Sunday, December 04, 2005

New Orleans - What Are you Gonna Do?

A few posts back, one of my commenters asked if I could give her an itinerary of one of our typical trips to New Orleans so that when she goes, she'll be sure not to miss anything. We've been taking a couple of trips a year to New Orleans for the past ten years and we've developed a routine which we can't seem to break. Our first trip there were ten of us (see the picture above) but the trip has now grown to around twenty people (see the picture below).

Every trip, we find ourselves doing the same things and going to the same places. We always try to mix it up and do a couple of new things each trip but we always slip back into our old habits. Keeping that in mind, I present you with a typical Ransonette/Grillo/Adams/Young/Arledge New Orleans trip. (This is not to be confused with the itinerary of people who actually live in the city and know all the really sweet spots.)

  • A few of us arrive in New Orleans on Thursday and relax and wander around the French Quarter and hit a few bars in the evening. We take it easy this first night because we are professionals. If you hit the city too hard the first night, the rest of your trip is a recurring cycle of hang-over cures, antacids, hemorrhoid creams and more alcohol. It ain't pretty.
  • Friday, the people who arrived Thursday, wake up to a leisurely breakfast of orange juice, croissant and coffee (fetched from Le Madelaine by the men folk). The people who are driving up Friday leave Beaumont around 7:00 a.m. and caravan to New Orleans arriving around noon.
  • After everyone has checked into their rooms (either the Inn on Bourbon or the Prince Conti), we walk down to Decatur and eat at Masperros.
  • After lunch, we walk across the street to the Jax Brewery mall to take advantage of their really nice restrooms and do a little shopping.
  • After Jax Brewery mall, we walk to Jackson Square and hang out there for a while. We then head toward the French Market hitting the daiquiri shops and souvenir shops along the way.
  • At Margaritaville, we take a break before heading back toward Jackson Square where we usually stop at Cafe Du Monde for beignets and coffee. We then head back to the hotel to change clothes, take a nap and hit Bourbon Street.
  • Either Friday or Saturday afternoon, we meet at Pat O'Brien's at around 3:00 p.m. to take a group picture.
  • Our first stop (after Pat O'Brien's) is the Cat's Meow. The Cat's Meow is a karaoke bar and we try to get there early (4:00 p.m.) because we pretty much have the place to ourselves and can sing a lot without feeling too ridiculous. (Keep in mind that we are still relatively sober at this point and still have the capacity to feel ridiculous.)
  • As the Cat's Meow gets more crowded, we move to the upstairs bar and hang around in the bar and on the balcony until the 3-for-1 Happy Hour ends at 8:00 p.m.
  • At 8:00 p.m. we leave the Cat's Meow and hit Bourbon Street. At this point, it is very important to eat something. Some people find a restaurant for a big meal (Ralph & Kacoo's is a favorite) but most of us eat pizza, Lucky Dogs or gyros from somewhere on Bourbon Street.
  • At this point, we've somehow broken down into several smaller groups and end up at various different clubs (Gold Mine, Famous Door, Fat Cat's, Utopia) meeting up with each other off and on throughout the night.
  • We used to go back to a diner on St. Peter called Poppy's for breakfast before heading in for the night, but it changed owners a couple of years ago and it just hasn't been the same. Before the hurricane, rumor had it that Poppy got the restaurant back. I'm not sure of the status of the diner at this point. Nonetheless, it's a good idea to eat breakfast somewhere before going in for the night but it's hard to find a good breakfast place that isn't too crowded.
  • Saturday morning, we usually eat breakfast in the restaurant in the hotel and, once again, break up into different groups to do whatever you like. Some people favor the malls, some like the shops in the French Quarter and some like to go to the casino. There is usually at least one group of people who go to the aquarium.
  • I also like the Wax Museum on Conti. It's down the street from People's Grocery where you can get a delicious Po Boy.
  • It's hard to believe and I'm embarrassed to say that I've never ridden a streetcar or had a buggy ride and I've never been on a cemetery tour or gone to the zoo. These activities come highly recommended by others though.
  • There are lots of other things to do throughout the city (D-Day Museum, Garden District) but I can never tear myself away from the French Quarter.
  • Saturday evening is, basically, a repeat of Friday evening agenda-wise. However, the adventures are always different.
  • Sunday, we usually have an early lunch at Ralph & Kacoo's and do a little more shopping before hitting the road around 2:00 p.m.

