New Orleans – The Big Easy

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A little bit of France, a little bit of the South, a little bit Vegas all mixed together makes the magical city that is New Orleans.

M & I visited during Thanksgiving, and it was EVERYTHING. Absolutely one of our favorite trips.

There is nothing I can write to do this place justice, but I’ll try.

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The food. It was even better than we imagined. We arrived on Thanksgiving day. All restaurants are open with special Thanksgiving menus, there is a big parade, and there are people walking around the French Quarter. We ate at Ralph Brennan’s Red Fish Grill. A Southern  Thanksgiving buffet feast including Turducken gumbo, cajun turkey, shrimp and grits, freshly chucked oysters. A guy in a turkey suit ran around making sure everyone was taken care of. I won’t describe every meal, but this was the perfect “alternative” Thanksgiving meal we could have had eating at a restaurant. So fun, so us.

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Continuing with food – oysters. Every menu listed a variety of oysters. I thought a raw oyster is already perfect as is, so why ruin it by grilling it,  or frying it. I was so gladly wrong. Very wrong. Charbroiled oysters with garlic and herbs served with french bread, fried oysters with buffalo sauce and blue cheese on top, oysters cooked in a mushroom sauce, fried oysters in a po’ boy, oysters Rockefeller. All amazing. We still got several dozens of raw oysters throughout the entire trip, but we tried every variation of the cooked ones as well, and oh my goodness they were all heaven.

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Beignets, yes we had them every day. At Cafe Du Monde with a cafe au lait. An order to go on our way to sight see. Some from their competition to see if they measure up, on and on. So amazing!

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(Where had red beans and rice been my whole life? Incredible.)

Having such great food in California, I feared things like beignets would taste the same as the one’s I’ve had. The climate difference and the fact that they are below sea level actually has a big part in the ‘only in New Orleans unique taste’ when it comes to anything with bread. These beignets were one of a kind delicious!

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We tried Muffuletas from central grocery, an Italian deli, and walked across the train tracks to sit on a bench overlooking the Mississippi River while we ate them. Everything was such an experience, these giant sandwiches were so good!

This was such a great weekend to visit because the weather was still very warm, but the Christmas decorations and lights were up. The city is so beautiful already, but adorned with lights – was so cool.

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We went to so many interesting bars. The cocktail is said to have been originated here. We had great drinks, at a carousel rotating bar in our historic hotel, a French 75 where it was invented ETC. Every place and drink had a story!

The places. The people.

We did a walking ghost and vampire tour while drinking a local beer. Drinking is not only allowed on the streets, it’s actually highly encouraged. To the point that if you don’t finish a drink at a restaurant, they will give it to you in a to go cup. So fun.

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(Here I am standing in front of Delphine LaLaurie’s home)

We visited a Katrina museum which was extremely moving, sad and informative, it made us love the city even more. We both got out of a cab once and immediately said the same thing. After hearing our drivers story, of how him and his family got out of the city during the hurricane we were almost in tears. He also told us about his grand-kids and the time he drove Dwyane Wade around & he happily spoke to his granddaughter on the phone.

We visited two beautiful plantations, with so much history, and so many beautiful trees (my favorite part).

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We walked around their “Central Park” – New Orleans City Park, which is twice the size of Central Park, it has botanical gardens, sculpture gardens, fields, an amusement park, a carousel, a lake, too much to do in one day, even a cafe that sells – beignets!

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We went on a Cemetery tour in the oldest Cemetery in the city, in a horse drawn carriage. We toured the French Quarter on the way, and being on the carriage made you feel like you were back in time. I loved all the colors, and imagining what it looked like without cars. The Cemetery was beautiful, we saw Marie Laveau’s grave (Voodoo Queen) and learned all kinds of facts about what it took to be buried there. If you research this Cemetery it says to be the most haunted in the world, I didn’t feel scared, I loved walking around and looking at all the graves.

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In fact, I didn’t feel scared anywhere in New Orleans, all of it was so fun – except for one time in the middle of the night in our hotel – which is also known to be haunted, as one of the oldest Hotels in the French Quarter – the Monteleone, I woke up in the middle of the night hearing weird noises. Then I fell back asleep.

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We visited the oldest Catholic Church in the United States, as you exit there are people dancing, playing music or asking to read your palm at Jackson Square. So many different colorful stories anywhere you turned.

Loved every minute of this trip.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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