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A middleaged couple enjoyed post-Katrina New Orleans, every shop owner, salesperson, waiter/waitress THANKED us for vacationing in New Orleans
We stayed at the Prince Conti for 6 days and would not hesitate to do it again. It was very clean, our room was cleaned and linens changed daily. Since Katrina and tourism is down they have lowered their prices to keep from having to lay staff off. We valet parked our prized Mustang convertible and they cared for her like she were their baby. The staff were all very friendly and helpful.
I had lamb chops and hubby had a spicy chicken. The have a French Chef. Food was awesome. Smoking the hookah was an interesting experience (good). We visited on Sunday night and they had Belly Dancers. We had a great time and will definitely visit on our next return. We got there early and there weren't many patrons but it didn't take long for the entire place to fill. I recommend making reservations.
We checked into taking one of the bus tours but they were expensive and later I found out that the tours have been restricted from going into the neighborhoods. We got the deskman at the hotel to outline the areas on our map and we drove through them. We remained respectful. We saw the backhoes scooping up the belongings off of the sidewalks. There is a lot of devastation and much of it still to be removed. We live in Tornado alley and have lived and worked through several of them but the devastation is not even comparable. The FEMA trailers parked outside of the little shacks were the very same FEMA trailers that were parked in front of the $3million homes. The FEMA trailer villages were placed sporadically in areas that had appeared to previously be parking lots. The media has not done this catastrophe justice.
One of the things we missed the most was the St. Charles Street car won't be running until next year and the street cars that are running aren't running on a schedule of any kind other than "wait." I'm sure the locals are missing their public transportation more that we did.
There is a lot of damage in the residential areas but NEW ORLEANS IS OPEN and needs your tourist dollars. We avoided the "chains" mostly on this trip because it's the Mom and Pop establishments that are having trouble getting reestablished. My own brother called me during our trip and said "Why are you in New Orleans? From what I can see it's all a mess." Well, It's not ALL a mess. The music is still there, the people are still the friendliest people on earth, and they need our tourism.
We have been here before Katrina and enjoyed it. It was just recenly reopened and is a "work in progress" but many of the exhibits have returned or been replaced. We still enjoy the Gulf of Mexico exhibit and could spend hours just watching it. Call ahead and find out about the feeding days/times. It's really interesting watching the sharks and sting rays eat. Have taken our very small grandchildren here and we've all had a great time.
Jackson square is beautiful and can be done in a half a day. Don't try to go on a Monday or in the mornings because the shops don't opean early and they're not open on Monday (some aren't even open on Tuesday). The Louisiana Travel Bureau has an office here that is a great help if you haven't already filled all of your plans and they are a good source of coupons if you like to save money.
Jacques-Imo's (locals pronounce Jockamoes) has been a ritual in every visit we've made to NO. Calling it "quirky" doesn't do it justice. They have creole food that is great. Try the Carpetbaggar's Steak and the Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee is to die for. Son in Law ate rabbit and thought it was very good. They got an award for their Fried Chicken and were listed in USA Today as one of the top places in the US to get it. Grandkids also love this place. Go right at 5pm when they open or be prepared to wait for a table. You'll know you're at the right place when you see a small pickup truck handpainted with bayou scenes and plastic alligators attached to it sitting in front, it used to have one of those plastic swimming pools in the bed of it but I noticed this time that he's replaced it with a conventional truck bedliner. That is the only thing you can call conventional about this place. It's next door to the Maple Leaf Bar.
This place has some great reviews so take this review with a grain of salt. I was uncomfortable here. We went on a Tuesday which is the Rebirth Brass Band night when they are in town. I had heard great things about this band and I love Brass. This is not your traditional Brass Band, however while they were warming up I could tell they were all very talented musicians. We got there early because we had just eaten next door so we got one of the very few benchs along the side. I enjoyed finally getting to see the world renowned Maple Leaf. The women's bathroom was so filthy it was disgusting. It was mostly college kids so when the music started it was a mosh pit with flying elbows and stomping feet of the drunks, complete with an episode of crowd surfing which was quickly squelched. We listened to 3 songs (those overly repetitive things your hear on those overly loud car speakers as they go down the street) then worked our way out, getting out was worth wasting the cover charge! My recommendation is to go early and revel in the thoughts of the greats that have played there then get the heck out!
Don't miss this one! Well worth the time. Allow 3-4 hours (it took us 5). Display of the Higgins boat which was made in New Orleans during the war was espcially interesting. When we were there Captain Summers who piloted one of the Higgins boats during the invasions gave us a personal tour of the boat. Multiple interactive displays. Lots of last letters home, personal possessions. Not for children under 10-12
Food was awesome. I had jumbalaya and blackened chicken, hubby had catfish with crawfish etoufee. This was a cajun restaurant and they have a live Zydeco band every night, but they aren't open late, I think until maybe 9 or 10. People were dancing. Families were there, couples, business people. Everybody was having a great time. I had a great time and will definitely return but I still don't understand anything they say! Try the bread pudding or the chocolate cake (we had to take it back to the hotel).
First on my husband's daily list. Cafe au lait and beignets. It's a great place for coffee or to people watch andy time of the day or night. They're open 24/7. I love their new mug, "Hurricaine Katrina, 8/29/05, Couldn't blow the sugar off our beignets."
Best muffaletta I had in New Orleans. Open for breakfast and lunch unti 4pm. Busy place with little tables. Get it to go or have it DELIVERED. Delivery boy rides a bicycle.
You take the ferry ($1.00 per car, pedestrians free) from New Orleans at Canal Street to Algiers. You can't miss the Dry Dock Cafe at the bottom of the exit ramp. Try the gumbo.
Great Margaritas, of course. And the "Cheeseburger in Paradise." Try the jalapeno mac and cheese or the crab and corn bisque. Can't go wrong with Jimmy Buffett music and theme! Live bands at night.
Bourbon Street is something you should experience at least once in your life, but definitely NOT until you're past the age of majority. Bars, transvestite bars, gay bars, vampire bars, stripper bars, Karaoke bars, and a cop at least every 10 feet (uniformed or undercover). Great if you're into just watching people. You'll see great-grandmas and grandpas dressed in their Sunday best, businessmen, fortune tellers, street performers, and more sequins and spandex than you've ever seen in your life. Yah, it's still got an odor but you don't see men peeing in the streets anymore.
Last time I checked this is the longest bridge in the world.
As I have said we took our convertible on this trip. Driving in New Orleans is an adventure at the very least. Most of the streets are one way streets and there is no pattern to which way. You may have three one way streets going one way then one going the opposite way then two or three more going back the other way. Parking spots are scarce and the city should issue an explanation of their parking criteria when you enter the city limits. You may have 6-8 different parking signs within a block. And just because the meter has a bag over it doesn't mean that you don't have to put money in it (we got a parking ticket while parked at a covered meter). Some of the signs are on cardboard (Had never seen this before this trip) and secured to posts with plastic ties and are twisted where you can't see them. These signs usually have a beginning and ending date but are left up indefinitely after their time terminates. A lot of the parking spaces are taken up by dumpsters in front of the establishments that are remodeling. And for some reason a LOT of people can't park taking up less than two spots. Tthe parking lots aren't cheap (never saw a free lot). It's best if you leave your car in the hotel parking and walk everywhere in the French Quarter and only drive if you want to expand away from there.