Suga had an epic Girls trip to New Orleans two weeks ago. The trip was unforgettable.
I enjoyed New Orleans’ rich culture in food, art and jazz music with a touch of voodoo/witchcraft. I admired that the locals have fully embraced their culture and even after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, they returned to help to build back New Orleans to what it is today. Note that, interestingly, everywhere in New Orleans was flooded except for the French Quarter. That is when you ask yourself, is their voodoo/witchcraft culture authentic?
Street Scenes (Trick or Treat)
Sadly, there is a lot of poverty in New Orleans. I was told it is at a rate of about 30%, which actually used to be higher before Hurricane Katrina. There were many homeless persons seen walking around or laying in the streets. However, there were also other less fortunate persons that decided to use their talents or a gig to earn money. I appreciated that effort instead of just begging persons aimlessly as they do in Jamaica.
For instance, there were a few that held uncomfortable poses with a pan nearby for contributions. Statues were seen all around the French Quarter of New Orleans and some persons looked like them. A man painted in gold close to the French Market stood out for me. For a moment, I questioned whether he was real or not, but of course the girls had to break him.
There was ‘Shake that Ass Granny’ who did just that, as well as persons who came out with their guitars or other instruments and sang songs.
There were a few street parades that you could join if you wished and many Bachelor and Bachelorette squads around.
Art and Voodoo/Witchcraft
Outside of Jackson Square were filled with artists and their captivating paintings in the day. At night, they were replaced with Tarot Card readers. There were also a lot of Galleries and stores with Art. If you missed the artists in the day, there were options, but few, to purchase affordable art in souvenir shops in the French Quarter.
Where to stay and How long should you stay in NOLA?
If you go to New Orleans, about 4 or 5 days is enough to see and experience everything. Stay close to the French Quarter where all the action is and most places you would need to go to are in walking distance. If your destination is a few blocks away, respectable cabbies are nearby and uber is available.
For the shopaholics, stores such as H&M (418 N Peters St.) and a few others are in the French quarter, but you would have to take a drive out to get to a mall. There are about three. I suggest Lakeside Shopping Center mall (3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie), which is the biggest mall there and has the majority of familiar stores such as Victoria’s Secret, Forever 21, Bath and Body Works, Express, Gap, Coach, Aeropostale and more.
• Magazine St. for antique shops
• Royal St. for shopping and souvenirs
• 3-in-1 Cemetery, Voodoo & French Quarter Tour ($13 by Groupon (or $25) + $1 entry to cemetery; 28 persons per tour)
This tour lasted over 2 hours, but with our experienced and exciting Tour Guide, ‘Stormie’, it was worth it. It provides you with a chance to enter one of the world-renown cemeteries, St. Louis Cemetery #1 in New Orleans, while also visiting popular landmarks in the French Quarter. A bit of Voodoo culture and history is also included, as this adventure combines 3 tours in 1.
The French Quarter/Cemetery/Voodoo tour meets at the corner of Royal and Conti Street. Persons are to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled tour time to check in.
You can learn how and why people are buried above ground and how the “Vault” works! The grave of the famous Queen of Voodoo, Marie Laveau is also there. (Stay tuned for Suga’s Breakdown and Review)
N.B. The Basin St. Station shop (501 Basin St.) for unique souvenirs was by the restroom stop/map of New Orleans on the tour.
• Food tour: Destination-Kitchen.com OR http://www.MUSTDONOLA.com ($54.99USD)
This tour lasted a bit over 3 hours because of various stops at bars and restaurants. It was quite informative about New Orleans History and Food. (Stay tuned for Suga’s Breakdown)
Walking allows you to stop and take pictures as you wish and maybe even stray a bit and catch up with the group. But if you would like to tour without having to walk, there are other options.
• The Steamboat Cruise with Buffet Dinner
Suga heard this Buffet Dinner had Seafood you could not finish!
• The Double Decker Bus Tour
• The Horse and Carriage ride tour
Bars and Clubs/Hot spots
• Willie’s Chicken Shack (707 Canal St.)
Willie’s Chicken Shack has huge frozen drinks. Keep your tall cup! Some other bars may allow you to enter with your drink in it, some may not. So bottoms up if you must!
