Travel Diaries: New Orleans, Part 1

New Orleans is so many amazing things at once.

Old and new. Elegant and bawdy. Urban and tropical. Loud, and yet also beautifully and peacefully silent.

There is sadness, but also so much humor.

And there is a heat that flows through, swirling around and pulling you along, encouraging you to taste and experience as much as you can. It's lusty. It's indulgent.

It's all of the things that I love.

I was lucky enough to spend a few days in this magical city last month.

It was only a weekend, but we made a point of exploring and eating and soaking in as much as we possibly could, and now I want to share a few of those moments with you.

The streets of the city were sprinkled with red that first day. It was the morning of the Red Dress Run, a yearly charity run that brings out the young and old, male and female, in bright red dresses and sneakers.

We saw them everywhere--waiting in line for breakfast. Browsing through shops. And as we got closer and closer to the Quarter, the red filled out more and more until we were completely surrounded.

Eugene wanted to skip Bourbon Street to avoid the commotion, but I pulled him in for one block. I wanted to feel how it felt to get swept along in that sea of red enthusiasm, smiles, and music.

I felt a little bit envious of the others, and wished that I could change into a red dress and join right in.

The heat that weekend was heavy, breaking into thick tropical rainstorms that kept sending us running for cover.

Though we'd come prepared with a loose itinerary, we quickly decided to just let the weather guide our plans, walking along while the sun shined, and ducking into bars and shops when the fat droplets started to fall.

It was the perfect way to experience the city.
One of the first places we fell into was named Kingfish.

Named after former Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long (nicknamed "The Kingfish"), it's an elegant cocktail bar and restaurant with a cool, classic feel to it.

We took seats at the bar and ordered drinks from a pretty red-haired bartender who chatted easily with us.

A refreshing Pimm's Cup for me. A classic Sazerac for Eugene.
We actually only intended to stay for one drink, but the place was so lovely and the conversation was so nice, that we each ordered a second and then decided to get lunch, too.

New Orleans is a perfect place for lingering...

When the rain stopped, we pulled ourselves away from our cozy spot and headed back out for another round of exploration along those gorgeous streets.

So many colors...

 Old time-y streetcars and palm trees make me incredibly happy.

So do masks and feathers.

When the rain started again, we ran into a little dive bar called Molly's Irish Pub where we sipped good, strong drinks and watched people escaping from the rain.

I loved these three and took their picture.

And then this guy saw me and jumped in to have his picture taken, too!

The one thing Eugene wanted was "a lot of oysters," so we made our way to Felix's, which is across from the slightly more famous Acme, and ordered oysters all of the ways: charbroiled, raw, and a po'boy.

Hot, smokey, and buttery oysters. They're the kind of delicious you eat with eyes closed, not caring about anything but the taste.

The raw oysters were huge and meaty, and not too briny. We topped them off with lemon juice and extra-spicy cocktail sauce that we mixed up ourselves right on the table.

Eugene was a happy dude.

For dinner our first night, we headed to ROOT, a bright, airy, and fairly new restaurant on Julia Street that, like so much of New Orleans, serves dishes that combine the old and the modern.
The dishes seemed to alternate between dainty, like this soup, and outright decadent, like my Cohiba-Smoked Scallops with Chorizo Dust that arrived inside of a wooden cigar box.

That dish was like kissing a man, I swear.

We also ordered this, which I think was called something along the lines of: "All of the sausage in the world + pickles."

Recommended for sharing, Eugene and I demolished most of it as an appetizer, and then laughed when a huge party of 8 next to us ordered the same thing.

"Amateurs!" we giggled under our breaths.

After dinner, we slowly wandered back to our hotel, already discussing what to do about breakfast the next day.

Click Here to read Part II of my New Orleans Travel Diary, where I share the most delicious thing I ate all weekend.

Disclaimer: Eugene and I were invited to visit New Orleans as guests of The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation #FollowYourNOLA campaign. Our travel, lodgings, and most of our meals were paid for, but all opinions and experiences are, of course, my own.

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