A Trip to New Orleans

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Beautiful houses in the Garden District New Orleans

Here we are in another January, and it seems like a lifetime ago that we jumped on a plane (or two!) and headed to New Orleans. Or N’Orlans, as the locals pronounce it. Don’t worry, I didn’t try and say it like that, but I loved hearing the locals pronouncing it! In a bid to remember some of the good ol’ days before a pandemic changed the world, here’s a blog post all about our trip to New Orleans. Get ready! There’s lots to share!

Roses on the river in New Orleans

Not That Close

I must admit, while it was a place I’d always wanted to visit, New Orleans wasn’t the highest up on my bucket list. But when our friend from England invited us along with her friends to celebrate her 40th birthday, we couldn’t resist. 

Truthfully, we made a silly assumption. We figured that it couldn’t be that far away since we were on the same continent. Ohhhhh, how wrong we were! Two flights, a total of 6 hours flying time (and a 4 hour stop in the middle) meant it was already early evening when we arrived at our hotel. 

Ok, lesson learned, we live on the outer edges of the flippin’ planet ok?! 

Our New Orleans Base

We stayed at The Old No. 77 Hotel on the edge of the busy French Quarter, a boutique hotel with an industrial vibe. The hotel is well priced, even if there are no windows! But it was a comfy bed and somewhere to lay my head at night near all the main sights and sounds. 

Because we quickly discovered New Orleans is very much a walking city. Especially when you wander into the old streets of the French Quarter, or around the beautiful Garden District.

The Mississippi River New Orleans

A Little Bit of History

I’ve got to admit, especially coming from the UK, I always laugh at the pride shown in North America’s young history. Seriously, I was once proudly shown a house here in BC and told it was one of the oldest houses around. Turns out, it was built in about 1950, the same year my Dad was born! 

But New Orleans kinda defies that young history because it looks so damn grand. The beautiful old architecture, the colonial houses, the absolute pride all the locals have in their city’s colourful stories. It’s all kind of a mish-mash, but somehow it works.

Of course, its history pre-dates the arrival of the French in the late 1600s. But it was the French who built the city up before handing it, and Louisiana, to the Spanish. So it’s easy to see where it got its distinct influences from.

You can’t talk about New Orleans and not mention the sugar cane plantations and those strong links to slavery. New Orleans is a city that lives and breathes its slave industry past. It’s not proud of it, but it’s not hidden, and everyone who spoke about it talked about the many lessons to be learned from that period of their history. And, of course, there’s all the civil war history mixed into that too. 

The thing that most struck me was how talked about Hurricane Katrina is within the city. Understandably! But as someone who doesn’t live there, it’s easy to forget the tragedy after 15 years has passed. There were some lovely memorials to those lost in the storm, though. 

Things I Loved About our trip to New Orleans

The city is one big photogenic landscape. Seriously. Any street corner you go round, any alley you navigate, you are bound to see something beautiful that’s worth photographing. When taking pictures, I was in my element and loved capturing details of the city I saw. 

I was disappointed not to see the famous voodoo queen, Marie Laveau’s grave at Lafayette Cemetery as it was closed for renovations. I mean, I’m a retired goth, so cemeteries hold a lot of interest for me. We did get to wander around another one, but we didn’t stay for too long.

Park by the Mississippi River
New Orleans French Quarter
New Orleans French Quarter
New Orleans French Quarter
City of New Orleans trolley bus
Beautiful blossoms in New Orleans Garden District
The Garden District in New Orleans
New Orleans cemetery
New Orleans cemetery
Beautiful tomb in New Orleans cemetery
Amies Paradise New Orleans
Twisted branches
New Orleans French Quarter
Band playing in New Orleans
French Quarter New Orleans
Quirky buildings in New Orleans
The city of music New Orleans

Wandering around the French Quarter and the Garden District were total highlights for me. The buildings, architecture, the life, stories and history of these places, was fascinating to learn about and see. And those trolleys are a lot of fun!

We did a self-guided walking tour around the Garden District. I found it online, and we literally followed the map and read the points of interest it had listed. You can find that walking tour here for your own purposes! We got to see houses belonging to Anne Rice (she of The Vampire Chronicles fame), John Goodman and Sandra Bullock, as well as some other notable historic buildings.

Garden District New Orleans
Beautiful blossoms in the Garden District New Orleans
Light shining through the blossoms
Beautiful houses in the Garden District New Orleans
New Orleans
Hanging around in New Orleans
Trees and buildings New Orleans
Twisted tree branches
New Orleans architecture

I also loved the trip we took to City Park near the end of our stay. It was an overcast day, but we wandered the park and marvelled over the majestic trees all draped in Spanish Moss before we went to the botanical gardens. I do love me a greenhouse!

Twisted trees in City Park New Orleans
City Park New Orleans
Freedom for all! New Orleans
Botanical gardens New Orleans
New Orleans Botanical Gardens
Joy in New Orleans
Woman in the gardens New Orleans

Of course, we did a night on Bourbon Street. I’m not sure it’s actually possible to go to New Orleans and NOT do that. I’ve got to admit, that wasn’t my favourite part of the trip, but it was definitely an experience. The voodoo walking tour was a ton of fun. And, even better, stumbling across a mini Mardi Gras band as we walked back towards the central area was a definite highlight for me. I bet actual Mardi Gras is one hell of an atmosphere! And there was also a steamboat cruise on the river packed in there somewhere as well. And the food! Oh, the food. No trip to New Orleans should be without a taste of the delicious beignets. Sooooo good, especially when paired with a decadent mug of hot chocolate. Mmmm.

Natchez steamboat
Steamboat on the Mississippi
Natchez river cruise
Bourbon Street New Orleans
voodoo in New Orleans
Spanish Moss New Orleans
Enjoying beignets
Enjoying beignets

Phew! We did a lot in a week, and we definitely left the city feeling worn out and in need of a few power naps.

Do Your Research

I do wish I’d done a tad more research before we left as there’s more I would have liked to see. But that means we’ll have to head back there again at some point. Because it’s definitely a place I would visit again, in a heartbeat.

If you enjoy my travel posts, you check out this one about a Christmas in Vienna or this one from a long weekend in Copenhagen.