Archive for the ‘New Orleans’ Category

NOLA!   Leave a comment

When your cruise ends in New Orleans, what are you to do but spend the day in this wonderful city?

DH and I had been to New Orleans a few years ago for Mardi Gras.  I was excited to see the “regular” New Orleans, freed from the craziness Mardi Gras brings. My agenda was simple…I wanted good food and good music during my less than 24 hours in the city.

Once we got out of the cruise ship terminal (an ordeal like we have never experienced!) our cab swiftly dropped us at the Hotel Monteleone.  We are more “corporate” hotel people, but opted for the Monteleone because it’s a New Orleans institution with its Carousel Bar. And, hey, it was only one night.  If we didn’t like it, no big deal.  I had requested early check-in and they were able to accommodate me. Yay! We dumped our luggage (which nearly engulfed our small room) and set out.  (To note, we wouldn’t stay here again. The location was great, but that meant that our Royal-facing room was very noisy at night; the din defeating our white noise machine. I would opt for a more modern hotel next time with thicker walks and larger rooms!)

The weather was overcast and comfortable in the 70’s. Every local we spoke with was very happy at the reprieve from the heat!

Our wandering eventually lead us to Drago’s. We had attempted to dine here during our last visit but struck out when they were closed for Mardi Gras.  I am not generally a fan of oysters but like grilled oysters, so I was dying to try theirs. 

We were quickly seated and ordered a dozen of their famous char-broiled oysters. The menu is huge so we asked the waiter for suggestions taking into consideration that we were in NOLA just for the day. He sang the praises of the shrimp and grits, so I went with that. DH ordered a hearty bowl of gumbo for his main. 

The oysters arrived and were a thing of beauty to behold. 

One bite and we were both transported to Heaven! Oh so succulent with an amazing depth of flavor! By far the best oysters I have ever had. YUM!

Then came my shrimp and grits. Wow! To die for! The sauce they were in was a little spicy and perfectly balanced. The grits (which I generally am not fond of unless they are drowning in cheese) were delicious, seasoned with a hint of rosemary and paired beautifully with the sauce.

DH swooped into his gumbo too quickly for me to snap a pic, but he too was making happy eating sounds as he savored every bite. We were both amazed at the layers of flavor everything had. DH has vowed to figure out how to make gumbo himself  (and if anyone can, it’s he).

After this enormous (and scrumptious) lunch, we continued walking around.  We ended up on Bourbon street.  The first thing we noticed is that it smelled the same as during Mardi Gras. Not as strong mind you, but there is definitely a layer of old booze (amongst other things) permeating the air. Each time we would venture back to Bourbon during the day, it would pick up steam as more shops and bars opened and more people leaked onto the street. Music began to drift from open doorways, until by the evening it was a symphony of sound.

Ultimately we liked the vibe on Royal (one block over) more. During the day there were several musicians playing, and the atmosphere was relaxed and mellow.

After much walking we decided on another round of oysters, this time at Royal House. Theirs are char-grilled and we remembered them fondly from our last visit.

These were not nearly as good as those at Drago’s, and honestly not even as good as our last visit. There was no “grill” flavor evident and half of my oysters were over-cooked and chewy (DH said his were cooked perfectly, but agreed about the lack of flavor). Oh well. It should be noted that I ate more oysters that day than I had ever eaten in my life!

After hitting the hotel to grab a sweater, we made a futile attempt to get into the Carousel Bar. Seriously. We tried three different times starting at around two o’clock. It just got more and more packed each time. By the early evening it was seven deep around the bar and we gave up.  As we left the hotel, a wedding parade was sauntering by. That was so cool!

Back to Bourbon, we hit Tropical Isle hoping for some zydeco music. We didn’t find it there, but did find their signature hand grenade (how much alcohol is in those things?!) and listened to the very average band they had playing there. 