From time to time, people ask me to write one of these itineraries for them and, by the time I finish, I'm usually exhilarated just from typing this out. This time, however, I'm a little melancholy. I can't wait for our next trip in March but I'm also a little anxious about returning after the city has had so much tragedy. As I've posted here before, however, we will do our best to drink lots of liquor and eat tons of food to help resurrect the fortunes of the city in general and the French Quarter in particular.


Peter said...

That sounds like fun, no wonder the group is expanding! (in more ways than one???)

Jack said...

I wonder whether it's too late to get a hotel romm for Mardi Gras. I think I need to go.


Anonymous said...

Somehow, as time passes, it sinks into this softening sadder and sadder. What a lovely account! The five trips I've made in the last 18 months are the first I made in many years, since I quit working for MississippiRiverLand Airlines (not its real name), but I fell in love with the city all over again (as did my son who went to college there). I spent more of my time uptown, though, because that's where the Us are. It's good to be blogging about it, good to be spending $$ there and suggesting that others do so. I am planning on saying that in my blog as well. You go, girl. (BTW, you're a whole lot tougher than I am!).

Laurie said...

Peter - Yeah, we're getting a little grayer, too, but we earned the gray and the pounds in good/bad ways. ;)

Jack - Let me know if you need a tour guide. I'm cheap. I mean, I'm easy. Wait...

"bad boys find junk mail kinky"

Sophmom - I feel the same way. At first it was just so shocking and now it's settled into this sadness that grows sader and sadder every day.

Zina said...

How funny...the french market seems to go hand & hand with Margaritaville.

We always have to eat breakfast either one day or all days at a place called "QSR: Quarter Scene Restuarant". You can walk straight to the French Market area from there. It is down the street from the CLOVER GRILL (Poppy's sister spot)

The same guy still owns Poppy's. Apparently he got out of a bad relationship and decided he needed a change. So, he re-did the entire place. Supposedly you can still get food there it's just not in the front of the place now it's in the back. (That was the scopp we got from one of those guys working at Pat O'Brien's--the ones that bag up your glasses.)

QSR is a bit out of the way. Unless you're on your way to the French Market...but you get a ton of great food for your money. It's one of those places that Tennessee Williams would eat at.
check it out:

Tim said...

Thanks for promoting the city. The good news is that the Quarter is high and dry. Almost everything is open, although believe it or not, there's a curfew of 2am! I took the family to get beignets a few weeks ago at Cafe Du Monde. The Quarter is coming along nicely, just a lot less people around.

My favorite Quarter nite spot is a funky bar called Lounge Lizards on Decatur( Good place to see a band. My favorite Quarter restaurant was Dickie Brennan's Steak House, but it has not reopened yet.

What about Rock'n'Bowl? You gotta see a band at Rock'n'Bowl next time you come! Yes, you can bowl and listen to live music at the same time.(

Anonymous said...

I liked your article.

Laurie said...

Zina - Thanks! Checking out the Quarter Scene's website thought, they aren't open very late. We need a place open for breakfast at about 2:00 a.m. :)

Tim - I can't believe there's a curfew. That is wild. We'll definitely check out Lounge Lizards. As for Rock'nBowl, that is the one place that I have been intending to go to the whole 10 years I've been going to New Orleans. I hear it is great and every local I talk to recommends it.

DBC - Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Notice Lolo's drunk eyes in the


OldHorsetailSnake said...

You have more fun than people...

Laurie said...

Baby Sister - As you well know, I wasn't even drunk, yet. Those are leftover drunk eyes from the night before.

Old Horsetail - I just can't help myself.

Lorna said...

Wow, what with your New Orleans info and albino animals, I'm going back to bed now for a little nap. I hope I don't have nightmares about the good snowman, or the multi-featured girl.

Puggyspice said...

Wow. I loved this post as I have been in love with New Orleans since first visiting and trying jambalaya for the first time at Sammy's (on Bourbon) in 1997. Thanks for sharing about your trips there.

My boyfriend also loves the city and we had discussed getting married there. However, after the devastation we decided not to. From what some people have posted, the city has been pretty resilient so I am wondering if maybe a wedding there could still be beautiful and positive?

We don't want to spend much money or even have a lot of people there, maybe just a handful of folks. Any recommendations for where one could have a wedding? I love the Botanical Gardens (not sure which one but its near a swamp I think?)

Laurie said...

Lorna - Sweet dreams!

Puggy Spice - I actually had a friend of mine from work get married there on one of our trips. I'll do a post about this so that some of my New Orleans friends can give you some ideas. It's very easy to get married in New Orleans now. It's sort of like getting married in Vegas but without Elvis.