Recently I had the chance to visit New Orleans for a business trip. It just so happened to be the week before Mardi Gras but duty calls and I had work to do. I flew in on a holiday (President’s day) and got to explore the city.
I’ve never had a desire to visit New Orleans. The opposite in fact. It has such a bad reputation here in Texas I avoided the city and never wanted to visit. I was asked to go to our New Orleans office to work with the team there and for a work standpoint I needed to go but I was reluctant. I’ve heard quite a few horror stories that made me a little worried for my safety. I even asked Joe to come with me but he refused, mean husband! This was also the week before Mardi Gras so things were going to get crazier as the week went on. I brought my self protection key ring (this one) and kept as little on me as possible to not look like a “target”. Seeing as I was visiting the city during the day I thought I would be reasonably safe but I never take that for granted.
Once I got to the city I headed for the French Quarter to spend the day and walk around. I had a few places I wanted to check out but overall just wanted to wander and explore. First stop was the “Gumbo Shop.” I was starving and was looking for a good lunch. I of course got the gumbo for lunch and it was delicious. Very flavorful and not spicy at all like I was worried it would be.
After lunch I headed to St Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square. The church was so southern and adorable with some jazz musicians playing outside. There were artists set up all along the square selling really unique pieces. I didn’t buy any art this time around, none of it was my personal style, but it was very unique and pretty to look at.
After walking through the square I headed over to Cafe du Mode which is famous for its beignets and coffee. I waited in line for about 15 minutes then realized it was CASH ONLY!!! Yikes! I didn’t bring any cash with me this trip so left the line. I headed over to Pat O’Brien’s for a Mint Julep and it was the NASTIEST drink I’ve had in memory. The picture below is all I drank of it and threw it away. If Joe had been with me it wouldn’t have gone to waste but that’s what happens when your husband doesn’t go places with you!
After I left Pat O’Brien’s I walked down Royal Street which was adorable and clean and full of antique shops. I actually enjoyed walking down Royal window shopping, seeing Mardi Gras decorations on all the buildings, listening to street musicians. It was the exact opposite of what I thought New Orleans would be, but in a good way.
Then I walked down Bourbon Street. Completely different than Royal Street and made me totally uncomfortable even during the day. Seedy bars everywhere, people outside trying to get you to come in and get a drink, sketchy people hiding in alleyways. Yup I hated Bourbon Street. I went into the Hard Rock cafe then walked down to Cafe Beignet for an afternoon snack. The beignets were good, but I must just not be a beignet person because I don’t see what the hype is all about. I think if I found some hipster flavors I would like them better.
After beignets I walked back down towards the river and ended up in the French Market. I walked through the vendors here checking out the wares then walked to the river and sat enjoying the view for a while. I was really shocked to see how easy it was to walk to everything within the city. Being from Houston I forget that other cities you can get around without a car. Almost everything was no more than a 15 minute walk away. Extra bonus it was a beautiful day for a stroll.
After some time on the river I headed over for dinner at Acme Oyster Co. Everyone I talked to raved about this place so I knew I had to try it out. I got to the restaurant around 5:30pm and there was already a line to get in. I only waited about 15 minutes though so that wasn’t bad at all. I ordered the char-grilled oysters and the oyster/shrimp po-boy. I wasn’t impressed with either dish and found that oysters just aren’t my thing. Its ok though, I can say I tried them in a place that’s famous for them!
After dinner it was getting dark so I headed back to the hotel to be off the street at night. The next few days were filled with work but I did have a chance to eat a few more meals. We went to Mother’s for lunch and I had the jambalaya, I went to dinner at GW Fin’s and had the amazing Scalibut (scallop on top of halibut over lobster risotto). Next day we had lunch at Cochon and I had dinner at Emeril’s Delmonico. Both of which were good but not worth the price at all. I also tried out the layer cake from Bakery Bar. I wasnt really a fan, the flavors were good but something was just off about the filling. I even tried a different flavor and same thing. Must be what they make it with, no idea, they sure are pretty though!
I didn’t go to any parades (although there was one really close to the hotel) and I didn’t go out at night. Like I said, personal safety as I was there alone. I am a little sad I didn’t get to see any parades but its not worth putting myself in harms way. Yes I’m probably being super paranoid but I’m ok with that.
All in all I have to say the food in New Orleans is great, I was really impressed. Most of the city is pretty nice but I did feel a general sense of discomfort. If you are going to go, make sure you research the area you are going to stay and be in a safe area. Travel in groups so you are less likely to stick out as an easy target. One of my co-workers gave me a great tip. He carries an extra wallet with some old credit cards in it and an apple iPod (the ones that look like the phone) in case he gets mugged he can hand those things over and its no big deal. I mean, its a big deal to get mugged but at least you didn’t lose your ID and active credit cards.
I will be going back to New Orleans again for work soon but I don’t think this is a place I will visit regularly or again for a personal visit. I think New Orleans is good to visit once and then done. I’m glad I gave the city a chance the food alone was worth it.
Don’t forget, I can help you plan your vacation to Disney, Universal, Cruises or ANYWHERE!!! Here is the link to my facebook page or email me at Rachael@DreamComeTrueVacations.com
CHIME IN!!! Have you been to New Orleans? Do you like to travel alone? Are you super paranoid when you travel?