Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Orleans Trip - Day One

Suprise! We went to New Orleans last weekend! Haha. I try not to advertise on the blog when we're going to be out of town (I guess I'm afraid one of you will somehow figure out where my house is and come steal our televisions while we're gone), but I always feel so weird keeping secrets from y'all!

Anyway, I just completed a very large writing assignment for Law Review (the rough draft of an 80-page academic journal article), so we celebrated with a little weekend trip to New Orleans! Jeff took a day off on Friday, and we left bright and early for Louisiana! The drive from Houston to New Orleans is about six hours... I slept for about 5 and a half of them. It's an amazing thing to marry a guy who doesn't mind driving long distances!

We made it into the city around 12:30, and our first stop was a highly-recommended local restaurant called Dooky Chase's. From the outside, it honestly looks a little sketchy, but the inside was pretty with tall ceilings and lovely table settings... such a surprise!

It's owned by Dooky and Leah Chase, and Leah Chase was the inspiration behind the princess character in Disney's The Princess and the Frog. They had this drawing from the folks at Disney displayed in the entryway:

"Thank you so very much, Mrs. Chase, for all your inspiration. You are the real princess of New Orleans!"

Anyway, they have a regular menu, but everyone had suggested that we just go with the buffet, so we did! They bring you a bowl of okra gumbo to start off, and then you're on your own with the buffet line. Okra gumbo = DELICIOUS.

We filled our plates with cauliflower casserole, fried chicken, rice and some sort of lima bean stuff, some sort of crawfish-corn dish that had a French name I can't pronounce, and yummy sausage! It was all great, Southern cooking, and it was so, so good.

Even though we were so, so full of yummy food, we made a little bit of room for the peach cobbler (also completely delicious!). We left Dooky Chase's feeling very full, and liking New Orleans already. :o)

The next stop was to drop off our stuff at the hotel. We took advantage of a great travel deal through Jeff's company and managed to stay at the Ritz Carlton on Canal Street - so fancy!

I don't think I've ever stayed in such a fancy hotel. The room was just lovely, with a beautiful shining marble bathroom complete with soft bathrobes.

The view from our window, looking down at Canal Street

I took a bajillion pictures of the way they did the crown molding in the bedroom... I'm thinking about duplicating it in our bedroom at home!

But seriously... so fancy! The thermostat in our room actually went down by half degrees. Because when 72 is just a teensy bit too hot, they apparently want you to be able to be comfy at 71 and a half. The lobby and common areas were full of antique furniture and beautiful rugs and huge flower arrangements.

Anyway, we did eventually stop marveling at the fanciness of the hotel and head back out into the city. We walked a few blocks to an old convent of Ursuline nuns, which is now a sort of historical museum that people can go walk through. On the way, we saw lots of pretty New Orleans buildings, many of which were already decorated for Mardi Gras!

The old Ursuline convent is a registered historic landmark and the oldest building in the French Quarter. It was used as a convent and hospital, then as the Bishop's home, then later as a school. Now it's open for tourists to walk through. The entrance is just lovely!

Inside the building, we saw the nuns' Chapel, which was beautiful.

We walked through the gardens, the former school infirmary, the cafeteria, and some old classrooms. So much history in one building!

Cool lights and old ceiling beams!

Fancy hand-made iron hinges

Really, really old chairs.

After the convent, we walked a few blocks to the French Market, where all sorts of fun things were found! There were paintings and jewelry and food and purses... not to mention the alligator heads!

We tried to have some fun with the Mardi Gras masks, but we were quickly instructed that no photography is allowed unless you purchase them. I did manage to snap this one of Jeff though before we were reprimanded:

Oh, and ladies - take a look at this genius product:

"Treat him like a King - Train him like a puppy"

We strolled down a few streets near the French Market and found a statue of Joan of Arc.

The streets in New Orleans are all quite picturesque... I wanted to pull out my camera and capture them all!

We stopped in a few shops along the way and ended up purchasing two little souvenirs. The first: a Christmas ornament depicting a crawfish playing the trumpet. Most of what we did in New Orleans was somehow related to food or jazz music, so it seemed fitting!

(it says New Orleans on the base)

We also found this little clarinet-playing wire figurine and took him home with us. Jeff has a French horn-playing version (Jeff plays the French horn) that lives in our piano room, and I've always been a little jealous that we didn't have one for me (I play the clarinet). When we found an exact match to Jeff's little wire guy, we knew we had to have it!

After our leisurely stroll through the French Market and surrounding shops, we headed over to the river to walk back to the hotel that way. The river isn't anything particularly pretty, but it was still nice to have a nice long walk along the water!

We quickly changed into warmer clothes (and comfier shoes after all that walking!) and hurried off toward Bourbon Street for the evening! We walked along Bourbon Street (so weird that you can just carry drinks in and out of bars there... people were just walking around with daiquiris and hand grenades and beers!), and arrived at Yo Mama's Bar & Grill, which apparently has "the best burgers in New Orleans!"

I had a regular old cheeseburger (which was very good), but Jeff was brave and ordered their "peanut butter burger!" He said it was delicious. I was too scared to try it.

Peanut butter burger (Pardon the weird camera lighting... it was the best I could do with the weird combo of red lights and black UV lights in that place!)

Regular cheese burger

After dinner, we went across the street to stand in line for Preservation Hall, which supposedly has the best jazz music in New Orleans! The jazz band starts at 8:15, but the place isn't very big, so we got in line around 7:00 to make sure we got in. Luckily, Pat O' Briens was right next door, so I held our spot in line while Jeff ran over to grab a couple hurricanes. We spent the next hour enjoying our yummy drinks and playing Hanging with Friends on my phone, and the wait went by very quickly!

When we finally got into Preservation Hall, I was surprised at just how small it really was! The whole place had such an authentic feel, and there were just two benches in the middle of the room (which were totally full by the time we got in). Most of us were just standing in the empty back half of the room. The place has no bar, no bathrooms, no restored floors or walls... it's just a room, and a band. It felt so artsy.

The band played for 45-minute sets with 15-minute breaks in between, and we ended up staying through two of them. I was pretty tired of standing by the end, but it was a really lovely way to spend an evening! We headed back to the hotel after that and fell asleep in our fancy Ritz Carlton bed. Up next... Saturday in New Orleans!


  1. so fun! new orleans is the best and that hotel y'all stayed in looks super amazingly luxurious. i may or may not be ridiculously jealous. looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip!

  2. Ahhh I loved this post!! I'm a huge fan of New Orleans. My parents took me there for my 21st bday, and I also went to Mardi Gras last year. It's such a charming city with delicious food. And let's be honest, Bourbon Street is a lot of fun haha. Glad you had a good time!! :)