Travel Thoughts By Kim
Let’s go on an adventure together….to New Orleans, Louisiana!
You don’t have to wait till Mardi Gras to visit and have a ton of fun in New Orleans, Louisiana! In fact, I am so glad my first time in NOLA was during the off season – it was so much easier to get around and explore without the crowds of people.
My time in New Orleans was in September 2016 during the cross country motorhome trip I took with my brother and sister-in-law. We spent about ten days in Houma, LA visiting with my nephew and his family, and, I even got to see an old friend in addition to the family we stayed with.
I took the hour’s drive from Houma to New Orleans on three different days. The first day was with my family. We parked downtown and walked all along the Main St through New Orleans to the dock where we took a steamboat cruise on the Natchez – one of only two true steam boats still active on the Mississippi River, today. I loved that cruise – so much fun. Consider taking one if you go – it really is wonderful.
Along our stroll, we stopped for our first taste of the amazing food New Orleans has to offer. We had lunch at one of Sean and his family’s favorite places: Huck Finn’s – a place you really need to put on your to-do list when planning a trip to NOLA – fabulous food. I chose the jambalaya wrap and it was awesome – just the right amount of heat and the flavors were to die for. We also stopped at the Café Du Monde for beignets – pure heaven on a plate – hot, fluffy, fresh, and sugary – also a must do spot!
The next day, I took the rental car and drove in to meet up with an old high school friend who was living just outside New Orleans in Metairie at the time. He took me walking all over the French Quarter. I was in awe of all the gorgeous buildings and amazing music. We stopped to listen to a lot of the wonderful street musicians playing lively jazz and soulful blues. We strolled through the French Market and looked at all the beautiful crafts and breathed in the amazing aromas of food. I was also really fascinated by all the “human sculptures” throughout the French Quarter – these are people who make themselves up specifically to pose in a stationary position for hours on end for whatever the tourists leave in their buckets – tough way to make a living, if you ask me, but it is really entertaining to see.
We were even lucky enough to get to see a little pop-up parade with music, dancing, and umbrellas – just like you see in the movies. I understand you have to get a permit to close off a street for a parade like this and it is usually reserved for weddings and funerals, but other celebrations occur on occasion – this one was a birthday celebration. So glad we got to see it – what fun!
That day, Russ and I found a cool little place on Bourbon Street and had Shrimp Po-boys for lunch. Sorry – I don’t remember the name of the place, but it was so good! The shrimp was perfectly cooked and crunchy with a nice little kick to it on an amazing roll with pickles, lettuce, and tomatoes – WOW!!! Everywhere we went, there was alligator of some kind on the menu – right alongside lots of varieties of seafood and southern comfort food. I regret that I wasn’t adventurous enough to try it – I should have so I could say I did, but…..you know what they say about hindsight!
On the third New Orleans day, I drove in to take a hop-on-hop-off trolley tour on my own that took me absolutely everywhere. A particular thrill for me was to hop-off for a tour of St. Louis Cemetery # 1 – the oldest and most famous of the currently existing cemeteries in New Orleans. It was stablished in the late 1700s and still has active burials. Cemeteries in NOLA can only contain above ground burials because they are right at sea level, so it makes for wonderful place to wander around. This particular cemetery is where famed Voodoo Priestess Marie Laveau is interned in a family crypt. But, the crypt that stood out most was a pyramid shaped one that looked totally out of place among all the incredible old crypts and mausoleums. Our guide told us that it was actually the final resting place of Nicolas Cage! Of course, he’s not there, yet, but he loved New Orleans so much that he bought a plot and had this crypt designed so he could be interned there when the time comes. Be sure to put St. Louis Cemetery # 1 on your list – there is a $20 entrance fee and can only be entered with a tour guide because they had a lot of trouble with vandals and damage, in particular to Marie Laveau’s crypt, but so worth it.
That day, I had lunch at a crepe café. I chose “The Lucy” – crepes stuffed with fresh strawberries and amaretto custard and topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar and more fresh strawberries – YUMMY!
New Orleans was amazing and between my three days there and three difference perspectives with family and friends I don’t
think I missed anything! But, I don’t want to leave Houma out of this article. Houma is a wonderful town with several bayous. We had dinner at a little shack-like dive called Bayou Delight just outside Houma one night that serves Cajun and Creole cuisine. We all had their specialty – fried chicken – so good – crispy, spicy breading and moist, tender, juicy chicken! And, while we were waiting for our food, we went out on the deck to watch the alligators in the bayou – that was fun.
So – don’t think all New Orleans has to offer is Mardi Gras and crowds of crazy people. If that’s your thing, then go during that annual festival. But, you can go off season and have so much fun and see it all and enjoy the food and the music that New Orleans is most famous for without all the crowds. It is an awesome experience, for sure.