3.25.2020 New Orleans, LA, USA

Okay, Let's Go To New Orleans!


“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.”

THE PLAN
Day 1: Flew to New Orleans, Louisiana with Delta. We arrived at night and headed straight to our Airbnb which was located in such a quaint and quiet place close to the French Quarter (head down below for the address). We unpacked our things, made ourselves comfy then headed straight out for dinner at Acme Oyster House. We waited in line for about 20 minutes because it was packed with people. Zoe had already been there before and was more than excited to have their stuff again and well for me it was my first time so I didn’t mind waiting. We shared a New Orleans Medley of gumbo and jambalaya and finished our meal with Pecan Cobbler which was too good to be true. It was that great.

We then walked around Bourbon Street which was said to be a party town. And true to its word it was filled with countless music bars, busy streets and oh, not to forget, Zoe and I got ‘beaded’ from locals- which was somewhat a tradition where locals “people watch” in balconies above countless stores and throw you beads if they want to welcome you to their hood. I guess it was also because we visited a week before Mardi Gras.

We then went to Pat O’ Brien’s as per recommendation online and my sister who had visited years ago. They’re known for their dueling pianos and it was so much fun! We had a great time singing to classics and enjoying Hurricanes which I'll talk more about later. We ended the night singing our hearts out and feeling more excited to see NOLA in the morning.

Day 2:  Woke up early to have breakfast at Cafe Du Monde. There was a short line when we arrived, but because of the rain we didn’t have to wait long. Service was quick. I was already told about the chicory coffee and beignets of this place and true to what everyone’s been telling me, it was THE BEST! SUCH A PERFECT COMBO from the O.G. place of where it started. To top off such a great morning, we witnessed our first street jazz performers of the trip as we exited the place! I couldn’t help it but I donated some money while dancing with strangers who were simply blasting jazz music for passersby.

We then walked around French Quarter, enjoyed crawfish, oysters and shrimps from the French Market and also bought cheap souvenirs to bring back home. We then decided to explore more of the area and we ended up in Frenchmen’s Street which was literally, Jazz town. Honestly, the best neighborhood in my opinion. We didn’t really have plans on which exact place to to go, which turned out to be great because our spontaneity brought us to our first Jazz Bar, The Spotted Cat Music Club that had affordable drinks, intimate jazz performance in a tiny stage and a standing room where we let loose, danced and enjoyed jazz-rock music. We then headed to The Maison, where I felt like I was in the Princess and the Frog movie. It felt too unreal. I loved the sound they played. We then stumbled upon Bamboula’s where we witnessed an old couple dancing to the beat of old Jazz music. It was such a rustic and sweet experience. After all that we were hungry, so we decided to have dinner at Po’ Boys, which served Filipino-Louisiana food which was actually pretty good.

We then enjoyed more Jazz Music at Favela Chic Nola that had again classic Jazz Music with a more intimate vibe. We then enjoyed Louisiana fried chicken from Willie’s Chicken Shack, danced to more Jazz street performers (which honestly makes NOLA extra special) we saw along the way and then ended the night back at The Maison with Reggae- Jazz music. The best part about this experience is that a ton of different artists play different hours in every bar so what we did was we roamed around and when we found music we loved hearing, we stayed and danced away. It was such a fun and soulful day!

Day 3
: This was the only day we had a sure plan to be out in the Bayou. We went on an airboat swamp adventure with the tour company, Ultimate Swamp Adventures, where we got picked up in the nearest hotel from our Airbnb and got dropped back in the main town proper. Too bad we didn’t get to see alligators out there but the experience was crazy. Who knew airboats could go that fast? It was still great to learn more about the swamps and what it had to offer. We were told that the best time to come out in the swamps are from late April to early October. When we went, they alligators were all still hibernating because it was winter time.

We then headed back to town and our driver was kind enough to drop us off at Willie Mae’s Scotch House established in 1957 with the best local fried chicken. True to its word, it did fit our expectations. It was truly the best fried chicken there! We then spontaneously walked around French Quarter, ended up getting beignets and more chicory coffee at Cafe Beignet and then had the best iced coffee ever (or the greatest I’ve ever tasted) from French Truck Coffee. It was THE BEST.

After which, we explored more of the colorful streets of French Quarter and stumbled upon Junkee Clothing Exchange which was a thrift store where we found the coolest earrings and a vintage skit from Ralph Lauren. Afterwards, we were so curious as to what Preservation Hall was all about because it was always so crowded since the first time we saw it on day one so we waited in line. Little did we know it would become the highlight of our entire trip. It was a sit-down intimate classic Jazz house where I felt the true soul of Jazz music. It moved me beyond words. I couldn’t help but tear up because of the emotions it brought to me and looking back I’m so grateful we were in such a space where traditional culture and sounds continue to be celebrated.

