Smile #212 – Nice to Meet You, New Orleans, Louisiana!

Nice to Meet You, New Orleans, Louisiana!  

Bubble and I scratched our heads trying to nail down on a destination for our annual domestic vacation.  We went to Philadelphia, PA in 2015 and Denver, CO in 2016.  We debated whether we should visit the west coast – Seattle/Portland or Las Vegas/Grand Canyon or should we stay on the east coast and visit the Big Apple?

The decision was clear when I learned of Allegiant Air’s newest service offering.  This budget airline offers unbeatable low priced non stop services departing from Concord Regional Airport to several cities in Florida.  But in November, it added a new service lane to New Orleans, Louisiana.

The news arrived at a perfect time.  Off we go to NOLA, the Big Easy!

Since we have never flown from this airport, Bubble and I left bright and early to avoid any chance of missing the flight.  When we walked in, the entire airport was empty.  This is definitely a first.  Leigha arriving wayyyy too early, that’s almost unheard of.  Note to self, arrive two hours to departure time, not boarding time.

Unlike the typical budget airline, the plane is surprisingly large with three seats on each side.  The seats are a bit stiffer with no leaning back or personal entertainment center, still the flight is still well worth the price.  Pretty soon, I dozed off.

In a little over an hour and 30 mins, we landed smoothly in NOLA.  We hopped in an Uber for our hotel.  Once again, we are too early for check in.  We dropped our backpacks and went out exploring.

Routing error and we ended up in the residential area.  Pretty sure we were warned not to wander there….Oops.  We eventually found our ways to the French Quarter.  St. Louis Cathedral dominates Jackson Square at the heart of the French Quarter.  It is the oldest cathedral in the country.  The square was surrounded with artists and performers.

Over the course of this trip, we ate sooooo much food and drink wayyyy too much.

Starting with Napoleon House, a highly recommended restaurant.  The atmosphere felt like we had slipped back in time.  Our hostess led to our their charming courtyard.  We ordered their specialty Italian muffuletta to share with a side of jambalaya and a Primm’s Cup.

Their signature drink, Primm’s Cup, is a make of British Gin based liqueur and lemonade, splash of lemon-lime soda and cucumber garnish.  It was light and refreshing.

Let me warn you, this muffuletta is HUGE!  It is basically the size of my head!  The freshly baked bread is so buttery and fluffy.  With a perfectly layered of meats, provolone and olive salad (well, I scraped mine off..), it was delicious!

Stuffed to the max, we walked it off with our French Quarter Walking Tour.  Our guide, Matthews, shared the history and significance of New Orleans.  The city has definitely been through a lot.  From 1700s to now, quite a number of wars occurred and the city has exchanged hands between the French to the Spanish, back to the French and finally landed in the hands of the Americans.  The tour was informative and certainly helpful to learn our coordinates.

The tour ended down the street from the iconic, Cafe du Monde.  A trip to NOLA is not complete until you have an order of beignet.  The fried dough covered in heaping mounds of powdered sugar is a NOLA staple.  We found a seat and ordered an order of 3 beignets with orange juice.  We devoured the beignet.  It is a challenge to keep the powdery mess to a minimum.

When I was doing research for New Orleans, every other post listed bars after bars as must-visit attractions.  So here we go!

Bourbon Street is known for its bars and clubs.  With Mardi Gras right around the corner (Feb 28th), the party scene has hyped up even more.  It seems like there is a party at each of the 13 blocks.   We learned that beads is a HOT commodity down here.  Ladies and gents both go wild for a strand.  Crowds stood on bar balcony ready to toss beads to anyone willing to show some action.  We did managed to see some chest actions.   HAHA!  It is definitely an experience not to be missed.

The Old Absinthe House is one of the oldest and most historic dive bar on Bourbon Street.  The walls are covered with business cards.  Football helmets hang from the ceiling.  Despite the rampaging parties happening just right outside, it is calm and relaxing in here.  We tried absinthe for the first time.  It is neat how they served the drink by mixing and burning a sugar cube.  At 138 proof, it tasted delicious.  A couple of this drink can definitely get you in trouble.

Next, we headed to Pat O’Brien.  The place is packed with tourists.  The drink to order here is the Hurricane.  Innovator, Pat O’Brien, originally created the Hurricane as a way of concealing cheap rum.  It is now one of New Orleans classic.  I The drink was named after the glass that looks like a hurricane lamp, not the natural disaster that plague the region.  was excited to try the distinctive ruby red, rum based punch at its birth place.  We ordered two Hurricanes from its ‘local’/original bar before headed to the piano bar area.  Antique Bavarian beer steins hang from the ceiling.  The dueling pianists played songs of popular artists of all decades and all genres, from Bruno Mars to Billy Joel.

The final bar for the night is Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar.  Built during the 1720s, it is considered the oldest bar in the United States.  The small rustic establishment has a dusky ambience lit by candles.  If you are a fan of licorice/grape…cough syrup favor, their famous Voodoo Daiquiri is the right up your alley.  This purple daiquiri is made with Everclear served in a Styrofoam to-go cup.

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