Hotel Monteleone - lobby.
Day 1 â€¢ Getting into Party Mode!
The year before Katrina hit, I experienced my first Jazz Festival in New Orleans and fell in love! The exuberant vibe, amazing food, lively music and eclectic people all created a unique and fun experience. I have been back since Katrina, and while the French Quarter (i.e., the touristy area) have recovered, the surrounding areas have not fared so well, and the city really needs people to visit to bring in tourist revenue. So give it a chance! You wonâ€™t regret it!
(Note â€¢ the festival is a 2 week festival, usually on the last weekend of April through first weekend of May. I usually go on the 2nd weekend; but the play list is usually available a few months ahead so you can pick your days based on the artists playing.
In the past, Iâ€™ve seen Elvis Costello, Cowboy Mouth, John Legend, A. Touissant, Joss Stone, etc.)
Our room in Hotel Monteleone (in the French Quarter).
In 2007, we got a large group of girls together to go to Jazz Fest. It was the first time for most of them, and it was fun introducing them to NOLA. We tried a new hotel this year â€¢ the Hotel Monteleone â€¢ very nice, boutique hotel located in the French Quarter on Royal Street. (Previously we stayed at little outside of the quarter for fear of noise, but it really is much more convenient to be smack in the quarter, and our hotel was pretty quiet inside so it wasnâ€™t an issue.) The hotel had a cute bar â€¢ The Carousel â€¢ which was literally shaped like a carousel.
This was our first stop after we dropped our luggage in our rooms. Then when all the girls were ready, we went to Pat Oâ€™Brienâ€™s â€¢ home of the famous Hurricane â€¢ a syrupy sweet concoction of a myriad of liquors served in a tall hurricane glass. I think everyone should try one at NOLA, but I canâ€™t say I like it (way too sweet and a serious headache inducer). Actually in NOLA, my favorite drink is the bloody mary (spicy and served with a pickled green bean). I donâ€™t order it anywhere outside of NOLA â€¦ oddâ€¦
The Carousel Bar.
Anways, after some quality time at Pat Oâ€™Brienâ€™s, we explored Bourbon Street in all its craziness. It wasnâ€™t terribly crowded yet, but there were already plenty of characters roaming about. J And we soon joined them in our haze of drunken happiness.
Luckily we were saved by our dinner reservations at Nola â€¢ an Emeril Lagasse restaurant. We had to wait to be seated and we were starving!!! This was probably due more to our drunkenness than true hunger, but somebody â€¦ I canâ€™t remember who â€¦ saved us by convincing a bartender to give us bread. At that moment, it was the best bread I had ever had. When we were finally seated, conversations ceased as we stuffed our faces silly with food. I had fried chicken over mashed potatoes â€¦ yummy! I think after dinner we went to Razzoo to dance some more. Itâ€™s one of the only places on Bourbon that plays hip hop and pop, and has a nice big dance floor. After seemingly hours of dancing we had to commemorate our first day in New Orleans with â€¢ what else? â€¢ beignets and coffee at CafÃ© du Monde. Yummy fried donuts with a pound of powdered sugar piled on top. Itâ€™s probably 1,000 calories each â€¢ but Iâ€™m on vacation!
Our first drink in the hotel bar - the Carousel.
(Random Note â€¢ there generally is no cover for any of these bars/clubs so you can easily bar hop from one place to the other all night!)
Day Two â€¢ Crazy Rain and More Partying!
The next day Sybil and I got up early and went for a little walk around the French Quarter after a quick workout.
When we returned, some of the other girls also wanted to go out so we ventured out again. Within 2 minutes of stepping out of our hotel, a crazy rainstorm came in. It was the most intense, crazy rain I had ever experienced. We ducked into a little store and bought these silly plastic ponchos, which were about as effective as flimsy toilet paper against this storm. We were only about Â½ a block away from our hotel so we thought we could make a run for it to our hotel. In 5 seconds we were all drenched head to toe by the rain that literally came at us from all directions. I didnâ€™t have one dry body part. Luckily we made it back to our hotel, and huddled in the Carousel Bar with all the other wet patrons to sit out the storm, which lasted about 20 minutes. During that time, the lower portion of our hotel lobby flooded (which made me worry about the festival, as well as the safety of the quarter). But what was crazier was that after the rain stopped, everything went back to normal almost immediately. The lobby was dried out, the streets were no longer flooded and all was still as if the rain never happened â€¦. The locals teased us for being so frightened. How they could be cavalier, I will never know. After a little while, we thought it was safe to venture forth again so we checked out Jackson Square, looked at the steamboats and the cool architecture.
