Hello and welcome to the very first post on Chasing Caitríona. I visited the soulful city of New Orleans in July. I received a few raised brows when I told people we planned to travel to NOLA in July. The weather was hot but bearable; the south is known for its heat. So I did expect a lot of humidity but was pleasantly surprised how bearable the heat actually was.
New Orleans is like no other city I’ve experienced. Ireland is known for its chéad míle fáilte. New Orleans is up there with it. My three favorite things about New Orleans are the people, the music and the beignets. When we arrived in New Orleans, Essence festival was just kicking off. For those of you (like myself before landing in NOLA), who don’t know what Essence festival is, just think of the movie Girls Trip with Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett, Tiffany Haddish and Regina Hall.
Where to stay
The Sheraton Canal Street
If you’re looking for a central and practical hotel in New Orleans you can’t beat The Sheraton Canal Street. The hotel is adjacent to the French Quarter. If you’re looking for a quiet hotel the Sheraton is not the place to stay. I loved the staff in the Sheraton, they really did go out of their way to recommend places to go and going out of the way to help. Although I cannot fault the hotel, my one regret is not staying in a hotel not more authentic to the city itself. The Sheraton is a chain hotel and although it has its perks, like upgrades, I felt like it did take away from the atmosphere of the city. The interior didn’t represent the city something a hotel should try and capture. Next time I visit New Orleans I plan to stay in a boutique hotel as unique as New Orleans.
Places To Visit
The French Quarter
My favorite part of New Orleans was definitely The French Quarter. In fact, I was surprised at how much I liked it. Obviously, there are streets like Bourbon street that people associate with the quarter but streets like Royal Street and Toulouse Street are the heart of The French Quarter!
Music is found on every street and bar in the French Quarter. If you love jazz you should definitely visit Preservation Hall. It’s an iconic jazz venue within the French Quarter. The best thing about Preservation hall is that no phones or cameras are allowed. Instead of staring through your phone, you really enjoy the music without distraction. It is a popular spot so make sure you book in advance!
If you love architecture, you will love the French Quarter! The building pictured above is one of the most photographed buildings in the city. Not only that, if like myself, you love the television series the Originals, the building above and many corners of the quarter are featured in the series.
St Louis Cathedral & Jackson Square
Another place to visit if you’re an Originals fan is St.Louis Cathedral! The outside of the Cathedral is used throughout the series. It is also the oldest Catholic Cathedral in America. If you’re religious or like looking at historic buildings it’s worth visiting. Also, it is free entry so if you’re on a budget add it to your list! There are also museums in the area, worth visiting especially if you’re looking to escape the heat.
Jackson Square is directly in front of St Louis Cathedral. The small park is a nice place to take a break and do some people watching. New Orleans is celebrating its Tricentennial anniversary, definitely worth googling events this year as there are lots of free events.
Close to Jackson square is the Steamboat Natchez . One of the things I was determined to do when I first decided to visit Louisiana was, sail on the Mississippi. Embracing our inner Tom Sawyer, we decided to book passage on the Steamboat Natchez. Boarding the Steamboat you actually feel like you are stepping back in time. The interior is true to the original.
There are two ticket options, a jazz brunch, and a standard ticket. We opted not to choose the jazz brunch however I sneaked in to listen to the band! The trip lasts two hours and costs $25 per person. It’s a great way to see the outskirts of New Orleans and the narrator on board points out historical locations and tells you the history of the Mississippi.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 3
New Orleans is also known for its cemeteries. The cemeteries are so well known that it has received the nickname ‘Cities of the Dead’. The most famous cemetery in New Orleans, however, a tour guide recommended we head towards a quieter cemetery to see historic tombs. We visited St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 on Esplanade Ave. Not too far from the city center.
Unlike many other cemeteries around the world, all graves are above ground. The first inhibitors of the city discovered the hard way how to bury their dead. New Orleans is ten to fifteen feet above water so when the flooding happened the original graves began to rise. From then on they used crypts and family tombs.
As you walk through the cemetery you can tell the difference between the French era and the Spanish era. You can also see the families who had money, some of the tombs are like works of art, others were damaged by floods and bad weather throughout the years.
A Voodoo Shop
You cannot come to New Orleans without popping into a Voodoo shop. Voodoo is intrinsic in the city’s culture and history. Dating back to the 18-century voodoo and Catholicism are infused. New Orleans’ famed Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau practiced both faiths and was said to have legendary healing powers.
Laveau is reportedly buried in the St. Louis Cemetery 1, however, you need an official tour guide to bring you around as the tomb was badly damaged and had to be restored.
If you have not got the time to visit the tomb and voodoo has peeked your interest. You can pop into a voodoo shop and pick up a voodoo doll for that annoying relative or co-worker. Don’t blame me if it actually works.
Places to Eat / Drink
Café du Monde
The beignet is a famous delicacy in New Orleans. It’s a square french pastry with icing sugar on top and it is as delicious as it looks! Other places to eat the beignet is Cafe Beignet in the city and Morning Call in New Orleans City Park. If you venture to City Park there’s a lovely sculpture garden adjacent to the cafe worth visiting.
House of Blues
The House of Blues is a nice place to grab a bite to eat and listen to some blues. The restaurant is on Decatur Street and has a live venue. The restaurant has a nice relaxed vibe and the menu is reasonably priced!
I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know if you’ve visited New Orleans or where you’re most looking forward to visiting!