Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler: New Orleans, Part One

The air was so sweet in New Orleans it seemed to come in soft bandannas;
and you could smell the river and really smell the people, 
and mud, and molasses, and every kind of tropical exhalation,
with your nose suddenly removed from the dry ices of a Northern Winter.
//Jack Kerouac

Let the good times roll! We had such a good time in New Orleans, it was definitely one of our favorite trips yet. It was one of those times where we booked the trip kind of randomly and were so busy leading up to it we really didn't have a lot of time to get overly excited and/or build up high expectations. Neither of us had been before and it totally surprised us in the best way possible! I was able to draw a #chalkboardchronicles on the chalk wall just a few days prior to leaving so we were able to start really getting excited for the adventure.  I drew one of New Orleans famous French sayings, "Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler", which means 'let the good times roll', and it came out really cool! I made sure to use the traditional Mardi Gras Colors too, in order to best represent NOLA. Our trip was planned for Monday-Friday from the 16th to the 20th of March. This was just a few weeks after Mardi Gras had ended, so we were hoping to maybe see some remnants of it still left over, and we would also be there for St. Patrick's Day which we heard was really fun as well, so we were excited about that and all of the other good things we had heard about New Orleans.
I love using the Dreamdays App for my countdowns! Always gets me excited to see the number of days dropping for things I am looking forward to. You can use one of their stock backgrounds for each or you can even create and/or upload your own picture or one from the web. Once we hit day "0" we were up DARK and early at 2:30am in Connecticut to head to JFK in order to catch our flight at 6:30am. We left the house by 3 and the drive was about 2 hours and 10 minutes. We park in the economy lot which requires an extra 20 minutes on your travel time to park, walk to the AirTran station and take the AirTran train to your correct terminal. So altogether getting to the airport would be about 2 and a half hours which would put us there right at 5:30 with an hour to spare before our flight. We were hoping that was enough time as it was really early and our flight was one of the first flights out that morning. Nick and I also both have TSA PreCheck which has been great for avoiding the long security lines. They have a separate shorter line for TSA Precheck people and we don't have to take off our shoes, belts, jewelry and/or open any of our carryons/luggage. It has really saved us on some of the crazy crowded airport days for other trips, but for this trip it was about the same wait as the regular line as the airport was not yet crowded.
An easy 2 and a half hour flight and we were touched down in The Big Easy... New Orleans! We got to our hotel nice and early around 9:30am as they are one time zone/one hour behind. It was really nice to be there first thing in the morning and not waste a whole day traveling as we would only be there for 4 full days. Although we were tired from getting up so early, our excitement/adrenaline had kicked in and we knew we would be able to make it through day one on little sleep. Our hotel check-in wasn't until later in the afternoon but the hotel staff was really nice and took our bags and let us get some of the check-in process done early so that as soon as our room was ready they would call and let us know. We made a quick outfit change in the hotel bathrooms and then set out on day one of our NOLA adventure. We really had NO plans for this trip except an Airboat Swamp Tour scheduled for Wednesday and a River Steamboat on the Mississippi scheduled for Thursday afternoon, the rest of the time was to be filled however our hearts desired! Some of our other trips have been planned out down to the minute, but this was a really nice change of pace to have nothing to do but explore and follow the wind! We did however, have a three page word document with us filled with recommendations for restaurants, bar, and attractions from friends, family, and the interwebs. I had written down all of the places people told us about and wrote a little blurb about what they were, what the rating was on Yelp, and who we heard it from. I broke it down into sections: Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch/Apps/Treat, Dinner, Bars/Latenight, and To-do/Sightseeing. This made it more organized and easy for us to read through and find a place to go depending on what we were feeling at that moment or based on what time of day it was. Since it was early in the morning our first order of business was breakfast. We looked through our list and decided on Stanley's in Jackson Square/French Quarter. There was a slight wait for a table but it was such a nice day we didn't mind a bit. We took our pager and walked around the beautiful square. There were artists set up all along the perimeter and they were all actually really good! It wasn't the cheap, imitation art that you often see in other cities. It was real artists displaying their unique styles and pieces with all different mediums, and if I was made of money I definitely could have gone home with more than one thing!
After only about ten minutes, our table was ready at Stanley! Our word document had it listed as an airy, sun-filled café with all day breakfast. It was right on the corner and the building was gorgeous, it was exactly what I had envisioned as something I would be seeing in NOLA... brick buildings, intricate wrought iron railings, slightly weathered/worn, and lush hanging plants and décor.
Airy? Check! Sun-filled? Check! The floor to ceiling windows and white walls made it a very light and beautiful space. We got seated at a table in the corner with a perfect view of the entire restaurant and outdoors.
Loved the dark wooden beams contrasted against the white, and the weathered original brick floors were awesome and very charming!
First order of business was ordering this GIANT Mimosa, but it better have been giant because it was $14! Definitely the most expensive mimosa I have ever had, but it was large and was VERY "champagney", although I still think $14 was a bit much. We were really hoping that this wasn't a reflection of the beverage prices for the rest of the trip or else we'd be broke on Day 2! (Luckily, it wasn't)
We were also BAFFLED by the liquor laws, or lack thereof, in Nola. This couple next to us walked in and sat down with drinks from elsewhere in plastic cups..... what???!! You can bring drinks into restaurants? From other restaurants?? Literally mind bottling. And amazing.
I had the "Stanley Special" and Nick had the Gumbo. We both made it a point to order things native to NOLA and things that we may not usually order or eat. Both meals were really good and we were stuffed after cleaning our plates so we decided that a nice walk through the city streets would be a good idea. We were already in the French Quarter so we just decided to just stay there and started walking up and down each of the side streets to see what it was all about.
I loved it! Love love loved it! The buildings and architecture are very European looking and influenced. I loved all of the bright colors, the brick, the tile, the painted row houses, the iron railings and balcony's, floor to ceiling windows and doors, the festive decorations and planters. It was so homey and charming and I liked how it was a city but it was so "low", no tall buildings except for in the Central Business District a few miles away. It was a total mix of so many places I have been to or seen before, all coming together to create it's own look and feel. Spain, France, Austin, San Francisco, Provincetown, and San Juan Puerto Rico to name a few...

