Travelogue: New Orleans

October 2021
Where We Stayed: Omni Royal Orleans

Very early on when Mike and I started dating, we asked each other, “where would you go on vacation if you could go anywhere?” Both of us had New Orleans at the top of our list. I was supposed to go to New Orleans in spring of 2020 with my parents and he was supposed to go for a work conference. But then, 2020 happened. We decided to reschedule our trips and go together. Here are the bullet points of what we did, where we ate, and my thoughts on the Big Easy.

  • We stayed at the Omni Royal Orleans and specifically chose a room with a balcony (excellent decision for ambiance, horrible decision if you want to sleep well — New Orleans is a very noisy, music-filled city at all hours of the day). But the hotel was clean and I would stay there again! It’s an older hotel though, so the rooms and bathrooms are small.
  • We arrived on a Wednesday, mid-morning. We took an Uber to the hotel and relaxed for a minute. We talked around the French Quarter to get our bearings. I immediately hated Bourbon street and both of us were appalled at how dirty and smelly everything is. The trip did not start on a stellar note!
  • We walked to Jackson Square (very pretty) and stopped at Cafe du Monde for a beignet (very tasty). From there we walked to the Marigny neighborhood, which is full of brightly colored houses. *deep, happy sigh* Okay, now we’re talkin’!
  • We stopped for a drink at Pepp’s Pub solely because they have a dog on their sign. Our bartender was really friendly and I had one of the best drinks — some kind of tangy, refreshing, very alcoholic orange drink. Mmm yes please.
  • From there, we packed up our cares and buzzes and walked to JAMNOLA, which is an immersive, New Orleans-themed art experience.  It was way cool and probably would have been cooler if you were on drugs (if you’re into that kinda thing).  The whole thing was very colorful and photo-worthy.
  • We Uber’d back to the French Quarter and walked around to find dinner. We ended up at Oceana Grill and I had a very delicious po boy. I have no idea if Oceana is a tourist trap or legit, but we didn’t care — we were hungry and we did zero planning/research for this trip so we had to go with the flow.
  • After dinner we walked around Bourbon Street and I almost had a panic attack. Mike knew I was not alright and took good care of me. Bourbon Street is so crowded, drunk, overwhelming, overstimulating, and gross — paired with my travel day fatigue — it was a bad situation. We power walked back to the hotel and I had to take an hour out on the balcony to calm my anxiety. Mike is the best though — he took care of me and never made me feel bad about my panic ‘n’ freak out.
  • The next day, Thursday, was much better. We started things out with a trip to Cafe Beignet (better than Cafe du Monde, in our opinions!). Next up was our Hop On, Hop Off tour of the city. If you’ve been here a while you know that I love these tours. Yes, they are touristy. But you learn about the new city you’re in and get shuttled around to all the sights. It’s a great way to get to know a place.
  • We stopped at the French Market (tourist trap extraordinaire, but come on, embrace it!) and had a few hurricanes while listening to a jazz band.
  • We took the bus to the Garden District, which is far less touristy. The Garden District is beautiful and I wish we could have spent more time there. We had dinner at Joey K’s — which was chosen because we were walking around, bumped into it, and it looked good.  See… no planning here!
  • After dinner we headed back to the hotel to rest for a minute, then headed to see Mike’s friend Nina, who works at the Royal Frenchman. I had an excellent cocktail and we enjoyed great conversation with Nina — and learned a lot about the city through her. After we parted ways, we walked around Frenchman Street. Mike was drawn to the jazz clubs like a moth to a flame. I hate jazz, he loves it, but when in New Orleans, you go see some jazz. And you know what? It was AMAZING. I’m still not a jazz fan, but jazz in New Orleans really is something special.
  • Friday brought more beignets for breakfast (sensing a theme here?). We were supposed to meet Nina for brunch but she canceled – so we had more free time on our hands than expected. We walked around the French Quarter and then decided to go back to the delightful Garden District. We rode a streetcar (charming) and had a lunch of tacos and beer at… wait for it… Tacos & Beer. They don’t have a website otherwise I would have linked it!
  • On our way back to our hotel, we took a detour to Bourbon Street so Mike could stop for a Hand Grenade at the Tropical Isle. Apparently one of his friends from college used to love them so he had to stop and experience the buzz from a Hand Grenade.
  • Our Friday night plans consisted of drinks, mozz sticks, and a burlesque show. We stopped for the Voodoo Daiquiri at LaFitte’s Blacksmith Shop, which is one of the oldest bars in the country. Fun fact: the daiquiri’s nickname is the “purple drank” and is basically grape-flavored slush with bourbon and everclear. We shared one. Because… lawwwwd.
  • On our way to the burlesque show we stopped at a little restaurant next to the theater and had some pre-show mozz sticks. As we do. I was living my dream.
  • Which brings me to the show! Oh yes. It was great. Nina highly recommended the Bayou Blues Burlesque show at the All Ways Lounge. We decided to go for it because… when in Rome, right? (and no, it’s not a strip show; but it’s…. close to it!) The ladies were beautiful, the costumes were fun, the music was amazing, and there was a dog named Mr. Cheese in the show. *chef’s kiss* Perfection.
  • The next day, Saturday, brought MORE BEIGNETS! We also went to the Voodoo Museum which was fascinating. We (and by “we” I mean “Mike”) had lunch at Coop’s. It was too dirty and gross, I couldn’t do it! But apparently the food he had was great.
  • We took a little snooze at the hotel to prepare for our big night: the Krewe of Boo parade, which is THE Halloween celebration in New Orleans.  We watched the parade from the party deck at Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar. It was AMAZING — we had food all night, open bar, and chairs to sit on if we got tired — what more could I ever ask for? The parade itself was really fun — everyone on the street was in costume and the people-watching was phenomenal.
  • We headed back to Wisconsin the next day — whew, what a trip! And yes, I had more beignets at the airport before flying home. Yes indeed.

