It’s been a busy few weeks and with the invitation to watch my beloved Saints play in New Orleans it was just too tempting to pass up, so I decided on a long weekend out of the cold weather and headed south. Although I’ve visited New Orleans many times I’ve never had the pleasure of going to the Superdome and watching the Saints play football.

Initially a little reticent to travel to the United States on a Thanksgiving weekend, given that it’s the busiest travel time in the US.  All this was brushed aside when I found that there were plenty of seats available to New Orleans on Air Canada as well as lots of accommodation on offer.

So, holding my breath I took the plunge!

The game was much more than I could of expected, with seats high up in section 613 it gave me the perfect viewpoint for watching the game.  Of course, with my flight arriving shortly before game time I had to quickly drop my bags at the hotel and head up to the dome, which fortunately for me was only 6 – 7 blocks from the hotel.  Made it for kick off even with a detour to buy a Saints jersey at the stadium store…

I stayed at the Old 77 and Chandlery on Tchoupitoulas street situated in the Warehouse District and only three blocks from Canal Street and the French Quarter, legend has it that the hotel is haunted…although I saw no evidence other than a note inside the elevator telling everyone that the elevator had a mind of its own and irrespective of the number floor you pressed it may take you to an entirely different floor.  Of course it did!  🙂  

This iconic hotel started its existence in 1854 as a warehouse and after many years of sitting dormant reopened it doors as a hotel in 2015.  I would definitely recommend staying at this cool hotel with its retro vibe, with its original floors and exposed brick interiors.  It’s close to all of the action without being inundated with tourists and only a 10 min stroll from Bourbon street (if that’s your cup of tea).  

After a brilliant game where my Saints demolished the Atlanta Falcons 31-17 (the score does not reflect the flow of play with New Orleans dominating the game until they put in their back up players in the fourth quarter.

A visit to New Orleans wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t have breakfast at the Camellia Grill in Carrollton.  The best part is that it’s easy to get to by streetcar as its at the junction of St Charles Avenue and South Carrollton Avenue (take the St Charles streetcar to where it turns sharply to the right (Carrolton) you can’t miss it as its on your left).  This diner is a throwback to the 1940’s with counter service only.  Yep, a total slice of life!

Interestingly New Orleans is also home to the National WWII Museum.  Given its important role in the building of the vast armada of landing barges used in the 1944 landings on D-Day I guess it makes sense that its located here.  The museum boasts memorabilia, recordings, movies and diorama’s that make you feel like you’re in both the European and Pacific theatres of World War II.  Its big so plan to spend a few hours! 🙂

Saturday morning dawned sunny and mild, so headed down to the French Market and more precisely to the original Cafe du Monde for breakfast.  Not much better when you’re in New Orleans that a Cafe au lait and a bag of Beignets (doughnuts covered in icing sugar).  The coffee has a has unique taste primarily because its a blend of coffee and chicory.  Super smooth and delicious!

New Orleans is very much a walking city, and really easy to navigate.  Later that morning I found myself in Faubourg Marigny, which is adjacent to the downtown core and best known for its Jazz clubs, Cajun bistros and bohemian bars along with some of the best Revival architecture you’ll find in New Orleans.  Although quiet and away from the tourists during the day it becomes a haven for nightlife away from Bourbon street and a cool place to visit.  A safety tip at night is to take a cab and stick to the Frenchman street where the clubs and bars are, they are plentiful and the vibe incredible!  It’s the steamy side of Nawlins…just sayin!

The afternoon saw me exploring the Garden District by streetcar initially, then on foot along Magazine street which is south and parallel to St Charles street. This area of the city is chock full of gorgeous historic homes, many of them being what you’d expect to see in a House and Home magazine – just stunning!

I had booked dinner at Seaworthy (630 Carondelet Street) which is known for its Oysters and cocktails, neither of which I had but did have an delicious roasted Black Drum (fish), sautéed sweet corn, field peas, green onion, miso, oyster bacon with salsa verde.  Eclectic and absolutely delicious!

All in all New Orleans has truly been revived and rebuilt since the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, with a large portion of the Warehouse district now being converted to apartments and lofts.  All great news for the downtown core as not only have people moving back into this previously semi industrial area adjacent to the city center, but also bringing with them new restaurants, coffee shops, stores and boutiques.  

There is definitely a new feeling of optimism in the air as as you walk the streets of New Orleans, no longer just Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, but a broader vibrancy and confidence that has spread its fingers deep into the surrounding neighbourhoods, thus breathing new life into this proud city.

It was a fabulous weekend getaway, and a perfect break from the decidedly wintery conditions back in Toronto so far this November.  Definitely worth considering and highly recommended for your next four-day-flip or getaway!

Until next week