My vodoo man - he was supposed to bring me romance but it didn't work! :)
Then, on to lunch at Acme Oyster. This place must go through tons of oysters a day! They just kept shucking them. I had fried oysters and shrimp â€¢ yum! I justified the fatty foods with lots and lots of dancing â€¢ we went to Pat Oâ€™ Brienâ€™s and Razzoo again. J Some of us went shopping or took a city tour. It was a nice mellow afternoon.
Pat O'Brien's - famous home of the Hurricane!
We all met up again for dinner at GW Finâ€™s, a seafood restaurant. I admit I was a bit disappointed with this place â€¢ it received great reviews and numerous awards, but nothing was particularly exciting or good to me. Maybe it was an off dayâ€¦.
Day Three â€¢ Jazz Fest (Poboys) â€¢ here we come!
Sybil and I were most excited to get to the festival since we were the only ones who had been before in our group.
Our main reason was the food! We already knew what we wanted to eat. Within 5 minutes of walking into the festival, we were able to stuff a soft-shell crab poboy and a porkchop sandwich in our faces. Our friends looked upon this with horror and shock. I guess they didnâ€™t believe us when we said we really came to the festival 80% for the food, and 20% for the music. After the sandwiches, I went in search of crawfish monica (a creamy pasta dish with little crawfish) and jackpot! I found it and happily ate that too. (Admittedly, I was feeling quite full, but I was determined to get us much food as possible.)
Drinking our Hurricanes!
Sybil and I explored a bit and then settled down in front of one of the stages to listen to tribal/drum music. It was getting super super hot (a complete contradiction from the rain the day before) so I had some mango sorbet (yummy, but melted super quickly). We then located some of our other friends waiting to see Stephen Marley and John Legend at another stage so we joined them. At this point, we were all practically melting from the heat. One of our friends discovered a refreshing rose iced tea â€¢ so we all had some of that.
Then we just enjoyed the music for hours and hours.
The fountain at Pat O'Brien's.
Canâ€™t remember where I went to for dinner, but my night again ended at CafÃ© du Monde for more beignets. Iâ€™m surprised I wasnâ€™t in a muumuu yet.
Day Four â€¢ Scorching Hot Day at JazzFest
I didnâ€™t think it could get hotter, but it did.
Today, Sybil and I decided to wear our bikinis to make it more bearable. That is why there are no photos posted. We tried more food â€¢ pork chops, jambalaya, fried green tomatoes, etc. All good, of course. We did talk to some locals and they were so appreciative of the fact that we traveled from Los Angeles, that I almost teared up! The city really does need the nationâ€™s support since the administration and FEMA royally messed upâ€¦
Frolicking on Bourbon Street with strangers...
Ok â€¢ back to happier things. The highlight musically of the day was Joss Stone â€¢ such peppiness and energy. Still always shocked to hear that rich, sultry voice coming from someone so young. We were all quite tired from the day before so headed back early. Iâ€™m pretty sure I napped. Then happy hour at Pat Oâ€™ Brienâ€™s, more dancing, and then â€¢ something unexpected â€¦ dinner at Bubba Gumpâ€™s! We were all shocked that we were eating here, because itâ€™s so cheesy and the food isnâ€™t that good â€¦ but we gave into the cheese and just enjoyed ourselves.
Overlooking Bourbon Street.
Day Five â€¢ Heading Back to Los Angeles
Everyone else took off early, so Sybil and I decided to indulge in a jazz brunch at Court of Two Sisters.
The food is ok, but the ambience was priceless â€¢ the courtyard was a lovely throwback from yesteryear (as was our server) and our little jazz band was wonderful. It was a nice end to a fab trip. J
Nola - casual eatery owned by Emeril Lagasse.