My husband & I took a very quick trip to New Orleans back in March. It was intended to be a 4 night stay to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, but we had a family issue arise and had to shorten our trip to 2 nights. Soooo, how do you cram 3 full days of sightseeing into just ONE full day? Not very easily, but we sure did try. Didn’t get all the sights in but we did manage to get to a few places on my list.
I found that just walking around the French Quarter and absorbing all the sights and sounds was very satisfying. The architecture is one of my favorite things about the city. Yes, the stucco is crumbling in places, the buildings and roof tops are no longer squared up but it has such a wonderful vibe to it. I love the balconies & porches, the horse-drawn carriages & streetcars and the general atmosphere of the city. Everyone seems very happy to be there!
We walked all around Jackson Square. There were artists hanging up their paintings all along the fence surrounding the park. There was a man sitting under a tree making voodoo dolls and the tree was decorated with hundreds of strands of beads.
The famous Cafe du Monde is adjacent to Jackson Square. We opted not to stand in the mile-long line for fresh beignets since we had reservations for the Jazz Brunch at Muriel’s.
Jackson Square was originally named Plaza d’Armas. It was renamed in honor of the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, Andrew Jackson. You can read more about it here.
Below is a picture of the restaurant where we had brunch while listening to a jazz band. It was really yummy and the music was fantastic!
After Brunch, we proceeded to continue our walking tour of the French Quarter. We happened upon Dutch Alley Artist’s Co-op that had jewelry, paintings, photography, fiber art, ceramics and wood turned bowls and vases. We were greeted at the door by one of the jewelry artists whose name was Stefano Velaska. He was wearing a top hat & was quite a character! After hurricane Katrina, he was trying to figure a way to promote New Orleans as well as trying to make something beautiful out of the devastation of that event. He starting picking up scraps of metal after the destruction of the hurricane to use in jewelry making. He cuts, cleans, polishes and crafts it into jewelry. The earrings below at the top right are Stefano’s.
Almost all the souvenir shops, tour businesses & gift shops feature alligators either in their front windows or just as a prominent display. I found this really interesting since alligators are NOT the first thing that come to mind when I think about New Orleans.
There are many souvenir shops devoted to selling beads, voodoo dolls and of course the famous pralines. I ate way too many pralines while there. My favorites came from Leah’s on St. Louis Street. Sadly, I ate them before taking a photo-trust me they tasted even better than they looked. And the good news is, you can order online!
We saw Saint Joan of Arc. I knew she was young when she was burned at the stake but seeing it carved into the statue was shocking. She was only NINETEEN!
We went to the French Market- it was overwhelming. Tons of vendors but most were mass produced items so it was a bit of a turn-off for me. So we just rushed through the main aisle and headed to the Voodoo Museum.
I had really been looking forward to the Voodoo Museum. I bought a voodoo doll in Haiti quite a few years ago and I am a huge fan of American Horror Story (their storyline a few years ago was all about New Orleans, witches & voodoo). So I had to put this on my list of things to see. Dear husband was not impressed. First, no air conditioning; second there is only ONE way in and ONE way out. (pretty sure that’s a fire code violation…); third, it was really dirty-tons of dust. But I persevered- I enjoyed walking through the small but-filled-to-the-brim-with-voodoo history museum. It consists of only the front entrance & a narrow hallway down to 2 separate rooms. Alters and shrines to various goddesses and Marie Laveau, ‘queen of voodoo’ were set up throughout the 2 rooms. The hallway was full of information and photos about the history of voodoo in Africa as well as the obituary of Marie Laveau.
And a huge painting of Marie met us at the entrance (below)
There were many animal bones hanging on the wall as well as what appeared to be human bones as well as skulls. I can see why it’s so dirty, the alters and shrines have mountains of coins and dollar bills as offerings and it would be a bit hard to clean without disturbing all of those.
In the back room there was an gnarly old tree stump with lots of nooks & cranies. This was a shrine/homage to Marie Laveau. The viewer was instructed to write a wish on the paper that they supplied and then roll your wish up in a dollar bill. Find a nook to stick your wish into while reciting a prayer of sorts to Marie and then tapping the stump 9 times. There were hundreds of dollar bill wrapped wishes in that stump. And of course I was so busy writing my wish & tapping the stump I forgot to photograph it!
After the museum we headed straight to Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo.
I was determined to buy another voodoo doll and it just had to come from Marie’s. This shop was a bit of a disappointment. I walked in expecting to see someone like Angela Bassett (who played a voodoo priestess in American Horror Story) but was met by a couple of grouchy guys! As soon as anyone steps foot in the door they bark out-“ABSOLUTELY NO PHOTOS”. And then they proceed to repeat that several times as you walk around the shop. If I hadn’t been so determined to get another voodoo doll I would’ve left.
I did purchase a voodoo doll as well as a dried/taxidermied alligator foot, some lucky beans for a gris gris bag (good luck) and a Marie Laveau pendant. The voodoo doll is stuffed with sage and covered in spanish moss. (there’s a photo below)
After Marie’s we found Hex-Old World Witchery. I was much more impressed with this shop. It was clean, they were friendlier but still didn’t want you taking photos. I bought a Bridget Bishop poppet from the Hex shop. Bridget Bishop was the first person executed for witchcraft in Old Salem. I have been reading the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness which is about witches, demons and vampires so I have become quite interested in witch craft as well. I also just read Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston. I highly recommend these books! And there is a sequel to Witch’s Daughter but I haven’t gotten to that one yet.
So that’s our quick trip through the French Quarter of New Orleans. We ate some great food, drank some wonderful cocktail’s, listened to a little jazz and crammed as much as possible into our short stay. I hope you enjoyed the photos. It was fun to experience it. Hopefully next time we get back to the Crescent City we can stay a bit longer. I really want to hear more jazz and visit the famous cemeteries. For those of you who have been let me know if there is anything that is a must-see when visiting NOLA.