So that’s the recap, but here are my opinions on our time in New Orleans!

  • You guys, it’s humid. If you are human potato like me who is best suited for a cold northern winter, this may not be the place for you. It was hotter and more humid than forecasted. High 80s, a million percent humidity. Neither one of us brought the right clothes. So if you ever go to New Orleans: just assume that the weather will be swamp-like and plan accordingly. Don’t listen to the weather apps!
  • The entire city has a mask and vaccine mandate. You can’t get into a restaurant without showing your vaccination record and ID.
  • As I mentioned earlier, the French Quarter STINKS. Literally. Hoooo boy. And Bourbon Street is a circle of hell.
  • If you like music, this is the city for you. Brass band parades everywhere. Jazz permeating the air 24/7.
  • I was solidly aboard the Struggle Bus with my chronic low back pain on this trip and was therefore a bit of a pain in the ass for Mike. He’s always a trouper and he loves me so well.
  • The FOOD. OMG. Truly phenomenal. We didn’t have a bad or even mediocre food experience here. Beignets! Seafood! Cajun everything!
  • If I go again, I would stay at a hotel closer to the Garden District and I would put more of a historical focus on the trip — more tours, a day at the WWII Museum (we didn’t have time), etc.
  • I now get why people fall in love with this city. It’s dirty and messy and chaotic but also beautiful, mysterious, and entirely fascinating. I, too, fell a little bit in love. ‘Til next time, New Orleans

The 3am sky as we left our houses to head to the airport; and O’Hare.
We have arrived.
That pink and blue one was my favorite!
The one photo I took of Bourbon Street at night before I melted down.
A new day! Why are the sidewalks wet, you ask? Not because of rain! Because the city washes down the streets and sidewalks every night because people are so gross.
Time for some dreamy little puffs of fried dough.
Happy on our bus tour!
All the cemeteries were closed due to COVID.
I think hurricanes are my favorite sugar-and-alcohol bomb type of drink.
Another amazing mural by Greetings Tour!
The water meter covers are a thing in New Orleans. So naturally, being the tourist than I am, I bought a fake one painted by a local artist.
Halloween in New Orleans is ultimate spooky vibes.
I want to eat here next time! We couldn’t get a reservation and didn’t have the right fancy clothes required by their dress code to be in a walk-in.
The Royal Frenchman lobby.
My sweetie going to get me a drink at the bar.
Dr. Shadow made an appearance!
Everything is so old.
The purple DRANK!
Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Moves. LOL.
Airport beignets, obviously.
My water meter cover!