We did find some zydeco at Krazy Korner and blues at Fat Katz. Eventually we landed on Royal and at the Touché bar. Much quieter than Bourbon and Fat Tire on tap. Nice! An anti-Trump parade went by as we sat there. Having been on a cruise ship for the last several days, I had known of course about the outcome of the election, but not that demonstrations were happening across the country.

The next morning we thought to go to breakfast at Cafe Beignet, but they were very busy (and pricey!) so we went back to the hotel.  After walking nearly 12 miles the day before, I went for one last indulgent New Orleans meal, the Creole Benedict. Again, just crazy good, with the typical English muffin replaced by a crayfish risotto! Wow! (And at $16 not a bad price.)

So our one day in New Orleans comes to a close. I am so glad that we took the time to visit instead of flying straight home which is our norm. I got exactly what I was looking for out of our short visit; great food and good music. Until next time!


Final Thoughts on NOLA   1 comment

Well, it was a fun four days in total.

The Drury Inn was a nice hotel.  The staff very friendly, the rooms clean, the complimentary breakfast, popcorn, soda in the afternoon, and hot snacks (potatoes, chicken fingers, hot dogs) and drinks in the evening were nice.  Can’t decide if I would stay there again as I prefer a full-service hotel with a restaurant and bar (the free snacks and cocktails led me to believe this was the case).  On the other hand I probably would have spent more money if those services were available!  The location was pretty good. About five blocks from Canal St and on Carondelet, which turned into Bourbon and a block north of St. Charles.

Mardi Gras was a lot of fun and I’m glad I checked it off the Bucket List.  It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced!

We bought grandstand tickets and got to see the Bacchus Parade up close and personal.  It was great to see a parade in its entirety (and the grandstand seats gave you access to drinks and a bathroom).  That said if you can’t afford it (Bacchus was $40 pp due to its popularity) don’t sweat it.  We saw plenty of parades during our time there and caught plenty of throws.  Even on Canal Street which we were told to avoid (due to the number of people).

I am glad that we took a couple of tours while we were there (and that they were available every day except Mardi Gras itself) because it gave us a chance to learn a bit about the city and felt like we managed some “normal” stuff while we were there.

I do hope to go back to NOLA at another time to experience the city with a little less craziness.  I want some more of the amazing food we were able to sample (never thought I’d like oysters in a million years) and a chance to listen to more of the lovely music we heard while roaming the streets.

Oh, we encountered some of the friendliest people during our stay, which made the experience that much better.  Some great conversations were held while watching parades!

NOLA marching bands rock!  Especially the LSU band which performed during the Rex Parade.

I guess that’s about it.

Had a great time.  Thanks New Orleans!


Posted February 23, 2012 by cubechick in New Orleans

Mardi Gras!   Leave a comment

Wow. Where to begin? 

We’d read that Bourbon Street was the place to be the morning of Mardi Gras, when the vibe was happy and folks were showing up in costume.

So we headed out that way around 10:00.  As we reached Bourbon Street we got caught behind a small parade of musicians wearing yellow jackets, playing music and drinking beer. Fun, but not entirely what we were looking for. So we went over one block to Royal thinking we’d pass them. Well Royal was awesome!  We spent a good hour people watching as easily 70% of the people strolling the street were in costume. We saw everything from folks dressed like old southern gentility, complete with hoop skirts, to Angry Birds. A lot of jabs were made at the Costa Concordia captain who ran his ship aground. There were political statements (the Krewe of the 1%ers).  But mostly people were just having fun.

Eventually we walked down to the waterfront, making our way to Drago’s where we planned on having their char-grilled oysters we’d heard so much about. Dang. They were closed. Well we knew that today would be a day for going with the flow, so we ended up at a nearby sports bar. The food was fine (did enjoy the fried pickles and fried alligator andouille sausage that we had as appetizers), the waiter very friendly, and the beer enormous. 32 oz Abita ambers for $7. Good thing they come in go cups and there’s no open container law in NOLA! 

