First trip staying in the French Quarter

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What I did
roamed the French Quarter

Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our trip to New Orleans was fantastic!  We arrived on a Tuesday evening, around 5:30pm.  Our cab ride to the Omni Royal Orleans hotel took about 20 minutes.  The hotel was beautiful.  We were part of their select guests club (free to join I believe) and got a free upgrade to a corner one-bedroom suite!  We sure do luck out sometimes with our rooms.  The key is to just be nice I think, and not book the absolute cheapest room.  Anyways,   we had 2 seperate balconies, one on Royal Street, the other on St. Louis.  We sat out on the St. Louis side mainly.  There was always people to be watching walk by, horse drawn carriages passing, and just many sights to take in.  We were just one block off of the world (in)famous Bourbon Street, so we could hear music pumping until well past 3am.

The rooftop of our hotel had their swimming pool and rooftop bar/lounge area.  We checked it out and took a few pictures of the city from the top. It was a great view.

We had a couple free buffet coupons for Harrah's so since food was a big priority, we headed there right away for our first meal.  Hey, it was FREE and we love casinos.  So of course it was the first place we head to.  The buffet had a lot of local cuisine (a lot of fish and seafood dishes).  Unfortunately we are not extremely adventurous when it comes to trying new foods.  Don't get me wrong, there were still a few that we tried, yes. But we still mainly stuck with 'safe foods' and basically ate to be full, not to enjoy the food.  If that makes any sense!   We did eat at the buffet here two different times since we had that many coupons.  We came to the conclusion though that if we had to pay for it we would never return, as it was one of the worst buffets we've been to, in general.

It was very warm and humid the entire time there, to be expected.  During the day it was in the high 80's...the last day we were there it hit 91! And at night it was still pretty uncomfortable with the muggyness.  It hardly rained, just a few random light showers one day, otherwise it stayed dry.  That was nice since the last time we were in New Orleans it DOWNPOURED quite a bit. 

We wandered around a little bit after dinner and a little gambling, and on our way back to the hotel, we passed a brass band just playing in the street.  That was one of the most awesome things I've ever seen.  It was 5-6 younger black men, each playing either a drum, tuba, trombone or trumpet.  It was so upbeat and there was a huge crowd gathered to watch them.  Of course after a while one of them goes around with a box for you to put some money in for them.  I say of course because it's expected, it's how a lot of these people make their living.  We appreciated being able to hear and see it so always dropped in at least a 5 when we got the chance to see something like this.  Or when musicians in the local bars we stopped in were playing/passing the money box around.  That's still cheaper than having to pay a cover to get in and hear the bands playing.

We stopped into Pat O'Briens, home of the famous Hurricane drink (they created it here).  We did try one (I had a coke, Bill had a hurricane and let me sip).  We didn't really care for it at all, we expected it to be sweeter, and it almost tasted like red gatorade with a lot of rum in it.  But we finished it and continued wandering Bourbon Street.

At around midnight the first night there, we headed to Cafe du Monde for some beginets (square fried dough with powdered sugar).  They are open 24 hours and this location in the French Quarter is their original location.  It doesn't matter what time of day it is, it's always a good time for that!

The next morning (Weds) we got up around 10am.  We had coffee and orange juice delivered to our room for free (part of being in their select guests club thing).   We actually had this delivered every morning.   We headed out and about to wander more of the French Quarter in the daytime.  For lunch we stopped at a restaurant called El Gato Negro (spanish for 'the black cat').  We had guacamole and some of the best steak tacos that we've ever had.  And mexican coke in a bottle.

