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Trip Report - May 25 - 28, 2013

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Nashville, TN
posts: 239
reviews: 7
Trip Report - May 25 - 28, 2013

This is my first ever trip report.

Warning: This is going to be long. I'm not the most eloquent writer in the world, but I tend to be long winded. I'll post each day individually as replies. Hope you enjoy.

Nashville, TN
posts: 239
reviews: 7
1. Re: Trip Report - May 25 - 28, 2013

Day 1 – Saturday, May 25 (My Birthday)

Today was my 30th birthday and normally it may have been a bit depressing, but not today since I was going to New Orleans! We woke up bright and early to be at the airport in time for our 8:50am flight. I had been up later than I should have been doing laundry and packing so I was tired, but I wasn’t letting that slow me down. The flight went smoothly and we arrived about 15 minutes early at 10:15am. We grabbed a cab and were at the Hotel Villa Convento shortly after 11:00am. I have to say that while this hotel certainly isn’t luxury, it was very comfortable and the staff is super friendly making you feel like old friends when you arrive. With the value and service along with the location here, I can definitely see myself returning in the future.

Our room wasn’t quite ready when we arrived so we stored our bags and went for our first walk around the Quarter for this trip. Our stomachs were calling and since our hotel was fairly close to Verti Marte, we decided to stop in and try the All That Jazz. While waiting on our sandwich to get ready, I noticed that the cashier had several dollar bills pinned to her shirt and I remembered that I had intended to do the same today. This meant it was her birthday as well so we gave her a dollar and our well wishes and she gave me one back along with a paper clip to pin it to my shirt. I wore it the rest of the day and got a few more dollars plus a ton of “Happy Birthdays.” It was fun to be a part of a local tradition and get well wishes from so many people.

When our sandwich was ready, we headed down to the French Market and found a bench to sit and eat. About this sandwich – OMG. I have to say that this is seriously one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. I will dream about this thing until I can get back to New Orleans. Verti Marte is now on our list for every return trip.

After eating, I realized it was after noon on my 30th birthday in New Orleans and I hadn’t had a drink yet. I decided I needed to try one of these margaritas everyone keeps raving about and walked over to El Gato Negro. I got the Pineapple Cilantro Lime margarita to go and it was delicious. Very fresh! I’ll have to try a house one next time.

We then walked around and visited a few shops including Greg’s Antiques on Decatur. They have very reasonable prices and I recommend a visit. Afterwards, we walked back towards the hotel and stopped in at Croissant d’Or across the street for a slice of cake (it’s my birthday afterall ) and then found our room was ready at the hotel so we checked in and rested a bit.

I was pretty worn out from lack of sleep so I took about an hour nap and then got dressed up for my birthday dinner at NOLA. We had reservations for the chef’s table/bar at 6:00 (the latest you can make reservations for this area). This doesn’t cost any extra and I highly recommend it as you can watch and ask questions to the chef in front of you. Your view is somewhat obstructed, however, so you can’t see everything. The chef also gives everyone at the bar a free taste of something they are preparing. In our case it was grilled shrimp with mango salsa. Very good! I ordered a seafood gumbo to start and the shrimp and grits for my entrée. Both were delicious. The shrimp and grits had just a touch of sweetness along with the spice. For dessert, we shared the banana pudding layer cake which they brought out with a birthday candle. Overall, it was a great meal.

After dinner, we headed over to Pat O’Briens so I could redeem my coupon for the free birthday drink. I got a Hurricane (of course) and DH got a Long Island Iced Tea. We spent some time hanging out around the flaming fountain and then left to walk up Bourbon Street. My free drink included the glass since you always have the option to keep this but usually have to pay $3 extra. Unfortunately, in my tipsiness, I dropped it later that night and although it was boxed, it wasn’t packed very tightly and it broke. 

DH got a Jester when we were walking up Bourbon and I tasted it, but it was way too strong and “melon-y” for me. We walked over to Harrahs and donated a bit of cash to them. I got a glass of champagne here and it was leaving Harrahs that I broke my Hurricane glass. We stumbled back to our hotel around midnight and called it a night.

Nashville, TN
posts: 239
reviews: 7
2. Re: Trip Report - May 25 - 28, 2013

Day 2 – Sunday, May 26

We woke up around 8:00 this morning and went across the street to Croissant d’Or for breakfast. We both ordered ham and cheese croissants and café au lait. The menu lists the croissants as “ham and Swiss” so I was expecting Swiss cheese, but it is actually more of a cream cheese which I like better anyway. The croissants were perfectly flakey and buttery and melt-in-your-mouth.

