In the past week I returned from a 5 day stay in New Orleans. I have never been before. When I first mentioned going there, SB’s remarks were, “I went there in college, you won’t like it.” My daughter went this winter for a conference and texted me, “Mom, you won’t like it.” Really? “What’s there not to like, I asked?”
“The drinking, that’s all anyone does there.”
“You mean like during Mardi Gras?”
Then I started to check out the hotels. Hmmmm…….. They were very expensive with more than the average reviews by unhappy campers. After spending many hours pouring over reviews I decided to look at a different venue. Hmmmm….. What was the AIRB&B website? Now this was interesting! People rent out rooms in their house? Hmmmmm… I felt uncomfortable about showing up in a strange town AND at somebody’s house, who I didn’t even know! “Knock, knock, I’m here, glad to meet you, show me my room!” So I typed in “private apartments.” One looked very promising, the Marginy BnoB in the Frenchman Area.
The listing stated, “I am and have been a “New Orleans Public School Teacher” for 27 years. I have 3 children and 1 grandchild. I own a double shotgun house in New Orleans. I converted part of it as a bedroom for my daughter. When she moved out I converted to a Bed no Breakfast. I look forward to meeting new people ”
I liked her sense of humor and I liked the reviews I read about her place, so I booked it. The owner, Ginger, sounded responsible, the location in a residential neighborhood looked good, and the price was VERY REASONABLE. I looked forward to the trip!
Marginy BnoB was perfect! It was a Double Shotgun House, a long narrow house with a door at each side of the rectangle, revealing twin houses, divided by a center wall, one of the very popular style homes here. Our side consisted of a private entrance, large living area, with TV, microwave, coffee pot with tea/coffee and bottled water, and large bedroom area with a bathroom. Everything was spotless.
Showing us around and making sure we had everything we needed, we asked her if her house had been affected by Hurricane Katrina. She told us how the Marigny Neighborhood was the highest point of land in New Orleans, but she knew that so many others had not fared as well. She was very proud of her Cajun heritage and the recovery process of so many people, especially the children she taught. Then she showed us her fleur-de-lis tattoo on her arm and told me we would see many people with the tattoo. The tattoo represented perseverance and solidarity after Katrina. Talking with Ginger was like going to an old friend’s house, and after giving us the layout of the land she returned to her home next door. She was there if we needed anything. Perfect! For an interesting background on the Marigny Neighborhood read my photo narrative HERE!
I was excited about exploring my new digs. I loved all the different styles of homes jumbled into long skinny lots. AND the color! It was a spilled paintbox of brightness! It was like a box of chocolates, you never knew what to expect.
We were close to some of the best rated restaurants in New Orleans. One of our favorites, The Praline Connection, was one block from the apartment. Soul Food/Cajun at its finest! BBQ ribs, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, catfish and one of the side dishes was my favorite, crowder peas and okra with rice, rice, rice! The restaurants were frequented by locals, standing room only, and the crowds (drink in hand) did not mind waiting in line to get in. New Orleans, allows the possession and consumption on the street of any alcoholic beverage in an open plastic container. I want to think this started due in part to the intense heat and humidity.
Another of our favorites was the Port of Call Restaurant. Here they served their famous Monsoon Drinks (tropical juices, with or without booze) with their specialties of steaks, hamburgers and scrumptious huge baked potatoes with all the trimmings! It was very dark and cool in this restaurant, especially in the heat of the day. You will notice closed shutters on all the windows in New Orleans, even on the doors, which I though a bit odd at first. The shutters are kept closed to keep the cool air in because the heat and humidity are fierce here. We walked the neighborhood at night to get a peek at the chandelier ceilings and the tiny romantic interiors of these homes. It was the only time of day you could actually see inside. Many of the homes had outdoor gas lamps which also added to the charm.
Our favorite morning spot was the Cake Cafe and Bakery. Further up the street we walked through the charming neighborhood to reach this icon on the corner for breakfast. Clearly a local favorite, I could have sat here all day (well until 3pm when they close) just to watch the people. One gentleman and his friend was here every time I was. He walked with the assistance of a walker and his friend would park the car near the entrance whether there was room or not. When the servers saw them coming they went out of there way to open doors and help him into the restaurant and would quickly find him a seat. He clearly was a favorite and well known. I was struck by his features, his style of dress, his jewelry, his soft spoken demeanor and the reverence the locals had for him. As I was snapping shots of the cafe, he watched me. He knew I wanted to take his picture and was hesitant. Then he nodded and I clicked twice. I just love his picture and I bet he has a fleur-di-lis somewhere too! I can’t begin to tell you how many people would pass us on the street and start up a conversation. The people are clearly proud of New Orleans and wanted to make us welcome.
Interspersed among the restaurants were the jazz clubs, crayfish boils, and a small neighborhood grocery that would have given the small Italian markets I love so much, a run for their money.
So, I was very impressed with our first venture with AIRB&B. But, I was greatly moved by the people of New Orleans and their motivation to keep their lifestyle alive and well. Next…… What else did I do and see in New Orleans? Yes, I reluctantly left Marigny to see other neighborhoods in the city. Part 3 NOLA is next to come! Enjoy!