Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler: SGO takes NOLA!
The title of this blog post should really be "We ate everything and did some cool stuff along the way". My boyfriend Matt and I booked a 5 day vacation to New Orleans a few months back, and I've been counting down the days ever since. Owning a small business is incredible in so many ways, but as a Wedding Coordinator who typically works every day including evenings and weekends, "time off" isn't exactly common, so you could say I was really excited. Check out my handsome travel buddy! He's the best.
Does this make me his Instagram Husband?
I had only been to New Orleans one time for a bachelorette party. You know how those go: they're incredibly fun and busy and they fly by in what seems like 24 hours, no? While it was a blast and a half to celebrate my soon to be married friend two years ago, I really wanted to go back to NOLA to experience it all this time: the architecture, the music, the people, the art and the history...and yes, of course, the food. And boy did we do just that.
Matt and I were so lucky to have been given a few months to prepare and a list of places to visit from a local who doubles as a friend of Matt's (thank you Rueben)! This is when the planner in me came out. I took the long list of restaurants, bars and experiences we were given (enough to span a two week trip) and created an itinerary focused on making sure we made the absolute most of our vacation. Don't worry, I do know how to let go and be spontaneous despite wanting everything to be organized, so I avoided micro-managing and ruining the entire shebang (no Mrs. Ungermeyer vibes here). I simply made sure that we visited spots in the same general vicinity each day and hit up the best restaurants and bars along the way. I won't share the entire itinerary with you because I'm not a travel blogger and frankly, I don't remember it all because 1) We slightly changed the plan each day based on the weather and our mood and 2) We were in New Orleans, duh:
I will, however, share with you a few of the highlights of our trip. Read on if you want to be really jealous and hungry.
Highlight #1: Our digs!
We are huge fans of AIRBNB (especially me) so I took the responsibility of choosing an affordable/adorable place to stay. It didn't take me long to fall in love with this spot that was a quick 15 minute walk from the quarter in Tremé and offered a number of rooms for other guests to stay in. I'd love to come back sometime with more friends! The decor was beautiful and we may or may not have copied half of our own interior design from the unique and calming attributes the main space and our "Aqua" bedroom offered (hello, soft lighting and turquoise and blue color scheme)! We had fun going out with other girls from the BNB/AIRBNB on our last night, too.
Highlight #2: The people!
Everyone from our Uber drivers to servers and random people on the street were so kind. I'm glad I'm from St. Louis where people are (for the most part) friendly and outgoing, but New Orleans locals are like nothing I've ever witnessed before. Need directions? Wanna know the best restaurant within a half mile radius? Want to dance with strangers to the beautiful tunes flowing down Frenchman street? No problem, the good people of The Big Easy have your back. It just seems like everyone is in a good mood there. Like all the time. This awesome guy was street-sweeping on a hoverboard while singing and my talented vacationer-in-crime snapped this cool photo of it:
Photo courtesy of M.P. Wilson Photo
Matt and I even witnessed a devastating storm that flooded the city on the third day of the trip that left some people with worse damage than when Katrina hit, and people STILL went out of their way to make sure that we were taken care of as visitors in their city when their own personal property was being damaged left and right. Matt ventured into our neighborhood with water over his knees (keep in mind he's 6'7") while I stayed at the AIRBNB:
Photos by M.P. Wilson Photo
Highlight #3: The activities!
A friend recently said that you could go to New Orleans over and over again and find something new to do each time. I completely agree. We enjoyed the music and culture of the city, taking it all in and walking everywhere we could - this alone really could have been enough to make the trip worth while. Our favorites:
+ Frenchman Street in the Marigny neighborhood: Known for its eccentric spirit, offering a whole new world of fabulous architecture and music for newcomers and locals alike. We spent a half day here and a came back for a night of cajun cuisine and the best music I've ever heard live.
+ City Park: The beautiful sculpture park, Oak trees as old as 600 years, Morning Call beignets, canoe rentals, dueling oaks, walking/running trails and the potential of seeing aligors (we didn't) were are what drew me to this beautiful place!
Sculpture: "Mother and Child" by Fernando Botero. Photo: M.P. Wilson Photo
+ Swamp tour: Call us super touristy, but when would we have had a chance to get THIS close to a baby racoon or alligator ever again? Hopefully never, TBH (but it was so cool to see up close this once)! Matt had a photoshoot with this little guy for about 5 minutes straight:
Photo by racoon-whisperer M.P.Wilson Photo
+ Riding the streetcar: How could you not have fun riding a cute red, air conditioned streetcar through the beautiful city (especially when your city isn't big on public trans)?
Highlight #4: The #eeeeeats!
Ah, yes. The grub. We walked a LOT during this very muggy, very busy vacation, so I'm going to go ahead and claim that all of the delicious, spicy, garlicky, down-home grub we enjoyed was well-earned. Char-grilled oysters are my new favorite thing in life and of course I had a po' boy from Parkway Bakery and Tavern that was to die for. Here are a few of my favorite meals from the trip - ahem - the ones I waited to eat long enough to take a photo of:
Brunch at The Ruby Slipper
The best cheese board (and service) ever at Orleans Grapevine Wine Bar & Bistro
Royal House Oyster Bar's char grilled oysters and crab claws= garlic/cheese/lemon-lover's heaven!
Morning Call's beignets and Cafe Au Lait
New Orleans is not just a place, but a memory I'll hold in my heart forever (or at least until we return for more adventure - no doubt it won't be long)! Ciao for now and thanks for reading!
"You can live in any city in America but New Orleans is the only city that lives in you" -Chris Rose