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Thirty Hours in New Orleans

Updated: Jun 18, 2021

I simply love New Orleans, well not in the summer time, and for many years I have roamed around her streets and alleys enjoying the sights and sounds of that magical city. Being so close to my hometown its an easy weekend trip, and has even been a day trip fueled on too much coffee 😉 a time or two.

I've been averaging 110 hours per week at work 😳 for the last six weeks and needed a break. With 48 hours off an overnight in NOLA was just the ticket. Of course I chose not to tell Terri where we were going to elevate the surprise factor. She had only been to NOLA twice in her life and once was with me when we saw Pink Floyd at the Superdome back in the early 90s. All time, hands down the absolute best concert experience of my life. My friend Greg was with us and as we tromped to nearly the top of the Superdome we found a lady with a clipboard standing next to some giant spotlight. Turns out they had put a spotlight in our three seats and moved us to the center stage balcony!!! Paid for nose bleed (was probably 22 years old then and all I could afford) and ended up with the best seats in the house on them. Perfect. We had tickets to see Phantom of the Opera soon after that but sadly our relationship ended just before that show and as it turned out we both managed to see the play, albeit separately. That was a lifetime ago and as the Universe has brought the two of us back together 25 some years later who am I to argue.

I got free from the firehouse one hour early Thursday morning and we were on the road to NOLA by 7am. I briefly led her to believe that we were going to Biloxi to gamble but as we passed on through I finally let the cat out of the bag that New Orleans was in deed our destination. This was the third attempt in about the last nine months for this trip but the political "situation" that throttled the city down meant I was going nowhere near her until things were closer to normal. Just after 10am we were in New Orleans and headed to the Oliver House Hotel to drop off the truck.

The Oliver House was built in 1839 and is located in the French Quarter. I had booked a junior suite and for the first time in my life had a two story hotel room with two bathrooms 😎. The room was amazing though much smaller and more quaint than it sounds. Perfectly located we were soon on foot and loose in the city.

With no real destination in mind we set off to explore the architecture and people of the French Quarter. As we roamed we soon found ourselves in Jackson Square and were pleased to find the St. Louis Cathedral open for visitors. A stunning place to visit if you're ever in the area and find yourself close by during open hours.

Looking for a spot to cool off just a bit we headed over to the old US Mint which is now home to the New Orleans Jazz Museum. The bottom floor has a small exhibit of the original use of the building and even a counterfeit die from the early 1800s. There is a tremendous amount of technology in producing our currency and to see the size and power of the machines from 18th and early 19th Century is impressive.

The second floor houses the art collection as well as some instruments and other pieces from the early days of jazz. As jazz was born in NOLA it is a fitting place for the museum. If you can't make it to NOLA, and everybody should make it here at least seven times in their life, you can visit the museum virtually here

El Gato Negro has been a stable of my visits to this city for over a decade. There is a quiet little courtyard outback and its the perfect place to sit down, relax, and eat some tasty Central American food. While the ceviche presentation is not what it was years ago the fish is still fresh and its a perfect cooling off snack to tie you over until dinner. El Gato Negro sits across the street from the French Market and I am saddened to have watched her decline over the years. Gone are the days when it was mostly a market with great food and local goods. The trinket vendors started off like a few cancer cells and have spread throughout. Other than public bathroom I can't say I recommend stopping by there any longer.

One of my favorite things about NOLA are the brief glimpses of the secret courtyards. Given rise by the great fires of the 18th Century courtyards now provide privacy in an urban setting. As I walk through the city I am always on the look out for the briefest of glimpses of a private oasis inside the beautiful chaos of New Orleans. Of course you can't linger long as most of these beauties are private, but I've found just a glimpse of two is enough to let the imagination fill in the gaps.

There are also thousands of balconies and a good many are decorated according to the time or just beautiful pops of color. If you can swing it I would recommend a room with a balcony so you can enjoy your coffee or afternoon cocktail in a brief respite while the city strolls away beneath you.

There are hundreds of shops and galleries scattered throughout the French Quarter and we stopped in a handful of them to admire some art and even seek inspiration. Lately I've been captivated by trying to capture fog through the camera lens and there were a few professionally shot pieces that have mastered it. Something to strive for and a reason to travel more 😉. Of course sometime inspiration is as simple as a sign

While walking along the riverbank we found the Love Wins fence. I saw something similar in Scotland where couple will write them names on a lock and affix to one spot. Who knows, but visually I found it interesting.

The streets were strangely quiet compared to past experiences. We were there on a Thursday so that might have a little to do with it. While I am no fan of people as a general rule it was rather odd to see so few people out and about.

After a bit more roaming it was time for dinner so we headed to Port of Call. Top three burgers I've had anywhere on the planet. Simply amazing every time. Its a steakhouse that happens to also sell burgers which they grind from steak and will do a true medium rare and it is heavenly.

After dinner we strolled over to Frenchmen Street and found ourselves far too full to want to sit down and comply with drink minimums so we opted to stroll along and listen to the variety of music from all but Snug Harbor, my personal favorite, as they weren't going to open until the next day. There was a storm approaching and soon the rain began to intensify so we turned and headed back. We easily escaped most of the drizzle going from balcony to balcony and made a stop for one last look at St. Louis Cathedral. I had a hunch the storm clouds and moodiness of the grey skies would lend something spectacular to the shot. I was not disappointed.

A friend of mine had told me about a local bar known as The Dungeon that has been around as long as I have been. Classic rock form the 60s and 70s in a semi-hidden little hole in the wall. Turns out is was just two blocks from our hotel as we had found the entrance on the way back. The main problem with a belly full of Port of Call and a slight drizzle is the combined affect of making you want to stay indoors and wear comfy pants. The Dungeon as been around this long and I am sure it will be here come fall when I roam back to New Orleans.

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