After breakfast, we walked around a bit and popped in and out of shops. We had a reservation at noon at Bourbon House for lunch. This was DH’s choice as he is a self-named whiskey aficionado and was interested in their extensive Bourbon list. I ordered there 3 course lunch special with a bowl of seafood gumbo to start, a barbecue shrimp poboy as my entrée, and a strawberry fried pie for dessert. I also ordered a Mini Bourbon Milk Punch along with my dessert course. The gumbo and the fried pie were very good, but the poboy was just okay. The Bourbon Milk Punch tasted just like egg-nog, but since I love egg-nog, I enjoyed it. Honestly, though, this was probably my least favorite meal of the trip.

After lunch, we walked to the World War II museum. We have both been there before (DH actually twice already before this trip), but I wanted to see the Beyond All Boundaries film. DH saw it on our last trip but I had skipped the museum that time and had not been to the museum at all since it was still the D-Day Museum. You can no longer buy tickets for just the movie, so we had to buy the combo which included museum admission. Most of the museum itself had not really changed a lot since I went the first time, but they are adding to it constantly. There is a newer building with several airplanes hanging in it and you can go up on higher levels to get a closer look at them. DH found this interesting, but since I have a bad fear of heights I didn’t care for it. The movie is AMAZING though. I definitely recommend this to everyone. I left very moved by the experience.

We were hungry after walking around the museum and the happy hour at American Sector was still going on so we decided to give it a try. DH got an Abita Turbodog for $2.50 and I got one of the mixed drinks that were on special for $4.00. We also ordered 4 of the $.75 barbecue sliders and 4 of the $.75 meat pies to share. The food was good too (especially the meat pies) and this was definitely one of the cheapest meals of our trip.

It’s a pretty long walk from the museum to our hotel so when we got back, we decided to rest for a couple hours in the room. That night, we walked over to Frenchmen St to check it out since we had never been there and I wanted to see the nighttime art market. On our way over there, however, I started not feeling well. I’m not sure what it was, but it was probably all the eating and drinking I had been doing since the day before. It’s not something I’m used to on an everyday basis. I wasn’t feeling well enough to stop and listen to music or anything so we just walked around the art market and then headed back to our room. I decided to call it an early night at 8:00 and DH went back out to walk up Bourbon and go to Harrahs again. He said it was crazy packed, more so than usual even. Some guy did hand him a free Abita on his way back to the hotel so that was nice. 

He got back to the room around midnight and that was it for Day 2.

Nashville, TN
posts: 239
reviews: 7
3. Re: Trip Report - May 25 - 28, 2013

Day 3 – Monday, May 27 (Memorial Day)

I woke up feeling much better this morning after getting some extra sleep the night before. We went across to Croissant d’Or for breakfast again. It’s nice to have it right there. This morning I got an almost croissant and a hazelnut cappuccino. The almost croissant is delicious, but I think the ham and Swiss is my favorite. After breakfast, I had a photography tour scheduled with American Photo Safari so we headed to the meeting spot at St. Louis Cathedral.

The tour began at 9:00am and I lucked out being the only person in the tour. I had gotten the tour on Living Social for $39 (normal price $79) and DH was able to pay a $20 tag-a-long fee in person to walk with us. I’m pretty sure my tour guide was Natasha, but I’m terrible with names. I think either she or Chris usually do the tours and it was a woman.

I really enjoyed the tour. If you are at all interested in photography, especially if you are a bit of a novice, I highly recommend it. I have had my DSLR camera for 3 years but could never figure out how to shoot out of auto mode. Natasha was able to show me how to use my own camera and then took me on a walk around the Quarter pointing out interesting shots and giving some good tips. I got some great photos out of it.

We had reservations for a late lunch at Commander’s Palace at 1:30 so after the tour, we headed back to the room, doing a little shopping along the way, to freshen up and change into our nice clothes.

We took the St. Charles Streetcar to Washington Ave and walked the few blocks to Commander’s. We didn’t have to wait long for our reservation and were escorted through the kitchen to the Garden Room and were seated by the live oak in the middle of the room. I had wanted to be seated there, but since I made the reservation a bit late, I didn’t bother asking so I lucked out. I ordered the 2 course lunch with the turtle soup to start and the shrimp and grits as my entrée. I also ordered the bread pudding soufflé to split with DH. I was a bit apprehensive about the turtle soup, but figured I needed to try it since they are known for it. It was surprisingly very good! The shrimp and grits were great and somewhat similar, but not exactly, to the dish I had at NOLA. Which makes sense considering Emeril got his start here. The slight nod does go to the Commander’s version. The bread pudding soufflé was amazing. So light and airy and a perfect end to the meal. We each had 3 of the $.25 martinis and were feeling very good after this meal.  This was the best meal of the trip and probably one of the best meals I’ve had in my life anywhere.