• Huge Ass Beers (609 Bourbon St.)
This bar keeps the party going all day long and into the night!
• The Hand Grenade (721 Bourbon St.; 600 Bourbon St.; Bayou Club at 610 Bourbon St.; 435 Bourbon St.; Funky Pirate™ at 727 Bourbon St.)
A frozen drink that gives you quite a buzz! There are a few of them lining Bourbon street too.
• ‘The Beach on Bourbon’ (227 Bourbon St.)
One of the most popular clubs in New Orleans. The DJ keeps you moving.
***Apologies, but Suga didn’t get to note the names of other clubs that were hot spots***
Jazz Festivals and Music
• Frenchman Street
Three blocks if Jazz clubs after 9pm. I honestly missed out on this street, because the girls could not get enough of Bourbon Street. However, we were told about the Jazz Festivals there accompanied by succulent pork and lamb chops in the day. On one of the nights, a friend who was there said it was quite a ‘sober crowd’ and told us to stay on Bourbon St. and journeyed about 28 minutes to meet us.
There are so many high quality restaurants, cafes and markets. You can pick choose and refuse. Word is, if an establishment falls off its game, it gets shut down or closes.
So here are a few that Suga visited and would have liked to visit:
• Café du Monde (800 Decatur St., in front of Jackson Square)
Famous for its Beignets. The best and softest donuts you will ever eat with sugar on top. Expect a crowd and long lines there at all times.
• Cafe Beignet
Another Cafe for Beignets and pasties, however their Beignets could have used more baking time. Note that it gets crowded too.
• Muriel’s (801 Chartres St., Jackson Square – haunted; Fine dining)
Great for Crab cakes, huge Pork Chops, Cheesecake and Bread pudding!
• Irene’s (529 Bienville St., between Decatur and Chartres, right in the heart of the historic French Quarter)
Reputable for Italian and Seafood.
• Antoine’s Restaurant (713 Saint Louis St., Royal St.)
The oldest family owned restaurant in the USA (now operated by 5th generation), serving traditional French Creole cuisine since 1840. It’s reputable for its Crawfish, Oysters and Shrimp.
*Fine dining and Reservations go fast
• Orleans Grapevine Wine Bar and Bistro (720 Orleans Ave.)
– Casual Fine Dining Restaurant
• French Market
Has practically everything you can think of such as fruits, fresh produce, Cajun creole nuts, deep-fried peanuts, coffee, their ‘must have’ muffuletta and more.
• New Orleans Creole Cookery (410 Talouse St.) – Great for Cocktails, Fresh and Char Grilled Oysters.
Recreation/For the Kids
• Carousel Gardens Amusement Park (New Orleans City Park)
An Amusement Park with a few heart-wrenching rides. [Cost for Rides and Entry for Adults: $22USD]
A Tip for the Guys
• When approaching a lady with her crew, ensure your game is quick and DO NOT say you are going to the bar to come back with only a drink for her and yourself. She won’t be there when you come back. Ladies bar hop!
Tips for the Ladies
• DO NOT wear long, flowy Pants or Dresses that reach the floor in the streets. The streets are far from clean.
• Pack comfortable shoes and Sandals for a lot of walking and dancing
• Ensure you stash tissue in your purse, because you cannot count on any bathroom in the club or bar late at night to have toilet paper.
• You can’t just ask for beads, you have to show something or dance for them!
Tips for Everyone
• If travelling in a group and time allows, schedule a few hours or a day for Personal time to see places and experience what others may not have prioritized on their list. You may have another person in the group with similar interests as you.
• You will wait forever if you want to hear Reggae or Dancehall music in New Orleans. Big up Shaggy and Elephant Man. You were played!
• Always have your phone ready to capture a moment or to record a video because those streets are unpredictable!
• Don’t go with the expectation to get any sleep! You will miss out!
A visit to New Orleans is truly #SugaEndorsed.
Stay tuned for more details on Suga’s experience with the 3-in-1 tour, The Food Tour and of course, a Restaurant Review!
By: Gabrielle Burgess
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