The infamous time of the year has finally come when you through responsibility out the window and run away to the land of “No-Cares-Given”. Yes, I am talking about the magic that is spring break. Spring break has generally gotten a tarnished reputation for college students as the time of year to go south, party and remember about twelve percent of the entire trip. For a few friends and I, we decided to go someplace warmer than our current locations and have an alternative vacation in a historic city versus on a beach. We headed south to New Orleans to strut in the French Quarters and hangout in the bayous.
What Did We Do?
Three days in New Orleans is enough time to get a quick taste of the city but not enough time to do it all.
One of the first things we did was take a tour of the French Quarters by carriage. Super touristy, right? But the carriage tours were faster than the walking tours, we got to sit back and relax, and had a great tour guide. We did one of the tour carriage rides that was $20 per person for thirty minutes versus a private carriage ride that would have been $100 for an hour. The carriage tours begin and end in Jackson Square on Decatur Street.
Jackson Square quickly became one of my favorite little hubs. There is so much life in the square and always something happening within a few blocks that you are never bored. The small garden in Jackson Square is perfect for relaxing and making your plans for the day, eating your beignets from Café du Monde, or having an impromptu photo shoot in front of St Louis Cathedral.
Right in front of St Louis Cathedral you’ll find street performers performing, artists selling their work, and psychics. Oh, yes. There are psychics with different tables performing different trades: palm reading, tarot cards, and past life experiences. The wait for one of the psychics is not long or depending on the time of day their chair is open and the price is usually $20 per person. For the first time in New Orleans, and seeing a psychic, it was all about the experience and having my tarot cards read on the streets on New Orleans under an iconic landmark seemed pretty worthy to me. There are tons of shops in New Orleans with psychics and mediums that also perform this trade if you want a different experience, but some of those can require an appointment and can get costly.
An iconic staple not to be missed is the paddle wheelers floating up and down the Mississippi River. The Natchez Paddle Wheeler is New Orleans famous steamboat that is near Jackson Square. If you have the time, definitely buy a ticket a take a ride on the Natchez down the Mississippi. We did not budget that into our itinerary, but it is on the list for next time and would be worth the experience. Down the street a few blocks from the Natchez on Decatur Street is the French Market. Everyday the French Market has a Farmers Market with fresh produce, seafood, and artist selling their work. You will also find unique souvenirs here compared to the gift shops around the tourist-trapped shops around the city.
So what’s the difference between Bourbon Street and Frenchman Street? Let me break it down for you. Bourbon Street is the touristy, party-hard, bars-for-miles-street while Frenchman Street is the bars with the jazz. If you want something loud all night go for Bourbon Street, but if you want something more local friendly go for Frenchman Street.
Another fun street - Dauphine Street. The houses are all so colorful and and architecturally unique, the street is perfect for impromptu photoshoots and all your photographic needs.
The last major event we packed into our three days was a morning trip out to Slidell to Cajun Encounters Swamp Tours. Sure, we could have gone to a beach, but why not go to the bayous to see snakes, turtles, and gators? Plus, it gave us a relaxing morning out in the sun, on a boat and away from the crowds for a few hours. We had a great guide who taught us about crawfishing, gator season and the different kinds of snakes in the bayou (I was not a fan of the snakes). Even though we were in the area, we did not tour a plantation. Doing a bayou and plantation tour in one day is an all day event, so we choose to do one over another and the bayou tour sounded like the more exciting tour.
There were a few things on our list that we just seemed to never have enough time in the day to fit in and have to put off until the next time we find ourselves in New Orleans. The Garden District was one place we found ourselves crossing off the list. We wanted to spend a good amount of time wandering and exploring this neighborhood but time was the number one enemy. Another was an above ground cemetery. We made the mistake of thinking we could just visit one to walk around and see the mausoleums (because to us northerners, burring a body above ground is a pretty fantastic sight), but didn’t realize the hours to the cemetery were so limited unless you booked a tour. So, sadly, we just got a few glimpses of the cemeteries as we passes by and from the expressway. And the last thing we passed up on, just because it was spring break and so crowded at night was the New Orleans Haunted walking tour. As creepy cool as it would have been to learn about the haunted history of New Orleans, especially learn a bit about voodoo, we probably wouldn’t have been able to hear much anyways.
You know spring break is officially over when you are back in that work week and school grind on Monday morning and what is Monday greeting you with? A rainy-day. Don’t get me wrong, I adore a good rainy day, just when I get to walk around with no plans outside or cuddle up in bed and watch a movie. Not actually have to use my head and be productive.
So, with the rain and a mountain of work that has to be done, it is back to reality. Thanks spring break and no responsibilities. You were wonderful.
xx A Traveler's Bliss
(hey - hey you. click the bliss above... do it.)