A few weeks ago Shari and I took a vacation to New Orleans. Bam, another item off my #30 before 40 list – Go to a city I’ve never been. We were privileged enough to be able to stay there for three full days so we got to see and do a lot.
We ate at a Haitian restaurant, a vegan soul food restaurant, and a hot dog place. We got poboys, gumbo, and jambalaya. And of course, we ate beignets. Our first morning we walked down to the French Quarter (we were only a mile away) and feasted on the best beignets I have ever had. Turns out the famous Cafe Du Monde holds up. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy the beignets in New Orleans but holy hell, they were amazing. They were pure deliciousness. DELICIOUS I say! Shari and I ate beignets every single day we were there because how could we not? I have no regrets. We tried out three different companies with each one being slightly different but still the best thing ever. I considered buying beignet mix to take home but when Shari reminded me how our two elevations are completely different (New Orleans is 15 feet BELOW sea level) I realized I didn’t want the disappointment of having subpar beignets. The mix may have stayed in New Orleans but my memory of eating that hot dough ball covered in powdered sugar remains.
We wandered the French Quarter where we saw such lovely architecture and gorgeously painted tall windows and doors. The weather was warm, the trees already had green leaves, and the bushes had blooms. I loved it. We saw the Mississippi River and visited the Jazz Museum. We walked down Bourbon Street where we saw a frozen margarita and pizza shop on almost every block, it was very odd. We did go back at night one evening so we could experience the party atmosphere but we found ourselves thinking everything was a little too loud and neither of us really wanted to drink so we went back to our lodgings. There was a lot of beautiful and interesting art galleries along Royal St and there was a whole marketplace with food and goods vendors where you could get fried alligator, hot sauce, or any of the kitschy items your heart desired. We discovered a really neat co-op shop where local artists each had a section of the store to sell their pieces. We purchased a colorful and inspiring piece that just needs a frame and then it’ll be hung in our new bedroom.
On one day of our trip we bussed out to the cemetery neighborhood and got a tour of a few different cemeteries. It was fascinating to learn about how bodies are stored when a person dies because of how low the land is. There is only one cemetery in all of New Orleans that we would consider a normal cemetery, where people are buried in the ground 6 feet under. Because the water table underground is at 5 feet, anytime it rains, there is a risk of caskets popping up, so each site has to have a marker showing where the casket was buried. Most people are either buried in a coping grave, which is where a person is buried 3 feet underground and another 3 feet of soil is placed on top of the ground above their grave. Cement is then placed around and often times on top of the plot to hold everything in. Other people are placed in a mausoleum where they stay there for a year and a day. After a year and a day, cemetery staff come, open up the mausoleum, pull the casket and body out, dispose of the casket, and push the remains to the very back of the crypt where they drop down into a hole to become part of the earth once more. The remains of the body have either decomposed naturally by that point (if there hasn’t been any embalming done) or the staff has to chop the body up into pieces. I mean, how interesting is this! Death rituals are so cool.
After the tour we headed over to City Park where we wandered around the art museum’s free sculpture garden. This day was probably my favorite because the cemetery tour was so much fun and then getting to be outside in the sun and see some really cool and large pieces of art was a blast. There was a giant paper clip, a huge human skull, and some bigger than life corgis with eyes that were a little too evil for me. The really weird thing was that when I took a picture, my camera turned one eye white, even though it was yellow, and that was just creepy. At least Shari looks happy!
We visited a little Voodoo museum one day and learned about the history of voodoo and how it came to New Orleans. I enjoyed that because we learned the park near our airbnb was where New Orleaners first practiced voodoo. And the park we had visited the day before was the second place they practiced. We were walking in and around history everywhere we went. We saw the home where Delphine LaLaurie tortured and murdered slaves and the first home that Voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau lived in as an adult. Because public transportation was so reasonably priced, we took the ferry across the Mississippi river just so we could say we did it. We walked around the little town across the way for a bit and then hopped back on the ferry. We ended up finding ourselves back at the Jazz Museum where there just happened to be a jazz group about to perform out on the balcony. So we sat on the grass for an hour and listened to some great music. Our trip wouldn’t have been complete if we hadn’t been able to listen to some music so I’m glad this randomly worked out in our favor.
We ended our visit with a trip to the botanic gardens where we saw a large model train track with miniature versions of many New Orleans buildings and homes, some absolutely gorgeous oak trees, and a really beautiful fern room. It was a fun visit and I’m so grateful Shari and I were able to make the time. Check out more of our photos here.
One thought on “New Orleans”
What a great time! Your words paint a dazzling (and delicious) picture of New Orleans. So happy you and Shari got to experience so much of what this place has to offer. Your adventurous spirit makes me smile.