I could definitely see myself living in one of these adorable row houses or bungalows! SO charming and quaint!

We spotted this sweet Bulldog on a porch and it reminded us of Nick's Cousins Dan and Chelsea's dog Lola, complete with the tongue out and body leaning to one side. We ended up feeling bad for this one though because he was constantly itching up against the railings and it appeared he had some pretty bad hot spots that had gone unattended to. I can't imagine how they feel in the humid 80 degree weather... poor little guy.
I would have maybe said something but the same house also had this sign on the door..... so sadly we gave him a few pats on the head and kept on walking! One of the many interesting signs we would see in the streets of NOLA.
Next we wandered down more towards the water and stumbled upon the GIGANTIC French Open Market. Literally I think it was about a half mile long along the riverfront. It had all different kinds of sections and sold everything from Mardi Gras garb, to trinkets, to Football Memorabilia, to witchcraft, spices, plants, clothes, to food and everything else in between. Vendor upon vendor it seemed to never end! It absolutely blew my mind that every day they have to take it all down and set it all up again and again and again.
Cajun bacon coffee! One of the many interesting finds at the market. Nick and I collect elephants with their trunk up (goodluck) from every place we visit. The photo on the right is actually the vendor from which we found our NOLA elephant! It was all dark blue glass and she had one of the best prices we had found, just $3.50. I was very excited to add to our collection and was happy we found it so early in the trip so that I didn't have to think about it or search for one the rest of the time- sometimes elephants are hard to come by! She was a sweet old lady and her small cardboard sign in the photo read in part, "This products here bring auspiciousness, good karma, and of course good luck". Just what we need!
After walking through the entirety of the French Open Market, we found ourselves at the edge of the city right along the 'Mighty' Mississippi River. Neither of us had ever seen it or been on it before, except maybe for on a plane, so it was definitely a bucket list item checked off. They had a nice brick walking pathway along the riverfront and you could see the whole cityscape off in the distance where the taller buildings are located in the business district, along with the bridge connecting to Algiers across the river.
There was also a lovely collection of vagabonds/hippies/homeless/drug addicts gathered along the waters edge all the way down the path towards the end where it meets the railroad which is where we started walking. It was all fun and games until we heard one ask the other "Do you have any LSD?" to which the other replied "Yeah, here." At which time we felt it was best to move on to the not-so sketchy area further down!
It was a beautiful bright sunny day and was hotter than hades out, a stark contrast to the 20 degree weather we had left that morning. We knew it was going to be hot, but neither of us expected it to be THAT hot. Nick had packed two sweaters for gosh sake! We were both in jeans and it was getting pretty sweaty with the high humidity and sun beating down on us, so we decided to go get something to cool us down. Nick and I are OBSESSED with 'Vice', a media publication that does news, documentaries, and other publications on the worlds issues and less talked about topics. They also have a spin off site called 'Munchies' that explores different areas of the world and the traditional food that they have to offer through videos and articles. We had seen one video in their 'Al-Kee-Hol' series on the New Orleans Daiquiri and it really sparked our interest into this NOLA staple. They take their Daiquiri's VERY serious down there, and with their being no open container laws or anything of the sort, you can pretty much get them and bring them anywhere. In the Vice video they went to one place in particular, called 'Gene's Curbside Daquiri's', that looked like the quintessential NOLA daiquiri shop. We pulled it up on the GPS and we weren't too far from it so we decided to take a walk to get one of the frozen treats. We passed this sweet old-style movie theater along the way.
We also passed by many more brightly colored bungalows, and I just couldn't resist getting a picture in front of this cute watermelon color combo! It reminded me of other photos I have from Old San Juan in Puerto Rico.
Not the outfit I had planned to wear on Day One but we had to change in the hotel lobby so this was the first thing I pulled out. Definitely should have gone with shorts as it was so hot out. Also, side note, I bought this small Steve Madden backpack before the trip to replace a purse and it was literally God's Gift. SO CONVENIENT!! Purse Scmurse, I'll be taking this with me wherever I go from now on, it was a life saver and so much less in the way and/or hassle than a purse.
After a decent walk, we saw this sign and the bright pink building and we knew we had reached our destination, Gene's Curbside Daquiri's!

