Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Orleans: Day One

Come Memorial Day weekend, most New Yorkers escape the city for greener pastures. This year, Luke and I decided to get a jump on the long weekend and ventured south for warmer weather, strong cocktails and some old-fashioned American history.

We arrived in the great city of New Orleans on Wednesday morning. It was 8:30am, and we were already in a completely separate area of the country. Always such a weird--but good--feeling! We rubbed the sleepies out of our eyes and hopped in a cab. We got to the Prince Conti Hotel well before the standard check-in time, so they stored our luggage, and we headed out into the streets of NOLA.

Our hotel was a half block off Bourbon Street, and I must say, seeing the iconic street for the first time at 9am was...interesting, to say the least. Not surprisingly, some of the bars were open, but for the most part, it was a lot of guys hosing down the sidewalks.

We veered off Bourbon Street and made our way throughout the rest of the French Quarter.

Jackson Square

We  came across this beautiful fountain in the courtyard of the Royal Sonesta Hotel, where our pals K & S usually stay. 

Later, we ducked into the incredible antique shops on Royal Street. My favorite shop was Keil's Antiques.

You could find anything, ranging from a $125,000 chandelier... a 'Calvin Coolidge' walking stick... exquisite jewelry.

I was eyeing a beautiful mesh bracelet, and the shopkeeper took it out of the case and asked if I wanted to try it on. Sure! I peaked at the price tag as I detached the clasp. A cool $7,000. Maybe next time, I said with a smile.

Next, we hopped on the St. Charles Ave streetcar and made our way over to the Garden District. First, we stopped into Lafayette Cemetery, the city's first planned cemetery with roadways for funeral vehicles and symmetrical rows. It dates back to 1833!

Finally, it was time to explore the beautiful mansions of the Garden District! Thanks to my pal, MM, we were armed with a Fodor's map detailing the historical significance of the homes.

We found the homes of Sandra Bullock, Nicolas Cage, Anne Rice and John Goodman. Also caught a pic of the home below. Look familiar? It's the house from "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

We could have wandered around the Garden District for a couple more hours but decided to take the streetcar back to the French Quarter to get settled in to the hotel before dinner and drinks. Here's a quick peak at the ride back.

At last, we made our way to Bourbon Street!

The streets started to fill up as night fell. Everyone from 20-somethings to baby boomers were enjoying themselves. Sure, it was touristy, but the drinks were cheap, and it was entertaining to no end!

Whew! And that was just day one. Don't worry, there's more to come. Initially, I tried condensing everything into two posts: sights and eats. But this just wouldn't do any justice for the fabulous city of New Orleans. So stay tuned for more!

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