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Trip Report Hot Times in New Orleans!! October 09 Trip Report

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Although I've been back from New Orleans now for about 48 hours, I'm just finally admitting that my amazing weekend is over. I figured writing a trip report would be the best way to keep the tastes, smells, and sights vivid in my memory.

The purpose of the trip with my husband was to attend a friend's wedding, so some of the trip details like our hotel and a few meals were already selected.

We left Cleveland early on Thursday morning and were greeted in New Orleans by record temperatures. We stood in line to get our taxi, feeling soggy in the humid air but so excited! We had all day Thursday to explore anywhere we wanted, so I decided the best thing to do was to drop our bags and head out of the French Quarter since we'd be spending most of our time there all weekend.

Our cab driver took us to Loft 523 on Gravier Street in the Central Business District, about two blocks outside of the French Quarter. Loft 523 is a really cool boutique hotel. It is pretty tucked away and unmarked on the street. The rooms are very urban and minimalist -- cool, bare concrete floors, exposed salvaged wood, local artwork. (We were a bit put off by the fresh paint smell in our room, but we let it slide.)

After changing into weather-appropriate clothes, we headed out for the St. Charles streetcar to head out to the Garden District. I love riding the streetcar!! Cheap, for one -- who can beat $1.25 for a ride across town! It is the best people watching. One thing we learned the hard way: keep your elbows in the streetcar!! Those trees literally reach into the windows as you zip by!

We got off at St. Charles and Napoleon Streets and walked several blocks to Magazine Street, looking at the old beautiful homes of the Garden District as we walked. (Lots of sidewalk repairs needed in this area!)

By the time we reached Casamento's, we were pretty much dripping with sweat! I think it was about 90 degrees that day, but it felt pretty darn near 100! We slugged down several rootbeers at Casamento's (bet you thought I was going to say oysters, right?) We opted for two small dinners of fried oysters that were fabulous. About 6-8 fried oysters in the most incredible crisp coating, a side of fries, and toast. It was the perfect lunch to start our New Orleans weekend. That place was busy with all walks of life -- locals, business people, families, seniors.

After lunch, the thought was to meander down Magazine Street, heading back in the direction of our hotel. I had picked out a number of shops that I wanted to see, as well as historic homes off of Prytania. However, the heat got the best of us. We walked for about 15 minutes before it just felt unbearable and all we could think about was getting back on the streetcar. (By then, my unsensible shoes started created horrible blisters on my feet due to the heat. . . I was thinking about band-aids as well as the streetcar!) We found a gas station on St. Charles Street for my bandaids and a couple bottles of water, boarded the streetcar at Louisiana Avenue and enjoyed more people watching in the breeze of the streetcar windows.

Instead of going back to our hotel, we decided to wander into the French Quarter. My mission was to find a pair of cheap flip flops. My husband's mission was to find a cold beverage. We hopped off at Canal Street and walked into the Quarter down Bourbon Street. Not my favorite street in the Quarter, but was likely to have the two things we both needed. I found a cheap pair of black flip flops and changed shoes immediately (the best investment of the entire trip!) and walked to St. Peter's Street where we found Pat O'Brien's. I spent some time at this bar back in 2003, so I have an affection for this place. Is it true New Orleans? Probably debateable, but sipping on a Hurricane there while admiring the black wrought iron wrapped mirrors feels like New Orleans to me. At least one aspect of it. We played some Better than Ezra (popular 90s band from New Orleans and sentimental to us) on the jukebox and talked to some Florida Gators fans in for the big Florida v. LSU game that weekend.

We met up with a DC friend in from the wedding, hung out at a few other bars on Bourbon Street (you know, the little ones that all look the same and have no specific name, serving various frozen drinks and playing music way too loud). We walked back to Loft 523 to check into our room and get ready for the group dinner.

Our first group dinner of the evening was at Bourbon House (yes, back on Bourbon Street in the Quarter. . . I was forced to go without my flipflops this time!). That place is beautiful! The food was amazing! We had great service, especially when you consider it was for a party of 30. I had the best piece of pecan pie, topped with vanilla ice cream and a side of pralines. (Did you know that in New Orleans, you say it like "PRAH-leen"? I love it!). The marinated crab claws at Bourbon House were incredible!!

We ended the night with drinks at the hotel bar at the International House on Camp and Gravier Streets, the sister facility to Loft 523. Great place to have a drink and lounge.

It was a great first day. . . . with so much more to come! More great food and sites on Friday, including our amazing tour of St. Louis No 1 cemetary!!

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