They had an extensive menu of every fruity flavor combination you could imagine and they also had sizes ranging from a 'small' 12oz cup up to a 2 Gallon milk jug! I kept it traditional and went with the Strawberry Banana Rum combo. Nick went all out and ordered their specialty that we had seen on the Munchies episode called the "What the F***", which is their strongest daiquiri that is a mix of EVERY flavor and rum they have!

They were everything we'd hoped they would be and although neither of us like drinks that are overly sweet, they were icy cold an refreshing and booze-filled, so it was just what we were looking for.
We started the walk back towards our hotel on the other side of the quarter, but we stopped into tons of shops along the way. We loved this wood shop where they made custom furniture pieces. We took pictures of a few in order to possibly recreate them sometime.
Nick also had a mission to find a traditional Cajun hot sauce for one of his friends, and the French Quarter certainly was not lacking in the hot-sauce store department. There was a store on almost every block filled with hundreds of hot sauces! It was so hard to pick but he ended up going with a traditional Cajun hot sauce that was actually made in Louisiana as most of them were made elsewhere. This is not a photo of if but these were some of the other bottles that looked... well... painful!
We found our way back to the beautiful Jackson Square adjacent to where we had eaten breakfast. We decided to actually walk through the square this time as we had only walked by it before. It was a lush little park with nice grassy areas and landscaping. The view from one side is of a big old Cathedral, and the view from the opposite side is of the Mississippi River, so it really was a neat little place with lots of historical reference.

If you see off to the right of the photo below there was a large group of college spring break girls "tanning" and wearing next-to-nothing. Nick was pleasantly surprised by this welcomed view and made sure that we walked on THAT side of the statue (insert the "why-I-ought-a..." expression emoji here).
Once through the park we decided to take a stop into the St. Louis Cathedral. It was really a beautiful building and has a great location in the quarter right at the base of the square.
Outside of the cathedral there were many other vendors and street performers, from poets like the one pictured below, to psychics, tarot readers, musicians and more. Once inside the church, it was surprisingly cool and quiet much to the dismay of everything going on right outside it doors. The ceiling was beautifully painted and it was really serene and peaceful.

It is one of the oldest Cathedrals in the US, dating back to 1718. It sustained some damage during Hurricane Katrina but was fully restored in recent years.
After the cathedral we turned down a side street to get back into the heart of the French Quarter. This is basically the Mardi Gras Mecca and where all the craziness goes down. So many homes and business still had their decorations out in full force, and it was really cool to see all of the vibrant colors and hard work everyone puts into this once-a-year celebration.

We stopped on the street corner of Royal St as there was a street band playing and they were awesome! So musically talented and they had a great, unique sound. They were called the Slick Skillet Serenaders, and their style of music was described as "Pre- World War II Ragtime, Blues, and Jazz". Definitely right up my alley and we stopped and watched for a good 15-20 minutes until we got too hot, I have no idea how they sat there in the blazing heat playing instruments for that long. I want to try and get some of their songs now that I am home.

This woman in a bee costume started randomly dancing and twirling around and it took us children of the 90's right to flashbacks of the Blind Melon music video for "No Rain".
I loved New Orleans because there was so many fun and unique things around every corner that we don't often see here in New England. For example, cats in stores!
We had about an hour to kill before we could check in to our hotel, so we stopped in at another famous hotel, the Hotel Monteleone, to check off another bar on our list, the "Carousel Bar".
And it was exactly that, an actual working and moving carousel that served as a bar. We timed it and it made one full revolution about every 15 or so minutes. It was really colorful and lit up and had all the charm and detail of a real carousel.

Each of the seat backs were hand painted with a different animal. Our favorite was the elephant, of course!
We ordered a round of cold beers as we were dying (but certainly not complaining!) of heat exhaustion and really needed something to cool down. I also snapped the handsomest picture of my sweet Nicholas! One of my favorite pictures of him to date.
Just as we finished our beers the hotel called and our room was ready. Our Hotel was called Le Pavillon and was right on the border of the Central Business District and the French Quarter. It was a great location in that it was total walking distance to almost everything, but it wasn't right in the heart of the loud and crazy French Quarter, so we could still sleep quietly at night. I don't know how some people survive at those hotels right in the quarter! Its madness! Our hotel Le Pavillon was an Old World-French inspired hotel and certainly held up to that designation throughout.  It is a historic hotel and even has some rumors of being haunted! We loved the hotel and had absolutely no complaints, but we did agree with one cab driver we had in that we couldn't decide if it was indeed really nice or if it was borderline too kitchsy/froo-froo. Everything looked nice aesthetically and from afar, but if you got up close, you started to change your mind. Kind of like a Monet painting! But again, absolutely no complaints, the service and accommodations were wonderful and everything we needed!

We dropped our bags and wanted to rest for a minute but also soak up the last couple hours of daylight, so we put our suits on and headed up to the rooftop pool, which was awesome. The water was really warm and it had great 360 degree views of the city.
Both rockin' our new suits! Nicks from Old Navy and mine from Target. I got so hot so I had to go for some swims, Nick fell fast asleep on the pool deck! Eventually some lounge chairs opened up and we moved onto those, at which point I fell asleep too for a good half hour at least!
City views from the rooftop!