We wandered around some more, then took a little nap in the afternoon so we could stay up late that night.  When we woke up we headed to walk down Magazine Street since I heard a few things about it and the cool shops.  Well, the cool shops must have started a few miles after the place we decided to turn around.  We went for block after block and most of it was just big hotels and financial type buildings.  So we headed back to Cafe du Monde for a pick me up (beginets and iced cafe au lait for me of course).  We headed out to Margaritaville for a drink and decided to try a little bit of food.  Unsurprisingly, the food here was horrible.  The past few times we have been to a Margaritaville, the food just hasn't been the same and is just weird and barely edible to us.  So, it was a good thing we had the beginets earlier so we weren't starving or anything.  And did eat a few of the nachos and french fries at least from Margaritaville.

We walked up and down Bourbon Street a few times, getting a drink here and there.  We went into a small bar/club called Fritzel's European Jazz Club and sat stuffed in with about 20 other people watching this band play older jazz tunes.  It was really fun and interesting.  All in all a really fun full first day truly in the heart of New Orleans.  There was always someone playing some kind of an instrument on the corner across from our hotel (and we had a corner suite so we were right there with the balconies).  So we fell asleep listening to someone playing.

Thursday we slept in a little bit but was moving and out of the hotel around noon. Headed to Harrah's to use our last free buffet coupons, and was about to head out and hit up the St. Charles st. streetcar and it was raining.  So we spent another in Harrah's on a few different machines having fun.  After an hour the rain stopped, so we hopped onto a streetcar and took that for the hour or so long trip down St. Charles street.  This was through the Garden District where there are a lot of big fancy houses.  I took a lot of pictures at every stop the streetcar made.  Almost every tree had alot of Mardi Gras beads hanging from it, that can see in some of the pictures.

After that we headed back to the room some more to rest a bit and figure out what else we wanted to do and go to eat.  Since we didn't really care for most of the authentic food from the area (sorry, we don't really eat too much seafood besides crab legs) we decided on another mexican place and checked out Felipe's was definitely a type of fast food mexican, but everything was ok and we ate up chips and guacamole, (I could live off guacamole I like it so much) and steak tacos.

We headed back to wander Bourbon Street, and saw another brass band playing in the street.  So we listened to that for just a short while, they didn't play for too long, but it still was really cool to experience.  We ended up going back to Fritzel's music club for a drink and music.  There were a few other bars that stopped in and had a drink at also, but nothing too noteworthy.....except for 'big' Al Carson at the Funky Pirate....that man is about 700 lbs but man can he sing! His songs were like funny paradies of other songs, and it was just a fun atmosphere.  We were even blessed to see 3-4 HUGE cockroaches wandering around fast on the floor.  EWWW.  But didn't really suprise us, given how old the entire area and buildings are.

Bourbon Street was significantly busier this night (Thursday), and I was getting pretty sick of trying to dodge people and figuring out where to hop into, so we headed back to the room to chill a little bit.  Then decided to hit up Harrah's one last time.  This was quite interesting...there were a LOT of obvious hookers around, and about 20 of them hanging out in the bathroom.  Well, I ended up doing pretty good that night and we stayed out until about 2am.  That was a little scary walking back to our hotel, but we were fine and got back ok. 

Friday morning was our last day there, we were flying back home that late afternoon.  So we did one final stop at Cafe du Monde, and then did a little bit of wandering and souvenir buying.  I got a box of creamy pralines from Aunt Sally's, and a bag of beads and a few voodoo dolls for a couple of co-workers.  We had more time to spare so we wandered around Jackson Square and took a picture of the Andrew Jackson statue, and then went inside the St. Louis cathedral, the oldest cathedral in America.  Right next to it was the Louisianna State Museum, so we wandered through their exhibits.  They had half of it set up for a Hurricane Katrina exhibit with a lot of pictures and artifacts and stories, and the other half told you all about Mardi Gras and the history of it.  That had a lot of elaborate costumes and headwear and other information about Mardi Gras.  But I'll be honest, I still don't understand most about it! 

All in all it was a very fun trip, very warm and humid.  Our feet hurt us more this trip than any other; we think it's because of all the odd sidewalks and cobblestones and uneven walking we did.

We would gladly stay at an Omni hotel after this also, the experience with them was very good. 



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