“America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” -Tennessee Williams, Author
Thanks to some accumulated United Airlines frequent flier miles, Jeff and I flew off to New Orleans this past February to celebrate Mardi Gras in style.
Mardi Gras literally means ‘Fat Tuesday’ in French, but the party starts revving up at least two weeks before this all-out Bacchanal. We were there for a week of it, and I’m not sure we could have survived much more.
New Orleans is not like other cities. Case in point:
I’ve never considered putting drinking on my to-do list before.
New Orleans is Not Cheap
New Orleans is a very romantic city with tons to see, hear, eat, and do. But let me warn you: NOLA is no bargain vacation. Bring cash, and lots of it.
Grace and Decadence: The Hotel Monteleone
After a bit of crowd-sourcing of my NOLA friends on Facebook, we chose the historic Hotel Monteleone for our romantic getaway.
Located in the heart of the French Quarter on Royal Street, the Monteleone is a luxurious 4-star literary and historical landmark that’s been written about by Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote.
Our room was beautiful, and the staff, especially Dave, our favorite doorman, bent over backwards making sure our trip was elegantly-appointed debauchery from the moment we stepped foot onto the property until Dave poured us into our taxi back to the airport.
Every morning, we were awakened by the reverberating bass tones of the steam whistle from the Riverboat Natchez announcing its daily departure. Pulling back the blessed blackout curtains, we were greeted by an ever-changing view of the Mighty Mississippi.
I’m Ready for My Close-up. Or not.
This was going to be my big debut!!
Except right as I was stepping into the shower I realized that I had miscalculated the time difference between New Orleans and the East Coast where HuffPoLive is broadcast.
Panicked, I threw on the hotel bathrobe, barely making it on air before the show started. I wasn’t wearing a lick of make-up, and I didn’t have a stitch of clothing underneath that robe. And I had to do the whole thing with my telephone plastered to my head because I couldn’t get my audio to work.
I have a new headline for them: “Woman wants to kill herself after looking like this on HuffPo Live.”
Oh well. I was in New Orleans! Who cares?
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry! Tomorrow, We’ll Do It All Over Again
After the Huffington Post Live debacle, we set out to eat. And eat. And eat.
In the entire 78 square blocks of the French Quarter there is not one national chain restaurant (House of Blues a possible exception). This means that you will eat food there that you cannot get anywhere else on Planet Earth.
Grilled Oysters with Garlic-Chili Butter from Cochon’s
The Strawberry Shortcake from The Commander’s Palace (MUST GO HERE!)
Beignets and café au lait from the world-famous Café du Monde
More Amazing Oysters from Acme Oyster House
I was so enraptured by the presentation, and desperate to get everything set before us into my mouth as fast as possible, that I forgot to take pictures of most of it. Trust me. Every single bite of food, without exception, that passed through my lips, was to die for.
Music in New Orleans is Like Air is Everywhere Else
New Orleans is the only city in the world with its own live soundtrack.
Nearly every corner is occupied by street musicians displaying varying degrees of talent. As the mother of a talented musician, my first thought when I passed by these remarkable performers was how much their parents must have spent on music lessons only to have their kids end up busking for a living on a dirty street in New Orleans.
We tipped every single musician who demonstrated any talent. The ones without we sent up a silent prayer that they will call home as I’m sure their mothers are worried about them.
The first two nights we wandered up and down Bourbon Street soaking up the vibe of this amazingly unique city.
But our favorite place for music ended up being The Maison on Frenchmen Street.
Recommended by fellow blogger, Lisha Perry Fink, from The Lucky Mom, we ended up there almost every night. Their red beans and rice were good, too.
The delightful Lisha also played tour guide one day, meeting up with Jeff and me and showing us around the Quarter. Rumor has it that we also might have wasted away the rest of the long afternoon drinking piña coladas in Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.
I’ve Always Depended on the Kindness of Bloggers
Cheryl took us on a drive through the parts of New Orleans that were impacted by Katrina. It was eye-opening to get out of the relatively unscathed French Quarter and see where the real damage from that horrific storm happened.
Afterwards we went for lunch at a lovely little French Restaurant, whose name I cannot remember, where we had the most marvelous time solving all of the world’s problems.
“Hey! You’re Naked!”
Then my husband decided it would be fun to get me drunk. I don’t know why I go along with his crazy schemes, but I do, or I did. At one point he took away my phone and started doing drunken status updates by proxy on Facebook.
At least 70 of my friends thought this was hilarious.
We started off that night with absinthe at The Old Absinthe House.
I know I didn’t get drunk from the absinthe because it’s like $20 for one drink. But isn’t it pretty?
I absolutely did not hallucinate or become a great writer like Hemingway while drinking absinthe, but I did get my phone back in time to take a drunk selfie!
I really don’t have any lips, do I?
My husband carried me up to our room and may have had his way with me which I think was his devious plan all along. At some point I passed out fell asleep.
About four o’clock in the morning, there came a knock upon our door.
Feeling around and finding my husband not in bed I figured he was up and he’d deal with our visitor. (Was it security? Had we been too loud?) I passed back out fell back to sleep. A few minutes (maybe?) later came a more insistent knocking.
Seeing that my husband must be in the bathroom and wasn’t going to handle this intruder, I called out, “Who is it?”
Imagine my surprise when I heard my husband whisper very loudly, “It’s me! Open the door!”
Had he gone back out after I’d passed out fallen asleep??? What the heck?
Stumbling to the door I opened it to find my husband standing there butt naked in the hallway of the Hotel Monteleone.
Always one for stating the obvious, I exclaimed, “Hey! You’re naked!”
He pushed his way past me saying, “Yes. I know that.”
Me: “But why are you naked in the hallway?”
Him: “I thought it was the bathroom.”
Me: “But the bathroom is right here.”
Him: “YES. I KNOW THAT! I woke up and it was dark and I opened the wrong door and when I opened my eyes and realized I was out in the hallway it was too late because the door had already closed behind me.”
Did you know that hard belly laughter can sober you right up?
Well, it can’t.
But I think I must have laughed until the alcohol finally wore off because I laughed for a very long time.
I guess he’d stood out there with his front pressed against the door for quite some time trying to wake me up while not drawing attention to his awkward situation from anyone else.
What’s funny is that he wasn’t the one who had been drinking.
We figure they must see a lot of that sort of thing in New Orleans.
My husband feels that he can once and truly cross New Orleans off his bucket list because after you’ve locked yourself out in the hallway naked you’ve done it all.