At one point during our nap, a hotel staff member came around with warm cookies and fresh lemonade! It was such a nice treat and a total welcomed surprise! We loved Le Pavillon for going above and beyond with little extras such as that, it really makes all the difference.
After pool time, we showered up and got ready and dressed for the evening. We were determined to make it to happy hour but were cutting it a little short on time. We wanted to get oysters and decided on a place we found on Yelp called Samuel's Blind Pelican where they supposedly had $.25 oysters and a nightly crawfish boil. Count us in. We headed out on our walk following Google maps and it led us through a rotary and by this cool statue of Robert E. Lee in Lee Circle just in time for a pretty sunset.
So after walking for about a mile and a half, we see that the destination is up ahead on the GPS. We are so hungry and eager at this point and we see a building all lit up with flags and a bunch of people, so in we go. There is Irish decor everywhere but hey, it was the day before St. Patricks day so that was to be expected. We saw they had a side patio so we asked to be seated out there and they said it was first come first serve. So we head out to the patio and find a table. It was a little odd that there was no smell of seafood or anything of the sort, but we didn't think much of it at first. They were really busy and it took FOREVER for a waitress to come over to us and we only had about 15 minutes left of happy hour as we had seen on Yelp that it was from 4-6. Finally our waitress came over and took our drink orders and gave us menus. It was a small one page menu with all irish fair… bangers and mash, cabbage, corned beef. Hmmm… no oysters? The waitress came back with our beers and of course, Nick's beer was wrong. Before she left again to correct it I said, "Do you have a happy hour menu?" thinking that maybe we were in the wrong area of the restaurant or had the wrong menus. She looked at me somewhat confusedly and said "Ummm, no. We don't do happy hour." and she left before I could ask anything else. She had given me my wine in a small plastic bud light cup. Everything was weird, everything was wrong, this was NOTHING like what we read online. Finally, she brings Nicks correct beer and said she would be back to take our orders. Not two seconds later Nick's stares right at me and yells, "THIS IS THE IRISH HOUSE!!??" I looked down at the menu…. What the hell?! He's right! Where the heck are we!? This is not Samuel's Blind Pelican, it's the friggan Irish House! We had definitely done something wrong with the GPS…. we did not want to eat there so we finished our drinks quickly and paid our tab. The service was so slow, however, that even if we did get to Samuels the happy hour would be over. Epic fail. 
So we walk TWO BUILDINGS down and there it is, in all it's glory, Samuels Blind Pelican. The smell of oysters wafting in the air, and fresh crawfish steamed up just minutes prior. We went up to try and get a seat and they let us know that the happy hour was closed and that it was about and hour wait for a table. Crying tears of sadness and hunger, we had officially ruined happy hour Night One, but at least we had a somewhat funny story for the books. 
Starting to get hungry, we looked to the list and decided on one of the dinner spots that was nearby and highly recommended called Cochon. It's been featured on Anthony Bourdain and many other prominent food shows and publications. We go inside and get the news…. hour and a half wait. At this point we were pretty far from out hotel and there wasn't much else around so we decided to put our name on the list as they said something might come up earlier and they would call us. We were pretty HANGRY now, but luckily for us we realized that another spot on the list, Cochon Butcher, was right next door. It was Cochon's butcher/cheese shop adjacent to the restaurant that also served food in a more causal setting. We took a look at the menu and decided to scrap Cochon! The Butcher shop looked great and we were able to quickly order food, wine, and find a spot at a table. We liked the whole order at the counter, take a number, find your own seat concept and turns out we would find it at several more places throughout Nola! Cochon Butcher had a really good crowd and nice atmosphere. A slightly hipster vibe but without being too over the top about it.
I had a delicious BLT and Nick had the Lamb gyro sandwich. We shared a side of Brussel Sprouts in a Chile Oil and they were AMAZING! As someone who used to hate Brussels and is just getting to like them, these were excellent! Totally opened my eyes to the world of how good brussels can be. We were even too hungry to get any food pics so you'll have to just imagine what they looked like!
We felt SO much better after eating and started the walk back towards the quarter. We passed a cool copper mill and also saw my same bike Nick got me for Christmas on the side of the street!

We passed this "school", which I could not believe existed, and I knew I had to take a photo of it to send to my Mom and family who would get a big kick out of it. Where do we sign up!?
At this point we had almost been up for 24 hours, so we were looking for something a little more low-key where we could just sit and relax with some drinks and music. 
We had heard from several sources that LaFitte's Blacksmith Shop was an awesome must-go-to bar on the outskirts of the quarter. Apparently they have a piano player in the back room and the whole building is only lit with candles and some very dim lighting. At first looks, it looked really promising and I was exited! Built in 1732 it is one of the oldest surviving structures in New Orleans and is one of, if not the oldest structure in the US housing a bar. How about that!