After lunch, we took the Streetcar back to the Quarter. It was packed and standing room only and a lady almost started a fight with me and my DH because he accidentally stepped on her foot.. Oh well.

On the way back to the room, I stopped at NOLA Kids on Chartres because I had passed by them a couple times when they were closed and wanted to look for something to take back to my 2 children. I picked them up each a shirt and a Jenny Giraffe Discovers the French Quarter story book.

We then went back to the room for a nap. (What can I say? I am a mother of 2 young children and it isn’t often that I get to take an uninterrupted nap. ) After the nap, we decided to head over to Yo Mama’s for dinner. DH was a bit apprehensive about the place when we first walked in because it is truly a hole in the wall bar. Usually, I make all the plans and he just tags along and has learned to trust me, but he wasn’t sure this time. Until the burgers came. They were amazing and homemade with fresh meat. DH just got a classic burger and I was the more adventurous one trying the peanut butter and bacon burner. This was a very interesting taste that works surprisingly well together. I am glad I tried it, but I do think I would go with something more traditional next time. The baked potato was also awesome as was the Abita Strawberry Harvest beer. The décor in the bathrooms is also quite interesting. ;)

After dinner, we walked around the Quarter for a bit but it was pretty busy so we went back to the room for a while. Around 10:00pm we decided to head back out because I was not going to waste my last night there in the hotel room. We went over to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop to try their hurricane and taste test it against the one I had at Pat’s. I do think I prefer Lafitte’s and the cup was plastic so I didn’t have to worry about breaking this one. 

We walked around one last time and called it a night.

Nashville, TN
posts: 239
reviews: 7
4. Re: Trip Report - May 25 - 28, 2013

Day 4 – Tuesday, May 28 (Last Day)

We woke up, packed our bags, and checked out. Our flight wasn’t until 5:55pm, however, so we stored our bags and headed over to Café du Monde for breakfast. Croissant d’Or is closed on Tuesdays and we had to get some beignets before we left town. After filling our bellies full of dough and sugar, we did some shopping at the French Market. I picked up another book for the kids and one for myself. We then walked down Decatur past the Cathedral since we hadn’t walked by that spot yet and I wanted to take a look at the artists there. I have to say the selection of art seems to be dwindling or is that just me? We had dinner reservations at 11:30 at Mr. B’s Bistro so we walked down Royal and had lunch.

I ordered the Gumbo Ya-Ya, Barbecued Shrimp, and then we shared the bread pudding. I had to try both the gumbo and the shrimp if I was eating here since that is what they are known for. The gumbo is seriously the best I’ve ever had. It had the perfect thickness and a nice dark roux. The shrimp sure is a mess to eat, but is delicious.  The bread pudding was great too.

After lunch, we shopped a bit more and picked up some souvenirs for family back home. We went by Central Grocery to grab a muffaletta to eat at the airport and then we were off. I’m already missing it again and can’t wait to get back.

New Orleans...
posts: 3,367
reviews: 11
5. Re: Trip Report - May 25 - 28, 2013

Hope you can get back soon, Pyxie. A pity our trips didn't overlap, as I would have loved to meet you. I was also planning (months ago) to leave some birthday surprise for you in your room, like a box of chocolates or something, but then things got so hectic right before the trip that I didn't get round to doing that. :-( So just letting you know that the intention was there, if that counts.

New York City, New...
posts: 1,317
reviews: 273
6. Re: Trip Report - May 25 - 28, 2013

sounds wonderful..!

Nashville, TN
posts: 239
reviews: 7
7. Re: Trip Report - May 25 - 28, 2013

Aww Rodent.. Just the fact that you thought of me is sweet enough. :)

Orland Park...
posts: 516
reviews: 23
8. Re: Trip Report - May 25 - 28, 2013

Thanks for writing.....Great report!!

Toronto, Canada
posts: 10,042
reviews: 61
9. Re: Trip Report - May 25 - 28, 2013

Glad to hear that you liked the All That Jazz at Verti Marte! I also think it is one of the best sandwichs I have ever had! Too bad you broke your Pat's glass. Did you ever stop to have another hurricane and replace it? The margaritas at El Gato ARE so fresh--especially on a hot day! Glad to hear you got to try one too. How many dollars did you get on your birthday? Isn't that the most fun thing! The lady in our May group last year was such a good sport about the pinning on the dollar too, and she (and the rest of us) all had so much fun with it! Great report. Glad you had a good time and a happy birthday! Thanks for sharing!

Nashville, TN
posts: 239
reviews: 7
10. Re: Trip Report - May 25 - 28, 2013

We intended to go back to Pat's and get a new glass, but never got around to it. Oh well, there's always next time.

I only ended up getting like 5 dollars, but I had a ton of people wishing me Happy Birthday so it was fun just the same.