To cap off Zoe’s Birthday, we had breakfast for dinner from Willa Jean’s which was a more formal setting to the usual which we very much enjoyed. We ended the night with hand grenades from Tropical Isle in Bourbon Street (which you gotta get when you’re there) and had to get beignets and chicory one last time from Cafe du Monde, our favorite! It was such a wonderful day that we ended up dancing the night away, and singing our hearts out, again. We didn’t want to leave right at the moment. We were still living our little jazz fest -food trip adventure!

HOW WE GOT THERE



We flew out late on Saturday afternoon with Delta. We scored affordable tickets and it took us almost 3 hours to get to our destination. Once we arrived in NOLA, we took an uber from the airport which was around 30 minutes because of traffic. It took us a while to find the area where pick up points were in but when we finally found it, there was a kiosk with a representative for any car app you use just right outside the airport. 

WHERE WE STAYED
We were in NOLA for just 3 full days and we found this affordable private space through Airbnb which fit our expectations. Address: 1011 Treme St, New Orleans, LA (click the photo for reference)

Advantages:


1. Location is easily accessible from town and uber drivers can easily find it

2. Considering we weren’t staying in the Airbnb full time, we loved how it had everything we needed- a bed, a private bathroom and desk space to put some stuff around.

3. Neighborhood was safe and it was really quiet. It’s also walkable and close to the town proper.

4. Host was also responsive.

Disadvantages:



1. Sparse amenities included (very basic)

2. Lighting was a little dim for our taste

The space turned out to be what we expected and the purpose of why we chose to stay there were met. For an affordable price, we were glad to find this clean and maintained space. It was an art house so outside it was very picturesque. 


WHAT WE DID
** Each activity was special in its own way, but we’re leaving a heart on the ones we enjoyed most.

Walk around French Quarte♥️
Because we came a week before Mardi-Gras, the town was filled with green, purple and gold. It was lovely to see and because the quarter was already colorful in itself, it was just a space of good vibrations. Always feel welcomed to enter their local shops. Locals are really friendly and will tell you more of what they have.



Jazz Up at Frenchmen Street ♥️
This is our favorite neighborhood filled with jazz bars that offered different jazz experiences from rock to classic and even to reggae. We spent more than half a day just listening to the sax and trumpets of soulful locals who knew their craft, danced to their tunes and just enjoyed the night away 

Places we recommend: The Spotted Cat Jazz Bar, The Maison, and Favela Chic Nola 
   ** Do note that bands vary per time and location so what we did was we entered a place and           
        waited for them to play and see if we enjoyed their music
    ** Also, always be on the look-out for street performers! We loved just dancing in the streets of
         NOLA. It made the trip more special! 



 The Spotted Cat Jazz Bar


The Maison 


Favela Chic Nola 

Soul Fest at Preservation House ♥️
We honestly didn’t know what to expect when we saw this place. We saw a bunch of people line up on our first day so we decided to do the same on our last day when we were in the area and my oh my, was our soul moved to its core by classical Jazz Music. There’s really no better way to experience such soulful tunes in an intimate space that celebrated old culture and tradition. No photos were allowed to preserve the place and we had to pay $20 in cash as walk-ins. Do know you can reserve a slot online to have sure seats for the show. We more than highly recommend this place and we hope you choose to sit cross legged in the front row. You’ll be changed forever cause it’s been a month now and still not over it. 



AirBoat Swamp Tour ♥️
We didn’t realize it wasn’t in season to be out in the swamps but we still definitely had a great time! We didn’t expect to have that crazy cold fast airboat experience and our driver was kind enough to us to explain everything and try his best to find a gator for us. We weren’t lucky at that time but it’s okay we still had fun. Do know we have to pay half a downpayment to reserve our slot and paid the extra when we arrived. Address is 450 Laroussini St Westwego, LA 70094 USA (click photo for reference)


Be on a look out for thrift shops!
We researched a bunch of places prior to our visit but we weren’t able to locate any for the time we wanted to visit. While exploring French Quarter, we stumbled upon this quaint shop that had cool vintage finds. 

WHERE WE ATE
** Each spot was special in its own way, but we’re leaving a heart on the ones we enjoyed most.

Acme Oyster House ♥️
Worth the wait. You can’t leave without trying the oysters from this place cause it’s chargrilled to perfection, and it really falls off the shell. We got a New Orleans Medley to share and it had everything you could possibly enjoy in Louisiana Gumbo, Jambalya, Red Beans & Rice, and Grilled Smoked Sausage. And to cap it off, we had Pecan Cobbler with vanilla ice cream. You can’t go wrong. It’s.the.best.



Cafe du Monde ♥️
No brainer, our favorite! Chicory Coffee. Beignets. More Beignets. You’ll definitely leave this place with a smile. Do know that it’s cash only and that be warned, you’ll be craving more!



J’s Seafood Dock (French Market) ♥️
If you’re looking for fresh seafood, this is the place to be! Everyday they serve local catch and we were lucky enough to try giant oysters and shrimps. We even got to learn how to eat crawfish. Don’t hesitate to ask them how to do it cause we did. The locals of the restaurant will be happy to help you out.
The Fudgery
We’re such sweet-tooths and couldn’t help but have ice cream from the French Quarter. They offered a ton of unique flavors and standouts were Pecan Praline and Oreo Cookie Dough.