It was amazing inside, I loved the vibe and it was JUST what we were looking for. Everything was so rustic and old, I loved all of the wooden beams and stone and brick. And sure enough, there was a piano man in the back and we somehow scored the perfect snuggly spot on a padded bench with a little high top table.
Everyone was gathered around listening, requesting songs and singing along to ones they knew. We just sat for hours and chatted, drank, and listened to him play. It was the best!

We didn't want to leave! But after a couple hours we were to the point of barely keeping our eyes open and decided to call it a night. HIGHLY recommend LaFitte's Blacksmith Shop if your are ever in NOLA! A great time for sure.
Lafitte's is located further down Bourbon St towards the Marigny, so we decided to walk back to the hotel all the way down Bourbon Street and take in all of the late night craziness! This is one of the famous balconies where the beaded are thrown during Mardi Gras. And here, two weeks after Mardi Gras, it was still packed with people who were yelling and throwing beads!

Bourbon Street has some of the best people watching I have ever encountered!

One section of Bourbon has tons of strip clubs and cabaret shows. I had to keep Nick close by my side in fear of losing him!

Down one of the side streets we noticed another bar that we really wanted to go to that we saw on Vice, called Arnaud's French 75. It was closed at this hour but we were glad to see where it was so that we could come back another day during the trip. They are home to/the creator of the original Daquiri, which is unlike anything we drink or think of as daiquiris nowadays… but more on that later!

Walking further down Bourbon we could only just imagine how crazy it must be during Mardi Gras! It was 2 in the morning and there was still HUNDREDS of people out and about with no signs of slowing down. I loved all of the crazy lights and colors, and beads upon beads hanging from the streets.

Love it!
Finally, we made it back to our regal hotel! Check out those columns and statues! Do you see what we mean that it was nice, but maybe a bit too over the top?

Although we were tired, we didn't want the night to end, so we put our swimsuits on and decided on a quick dip in the rooftop hot tub before bed. It was such a nice starry warm night and it was just calling our name and felt so good after walking about 10 miles through the city that day.

Goodmorning! Happy St. Patrick Day! Tuesday was the 17th and we were ready for a day filled with Irish pride and St. Patty's festivities. I am about 1/8th Irish, and Nick is even less than that, so neither of us are too crazy on the green but we definitely wanted to partake in whatever the city had to offer.Here are a few shots of the glamourous hotel lobby before heading out for the day.

Hotel bar that we never drank at!

We looked to our list and decided on a breakfast spot on the famous Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District called 'District Donuts Sliders Brew'. They promised an interesting mix of good coffee, fresh baked donuts, quirky sliders and breakfast tacos and we were really excited to try it.
We loved the decor! Exposed brick and Edison bulbs, our kind of place! There were two little old ladies in front of us in line and this was their second day in a row coming, and they told us we were in for a real treat. They gave us some recommendations and we took their advice!
This was the main menu, and they also have a daily/weekly specials menu. I decided on a chocolate sprinkle donut and a Croque Monsieur Croquenut (a croissant donut grilled ham and cheese!), and Nick went with the BLT slider. I got a fresh squeezed lemonade and Nick got a fresh brewed ice coffee.
My donut was delicious and so "fresh" tasting, if that is even a word that can be used to describe a donut. None of that artificial junk they put in Dunkin back home. The dough was so fluffy and the chocolate wasn't too sweet, it was delicious.
My lemonade was SO sour, but I loved it! Made my lips pucker but it was nice that it was fresh squeezed and home made.
My Croque Monsieur was also delish! It was on a pressed glazed croissant donut, and the ham and cheese was perfectly melted and gooey. I was almost too full to eat it all after my big donut, so Nick helped me eat half. 
Nick's BLT….. one word….. TO DIE FOR!!!! Oh wait… that was three…. but seriously…. best thing ever!!!!!!! He agreed, the best BLT he has ever had! The bacon was literally half and inch thick! Where the heck do you even get bacon like that? And the tomato was so fresh and the sauce… oh, the sauce! SO GOOD! 100% go go go and get yourself the BLT at District!
Not exactly "St Pattys day" dressed, but we were off to a great morning and another gorgeous day!
Since we were already in that area, we decided to walk to the famous Garden District to check out some of the mansions that line the side streets.  This was one of the things people had recommended we do, and First St and Second St in particular promised some of the biggest and most beautiful homes. 
Green beads all ready for St. Patricks! I never knew if these were free for the taking or not, so I just looked but didn't touch! Everyone had them hung on their fences but I wasn't sure it they were giving them out or if it was part of their decor, or both.
We started stumbling upon some of the mansions and they did not disappoint. So beautiful and picturesque! The grounds were so finely manicured and all of the homes were perfectly kept up. Almost all of them had the porch ceiling painted light blue, which up until that point I had though was only a Cape Cod thing, so I was happily surprised to see it in NOLA too! Nicks front sunporch at his house is all white, and we had talked about possibly painting the ceiling a similar blue/green shade, so I took this as a sign that it needs to happen!

This house was almost full block wide! What do these people do for a living?! We looked up a few of the addresses on Zillow and most were well over $2 Million.
Look at this porch ceiling! Yaaasssss! I need it.
This is owned by famous Author Anne Rice, most known for her series The Vampire Chronicles.
This light pink house was one of the biggest and most intricate mansions and one of the most recommended to see when you're doing the garden district tour.

