This year is NOLA’s 300th birthday. Which is part of the reason every travel expert/magazine is telling you to visit this year. I didn’t know that when I booked our first trip of 2018. I just wanted a cheap flight (offset by miles) and somewhere fun my husband and I hadn’t been together.
Some years back I went to NOLA for a conference but my husband hadn’t been since he was in the army, stationed in Louisiana in the early 90’s. His mother had lived in NOLA as a kid, and when she was in the hospital told us about running around the city at 13.
We stayed at the Embassy Suites (Hilton property as usual) which is conveniently located in the warehouse district and has a free breakfast. They also upgraded me to a balcony room, bonus, but the trip was during that crazy cold storm that hit the east coast. It was like 30-40 degrees and we weren’t hanging out on the balcony in that weather (hello, we’re from California).
It was a great way to enjoy the new year. One of the best places we ate was Peche, which was blocks from our hotel. We had a planned list of a lot of places to try, and we had divided them up by day. We were only there from a Wednesday night to Saturday afternoon, so we divided the two full days between us to plan. I had Thursday and my husband had Friday. We found Peche Wednesday night completely unplanned, which is how travel usually goes. The usually packed bar was pretty empty, probably because it was the Wednesday after new years but before the beginning of Mardi Gras, and it was 35 degrees outside. We ate so amazing food, oysters, smoked tuna and saltines, and some cheese croquettes. I tried the sazerac, a classic whiskey drink that originated in NOLA.
Part of our Wednesday night included the Davenport lounge at the the Ritz Carlton, for cocktails and jazz.
The plans for my day included hitting up the essential NOLA institutions: Jackson square to see the Louisiana live oaks and contemplate Whitman’s poetry; coffee and beignets and Cafe du Monde; visiting the Presbytere, across from Jackson square to learn about the rise of New Orleans through slavery (this is a must history lesson for only $6), jazz on Frenchman street; and dinner at a local black owned business, The Praline Connection. During the day we also walked through the 8th ward and saw street art, and had coffee in the newly refurbished St. Roche market. I tried to plan our outings to mindful of the impact of tourism, gentrification, and the history of the city. What’s good about St. Roche is that it was part of post Katrina revitalization, but has local businesses making amazing food stalls. Like Fritai (Haitian), Empanola (Argentinian), and La Mezcla Mexicana. All three of these include female part owners and Latinx or black owners. When watching food videos before my trip, I saw a lot new cool restaurants with white chefs doing creole or soul food. I decided to make an effort to support business owned by non-white people.
We saw this amazing art through the window of the federal building. Powerful Katrina image that many of us have forgotten.
8th ward street art
New Orleans Museum of Art
At the art museum: This was the inside of a Lincoln cabin-esque house built by gold, bullets, iphones, pills, etc on a foundation of shackles for slaves.