Back in February, I deemed that March was going to be March Madness in my life. Not just for basketball (I mostly ignored it, despite the fiancé’s total submersion in it), but for work, working out, wedding planning, and social events. And I was right. So right that I forgot to even post about February, and went on a blogging hiatus for at least 3 weeks. Anyway, I still managed to go to shows, try a new coffee shop, and celebrate some birthdays and a bachelorette. And while I don’t see things cooling down on the busy-front any time soon, I’m still looking forward to April as a bit of a relief from March. Happy April friends!
I just spent four days with my three sisters and mom in New Orleans, Louisiana. The trip came on the heels of my 28th birthday, so I got to choose the location for our girl trip. In hindsight, maybe a party city that isn’t always the safest wasn’t the optimal choice for my mom, but I think it was good to expose her to a different side of life.
We ate, we sipped café au laits, and we strolled the city. My favorite part was jaunting down Frenchmen Street for the music and eating delicious meals, go figure. And at the suggestion of my sister, I’m going to use my travel recaps both to serve my memory and possibly guide you through a future trip.
Places Worth Visiting
But of course, the famous institution has been situated in the French Quarter since 1862 and is open 24 hours a day, closing only for Christmas and occasional hurricanes (!). The coffee is dark roasted with chicory and the signature item is the beignet – a French doughnut where powdered sugar is used quite generously. I think the pigeons roaming the area must live on a sugar high. There is basically always a wait, but the employees are efficient and the queue moves quickly.
Well, duh. This is a large part of what New Orleans is known for, as it is the oldest and maybe the charming-est neighborhood in the city. Café Du Monde lies on the edge of the French Quarter, along with Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in the United States. Watch street performers across the street from Jackson Square while you enjoy your beignets and café au laits. (Did I mention you should get coffee?) Be ready to fill your camera roll with photos of French architecture and quaint homes. I would say skip Bourbon Street, or quickly pass through to avoid getting any diseases (I kid!).
Stroll through the grid of pastel abodes and experience the historical changes in architecture as you walk (hello Greek Revival). Free Tours By Foot are available, but make sure to reserve early, as we weren’t able to get a spot on a tour. What also works is looking up “Garden District self-guided walking tour;” you can go at your own pace, but you’ll have to do much more reading and searching for house numbers. If you go this route, I would recommend printing the guide – so as not to drain your phone battery. Celebrity homes include those of Anne Rice, John Goodman, Sandra Bullock, the former home of Trent Reznor, and the Benjamin Button House. Oh, and don’t forget Lafayette Cemetery #1.
Note: This is where I took many of my “gross wall” photos on Instagram.
Though Magazine Street is long, I refer to the area near the Garden District. This street is lined with establishments for eating, drinking, and shopping. Lots of quaint shops dot the area and you’re bound to find something you’re into. We had sweets at Sucré, a place where the macarons are of high quality (there are a lot of imposters out there!), but the wait is long if you go after lunch. I recommend a pre-feast dessert. The Pressery is a fresh juice shop with the most amazing botanical wall. Oh, and the juice is great too!
Magazine Street also has a lot of shops that I didn’t quite get to – I would suggest exploring further west if you have time!
This two-block strip in the Marigny area is definitely worth a visit, particularly in the evening. Though we didn’t come across any great restaurants in this area, the music scene is drool-worthy. If you’re not in one of the MANY establishments with live music any night of the week, then you’re on the street, where dozens of [talented] street performers are making their living. Blues, jazz, funk, and bluegrass were many of the genres we listened to – but I’m sure there are more. There’s also an artist open-air market next to the Spotted Cat Music Club that’s worth a look.
Note: If my group would have been interested, I would have spent every evening here!
I will give credit to my friend Micah and my sister Linda for their persistence on how great John Besh’s food is. It’s the besh! (Insert eye roll). I tried two restaurants he owns and can safely say that they were some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten in my life. We’re not even being hyperbolic here, just truthful.
Johnny Sanchez – the brainchild of John Besh and Aarón Sánchez, its Mexican-inspired menu is delectable. I tried the guacamole and carne asada and barbacoa tacos. Salt is not spared, but this is a good thing. I would just NOT fill up on chips and salsa, as the salsa is just meh.
Lüke – Okay, this is the restaurant I’m going to marry when I grow up. Fresh Gulf and East Coast oysters were plentiful, and each item the five of us ordered was like heaven. I had the shrimp and grits (for the first time in my life) and I am a convert. It never really sounded appealing to me, but the waiter sold me on it, and now I’m dreaming of it. Oh, and while you’re at it – have a French 75 cocktail.
I give credit to these restaurants because when dining in a city where the top industry is tourism, there are A LOT of tourist restaurants that just aren’t worth the time. They’re like chains, without having an actual chain of them.
Anyway, this list is definitely not comprehensive and there are certainly more things to do, see, and eat. (Swamp tours, haunted tours, and cemetery visits are some). I hope this was helpful or may be of use in the future. Happy traveling!
The first month of the year is often a jumble of emotions – the MN winter, no longer a Christmas wonderland, morphs into a desolate frozen icescape. The joys of the holiday season are over and guilt seeps into our bodies, urging us to live better. So we review what we’ve done in the past year and we reevaluate where we are in life and anticipate what is to come. I typically do this right at the end of December, but this year, it feels like there just hasn’t been time for active reflection.
Rather, my January was full of wedding crafting and planning, Zeb’s and my engagement party, my 28th birthday, and a weekend jaunt to New Orleans. Oh, and let’s not forget the Parenthood series finale, which I just managed to get to, which has managed to leave me an utter emotional wreck.
And now, I welcome February, the month of love, heart health, Presidents, Black History, and Chinese New Year.
At the end of one year and the beginning of the next, a quote from Gretchen Rubin (of The Happiness Project) always comes to mind – “The days are long, but the years are short.” While each hour seems to creep by, especially when you’re not having fun, each year ends up feeling decidedly short. 2014 was full of a lot of great things for me, and only some not-so-great moments. I escaped the cold to Nicaragua, reunited with my study-abroad-friends in Toronto, went to Lollapalooza in Chicago, and had a few small getaways in-between. I ran the Twin Cities 10-Mile and the Minneapolis Monster Dash ½ Marathon. I saw a lot of shows (though I didn’t blog about many of them). And the biggest thing of all – I got engaged to Zeb and spent the last few months planning our wedding!
But back to December – I did a lot of Christmasy things, go figure, and took some time out for Michigan and Wisconsin. And now, time for 2015!
I trekked north to Washburn, Wisconsin last weekend to visit Zeb’s brother and his brother’s girlfriend. I had never been to the Wisconsin part of Lake Superior, and just as expected, it was a feast for the eyes. The snow-covered pines and the lengthy, desolate roads begged to be photographed, while the icy sand of Bayview Beach was a novel sight. We built a snowman earlier in the day and I joked that we could have built a sandcastle a few hours later. It was a nice little getaway before the real chaos of the holidays begins. Hope you’ve finished your holiday scramble and are ready to relax with loved ones!