February 1, 2023

What goes on in New Orleans, Stays in New Orleans...well except for this review





 In September of 2022, Sept 15th thru the 19th, I went on a cousin trip, around 12 of us, to New Orleans. It was a getaway to celebrate Virgo birthdays as well as cheer up one of my cousins who unfortunately had lost her husband earlier in May of last year. She was also the main birthday girl. So we caught an evening flight from Saint Louis, MO down to "The Big Easy". As soon as we landed we made it to our rentals and then proceeded to the Air BnB that was rented for some of the cousins to stay. I along with my sister and a few other cousins opted to stay at a hotel that was right in the smack of New Orleans. Before the main birthday girl arrived to the Air BnB I snapped off a few pictures of the house and birthday cake.



 The Air BnB was very beautiful. When you arrived the first room you entered was the dining area where the cake was located. With a door that was connected to the master bedroom Going past the dining room area was the living room area with a nice big TV. Then this splits off into two areas. A side hallway leads to the additional 2 other bedrooms and a bathroom. While the other area leads to the kitchen, another bathroom, and then a door outside that lead to a swimming pool. Once everyone arrived we enjoyed ourselves with cake, pub food, and mimosas and enjoyed ourselves until very late into the night.


Afterwards my sister, a few of our other cousins and myself make our way to our Hotel. We stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott New Orleans French Quarter/Iberville and I must say the place was beautiful! What was really unique was that the building we stayed in shared another hotel, a Ritz Carleton. I could kick myself because I forgot to get pictures of the room prior to us settling in. I took the main bedroom while my sister took the Couch/Bed.



 So let me tell ya right off the bat I am an explorer. I like to get out and do my own thing and I knew that I was going to take advantage of this time to take in as much as I could. So I woke up early Friday morning leaving my sister still asleep and made my way out into the not so smelling fresh air outside. The streets were pretty much vacant in the morning as I'm walking towards the heart of the French Quarter. Yet I did discover a gem that was one of the highlights of my trip.


As I was walking down Iberville Street I made a left on to Chartres Street and saw this amazing store called the Pepper Palace. It looked like the Holy Grail of Pepper flavors! So I walked in and was just overwhelmed with the options. The salesperson was amazing and informed me that I was to test out anything in the store before buying. So of course I went on a mini shopping spree. The kicker.....I don't really care for spicy foods but the flavors from this place had me rethinking my stance.


After the Pepper Palace I continued my excursion through the French Quarter with stops at some other stores and locations.


1st pic -Jackson Square, 2nd pic - Sidewalk "St. Louis", 3rd pic - John Fluevog Shoes, 4th pic - Jackson Square, 5th pic - Artist area at Jackson Square, 6th pic - Chapel Hats

So as I'm taking in the sites and scenery I finally see my destination in site. A place that my coworkers were raving about left and right! The famous Cafe Du Monde - French Market Location.

As I arrived across the street from my location I was greeted by the sound of a jazz band and the sweet smell of the beignets from the kitchen. I saw the long line outside for to go orders and I decided I would try to snag a table inside. I actually had excellent luck with the task and was serviced within 10 minutes of sitting down. I ordered a hot chocolate and a single order of the beignets with powdered sugar. They were definitely worth the hype for sure.




 After enjoying my morning treat I went and bought some beignet boxes and coffee canisters as gifts for coworkers and family back home. I then continued trekking through the French Quarter stopping at other shops checking out their wares. While walking around I happened upon a tarot/oracle card reader and had a reading done. I enjoy collecting tarot card decks and was on the hunt to find one while in the French Quarter. I unfortunately with all the shops that I explored I didn't find one that I fancied but I did find an Oracle/Spirit Animal deck, my first one to be exact. I also like to enjoy a cigar every now and then and mean by every few years I might enjoy just one. So I couldn't pass up getting a few.


Another store that made me stop and walk backwards a few steps was Fleur de Paris. This is a high end millinery boutique. When I tell ya that I had my nose pressed against the glass for  a few seconds before being brave enough to step inside.....this place was absolutely breath taking. They make custom pieces and look to be worth every penny. They also make amazing gowns that compliment the head pieces.

After Fleur de Paris I continued exploring the French Quarter and then decided I wanted to find a metaphysical store. So decided to take a 15 minute walk outside of the French Quarter to a store called Path of Awakenings. The store is black woman owned and when you first walk in it is so spacious and just felt relaxing. I checked out everything for around 20 to 30 minutes and decided on 2 crystal rings and some incense. By this time my feet were hurting so bad.....I had to call an Lyft ride to take me back to the hotel.

