About an hour outside of New Orleans the stunning scenery started to appear – as we drove along the extremely long bridge, we got to look out at the surrounding swap that goes on as far as the eye can see.
We arrived at our hotel, St James just outside the French Quarter. It started off with the (rude) receptionist not having our booking, even though we had our printed confirmation with us. Eventually we got checked in and went to our rooms for a quick shower and to head out for the evening. The hotel said a European breakfast was included which was actually just a croissant (Europe is a tad bigger than just France). We left early the following morning to spend the day exploring the city and upon returning before dinner we noticed some of our things missing from the room. I called reception and told them we were missing some things and they said they would check out the card reader to see who accessed our room. A while later we explained to the manager that our whiskey from the distillery in Memphis, our clothes from Stax, speakers and other bits and pieces were gone missing. She mentioned it was our word against housekeeping’s as we had no receipts (they were in the bag). I requested to see the CCTV of when we entered the building and to show her what was in our room currently so she could see what we brought with us. The hotel were quite rude and not helpful in this situation and ruined our evening in the city. We had to print out our bank statements to prove what we bought. They mentioned they would look into the CCTV footage and get to me (as we had to leave at 6am). Upon check out we were also charged twice for our booking.
Food and Drink
I read some good reviews for this place so we strolled down here for dinner. I ordered the red fish with mash and steamed vegetables and it was beautiful (Sean got the jambalaya and it was great, as was the coleslaw). The waitress was very friendly and organised for a birthday dessert to be brought out for Carmen where the whole restaurant sang happy birthday. She also told us about a new Orleans tradition of having money pinned to you until midnight and gave Carmen $5. When we were leaving she came up to us and gave us all a hug. I would highly recommend here as it was one of the highlights of the trip.
We stopped in here for lunch after reading some good reviews. One of the waiters was a bit of an ass and kept shouting at guests at the door and complaining loudly. Thankfully our server was very friendly! I ordered the blackened chicken Po Boy and Sean had the fried chicken – both of which were exceptional.
After the ordeal of dealing with our hotel, we hit Frenchmen street and popped into this hot dog joint. It had a number of different types of meat and specials. We got the WTF fries which had everything on it (chilli, cheese, guac, sour creme, jalepinos) and we’re unbelievable. The hot dogs and cocktails were were great and took our mind off the hotel!
We visited this little dive bar after dinner on the first night. It was opened up onto the street and was quiet enough. We only had two drinks here but really enjoyed it.
We visited the Sazerac bar, to of course get a Sazerac. It wasn’t the place where it was originally made but there is some history to it which was interesting. It was quite expensive (over $20 for a cocktail) but it was unbelievable
Things to do
We did a two hour cruise down the Mississippi River which was lovely and had great views further down the river. We got a bit of history about the area and got to see a huge sugar factory, oil refinery and learn about the different flags on the ships that pass through the port. This is the only working steam boat in New Orleans.
I had read that this was a better place to visit than Bourbon St, and it was! We visited during the day to see a record shop and came back in the evening for some great live jazz music on the streets and to walk through the Palace Market which had some fantastic pieces of art work (guitars made from old paddles etc.). We visited Blue Nile to hear the New Orleans Rythem Devils.
We booked in for the 9-11am French Quarter, cemetery and voodoo tour which started off discussing the architecture of the French quarter and the history behind it which was quite interesting. Next we went to St Louis cemetery number 1 which you can only get into with a tour guide. Here we saw the tomb of Marie Laveau and for some reason Nicholas Cage. We got to hear how burials take place here and how so many people can fit into one tomb (a couple of hundred people!). It was extremely grim but quite interesting. After that we visited Congo square where we heard about the history of the square and the Storyville part of the city. We wrapped up the tour with hearing about the life of Marie Laveau and why she was/is so well known.
We walked the length of Bourbon Street and was pretty unimpressed. It was quite tacky and full of strip clubs. Frenchmen street was the place for quality atmosphere and music.
We took a walk through Jackson Square and hit off parts of the French Market. It was exceptionally warm so we didn’t spend much time here.
Walking through the streets of the French Quarter gives you a feel of the city and the different areas. When going to restaurants or bars I would guide us down new streets which we hadn’t already been down.