I think this one was one of my favorites, I loved the French looking style and the floor to ceiling windows. It looked so bright and airy and decorated to perfection. 
Look at the sun porch! To die for!
I want it! What do I need to do/be to get it!!??
More blue ceilings, and more pretty homes!

This guy died on my Dad's birthday! December 6th, but just a few years prior :-)
We enjoyed our stroll through the garden district and after seeing the mansions we decided to head back to Magazine Street because we didn't really go anywhere besides District Donuts and it was on our list to explore that particular street. It has tons of antique shops, small boutiques, specialty stores and consignment shops and is definitely worth a walk down. So many quirky little details throughout the neighborhood too, like these silverware sets molded into the sidewalk!
Shop and after shop for miles!
More quirky and colorful signs that we loved. It really gave New Orleans some cool character and it was much appreciated. There was something new to look at everywhere you turned.
Cats on buildings… yep!
Magazine St… a must see!
Mardi Gras pride everywhere you look, long after the party is over. 
We decided to walk back to the quarter even though it was pretty far. About halfway through our walk, we came upon this old firehouse turned home, and I did not even realize the timing or symbolism of this photo until now. We were oohing and ahhing over how cool this was and how it would be a dream to do something like that some day. There is actually a firehouse down the street from Nick that has been for sale in Mass, and we can't wait to see what someone does with it. 

What I didn't realize about those photos were that they were the last photos I took before we were almost back to quarter when Nick got a missed call on his phone. He listened to the voicemail, and it was a call he had be working towards and waiting for for over a year! We quickly dodged into a nearby hotel lobby so that he could have some quiet to call back. It was the Fire Department he had applied for and had been hoping to get into for months now. I sat and waited anxiously until he was done, but I knew by the look on his face and the sound of his voice that it was good news. He was hired!!!! They gave him an official start date and everything!! He was SO excited and relieved and had literally been working towards this goal for over a year. A Happy St. Patricks day it was indeed, and I was so happy for him and proud of him. It was officially time to celebrate! It was lunch time and we had yet to have oysters on the trip, our cab driver from the morning had told us his favorite spot was Deanie's in the French Quarter. He said (and we saw) there are other places like Acme of Felix's that always have lines out the door and around the block, but he said Deanie's is locally owned and is great if not better than the others. We were sold and made our way there!
Mimosas and drinks to celebrate! (If you can't tell by now…. I love mimosas) A big cheers was in order for Nick's new career. He got a sweet tea vodka and water, which is a great combo by the way!
Congrats Lu!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lunch was on me in celebration and we got both raw oysters and char broiled oysters to share. They were great! The raw ones were some of the biggest we had ever seen and we had never had charbroiled before, they were lemony and garlicky and cheesy and they were delish.
So good! They need to bring this tradition up North.
After lunch we just kept on walking through the quarter with no real destination in mind, just taking in the sights and stopping into any place that looked interesting along the way. 

Another street band! Not as good as the one from the day before, but they still had a nice sound and their variety of instruments was cool. It was even hotter than it was the first day too, so I had no idea how they were out there for hours in long sleeves and jeans. 
Street performers lined every corner. This guy was a sword swallower! Still don't get how they do it! No gag reflex?!
We came across an Irish bar called Pat O'Briens, which happened to also be on our list, so we figured what better day to try it out than St. Patrick's Day! The bar was bustling with a great crowd, but wasn't to the point where it was too overcrowded or uncomfortable. 
   To our surprise, it was a dueling piano bar!! We have a love affair with piano bars so this made us extra happy and we were able to again score seats right at the bar. 
A mimosa for me and a screwdriver for Nick! The bartender was a large African American Woman named "MS. PATRICIA" on her name tag, and she was such a hoot! She would put you right in your place! If she felt you were rushing her…. oooohhh… thats your ass! I can still hear her now…"I CAN SEE YA HUNNY. I AINT FORGOT ABOUT YA. I'M ONLY ONE PERSON, I'LL GET TO YA WHEN I GET TO YA. WAIT YA TURN NOW." I have decided that they officially make the best mimosas in New Orleans, a full glass of champagne with a SPLASH of OJ everywhere I went. Not the other way around that I so often get when ordering in New England. So stingy up here!
The building was another cool old building with weathered brick and exposed beams. They had all of these big steins hanging which reminded me of a restaurant we like to go to back home called The Fort. 
Pat O'Briens also has an awesome outdoor area/beer garden with two outdoor bars, music, tables and so on. We got some Pat O'Brien's St. Patricks day swag in the form of hats and beads so we were able to fit in a little better with the Irish folk!
Random but this photo looks EXACTLY like a photographer I work for, I can't wait to show her the picture. It's uncanny. From the 1950's too, so it's definitely not her.

After Pat O'Briens we continued our trek with no plan in mind but to go with the flow and explore! Another pass by Jackson Square on our way towards the Riverfront.
Love this one of us! I am wearing another one of my birthday gifts, coral earrings surrounded with diamonds, that I had randomly said I wanted in Hawaii and he somehow remembered or wrote it down and found some for me for my birthday. He is the best gift giver, I swear!
We then came upon the very famous Cafe Du Monde! Most famous for their Beignets, a traditional NOLA staple somewhat similar to a "fried dough" that we would get up North. We really wanted to go but the line was snaked around the inside of the restaurant and then wrapped around outside of the building as well. Only being down there a few days, we just couldn't rationalize spending a few hours in line waiting when there was so much else to see and do. At least we got to see it, smell it, and get some photos!