Walked over to Canal Street as the handy parade tracker ap told us the Rex Parade was about to arrive (sometimes technology is just wonderful).  Watched Rex, caught more throws (most of which would not go home with us).

Back to Bourbon to see what level the mayhem was at. I’d say it was about a 6 out of 10 at that time. Plenty of people getting steadily drunk, the balconies filling with revelers partying and tossing throws, and plenty of ladies displaying their “attributes” shall we say, but covered in body paint at this point.

Took a time out back at the hotel. It was good to just sit for a bit and chill.

The next check of Bourbon was around 5:00. Mayhem a solid 7 by then. Royal though continued to be low key, more family friendly. Musicians playing, more costumes, a few tables set up where you could have your fortune read.  A nice vibe.

We left that area around 6:00 and found that they were already working on cleaning up Canal Street as the final parade had passed. The mountains of debris were literally being plowed away by Bobcats and the street being hosed down by gallons of water and a refreshingly pleasant smelling solvent.

Our final stop was around 10:00. We’d been warned to be off of Bourbon before midnight as everything shuts down and they immediately start hosing off the streets.  Mayhem a solid 9. Not the full body-to-body crunch I assume it would be by the end of the night. The mounted police were there in full force. I am amazed at how calm the horses remained despite the crazy press of people. The only time we were really crushed by people was when 6 horses had been position around a man who was unconscious on the sidewalk. They protected him while EMT’s made their was to the site. As people made their way around the horses the space got really narrow.  Other than that we were able to move around pretty freely.

Saw a few guys had been arrested already. Boobs were flying including a pair belonging to a woman easily in her mid-seventies (go Granny?). And a block over, Royal was still a tranquil island providing relief from the mayhem. We popped in and out of the fray for a couple of hours. The crowds on Bourbon definitely lessened as you got further from Canal (still very, very busy though!).

Finally it was time to head back to the hotel and pack for our flight the next day. I went to put my sneakers into my carry-on. And realized that the bottoms smelled absolutely vile from the muck I’d been walking through for three days. Ugh. I’d have to wear them one more day…and disinfect them when I get home!


Posted February 22, 2012 by cubechick in New Orleans

A bear and his bling.   Leave a comment



Posted February 22, 2012 by cubechick in New Orleans

Lundi Gras!   Leave a comment

So. The day began with the free breakfast at the Drury Inn. We then grabbed a cab to the Garden District for a tour we had scheduled with Racontours.

This is the number one tour company on Trip Advisor. I like the tour we did the day before better. Not that our tour guide Tree wasn’t knowledgeable or entertaining, but dang he talked too much. I’ve found that the best tour guides pause and give you time to think about what you’ve heard.

I retained a lot more information from Cassady the day before. Also, Cassady being a local, shared those stories that only a native could impart. Like how easy it is to level a house that has tipped on it’s supports.

Not that we didn’t have a good time with Tree and I really enjoyed the Garden District and the tour in general. However I do think I’d like to take another Garden District tour for comparison.

After the tour we grabbed a cab back to our hotel then walked over to Bourbon Street and the Red Fish Grill for lunch. That was freakin’ awesome. The BBQ oysters remind me of a buffalo wing complete with blue cheese. The roast beef po’ boy tasted like a braised short rib. Delicious.

Wandered around Bourbon Street for a bit. Getting crazier and crazier.

Dinner was at Emeril’s. Commercial but delicious. The BBQ shrimp appetizer is wonderful. A must try. The andouille crusted drum was also fantastic.

After dinner we caught the Orpheus Parade and saw Bret Michaels, Cyndi Lauper and Harry Connick Jr (whose parade it is).  A lot of fun.


Posted February 21, 2012 by cubechick in New Orleans

Live from Rex in NOLA   Leave a comment



Posted February 21, 2012 by cubechick in New Orleans

Float from Orpheus Parade   Leave a comment



Posted February 21, 2012 by cubechick in New Orleans

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