This Christmas, Clay and I traveled to New Orleans to spend a week with friends and family. It was a first-time visit for both of us and we were excited to be staying in an 1850s home on historic Esplanade Avenue.
Our first evening in the city, we wandered through the French Quarter and down Bourbon Street. We ate jambalaya, crawfish étouffée, and fried catfish for dinner and of course had some voodoo juice from an obnoxious plastic to-go cup.
We rode the street car plenty, a fun and convenient way of traveling through the city. I especially loved the few that allowed open windows and we could really appreciate the cool New Orleans weather.
We visited Louis Armstrong Park, Jackson Square, and watched family members enjoy raw oysters (I prefer my oysters fried). We ate delicious buttermilk drops from Wink’s and beignets at the famous Cafe Du Monde, where we inadvertently cut the huge line of people waiting for a table. Oops!
On Clay’s birthday we took a tour of Mardis Gras World, a cheesy attraction to see how the mardis gras parade floats are made. It was fun seeing the huge styrofoam and papier-mâché sculptures and I felt nostalgic for the many hours and late nights I spent in the sculpture studio in college.
For lunch we tried the original hurricane at Pat O’Briens. Four shots of liquor in each drink took out a few of us!
One of the highlights of the trip was a tour of Laura Plantation, a historic Créole sugar plantation on the Mississippi River. The owner took us through the property and explained the history of the plantation through several generations. The house itself is an example of traditional Créole-style architecture and was constructed with specially designed cypress beams (each numbered, as pictured below) and without a single nail.
The property has a handful of slave quarters still standing: 64 square foot rooms where entire families would live together. This is the slave house where the tales of Compair Lapin (clever rabbit) were recorded, the Créole version of Br’er Rabbit.
We also visited the historic Degas House on Esplanade, just a few homes down from where we were staying. The home was owned by Degas’ uncle where the artist lived for a short time in 1872. I didn’t know Degas stayed in New Orleans in his lifetime and it was a delight to see.
One of the more memorable things about New Orleans are the above-ground cemeteries, similar to those seen in Europe. They are haunting and beautiful and reminded me of Paris. Two notable tombs we visited were Marie Laveau’s, the Voodoo Queen, and actor Nicolas Cage’s. A tomb worthy of a national treasure indeed.
The entire trip was filled with good seafood, but the most picturesque was definitely the crawfish boil at B&C Seafood Market.
And the absolute best food we had was french toast and fried chicken at a neighborhood spot called Lil Dizzy’s. Several of us agreed it was the best french toast we’d ever had.
Another great Christmas trip in the books. I wonder where we’ll go next year.