Category Archives: new orleans

Suggestions for taking kids to New Orleans and Plantations

My sister and her husband are going with their three kids to New Orleans over New Years so here’s some thoughts on things kids in particular might like or find interesting:Dining at the Camelia Grill in NOLA

– Near the Garden District, the famous Camelia Grill is a great place to get a burger or omelette smothered in chili, sitting at the curving counter watching the entertaining waiters. (see photo above) You can take the street car almost all the way there, I think, although the St. Charles line may still be under repair so you may have to transfer to a bus. Camelia Grill isn’t far from Tulane.

– Walk along Frenchmen Street at night to hear some live jazz (the kid are probably too young to get into the bars but there are often musicians playing on the street who sound just as good…to this untrained ear at least.) St. Louis Cemetery #1 ( think it’s #1) worth a trip as is French market and nearby Cafe Du Monde for beignets (touristy, yes, but for good reason.) For a look at the lingering devastation of Hurricane katrina, take a tour led by someone at  lowernine.org. (You’ll need to call ahead to book and have a car so the guide can drive you around.(504) 278-1240)

– For good neighborhood place famed for Cajun classics, try Mandinas (excellent gumbo and po-boys)…or Luizza’s By The Tracks (it was closed when we went due to a power outage but the owner pointed us to Mandinas nearby.) Both are out-of-the-way and you have to take a cab (so you may not want to do but does give you a feel for real life beyond the French Quarter or Garden District.

– In Plantation County, near the fabulous Laura Plantation is B&C Seafoods where you can try several local delicacies including an alligator burger or boudin balls (deep fried balls of a creamy sort of sausage.) You can also more familiar stuff like a crab cake with hush puppies. A great down home atmosphere. (see photo below) The kids will probably like Oak Alley Plantation perhaps better than Laura. Oak Alley is more touristy/with people dressed in period costume (hooped skirts) while Laura is more humble but gorgeous and tour is more focused on history and realities like slavery, from what I recall.Dining in Plantation country

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Resolved that NOLA hotel bill and looks like our man in Peru will come thru with Machu P tix

 

Fashion shoot in Arequipa, Peru – photo courtesy of our son

A scene from Arequipa, Peru, courtesy of our son

After making a bit of a fuss, I seem to have convinced the hotel we stayed at in New Orleans to charge us what we were actually supposed to pay – so again, was wise to insist on an itemized bill and to require the hotel to be accountable. But not a lot of fun and I’d prefer not to get in that situation again. Meanwhile, I’ve heard from our Bolivian friend in Peru who has pledged to pick up our money wired via Western Union (what decade are we in?) and buy those darned Machu Picchu tickets so progress on trips past and future. I hope.

Arequipa Peru – photo courtesy of our son

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Possible hotels for next trip to New Orleans

The Soniat HouseWe won’t be staying at the Frenchmen Hotel again in New Orleans – it has its charms but was too noisy, too disorganized (we’re still trying to sort out our final bill), and too uneven in terms of the quality of the rooms and especially the beds, particularly the sofabed. But I did get some ideas for our next visit if we stay in the French Quarter including: The Hotel Royal, The Soniat House Hotel (see photo) and we’d gladly return to The Provincial Hotel (where we spent our last night.) I’d still prefer to stay in Uptown or the Garden District – which was our original plan until Hurricane Isaac knocked the b&b where we were booked – Chez Ellie Marie – out of commission. Next time! (Ellie Marie is right by two restaurants we really liked – Boucherie and Camelia Grill.

Hotel Royal

Hotel Royal

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Hotel accounting headaches: keep those invoices!

Argh, a week after we stayed at a hotel in New Orleans we are still trying to sort out our bill. When we checked out, the hotel didn’t have a bill ready for either us or our friends. So we did not know officially how much we had paid. I had to call and insist on receiving a bill later in the day and when it finally arrived it was indecipherable – with lots of advance deposits, charges, refunds and taxes. Bottomline I could not figure out what we ultimately paid.