Po’Boys ♥️
We were curious as to this Filipino-Louisiana fusion restaurant so we went for it. It was actually pretty good. The ambiance was full of blacklight with picturesque walls everywhere and they had this ube drink that was interesting. If you’re looking to try something new, this is it! Service was also quick cause we were the only people there.

* Willie’s Chicken Shack 
After dancing the night away, you can’t help but get hungry again so this satisfied out cravings for fried chicken. We were told all about Louisiana fried chicken prior to our trip and it’s true, there’s just something about their chicken that’s special and if you need a late night place after a jazzy night at Frenchmen street, this is definitely it!

Willie Mae’s Scotch House ♥️

Established in 1957, you can’t go wrong with a classic local family recipe for fried chicken that you’ll end up loving! Never realized how fried chicken could step up and reach the next level. It’s simplicity truly brought out its flavor. Also, this restaurant was honored as “America’s Classic Restaurant for the Southern Region” bringing a local neighborhood eatery to a nationally recognized restaurant. It’s truly worth the wait. We were lucky we didn’t have to wait in line. We knew it was a good sign.



* Cafe Beignet
You honestly can’t get enough chicory coffee and beignets when you’re in NOLA. We wanted to try something new for our favorite combo and still it was also pretty good. Their beignets were a bit thicker, more chewy and full of powder. We still enjoyed it.

* French Truck Coffee ♥️
An absolute must! Never tasted ice coffee as great as the one they had! And I even got to try their original blend too. There’s just something about this cafe! As a coffee enthusiast, you’ll leave wanting not just two cups of coffee but more! We highly recommend New Orleans Iced Coffee from here. You won’t be disappointed.



* Willa Jean
We love breakfast so much that we decided to celebrate Zoe’s birthday in a more upscale but still affordable place outside of the French Quarter. The vibe reminded us of New York but with cheaper prices. They had amazing offerings and cocktails!

WHERE TO DRINK

Bourbon Street ♥️
Most people call this party town which I totally agree with. Filled with people, a variety of drink choices and bars, you’ll definitely have a fun time partying away and dancing all night. We were able to experience the weekend and weekday crowd and it's emptier during weeknights if you want a more intimate party experience. 



Hurricanes from Pat O’ Brien’s  ♥️
Known for their dueling Pianos and their hand grenades, we definitely had the best time! We got to enjoy this place twice- first when we arrived on a weekend and second on a weekday! We definitely recommend visiting during weeknights if you don’t want to wait in line. Please don’t forget to bring cash to support these local artists who play all night. You can request your favorite songs too!

And oh! With one to two Hurricanes, you’re good for the night. This local drink was created with rum at this bar during World War II and the name came from the glass it’s served on that resembles a hurricane lamp. It’s definitely a fruity concoction you’ll love!
Hurricanes (left) and Hand Grenade (right) 

Hand Grenades from Tropical Isle  ♥️
You can’t leave without a hand grenade experience. And boy! With even just one drink for yourself, we know you’ll have the night all to your favor because Zoe and I just shared one of these fruity Melon concoctions and it’s crazy how you’ll never realize how much alcohol content is in it. We got the frozen one to share. Most people call drinks like these a killer and it’s true! Hand Grenades taste so good that you have to watch out for yourself. Made with vodka, rum, gin and melon liquor, you’re in for a night to let loose and dance away!

OTHER HELPFUL TIPS
Bring Change. Lots of it.
If it’s one thing you should never forget, it’s definitely bringing change wherever you go especially to jazz bars. All local jazz artists only get support from this and it's truly nice to give back to them for the amazing sets they perform.



Watch out for the weather.
Always bring layers because you’ll never really tell how it could change. For one minute you feel warm and another you feel cold and that was us in this trip but we came prepared.



Budget for Transportation.
Since we were just there for a short amount of time, we did not see the need to rent a car. There are Ubers everywhere which made it convenient and every time we asked for their service, we met such kind locals with amazing stories. Another way to get to know more about their recommendations and culture.

* If you have a film camera, take it.
Zoe and I really enjoyed capturing moments during our trip. Colorful Streets, Jazz Artists and Soulful neighborhoods, all these we definitely wanted to remember and relive. We'd suggest you take a film or disposable camera with you.
 If it’s your birthday, pin a dollar on your shirt.
We learned this from one of our Uber drivers. If it’s your birthday, pin a dollar to yourself. Wherever you go, you’ll surely be greeted by locals around.




OUR ADVENTURE

If you want to get an idea of our trip, subscribe to my channel or click on the image below.


***
Beignets. Chicory Coffee. Hurricanes. Hand Grenades. Jazz Music. Delicious food and kind locals...What's not to love about NOLA? As you can tell from this post, it was definitely a trip to remember that filled us with such colorful memories, happy tummies and soulful hearts. We've definitely found a new happy place and we can't wait to visit again soon.

--Photos from @therachyupangco and @zoeticzon--

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