“We wander through old streets, and pause before the age stricken houses, and, strange to say, the magic past lights them up.”
Grace King, French Quarter Guidebook
I recently attended a bachelorette party in New Orleans, thanks to these two ladies who somehow managed to get engaged within months of each other. I’ve never been to this magical city before, and was a bit hesitant to go. But by the time I got out of the car and into our rented house (see below), I was a changed woman.
We stayed (13 people) at this Disney-like house called Maison d’ Amis located just 8 minutes from the infamous Bourbon Street in the lively French Quarter. The house was built in 1902, and was charmingly decorated with a mix of antiques and eclectic New Orleans art, like masquerade masks and colorful feathers. For two nights and three days it was $160 per person. Not bad considering hotel options in the same area.
“In New Orleans, culture doesn’t come down from on high, it bubbles up from the streets.”
“Everybody here has a story. New Orleans was always a place where people talked too much even if they had nothing to say. Now everyone’s got something to say.”
Chris Rose, 1 Dead in Attic: Post-Katrina Stories
NOLA is no ordinary city. Amidst the street grim, faded colors, and centuries old stones, walk artists, tourists, the poor, the rich, the foreign and the native. The religious and the disillusioned. The infatuated and the heartbroken. Everyone comes together to experience what this city offers – an overwhelming, almost choking sensation of both the vibrancy and dearth of life itself. You want to experience that? Go to Jackson Square.
“But during all these years I had a vague but persistent desire to return to New Orleans. I never forgot New Orleans. And when we were in tropical places and places of those flowers and trees that grow in Louisiana, I would think of it acutely and I would feel for my home the only glimmer of desire I felt for anything outside my endless pursuit of art.”
Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire
“Madame Lily Devalier always asked “Where are you?” in a way that insinuated that there were only two places on earth one could be: New Orleans and somewhere ridiculous.”
Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume
You simple can’t visit New Orleans without taking a ‘ghost tour,’ or so we were told. So we signed up for a $20 per person tour (a special deal for the bachelorette party). Our lovely guide – who was a bit cuckoo and probably high – took us around the French Quarter for an hour telling us tales of the city and taking us to some of the most famous bars in NOLA. Including Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop built between 1722 and 1732 by Nicolas Touze on Bourbon Street. It boasts to be the “oldest structure used as a bar in the United States,” and is famous for its purple voodoo drink that tastes like a grape slushi, but don’t be mistaken, it will knock you out if you’re not careful.
While you’re in NOLA, you need to keep looking up. The architecture is unbelievable, particularly in the French Quarter. It almost feels like parts of the city have been frozen in time, while modernity explodes all around it.
“What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happens in New Orleans, goes home with you.”
Laurell K. Hamilton