A look back at Jackson Square from the riverfront.
And the stairs leading up to the river walkway.
After a walk by the river we once again went back into the French Quarter to do some more St. Patty's Day bar hopping and exploring. Love this photo with the bright colors and the sun glare.
We stopped in at another Irish bar on our list which is probably on of my favorite dive bars we went to, Erin Rose! There was so much to look at and the decor was awesome. So colorful and all over the ceilings and walls. They also had a great crowd and some of the best drink prices we had seen yet. Mimosas, Bloody's and screwdrivers were $3. Some beers were $2 and they had a secret Frozen Irish Coffee for $3 as well.
SO cool! No surprise, I got a mimosa, and Nick tried the Frozen Irish Coffee, which was so good! We regret not going back there for another.

We want to meet his guys, and/or be a part of "The Krewe O'Jieux", whatever that may be.
Erin Rose also gives you sweet to-go cups and has these small high top tables to stand outside the bar and people watch. I think I need one of these at home!
Loved it! Open windows, people sitting on the window sills…. just such a cool place with a great vibe!

Our next spot was to go back to Arnaud's Fench 75 that was on our list that we had seen the night before walking back to the hotel. This spot is featured on Vice's Muchies platform in a segment about New Orleans obsession with Frozen Daquiris. The segment also goes into the history of the daquiri, and it is thought to have started at this very bar. The original recipe is quite far from the daiquiris we drink today and is not even on their menu. We ordered an "original daiquiri" and a Oaxacan Village which was a drink on the menu with Mezcal, Tequila, lime juice, and pineapple gum. The bartenders are dressed in white coats and take their mixing very seriously! Arnaud's is fine dining and is known as one of the best restaurant in Nola. 
Being a quote girl myself, as seen at the beginning of each of my blog posts, I loved the quotes on the napkins at Arnaud's French 75! All drinking related, of course.
"Work is the cause of the drinking class" //Oscar Wilde
"When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading" //Henry Youngman
"I always wake up at the crack of ice" //Joe E Lewis
"Sometimes too much to drink is barely enough" //Mark Twain 

Our drinks came, the Oaxacan on the left and the daiquiri on the right. I loved how they kind of had a "slurry" of ice in them rather than cubes. It was like finely crushed ice and I loved the texture. Both were VERY strong, but very good! I preferred the daiquiri which surprised me because typically I prefer tequila over rum. Nick prefered the tequila! (We always like the opposites when it comes to food, it works out amazingly! I like crunchy, he likes soft, I like cake, he likes frosting, I like wings he likes drumsticks etc etc!)

The look of Arnaud's is very classy and old world! Rich dark woods and guilder mirrors, I really liked the feel of it.
Working hard at their craft! They were perfectionists.
It was almost time for the serious St. Patty's day festivities to begin, so we left Arnaud's and ventured out into the craziness of the Quarter. 
Everyone was coming out of the woodwork decked to the nines in their green! We had run back to the hotel to change, so we looked a bit more festive than before. 
This little boy killed it on the drums! He was so good, especially for being so young!
Our attempt at getting a photo with the Bourbon Street sign, but this is a terrible upwards angle! We should have asked someone to take it for us, but oh well! At that point in the day everyone was half in the bag anyways and giving them your camera could be pretty risky!
Mr. B's! Made me think of my brother since our last name starts with a B! He actually has a photo of this sign in his man cave from when my Mom and Step Dad came here several years ago.
My friend from growing up had lived in NOLA area for a few years and although she recently moved she told us that she spent last years St. Pattys Day at a bar called Ryan's on Decatur St which is right on the parade route and one of the stops of the parade. We figured we should start there! I almost DIED laughing when I saw this ladies shirt. I have been saying this for years ever since THIS viral youtube video. "I WANNA KNOW WHERE DA GOLDZ AT!? WHER DA GOLD!?". Priceless. Someone get me this for Christmas, please!
I had bought a mask at one of the gazillion mask/bead stores, so I was all ready to wear it during the parade. I got a green and gold one in honor of St.Patricks, but it can also work for Mardi Gras if I ever come back.
We wound up next to another Fire Station and they had this sign about 'Kickin Ash'… I didn't think it was very funny! And again, totally mind bottled bringing my beer from the restaurant out onto the street. 

Everyone lining up for the parade!

Another gorgeous building, I love the plants!

People and kids were lining up for face painting on the street. This guy had quit the setup going. Face paints were hanging from his neck in an ice cube tray, pretty genius and on-the-go if you ask me! I respect his innovation and dedication to his craft!

Police detail clearing the way.
A bunch of State and Local government officials came by singing and dancing to some upbeat jazz.