It didn’t  help that we stayed in several different rooms during four nights at the hotel; that we used three different credit cards to pay for the rooms (I used one, my friends used two),   and I had to make several advance deposits to secure the rooms.  Several phone calls later, it appears that I overpaid by about $400 so we’ll see if I ultimately get that back. Just in case, I’ve already disputed one of the charges with my credit card company which tells me I have 90 days to dispute charges in general. Big pain in the neck but sometimes you just have to stand your ground.  And as the credit card company said, always get bills in writing so you have a better chance of standing your ground.

A house in the Lower Ninth
Ward of NOLA that survived Katrina

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cc’s community coffee, central grocery, couchon, Tulane! Hotel provincial

We moved to better digs (and no surprise, more expensive digs) at the hotel provincial on Chartes Street. But even here, we were awakened at 2’am or so by a drunken cackle. Seems unavoidable in the french quarter. Room 515 was in an old building that used to be a warehouse. It reminded us  of a room we stayed at in Florence – high ceiling, huge, old world furnishings, elegant and a little odd. We liked it. our friends ended up in even stranger digs. they had their own two story condo that is normally someone’s home. again, odd.
We had coffee at CC’s Community coffee on Royal then popped into the central grocery but skipped getting the mufaletta because it wasn’t lunch time. We visited a very good new contemporary art gallery called M Gallery not far from our  hotel, then took the st. Charles streetcar (which was a bus ride initially) to Tulane to see our nephew, a happy sophomore there. Ate at cafe ferete. Cute place, so so food. After a swim in the refreshingly cool water of the charming courtyard pool at our hotel, we ate at trendy couchon restaurant – oysters, porkcheek, short ribs,pulled pork with crackling and turnips and pickled peaches. Definitely different. Now taking our chances with frontier airlines. We appear to be leaving. So maybe this flight won’t be cancelled.

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Lowernine.org., garden district, camellia grill, boucherie

Frenchman street is almost empty on this Saturday morning as I blog from the worn balcony of the Frenchman hotel but some public works guy has chosen to use some very noisy machineaye 7:30 a,m. We saw a lot of Nola yesterday starting with a tour of the lower ninth ward. Seven years after Katrina, the area has far from recovered, which is shameful. lowernine.org is a nonprofit that is rebuilding houses, using volunteer labor including many people from other countries. Our tour was very low key. A smart young woman originally from Wisconsin sT on ghe passenger seat of our rental car and guided us to the pertinent sites. Far better and more appropriate than crawling though the area in a tour bus. We gave her a donation that goes to the organization.
We stopped for coffee and a homemade pop tart at satsuma, a cafe in the Bywater; had a fun lunch sitting at the counter at the camellia grill in uptown (loved the jocular waiters In their white shirts and black bow ties serving up huge omelletes with fries smothered in chili and burgers with grilled onions. on to thengarden district to soak up the architecture and then a stroll down Magazine street, popping in a few shops. we may have had our best dinner yet at boucherie in uptown, located In a tiny house. fantastic food and ambiance and service. Will return.

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Cafe des Amis – Cajun charmer

good thing I booked a table at cafe des Amis in breaux bridge last night because the place was packed…on a Wednesday night no less. The music and the food were a big draw. We had a front table right in front of a three piece Cajun band that played for almost two hours straight while diners danced expertly. Great scene in cozy old storefront cafe. The food was excellent …the best crabcakes ever and a very good shrimp étouffée. I shared a chocolate pecan pie slice with franc and a 29 year French Moroccan lawyer we met on our swamp tour. Fun night!
I was less impressed tonight by maurepas foods in Nola’s Bywater neighborhood. Interesting looking place in emerging arty area but food a bit precious and we ended up spending way too much for way too little food. I had to beg for some bread and the waiter produced four pieces of bread, each the size of a silver dollar. struck me as stingy.
much better was the jazz fund band nearby at Vaughn’s, a small club in the Bywater that rocked as people danced to the jubilant horns of Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers. fantastic energy and sound. this Detroit girl couldn’t get enough!

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