October 19 – 24
As mentioned in the last post, we hit heavy traffic coming into Baton Rouge, caused by construction and a reduction in the number of available lanes combined with merging traffic from other highways, the perfect storm. We moved along while entering New Orleans but observing the traffic going the other way, which is in the direction of the airport, we noted that we might be having folks use Lyft or Uber to get there from the VRBO we were renting if it was in the afternoon during rush hour.
Getting to our house, the Garden District Living Just Off St. Charles was easy enough as it’s just a few blocks off the Pontchartrain Expressway offramp of the I-10. We’d would come to greatly appreciate its central and convenient location, with shopping (a Whole Foods within walking distance), restaurants close by, and best of all, easy access to the St. Charles Line Street Car.
Getting in the house was easy; following the provided instructions we used a code to enter the front gate and another to get through the front door and then a remote to open the driveway gate in order to park the car, where it would remain for the rest of our stay. Our time in NOLA would be enhanced by this inviting house, with three bedrooms, two baths and a large open kitchen and living area.
Car unloaded and settled in, we drove a couple of blocks to the nearby Whole Foods Market to provision for the weekend, returning shortly before Jessica and Kris arrived from the Airport via Lyft. As the rest of our party wouldn’t be coming in until later in the evening, the four of us walked a half mile to Magazine Street and the Red Dog Diner.
Our original choice had been The Rum House next door, but it was packed with a long wait and we were able to get seated quickly at the diner, which turned out to be a good choice.
We started out with a pitcher of a house cocktail, That B*tch Katrina (House-infused Cruzan rum with cranberries, apricots, house candied lemons, passionfruit, pomegranate and strawberries), a strong and refreshing Sangria like cocktail way to begin the meal.
We focused on a series of small plates, including the Pimento Cheese Spread, Crab & Corn Fritters (with whipped chive garlic butter), and the Tamale Meatballs (with cornbread and pepper jelly). We finished with a Sausage & Peppers Pizza (fennel sausage, grilled onions, red sauce, and mozzarella) and walked back to the house, full and contented.
Bev and Dillon were the next to show up with Kim and Marty arriving shortly before midnight, their flight having been delayed. Kim and I stayed behind while the rest of the group walked five blocks down St. Charles to a place they’d visit twice, Igor’s Lounge and Gameroom, a quirky dive bar, one of a three of locations in the city, all open 24/7 and offering pool tables, bar food, and washing machines. Yes, washing machines.
With a walking tour planned for Saturday afternoon, we dawdled around the house until late morning before jumping on the street car to head to the French Quarter.
We walked up Canal Street past the Marriott where I’ve stayed three times for conference to turn left on Decatur, passing by the House of Blues and many other well-known establishments to eventually land at our planned destination, Café du Monde to introduce some of our first timers to the required beignet experience.
Upon arrival though we saw a line stretching nearly a block and so turned around to walk back to Café Beignet because as heretical as this may sound, a beignet is often just a beignet. There was a line there as well but easily navigable and as a bonus, the café had other food options beyond the signature dish.
We filled up on beignets, breakfast sandwiches, and various coffee drinks, huddled up on three round tables next to each other in a very crowded room. The noise level wasn’t bad, and it all seemed to add to the occasion, that first taste of what folks consider to be New Orleans.
From there we walked up the waterfront, essentially killing time until the start of our tour, then turning back to Decatur.
While the Bev, Jessica, Joanna, and Kim s did some shopping, Dillon, Kris, Marty and I stopped in at one of the ubiquitous frozen drink bars, Big Easy Daiquiris, to get a taste of the other side of New Orleans.
I had my first Hurricane (there would be a few more) and it was nice to sit there with the guys, contemplating what the rest of the day would bring with no real plans after the tour. We were off to a good start.
VRBO Off St. Charles: https://www.vrbo.com/677493
Red Dog Diner: https://www.reddogdiner.com/
Igor’s Lounge: https://www.facebook.com/Igorslounge/
Café Beignet: https://www.cafebeignet.com/decatur-street-location