Last week I spent some time in the French Quarter and the Garden District of New Orleans. This was my second time to New Orleans also referred to as NOLA. My first visit was on tour when I was with ReVoLtReVoLt and Built to Spill. While on my visit I decided I wanted to make my website more than what I intended and incorporate my travels as well. Originally I was going to make this blog focused on art and fashion but one of my hobbies is photography most particularly in architecture. Upon taking countless photos as I spent the days walking around I wanted an outlet to share them and realized that all of the other photos I take while traveling are never really shared with anyone unless I upload one on instagram. So my conclusion was to make this more of a lifestyle blog to share my experiences as well as recommendations.
Before leaving for NOLA I spent some time researching places for reviews on must visit restaurants, boutiques, history tours(best of) and other things to do besides going to the bar. I only found some generic tourist information and got a few recommendations from people I know. One of my favorite things about being in the music industry going on tour. The best part of going on tour is getting the inside scoop from the locals you play shows with or stay with about the culture of their community. You receive authentic recommendations without having to second guessing someone working with travel/tourism who is likely making money on the referral. Unfortunately I wasn’t on tour but it was a vacation to take a break from my home scene of the cold Pacific Northwest(PNW). Here are some things I discovered the hard way or from a few referrals from my contacts.
- CASH(most places only accept cash)
- Long Coat(trench or something durable in rain)
- Hat(great for rain or to hold your hair down in the wind
- Extra socks(depending on if your shows are weatherproof for rain/puddles)
I took an Uber to my first hotel downtown in the French Quarter and later in the evening on my first day a family member of mine told me that their co-worker used an Uber earlier in the day and was mugged. That was only my second time using Uber but I had a female driver I reviewed before accepting the pickup from the airport. I used the streetcar during the rest of my stay to get around in the the Garden District to the French Quarter. It was very affordable at $1.25 per ride or only $3 for the whole day. The streetcars are available 22hrs out of the day and they are very entertaining at the end of the night to say the least. Use your Google Map to see where the streetcar is available in NOLA. On my way back to the airport I used a taxi at $15 per person which was $12 more for the total than Uber.
My TOP 4 in Review To-Do
- Cafe Du Monde– original French Market coffee since 1862 serving the original beignet and Cafe Au Lait. This is an experience you have to plan on your visit to New Orleans. The lines can be long but they get people in and out quickly. I was impressed with how efficient they were in getting guests served but you have to see what their trick is. I captured a few photos of the servers gathering their orders. This experience can cost you as little as $10-15 depending on the size of your party. By the way for those of you who aren’t savvy with the coffee lingo you will learn what a Cafe Au Lait is and you may prefer it on your next visit to your favorite espresso stop in your hometown. Just know that the coffee most likely won’t have any chickory in it. Learn about the history of the coffee here.
2.) RoadKill13– Clothing boutique with just my style- a little dark and creative. I was happy to see a punk store in the tourist area and it was the only shopping I did while there. I was happy with my score of maroon Tuks found at RoadKill13. They had a lot of other great items too. Check it out if you are into alternative street styles. Their clothes were recently featured on some of the cast for NCIS New Orleans last week.
3.) Ghost Tour– A night activity providing history of the city of New Orleans including murders, suicides and pirates released from jail to help fight the British. The tour stops by the haunted pirate bar called Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. There is said to be red eyes in the bar that is associated with demonic hauntings. Our tour guide told us to look at the fire without giving us insight of what we me see. She asked the group after we walked out if anyone saw anything and told us about the red eyes. While walking the French Quarter you will most likely pass Old Ursuline Convent and the ghost tour will explain the story of the first theorized vampires to the States called the Casket Girls. In more recent ghost stories there is said to be a ghost of the Hurricane Katrina couple- Zach from the Zach and Addie Murder/Suicide from one of the buildings you visit.
4.) Garden District Tour– The second half of my trip I stayed in the Garden District. This area is less Vegas-esq compared to the French Quarter filled with historical luxury homes, restaurants and schools. The tour takes you to the LaFayette Cemetery with an explanation of the reasoning behind the above ground burial plots and how they are used. We learned where the myth of the dead coming alive and the reason for keepers of the cemeteries. I recommend taking the streetcar to Jacques-Imos for dinner and try the savory alligator cheesecake. The ride will give you an extended tour of the architecture in the Garden District to a quaint family neighborhood. You will be able to experience a little more of the culture of New Orleans outside the tourists traps and the hustle.