If you look at the Leg 7 schedule I created in early 2020, Chad and I are supposed to be in Marrakech right now. We were very excited to include Morocco on our Leg 7 itinerary because it was my first choice honeymoon destination when we got married 18 years ago. Sadly, there was no way we could afford a honeymoon across the ocean to anywhere 18 years ago. So we ended up doing our honeymoon in New Orleans.
And here we are again, back in New Orleans! We really love this city. We also visited 10 years ago for my dear friend’s 30th birthday and I’ve been here for conferences and we always have a great time. NOLA is one of those few American cities that really feels like it has its own distinct culture apart from the rest of the U.S., that distinctive Creole/Cajun feel.
We’ve been in New Orleans for about a week now and it is already proving to be a wonderful January home. Here are a few things we like so far.
It was cold and icy and snowy when we left Missouri a week ago. We did the 12-hour drive to here in a single day and managed to arrive just before sunset to temperatures in the 50s, perfect for unloading our masses of stuff we’re traveling with these days (we pretty much packed the CR-V to the brim for this leg, in part because we have some film responsibilities to take care of in California).
The first few days after we arrived here were absolutely gorgeous: sunny and around 60 degrees, and not too windy. We managed some fantastic walks, including spending Sunday afternoon at the fabulous City Park. The last couple of days a cold front has moved in, dropping the temps to the 40s, but it is still nice enough for walks (and better than Missouri!!!).
The better weather means a return to dining out opportunities and we had our first date night out in the French Quarter two days after arriving. It was everything we wanted. We walked nearly 3 miles down to get there in order to fully enjoy the lovely day (and also to avoid drinking and driving). Then we walked another 2 miles all around the French Quarter reacquainting ourselves.
Since it was a Monday, it was fairly quiet, though there were a few handfuls of drunk tourists on Bourbon Street (which we walked on for all of a minute and decided that scene was just not for us anymore). After a bit of a search and a local’s recommendation, we found a nice 2nd story patio at Landry’s Seafood House to enjoy happy hour. They turned out to offer a phenomenal happy hour special and a great view of the Mississippi River. We decided we’d definitely return in the future. Then we had dinner at a restaurant called The Gumbo Shop, which has a charming heated courtyard. It was a fabulous meal and so fun to be able to be out again. It was just a 10-minute Lyft ride home and a great night overall.
We pretty much shunned cities during our Leg 6 travels, and definitely didn’t spend any time in cities in Costa Rica (which only has one), so we have really been looking forward to having a more urban lifestyle here.
New Orleans is a great city for that. It is relatively compact and the traffic hasn’t been bad at all. There are good sidewalks and a lot of places to walk. One of our favorite things is urban parks and the City Park here is a great one with fantastic trees and multiple lakes. There is also Audubon Park to the south, which we’ll be able to check out in the future. There are restaurants with every kind of food imaginable and plenty of great bars with outdoor spaces. It is just really nice to be back in a dense urban setting. One of the things we love about travel is getting to experience lots of different types of places. New Orleans is about as different from Libby, Montana, as you can get!
Our Airbnb is located in a part of town called Mid-City. According to Wikipedia, it is one of the most racially diverse neighborhoods of the city. According to NOLA.com, it was one of the first suburban-style neighborhoods in New Orleans, emerging in the late 19th century. It is full of low-rise, shotgun-style houses (super-long, narrow houses known for being great for airflow during the pre-AC times), with sidewalks lining small front yards and big porches. It was definitely all flooded out during Katrina, but reconstruction has gone well here and most of the population density has returned.
Mid-City has tons of bars and restaurants (definitely with a hipster vibe), but very few tourists since there aren’t any major landmarks to see here. It’s on the Canal Street cable car line (though we have a car and mixed feelings about using public transportation during the pandemic) and is connected two the French Quarter by the 2-mile bike-and-pedestrian-friendly Lafitte Greenway. This neighborhood is a perfect choice for us, other than the fact that the grocery stores are super-expensive so we’ve been driving out to the suburbs to shop at Target. We even walked a mile up to Whole Foods for part of our grocery shopping one day, which was a nice throwback to our typical shopping routine that is usually all on foot when we’re traveling abroad.
Last night, even though it was a little chilly (high 40s), we walked up to Lafitte Greenway to get our exercise in and then went for happy hour at a lovely, huge outdoor bar called Wrong Iron on the Greenway, which has tons of gas fire pits. It was so nice to just get a spontaneous drink out and that was the perfect spot because they could seat people far beyond 6 feet from each other. We had a little corner of it all two ourselves, and they even had solid happy hours specials going on (gotta love the NOLA drinking culture!).
Our Airbnb House
Finally, I have to say that we chose exactly right with our Airbnb. In addition to loving the neighborhood, the layout and features here are making for a very comfortable stay. We are in one of the double-wide shotgun houses that has been converted to a duplex, so it is still two rooms wide, but half as long (basically 2.5 rooms deep).
Although there are a couple of imperfections (no comfy living room, and a great big crack in the beautiful marble counter caused by a prior guest), it is really ideal to our needs: fast wifi, good-sized bedroom, big bathroom, chef’s kitchen with gas stove, second bedroom for Chad’s office, and all the American appliances you’d want: washer, dryer, dishwasher, ice maker, microwave, even a garbage disposal! It’s the little things that bring joy sometimes. It also has nice windows for natural light (despite being squeezed between two other shotgun houses; the lots are narrow here!), a great front porch and super-tall ceilings. We’re very happy and comfortable here, and it is the least expensive stay of this leg (although it still costs far more than our typical abroad accommodation).
So, you might say that all the times we’ve ever tried to go to Morocco, we’ve ended up in New Orleans. And all the times we’ve “settled” for New Orleans, we’ve ended up having a fabulous time. We’re really looking forward to our remaining weeks here and our modified Leg 7. Stay tuned!!