One of my favorite single days of travel was when my husband and I spent one day in New Orleans. For a big part of my life, I’ve traveled in this “Disney Cocoon” of happiness, cleanliness, and security. I know that it exists, and I am perfectly happy to maintain the fantasy. When we made plans to visit New Orleans though, I knew would be stepping out of my comfort zone. New Orleans is a gritty, urban city. Steeped in history that I adore, a lifetime of stories lead me to the heart of the French Quarter. I love history, and the fabled charm of this environment called to me.
Cafe du Monde
The day in New Orleans began as any good NOLA day should, with beignets and had coffee at the original Café du Mondé. The line went on and on, stretching out from beyond the cafe and down the block, as tourists queued up to get their authentic taste of this customary treat. Luckily the employees here know how to hustle and it all moved fairly quickly. Before long we had out plates piled high with airy fried dough covered in a mountain of powdered sugar, and cafe au lait to wash it down.
My Sanctuary Preservation Hall
I’ve always been a jazz lover, and as such Preservation Hall was one of the places that I longed to see. That old, dirty greenish building, shuttered in weathered wood below , is Preservation Hall. The Hall was founded in 1961 to be dedicated to the preservation of New Orleans Jazz. The building was “originally built as a private residence in 1750 [and] has evolved into a tavern, inn, photo studio and an art gallery. The inside of the hall contains portraits of the musicians who first filled it with the beautiful sounds of New Orleans Jazz”. It’s not something Disney made to look old and worn, it’s the real thing. It’s where you can find the soul of Dixieland. Music pervades every crevice. The years and the struggles are palpable here, as are the music and the musicians. As a jazz lover and the mother of a trombone player, it swept me away.
And the music keeps right on playing
‘Cause of all the places water wouldn’t fall
It wasn’t the churches or the chapels
It was down at the Preservation Hall
“This is my sanctuary”, you could almost hear the ghost
Of some old trumpet player say
“Lay down the burdens you carry In my Sanctuary”
Mind the Cat
We saw a sign, that said to mind the cat because she bites. However – the cat was oddly attracted to my husband. She followed right next to him for the whole time that we were there. She was super sweet to Geordon; I think she must have known how much we appreciated every moment in her sanctuary.
We missed the show the evening that we had in New Orleans, but that’s okay because we will be back. Our next trip will be longer and catching a show here is number one on my to do list. If I’m lucky, I’ll get to return with my son. He would love this place. It has magic.
Quick Stops To Pay Respect
I really love it in New Orleans. One day in New Orleans is not nearly enough. Music, art, and culture seethes from the very ground you walk on in the French Quarter. It’s a little like Disney, only dirtier, grittier, and with more drunk college kids everywhere.
We saw Congo Square, which is the birthplace of jazz.
Respects were paid to the ancestors at New Orleans Cemetery #1. Sadly we arrived just as the cemetery was closing for the night so we weren’t able to fully explore.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar
After that we moved on to the oldest continuing serving bar in America, which just happens to have once owned by the famous Pirate, Jean Lafitte. The bar was also on my NOLA must see list because I’m a pirate loving rabble rouser like that. It’s a quaint little brick building with patchy stucco on the sides. The bar’s interior is cozy, in an old smokey pirate inhabited sort of manner. You even hear hammering from days gone by when the soot stained fireplace was used as a forge, if you listen closely.
There was so much ground to be covered and still so much I want to see (and eat!) that we’ll have to go back. The buildings are so old, and so beautiful in the Quarter. The Ironwork balconies drip with flowers and it’s simply magical. My one regret is that we didn’t get back out for dinner at Emeril’s. That’s so on the list for next time! You just can’t see everything with just one day in New Orleans.
Hurricanes at Pat O’Briens
I had a 1/4 of a hurricane at the famed Pat O’Briens and it kicked me on my butt!! Seriously 1/4 of a drink and I wasn’t seeing straight. I can put away some Italian Margaritas, but I didn’t even finish half of my “original” Hurricane. I had expected Pat’s to be sort of gross. It’s one of those places that all the tourists go, but it was really beautiful. Dueling pianos wrapped in copper plating sit on a stage at the interior bar. The two baby grands wait to entertain guests long into the wee hours of the day. We sat out in the courtyard, which has a lovely fountain, and a garden-like atmosphere. I love NOLA’s hidden courtyards and gardens, they are like a secret treasure that only the explorers discover.
Even though we only spent one day in New Orleans, it was a wonderland that I can’t wait to return to. Have you ever been to New Orleans? Leave a comment an suggest some places for me to visit when I return.