On a bitterly cold February 19th at 5am, 11 members of the French Club and chaperones waited with excitement for our Super Shuttle to get to LaGuardia Airport, bound for New Orleans, Louisiana. By approximately 12:30 pm we arrived at Louis Armstrong Airport, our tour bus guide greeting us warmly (as did the warmer weather!)… and so our educational and fun adventure in New Orleans began!
After our arrival to hotel, located near the French Quarter, we began a walking tour to the historic French Quarter, also known as The Quarter or Vieux Carre. This is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans, known for its Spanish influenced windows and balconies. It was founded in 1718 and has National Historic Landmark status. We realized because of the natural cobblestone streets that it’s best to have comfortable shoes while walking in this neighborhood. The walking tour continued to Café du Monde, open 24 hours a day, world-known for its beignets and Café au Lait. One can wait on a line forever to try these treats. We were also amazed to see and enter St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest Cathedral in America. The evening ended with a walk to Mulate’s Restaurant for authentic Cajun Music, with a Cajun band and locals engaged in Cajun dance.
Our 2nd full day started with a hot and free breakfast buffet in the hotel and greetings from our tour guide, Ms. Marti. The 2nd day included a trip to Mardi Gras World, where floats and large figurines from the parade are stored. A history of Mardi Gras was shown via a short film and we had a taste of King Cake, a colorful cake associated with the pre-Lenten celebrations of Mardi Gras. After lunch, the afternoon and evening tours with our tour guide and tour bus included a trip to the Evergreen plantation- which includes twenty original slave quarters. This was an educational and reflective part of our trip. Later that evening we ate dinner at the original Bubba Gump Shrimp Restaurant. Before returning to the hotel we ended the evening with an walking tour by a local guide called the Vampire and Ghosts tour!
The final day, after breakfast and before our departure to the airport, we had the opportunity to engage in a tour without our tour guide to the French Market to pick up last minute souvenirs and the opportunity to eat more local fare- from Gumbo to Andouille Sausage with Rice and Beans, to talk to local artists and to purchase original art work at great prices. This was an unforgettable trip, from listening to Jazz musicians in the streets to historic landmarks. Our biggest problem… if only we could have stayed longer! This is a city that you need to visit for at least a week and still return for more adventures.