New Orleans: First Impressions

February 26, 2016 § 7 Comments

jackson square

After at least a year of talking about it, Lucy and I finally made it out to New Orleans, Louisiana! Kaiti also joined us, rounding out the group and making it really fun when Uber drivers asked us where we were from — “San Francisco, Chicago and New York.” It was my first time in the South, as apparently Florida doesn’t count.

We stayed in the French Quarter, which was pretty close to most of the action any tourists would want. Some quick observations:

1. The first thing we noticed about the neighborhood was the pretty balconies on almost every building.

2-balcony

All the cutesy old buildings reminded me of San Francisco in a way. We were fortunate to have nothing but blue skies during our trip, so we explored the relatively peaceful streets with gusto. Some parts of the neighborhood had quite a bit of tourist traffic, but considering the population of New Orleans is less than half a million, the whole place felt practically empty to us!

3-street

9-mule

2. There were mule carriages! And these carriages were really big!! I guess mules are really strong? And cute! I was mostly impressed by the complete lack of smell from the animals. I can’t stand walking past the pungent horse carriages by Central Park. But these mules weren’t stinky at all!

4-band

3. I suppose most major cities have buskers too, but the ones in New Orleans just seemed extra charming. Lucy and I really liked this band and I’m kicking myself for not picking up their CD or at least finding out their name.

10-pralines

4. Apparently pralines are a big thing here? Or at least, they were available in every sweet/souvenir shop in the French Quarter. In some places, you could see them making the confections by hand. We tried a sample at Laura’s Candies near the hotel and deemed them very very sweet.

6-lauras-candies

5. We couldn’t resist doing a bit of shopping while on vacation, though I missed New York’s beautifully low/sometimes nonexistent sales tax. The French Quarter had some cute boutiques, like the Impeccable Pig, where we took some selfies. (They encouraged us! We weren’t just being vain LOL)

12-impeccable-pig

The best boutique shopping, however, we found on Magazine Street in the Garden District. It’s probably a good thing we only had an hour to empty our wallets before our lunch reservation!

Two other delightfully random things I spied in the French Quarter:

Wonder if it's corn-themed inside?!

Wonder if it’s corn-themed inside?!

Mmm hunky mermen

Mmm hunky mermen

Hotel

Waiting for our swamp tour pickup in the hotel lobby

Waiting for our swamp tour pickup in the hotel lobby

There are so many hotel options in the French Quarter, but I picked the French Market Inn based on Yelp/Tripadvisor reviews and the relatively affordable price. And because there’s supposedly a resident cat on the premises, though we did not see sight of it at all. Boo.

Our hotel room was quite small, but clean and perfectly adequate for lodging. There was a bit of confusion around daily room cleaning, however; the first morning, we bumped into the hotel housekeeper on our way downstairs and she asked us if we needed anything. “More towels,” we replied. When we got back from breakfast to use the bathroom before heading to the swamp tour, she was in our bathroom replacing the towels but left without making the beds.

The second morning, we saw her again and she asked us if we needed anything. “Not really,” we answered, and I mumbled something about our room being messy, which made her and her coworker laugh? I wasn’t sure if replying “no” to her question meant that room cleaning was optional?? That day, our room didn’t get cleaned at all. I just wanted someone to remove all our shed hairs from the bathroom floor…

Anyway, our third day, we didn’t see her at all, and our room got tidied up with folded towels and clean beds. It didn’t necessarily detract from the hotel experience (the staff were all very nice), but it was certainly confusing!

Getting Around

Apart from walking — and we did a LOT of walking — we mostly rode Ubers. They were plentiful and seemed really cheap?! I don’t know if New Orleans is just a smaller city than NYC or we were just traveling short distances without realizing it, but none of our journeys cost more than $15.

We saw the occasional taxi but only took them to and from the airport. A cab from MSY to downtown was $36 for one to two passengers and $15 per person for three or more. There was also a shuttle bus from the airport for $24 a person.

I also ordered three-day Jazzy Passes so we could take public transit at our leisure, though we only took the streetcar once so I guess it was a waste :(
We did try to take a bus on day 3, but it was a total fail (post to come). Oh well!

New Orleans: Food pt. I
New Orleans: Nightlife
New Orleans: Swamp Tour

New Orleans: Bywater
New Orleans: Food pt. II
New Orleans: Cemetery & NOMA

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