After arriving back to my hotel I took a nap to rest myself and especially my feet. I did some serious walking that day. Yet later on that evening I met up with my sister and 2 of our cousins to have dinner out at a place called The Blue Crab Restaurant and Oyster Bar. The restaurant has two levels with the bottom being open to enjoying live music, viewing parked yachts and a fresh breeze off the water. The upstairs also had options for eating inside or outside. We opted to stay inside. I ordered Parmesan Fried Calamari and Cheese Biscuits for an appetizer but for my main course I enjoyed a plate of Blue Crab Pasta. Overall the Calamari and main dish were great, but the Cheese Biscuits..........were not what I expected. They definitely did disappoint. So dry and just not any type of taste to them. Super bland. They were not like the cheese biscuits from Red Lobster which are to die for!


Don't judge me on the almost eaten fried calamari. I took one bite and then my mouth went into auto feed mode. Yet that should let you know it tasted that good! Yet again that darn biscuit could have knocked somebody.....that was the only let down of the meal.

 After dinner we went back to the Air BnB to visit with the rest of the cousins and enjoyed the rest of the night and also checked out my official Fitbit count for the night. Whew! I put in some work!

Fitbit steps per my app had me ending with 16,539. Some of my cousins relaxing in the backyard of the Air BnB.

So the next day a few us made plans to go walk to have breakfast at a popular restaurant off of Canal Street called The Ruby Slipper. Of course we checked out stores on our way there but by the time we arrived there was a massive crowd near the entrance. So we said to heck with that and decided to walk back to the hotel and pick up our rental and drive to another location that they had already been to yesterday without me called  New Orleans Food & Spirits-Bucktown Location.

pic 1 and 2 - CVS store on Canal Street filled with various seasonings, pic 3 and 4 - Their trolly system looks great, pic 5 - Competition for Cafe du Monde (or maybe not), pic 6 - Street view looking down, pic 7 - Crowd in front of The Ruby Slipper with more people waiting inside, pic 8 - making our way back to our hotel down Canal Street


Checked out a few athletic stores as well: Athlete's Foot, Evil, and Sports Plus (which has rebranded itself as STNDRD ATHLETIC CO.)

The drive on the way to New Orleans Food & Spirits - Bucktown Location, was relaxing as far as the scenic route was concerned. Once we arrived we parked and were shown immediately to a table. The waitress that were there yesterday were working that day and remember my sister and our cousins. Their hospitality towards us was excellent. The food was outstanding and honestly one of the best meals that I experienced while down there.

I enjoyed the following: Strawberry Martini, Garlic New Potatoes, Voodoo Crawfish Rolls, Hush Puppies, and my main course was the Shrimp Feast which had Stuffed Shrimp, Shrimp Pasta Lafayette and Fried Shrimp

After that we made our way to the Air BnB to meet up with our other cousins because our next destination was a swamp boat tour to see some GATAS! While on our drive there I saw one of their cemeteries. It always is fascinating to me see their style of cemeteries due to the bodies not being buried because of the flooding. So we make it to the Ultimate Swamp Adventure Tour and just as we arrive it starts to lightly rain. Within 15 minutes we board our vessel which is a Pontoon Boat. 

When we started our boat ride our tour guide was giving us the history of the area that we would be touring. We saw what I would call Smedium (small to medium size) crocs but we never saw any big ones. Yet while half way through our tour we had a woman suffering a medical emergency and we had to cut our tour short and return back to the docks where an ambulance was waitng to transport one of the tourists to a hospital. Thankfully there was a nurse on our boat who took charge of the situation and was able to keep the young woman stable. It was truly a scary for everyone on board but there were people there who were assisting the lady to make sure she was comfortable.

Once we were back to land my sister, some of the cousins, and myself decided to hit up Bourbon Street and live it up for a while. I will say we had a blast! Going Bar hopping, dancing to rachet music along the way. My sister making friends with other inebriated folks. It was definitely quite the time to be had by all! I enjoyed myself as well but made sure to keep a clearer head amongst my kin especially since a few of them got rowdy at a burger joint outside while a few of us that had ordered were waiting on our food. I literally had to use my body as a blockade at the door so my cousins who were arguing with the cooks didn't come in and escalate the situation further. I apologized profusely to the ladies and thanked them for our food once it was ready. I couldn't believe it but hey, everyone had been drinking.....I will say the burger was absolutely DIVINE!



 Afterwards we eventually get back to our hotel and the other cousins depart back to their Air BnB. Later on that night we were all suppose to get together and meet at a club called The Renaissance. One of my sister's best friends had reserved a table for us. The meet up time was 7:30pm (I think), well my sister was so drunk that the only thing she did that night was just flip flop positions on her bed. So I went next door to where 2 of my cousins were staying and informed them that I was on my to the club. One of them said they were still going so I waited for her to finish dressing and the other cousin said they would stay with my sister. I told her I left breathing and I would like to find her that way when I get back.