Waiting and waiting, the parade was no where in sight! We were getting antsy and thirsty, so we decided to stop into another bar while we waited. We picked Kerry's, another Irish Pub on Decatur and it was another really cool dive bar with awesome decor. They had dollars hanging from the ceiling everywhere, and police and fire badges hung up all over the bar. It was also the cheapest bar we went to, a beer and a glass of wine for $5! YES!
More waiting….. WHERE IS THE PARADE!? The signs said 6:30 but it was well past that by now. We were starting to really feel the effects of our day drinking, hence these ridiculous photos!

Trying to be as creepy as possible!
Sooner than later it was dark, and still no parade. Our Hangryness was starting to creep up again as we hadn't eaten since our oysters at Deanie's and had pretty much been on a liquid lunch ever since. We decided to start walking towards where the parade would be in hopes to maybe catch it at an earlier point. We saw lights up ahead so we kept on moving down Decatur.

Finally, we got to where the front of the parade was! It was so slow! No wonder we had been waiting forever, it was moving about 5 feet every ten minutes. We were really hungry at this point and the parade was a little less than what we expected. There wasn't really any floats or anything crazy, at least from what we saw, so we decided to stay for a few more minutes and then head out for dinner before everyone else in order to beat the crowds.

Lots of fancy cars and motorcycles!

Tons of people were out, it was pretty crazy and everyone was clearly loving life and indulging in the many vices that new Orleans has to offer.

We did see some smaller floats and busses that were tossing out beads and St. Patty's Day swag to people! 

We left the parade on Decatur and headed into the Quarter to start walking to out dinner spot, a recommendation from Nicks friend Evan. We passed this spot K Paul's Kitchen that my Aunt had Recommended but sadly it was closed at the time! I still just wanted to take a photo for her to see.
Back down crazzzzzy Bourbon!
And finally we made it to Evan's recommendation, Domenica! It was right near our hotel in the Central Business District within the hip Roosevelt Hotel. We were so excited to eat and everything on the menu sounded amazing. I "changed it up" and got a Blood Orange Belini, and Nick had a stout.
As an appetizer we had the 'Clams & Speck', which I think could be in the running for one of the best things I have ever eaten. I love little neck clams, and I absolutely love speck…. combine them in a garlicky broth and give me some buttery crostini to eat it on and dip in the sauce and you have found my glory. Thank you Evan! SO GOOD! It could very well win "Best Bite" for me in my life!
After that amazing appetizer we got a really good Calabrese pizza with tomato, spicy salami, mozzarella, capers and olives. Also an A+, but I failed to take a photo of it! The dessert menu had Budino which I have never seen before at a restaurant! My Aunt is famous for hers so I had to get it to see how it compares. I'll admit I like my Aunts better, but it was still good! It was all around a wonderful meal.

Budino baby!!
We had leftover pizza so since we were near out hotel we made a trip back to drop it off to save for later (read: late night drunk munchies). 

To our surprise, we were at the hotel just in time for their famous PB&J hour! Every night in the lobby from 10-11 they serve gourmet PB&J's, hot cocoa and milk! We figured we would never get to experience it because we would likely be out every night between those hours so it was such perfect timing and treat as Nick really wanted to have one! It's a cool tradition and another reason why Le Pavillon was a great place to stay.

A happy boy with his PB&J!
After that we ventured out into the night and from there it just gets a little foggy. For example, these photos of Nick's badge hung on a bar wall are next in line with the timestamp but I have no idea/recollection of what bar we went to that he hung them at!?? Maybe he will remember when he reads this and let me know so that I can delete this embarrassing paragraph. Anyways, I was so happy he remembered to bring his patches with him because we have been so many other places where he has forgotten and been bummed (re: Hawaii). Now NPD will be on this wall forever!

We stopped in at several bars, none of which I can recall. We also walked up and down the quarter again taking in the late night sights and sounds. Babes anyone?
The SWAMP! Didn't go in here, but it was another infamous bead throwing spot and my eyes were forever burned when a man on the street chose to whip out his "member" and flash it to the world for beads. Ewwwwwww.
We also stumbled upon people lighting off paper lanterns, which was cool! This hotel is literally right in the center of the action on Bourbon Street, I don't know how anyone staying there sleeps at all. It's constant noise and loud music and yelling all night long!
After more wandering we decided we wanted to go somewhere to sit down late night. We ended up back at Pat O'Briens in honor of St. Patty's Day because we just can't get enough of piano bars! They had the dueling piano back up and we stayed until close a little after 2am. There was four different singers alternating and they sang a lot of great songs. We were all singing out loud with the entire bar at the top of our lungs and it was pretty darn cool. 
We were seated somewhat in the back so it was hard to get to the piano to request a song but they played most of the ones we would have requested anyways!

Ceiling steins!

It was a VERY full day of adventure in New Orleans on St. Patricks Day and I was so glad to spend it with Nick, especially after he found out such good news from the Fire Department. We celebrated into the wee hours of the night in a fabulous new city that we were quickly growing to love!
That wraps up day 1 and 2 of our trip! I should have one or two more posts to finish it out, there is still so much more that we did and saw and I can't wait to show you the rest. Thank you for following along on the rather wordy post, but I want to pass on all of the NOLA goodness to you all in hopes that it may help someone else out on their trip to the Big Easy!

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