*Please join my Year of the Golden Dragon book giveaway. It’s a great book and I’m willing to ship it anywhere in the world!*
Last November, my two best buds and I flew from L.A. to LA to attend a friend’s wedding.
Yup, that’s Los Angeles to Louisiana.
New Orleans, to be exact.
It’s a fascinating city, to say the least. The city has an eclectic mix of modern sights and old world charm. NOLA’s French, African, & Caribbean influence is apparent in its food, music, culture—and souvenirs.
November 18, 2011, Friday
Thanks to Lena, we all got to hang out at the Delta Sky Lounge before our flight. We had our fill of unending snacks, and drinks. I can understand how businessmen and women who have to fly regularly become Sky Lounge members. The lounge was a wonderful experience, and a great place to relax and wait for our flight.
We took the redeye flight Thursday night so we could have the whole Friday to explore a little bit of New Orleans.
The first order of the day was to try out New Orleans’ famous beignets. Beignets are fried donut holes sprinkled with powdered sugar. We went to the famous Cafe du Monde. It took us several minutes to find a seat as the place was crowded.
The customer service there wasn’t so great. There were a lot of servers just sitting around taking breaks instead of clearing out much needed tables–but the beignets were good, at least.
After a late breakfast of beignets and hot chocolate, we took a walk around the French Quarter.
We stopped for a few minutes to watch a street performer near Jackson Square. He was pretty entertaining–very funny and skilled at riding a tall monocycle and juggling knives!
We made our way to the St. Louis Cathedral shortly afterward. The St. Louis Cathedral is New Orleans’ most notable landmark, and has the honor of being the oldest cathedral in the whole United States.
The St. Louis Cathedral was just as beautiful inside, as it was outside. Being Roman Catholic myself, I made sure I said a little prayer before we left to explore the rest of the French Quarter.
Jackson Square was alive with music and people when we visited that day. Street psychics had set up tables and chairs right in front of the cathedral, offering to read passing people’s fortunes.
We saw street musicians and performers at almost every corner we passed.
We even bumped into the old devil himself. He welcomed us to New Orleans and even posed for a picture. Of course, we had to give him a small donation for his time, but the picture was worth it.
Pirates Alley is a small alley beside the Cathedral where one can find small shops to visit. Of course, I didn’t go there for the shopping. I went there to find Faulkner House. Nobel Laureate William Faulkner rented rooms on the ground floor of the building in 1925. It’s the exact same space that houses the bookstore today.
Bourbon Street is one of the most popular and historic streets in New Orleans. People who’ve experienced Bourbon Street at night swear that its 10x crazier than Sin City Las Vegas. Strippers, hookers, booze and bras are a common sight at night, and the streets smell like beer even in the daytime. We decided to take a walk through it, while it was still relatively safe.
I’m so glad we did, because we came upon Cafe Beignet. Cafe Beignet is known for its beignets, of course.
They were even featured on Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate Show. We sat down there to have a late lunch and to enjoy a little jazz music. The singer Elaina and her band were very good and we couldn’t help but bob our head to their music.
Jazz singer Elaina and her band
At Cafe Beignet, we had our 2nd beignet for the day. Surprisingly, iIt was much better than Cafe du Monde.
We continued our tour of the French Quarter after lunch. We entered an interesting shop which sold all kinds of masks, and bought some masks which were on sale.
In every new city I visit, I always make it a point to visit a local bookstore to buy a book as a souvenir. I especially love bookstores that sell a lot of old leather bound volumes. Crescent City Books on Chartres Street, was one such bookstore. I bought a special edition of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight there. (Of course, two days later, I found out that she had passed away.)
We headed back to our hotel to take a nap before continuing our tour of the city. (That’s what we get for taking a red eye flight!)
As soon as we woke and freshened up, we headed for Drago’s Seafood Restaurant. We ordered stuffed lobster, veal cutlets and charbroiled oysters to share.
I have to say, I became an instant fan of their charbroiled oysters!
After a very filling (and very yummy) dinner, we headed toward the Ritz Carlton Hotel on Canal Street. Maiko is a big jazz fan and she wanted to take us to the Davenport Lounge so we could listen to some good jazz.
The lounge was filled with people listening to Jeremy Davenport and his band. Some people were actually dancing up front to the music.
At the lounge, we gave in to temptation and had our 3rd beignet for the day. We were so full, but we were very glad to have ordered them. They came with three dipping sauces (chocolate, caramel and vanilla cream) and were just the best beignets we had had that day.
We headed back to the hotel around 11pm to get some much needed rest. We needed to get ready for our friends’ wedding the next day, and for more adventures in New Orleans.
Tune in again on Friday for Day 2-3 of our New Orleans trip
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