So my cousin and I take a Lyft to the club and meet up with sister's best friend and her boyfriend. I apologize in letting her know that my sis is out of commission for the evening. I didn't know if my other cousins from the Air Bnb were showing up but eventually they did and we all had a great time. Afterwards a few of us decided to walk the French Quarter and check out the night life. My only regret is that my phone had already died that evening so I was not able to take additional pictures of everything we saw. It was really cool because we saw a different side that was not the tourist side like Bourbon Street. The area we went to apparently is the area that the locals like to frequent. We checked out an artists' bazaar, a few clubs with live music, and just enjoyed ourselves being immersed in all the social activities that were going on throughout the night. Yet I will say my feet were definitely paying the price. By the time we were back to the hotel to call it a night my Fitbit had clocked in 22,008 steps.



Sunday morning was reserved to celebrate all the Virgos with a catered brunch. Yet before going to our destination for the event, I made a quick trip to Kilwins via Lyft to buy my sister some Candy Apples. She had been in a severe funk about one she bought but had not been able to eat due to circumstances not within her control. So I went there and bought her 3 of them and was able to get back in time to our hotel to drop them off on her bed so she was surprised and happy once she came out of the bathroom from being dressed.

We arrived at a family friend's house and the inside of this place was just beautiful. The walls dripped in African artwork and one wall lined from ceiling to floor of books steeped in African culture. In the kitchen area was a delicious layout of southern foods and spirits. We said a prayer first then started going in on the food. The food was OUTSTANDING!!!!! Majority of us took seats at the kitchen table while others were in the living room taking in a football game. We also went outside in the beautiful garden and took a group picture.

Fried Catfish nuggets, Fried Chicken, Roasted Chicken, Jambalaya, Scrambled eggs, we also had Shrimp n Grits, and another dish that I unfortunately do not recall

No meal is complete without fruit and salad, and shots.....lots of shots....LOL

My plate along with two bowls behind it. Every bite was glorious!

After brunch a few us decided to change clothes then meet up with my sister's best friend to enjoy an actual 2nd line! To learn more about the history of a 2nd line in New Orleans go HERE.

After leaving the 2nd line at a certain point we went back to our cars and made a quick trip to a TJMaxx so we could buy additional luggage especially for myself since I bought more than I expected. Thank God Southwest lets you check two bags for free!

So after arriving back to the hotel to relax I decided I wanted to spend my last evening in New Orleans by myself just exploring areas that I had not been to yet in the French Quarter. I also wanted to take the trolley to enjoy the experience. I figured out the transportation situation and ended up taking the Trolley around to the back end of the French Quarter and decided to check out as many metaphysical locations that I could find. I bought a deck of Oracle cards and then was walking around contemplating where my last meal was going to be. 



 I decided I wanted a good ole steak and happen to walk past a restaurant called Doris Metropolitan that had their meat locker on display as you walked past on the sidewalk. That caught my attention and I decided after a few minutes to go in. I was worried about my attire at first but then decided to heck with it and went it. The hostess was absolutely wonderful and immediately seated me at the bar.




A waiter came by and informed me of the specials for the evening. I request a nice sweet alcoholic beverage called Lucid Dreams and decided on the Bread Plate, Truffle French Fries and a Bone-in New York Strip medium rare.

The first thing I was served was my drink which was very good and they definitely didn't skimp on the alcohol part. I had to order a water as well to pace myself. lol My Bread Plate followed shortly after and I must say that my favorite bread from the appetizer was the Onion & Feta Twist. It was so good I ordered a 2nd one to take back to the hotel. Eventually my main course came out and what struck me immediately was that there wasn't any seasoning on my steak. They had put that on the side of my plate so I may dip my meat on to it. I cut a piece in half to try out and it was delicious. It was so tender but so juicy. It tasted wonderful with and without the additional seasoning. The Truffle fries also had a great taste to them. I definitely had leftovers and decided it was time to get back to my hotel to start packing to get back to Saint Louis. I called a Lyft ride and whisked back to the Mariott. My fitbit count for the evening was 20,698 steps.



Later on that night I woke up to watch the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II and finished off the rest of my dinner. Say what you will about the Royal Family but when it comes to Pomp and Circumstance they have it in Spades. 

Our flight to depart New Orleans was 10am so we made sure to be back at the airport with enough time to just chill out for a little while before boarding. We arrived back in Saint Louis by Noon and I took the rest of the day to rest up and recharge before heading back to work the next day. I had a great time with my cousins and took plenty of pictures, over 700 actually. New Orleans doesn't owe me a thing!!!

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