This past week I had an opportunity to goto New Orleans. Megan was having her annual art educator's conference there and I tagged along like I usually do. I never really had a desire to go to New Orleans before. I always sort of imagined it as a sort of drunken college town (and it is that) but I was pleasantly surprised after my weekend there. I was able to genuinely find some great music, great food and some great history.
Day 1 - Thursday
We flew in to the city Thursday afternoon. We checked into our hotel which was located in the rehabilitated Warehouse district and then went out and got our bearings of the city. Our hotel was the Renaissance Arts Hotel which Megan thought was cool because it had a Chihuly sculpture in the lobby. Food was foremost on our minds though and we got some fantastic Happy Hour drinks and food at the Swizzle Stick Bar and had some gumbo and turtle soup. We then made our way to the downtown area and had some beignets a Cafe du Monde and checked out our first glimpse at the French Quarter.
The night wrapped up with us taking a stroll through Bourbon Street late that night to see what it was. It was pretty much exactly what I thought it was. Expensive bars with crappy cover bands. We saw strip clubs and twenty or so drunken people standing in the street laughing at people who walked through horse manure. We decided pretty quickly that we had our fill.
Day 2 - Friday
Day 2 had me heading out to a bayou kayaking tour. It is amazing how much of the area around New Orleans is really just swamp and bayou. There are almost no suburbs in the way that we think of them and everything is basically just under water. The kayak tour was a lot of fun.
I was able to get some good tips for checking out some places in the area from our guides. I ended up going to Mother's Restaurant for lunch and had a huge po' boy sandwich and mustard greens. I had a chance to head back down to the square to to get some photos and found a bunch of street performers out and about. I then attempted to see some of the old cemeteries, but the main one in the city just outside of the French Quarter unfortunately required you to go with a tour and it closed at 3:00 PM, so I was out of luck on that. Megan and I met back up and we had dinner at a place called Cochon. It was good, but honestly it reminded me a lot of a Chicago restaurant like Carriage House or something.
We then decided to spend an hour over at the Harrah's casino which seemed to dominate the downtown area. I put in $2 in the slot machine and ended up with $8, which Megan then quickly made disappear.
Day 3 - Saturday
Saturday was a really fun day. I started out at the World War II Museum, which was quite impressive. If anyone has a chance to go see it do so. There is a really great interactive movie there that features Tom Hanks that is very immersive. The museum is really well made and features a really heartbreaking but also partially romantic look back at the war. I thought they did a particularly good job at covering the Pacific front of the war which all too often seems to be overlooked.
I then left the museum and headed out on the trolly to finally get to see the cemeteries. This time I went to the Greenwood Cemetery to the north. It was an interesting place and it was neat to see the gravestones dating back to the 1800's. From there I met back up with Megan and we grabbed a bite to eat and killed some time in the afternoon before making our way over to Frenchman's street for the evening. Now if you want to see some local music that isn't cover bands it seems that Frenchman's Street is the place to be. We got luck and found a seat at the bar of a place called 3 Muses. They had an amazing jazz ensemble with a clarinetist, accordion player, guitarist and upright bass player. We spent our evening there and had a wonderful time. It really was the perfect way to close out New Orleans.