chips were everywhere whereas in California, only select places had them in stock.

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After lunch, we went to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, where we were the only adults without kids. The exhibits were cool (I hadn’t been to an aquarium since I was a kid) and we even got to pet the stingrays. We also watched a fantastic documentary about predators in their awesome 3-D movie theater.

We thought we would spend three hours in the aquarium, but we were out in about an hour. After another quick stop at Cafe du Monde for coffee, we headed to Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29, a tiki bar that served the best green beans I’ve ever had in my life, no joke. There, I had a very strong mai tai because we had some time to kill before the Haunted History Tour that night.

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The Haunted History Tour is probably the one I was most excited for when we booked this trip — if you know me, I love horror movies and I tell a pretty good ghost story or two. And where better than to take this tour than in one of the most haunted cities in America? Well…the stories were embellished af. Way over the top. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed learning about New Orleans’ history, which I find fascinating all by itself. And the tour guide was a really good storyteller. However, it was pretty clear that this was a tourist money grab and I wasn’t sure by the end what was fact and what was fiction. I’m glad I did it once in my life though.

The tour ended around 10 pm, then Palwasha and I went back to Pat O’Briens where I definitely got a bit drunk. We had a lot of fun though (shout out to Ashton the bartender) and were sent drinks by a Polish guy visiting the States and his cousin. We got back to the hotel after 1 in the morning, showered, then crashed super hard.

Day 4:

Our last full day here. I did a tarot card reading in the morning, which I’ve always wanted to try. The folks over at Glass Magick were hospitable and kind. However, I left more of a skeptic than I was before this trip. Perhaps the ghost tour had something to do with this…

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After the reading, we went down to the Garden District, which had a completely different vibe from the French Quarter. This neighborhood reeked of affluence. The architecture is beautiful and there were way fewer tourists. We got lunch at Red Dog Diner, then went to District Donuts because you know I can’t pass up a good donut.

Donuts
Blueberry Cheesecake and Pineapple Upside Down

After our dessert, we visited the Buckner Mansion on Jackson. The mansion was filmed for all the exterior shots of the witches’ academy in Coven as well.

It was sprinkling when we were walking to the mansion, but when we got there the rain really started to fall. Plus, the school across the street was just getting out so traffic was horrible along the street. We quickly called an Uber and got back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

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Whenever we take a trip, Palwasha and I always do one fancy restaurant. This time around, Galatoire’s was it. We got dressed up because the restaurant has a very strict dress code, then got there a few minutes before our reservation. We were seated right away. Because it was a Tuesday evening, the place wasn’t as packed as I heard it can usually get. The inside itself was really fancy and old fashioned. All the ladies were wearing dresses and all the men had on coats. I had the most amazing filet mignon, some wine, and bread pudding for dessert. Unfortunately, the couple sitting behind us argued and fought for the entire dinner. Interestingly, we were the only non-white patrons there that night. Shout out to Rushell for being an awesome waitress!

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Instead of going out to the French Quarter bars yet again, we decided to spend our last night here watching Girls Trip. We went back to the hotel to change into more comfy clothes, then walked to the theater, which was on the top floor of a shopping mall. They also served us right there in the theater, so we ordered more wine. The movie wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever seen, but it was fun. Plus, it was filmed in New Orleans so recognizing the places shown in the movie was cool.

Day 5:

We got up early in the morning and headed to the airport, which featured an extremely slow and almost inefficient pass through security. I missed the city already, which rarely happens. Usually, I’m psyched to get back home. I loved the live jazz music playing 24/7 in the streets and bars. I loved the local folks’ Southern accents and their overuse of the word “y’all.” I didn’t particularly like the vomit in the streets but I guess that’s just part of the city’s character, ha. I wouldn’t be surprised if I went back to New Orleans one day. Hopefully, it’ll be sooner than I think.

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