A New Orlean’s Quickie
Family trips are fun, especially when your kids have never been to the intended weekend destination. My family always looks at these trips as an adventure, a learning experience, and a chance for quality time together. This past weekends trip was no different when a family friend invited us to use his condo on St Philips Street in the historic city of New Orleans. The apartment is pretty much in the center of the French Quarters a block from famous Bourbon Street. I learned something about Uber drivers, my kids fell in love with Cajun food, and we were able to spread some joy to passerby from our balcony.
I love historical areas that are old and rich in history. New Orleans has this and more leaving no doubt why there’re so many books, stories, movies and TV shows based on this area. The first learning experience I will share is one that shocked my kids. Now my kids are teenagers, so they pick up on everything out of the ordinary and this trip they did not let me down. Imagine driving through small one-way alley-like streets, not well lit at 2 am. You are trying to find the place you are staying, and you see blankets on the sidewalks. People are moving around almost zombish, and then your youngest son says, “OMG mom is that guy is using the bathroom on the sidewalk.” Well, yes he was and gross, but instead of being freaked out I took it as a conversational moment to talk to my kids about homeless people and why they think there were so social issues such as homelessness in this region. Civics class at 2 am but it did spark some interesting conversation and made my kids think. These are the best teachable moments to me.
A few hours of sleep, and we were up and off to have breakfast in the Big Easy. We found a cafe not far from St Philips street called French Toast on Decatur Street. The name was not misleading, some of the best french toast I have ever had, and the restaurant staff was friendly. We checked in on Yelp, and they had a table waiting for us when we arrived. From there we stopped by Belle’s Diner Nola also on Decatur St where we had a tasty Cajun Bloody Mary. One of the cool things about the Big Easy is you can take your drinks with you as you browse the street markets. The cemeteries are also known in New Orleans as the “Cities of the Dead,” always amaze me, some tombs and mausoleums are from the 1700s, most of the people are buried in tombs above ground because New Orleans is basically a swamp. You can visit the “Voodoo Queen” herself, Marie Laveau which was a little on the expensive side to me for a $20 tour fee per person. If this is something you want to visit, then you will find her in the St Louis Cemetery No 1 that is closest to the French Quarters. If you are looking to save money skip the St Louis Cemeteries and head over to the Lafayette Cemetery. I prefer to visit the Lafayette Cemetery because you can enter for free and if you want a tour its tip based. One other note, if you decide to Uber around the French Quarters don’t tell the driver your destination if the Uber happens to call you before arrival. I found out the hard way they will cancel the ride if they think they will not make much money off your trip. Hint, hint, Uber drivers can’t see your intended destination until they pick you up.
Our condo for the weekend was better than any hotel, so I’ve saved the best for last. The building was built before 1800 and the owners did a great job of keeping it authentic with a few modern conveniences such as the updated bathroom and kitchenette. It was a real breath of fresh air. The place was excellent, historic but what it even more special was the ability to make the people walking below happy. Our friends had installed bubble machines. Yes, bubbles. We had walked, shopped, dined, and did the tourist things but at the end of the day we ended up on the lacy balcony overlooking Royal and St Philips street. We followed our friends advice and turned on the bubble machine. Everyone walking by stopped to take notice of the bubbles floating down the streets. What was even better was there were weddings taking place where they had brass marching bands leading the bridal parties in true New Orleans style, and we got to add to that with our bubbles. People were videoing, taking selfies, cheering, and saying thank you for the simple glistening, soapy pockets of air floating down to them. The evening turned out to be simple, it didn’t cost us anything, the kids put down their phones, and we had several hours of just quality family time spent laughing and talking. This was a good experience for the whole family, one I will not soon forget. One that every family should experience.