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Published: February 12th 2020
My flight home wasn't until 5:00 PM (except then it was delayed but more on that later) and I wanted to have time to visit New Orleans before heading to the airport. Left my cozy condo at 7 AM on another foggy morning and hit the road. The drive was easy, although foggy all the way until just before the city. My friendly Google Maps navigator had me exit I-10 at Elysian Fields Ave, which runs through the 7th Ward. I noticed many of the houses looked pretty run down yet most had cheerful Mardi Gras decorations hanging on their balconies. Eventually I turned onto Decatur Street and proceeded to look for a parking lot.
I read ahead of time that parking on the street in the city is not advised because the meters are tricky and they will tow your car the second the meter runs out. It was advised to park in one of the pay lots, which is exactly what I did. I downloaded an app onto my phone, paid for my 3 hours of parking and headed out to explore.
First stop, Cafe du Monde for the beignets. I was expecting a line, but there
was none to be found at the to go window. Got my bag of three and walked across the street to Jackson Square, where I promptly got powdered sugar all over my pants! Brushed myself off and walked into the St Louis Cathedral. This was not as fancy inside as I was expecting so I walked through and left. I decided the best way to see the city was to take a carriage ride and I was not disappointed.
The Royal Carriages company lines up right in front of Jackson Square and offers half hour or hour rides. The hour ride includes a stop at a cemetery so I chose that option. Well worth the $40! My driver was Mark and the mule was Patsy Cline. He said they use mules because they are able to pull in the summer when horses could not and they are stronger and smarter than horses or donkeys. She also gets 3 months off every year at a farm and free healthcare😊 The ride took us throughout the French Quarter and I learned a lot about the founding of the city and the history. The cemetery we visited was St. Louis Cemetery #1.
You can only visit if you are part of a tour group as it is now closed to the public for various reasons. The most famous person currently buried in the cemetery is Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, however there is a wonderfully new odd looking tomb that will someday house Nicholas Cage. Interesting fact about these cemeteries, multiple people are buried in the same tomb. When someone dies, they open it up, pull out the remains of the prior coffin, take out all the bags of the prior deceased, insert the new coffin during the memorial service and later put the bags of the deceased back in. This goes on and on and I guess it never ends. Our ride continued on through the French Quarter until we returned to Jackson Square.
For lunch I stopped at Johnny's Po'Boys and ordered a catfish sandwich. This thing was huge! It was a full 12" loaf of bread, if not more, full of fried fish with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mayo. This was the perfect thing to eat along the Mississippi River with large ships, barges and steam powered paddle wheel boats going by. I was able to enjoy the sun
and warm weather (78 degrees) before having to head back to cold, snowy Chicago.
My rental car needed to be returned and I headed back to the airport. I went through the CBD (central business district), past the Super Dome and back on I-10 to the airport. The rental return was a very smooth process and the shuttle ride to the brand new terminal (it just opened in November) was a short 10 minutes. Upon entering the airport, my wi-fi kicked in and I learned my flight was delayed by 4 hours due to snow at O'Hare! Guess I'll be sitting around the airport for much longer than anticipated.
I would like to say that everyone I encountered in New Orleans was friendly and it felt safe during the day. If you only have a few hours, I recommend the carriage ride or finding a walking tour to get a glimpse of this old (302 years) and historic city.
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