New Orleans: Living a Louisiana Dream
Welcome to MarMar Monday! KB’s sister, MarMar, is excited to share her travels with you. This week we’re chatting about her weekend in the Big Easy: New Orleans!
I’m basically everyone’s not-so-Disney-fairy-princess, so I was beyond excited to visit the land of MY favorite character, Charlotte La Bouff (aka that white girl from Princess and the Frog). This cool trip was made even better since I was visiting my bud Ryan in what is probably the most exciting time to be in New Orleans: Mardi Gras!
Being a New Yorker, I was elated to trade in the winter chill for a more swampy environment for the week, and WOW, I was so blown away with the history and all that I learned about in NoLa. From walking and partying it up in the French Quarter, to living my best American Horror Story: Coven life, to eating at Raising Cane’s (southern folk… y’all know, everyone else, y’all wish you did), this week was exactly what I needed to refresh, recharge, and, most importantly, get rowdy.
American Horror Story: Coven
I do not say it lightly when I say that American Horror Story is my favorite TV show. Seriously, if someone finds out if Ryan Murphy is single, please direct him my way, because ya girl loves a cinematic genius. While we all might have our favorite season, I think we can agree that Coven takes the cake for the best. I kid you not when I say I spent hours on google trying to find the legendary Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, and, more so, trying to figure out how to get in to the American Hogwarts.
Turns out, Miss Robichaux’s is (sadly) fictional, though the Buckner Mansion still quite the sight to see. Disclaimer: this is no longer a school (as originally built), but a private residence located in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans, so you are not allowed to enter the property without cause, nor can you idle around the property. So, basically, get in, get your photo, get out. Okay, so anyway, you can find it at 1410 Jackson Avenue.
The Bitches and Witches Tour
One of my favorite parts about NoLa is that it is home to SO many legendary, powerful female figures. Ryan and I decided that OF COURSE, we had to do a ghost tour, and one in particular happened to directly coincide with two of the main (real life) characters of Coven: Madame LaLaurie and Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen. We LOVED the Bitches and Witches Tour and I’m recommending it to literally anyone who even mentions going to New Orleans. Ready for a history lesson from your fav teacher?
Madame Delphine LaLaurie was a prominent New Orleans socialite who lived at 1140 Royal Street in the heart of the French Quarter in the 19th century. Firstly, this gal came from money. She had three husbands in the span of her life, but she definitely wasn’t counting on them bringing that bread home.
In 1831, six years after her marriage to Leonard Louis Nicholas LaLaurie, Delphie purchased a property at corner of Royal Street, where her husband and two of her daughters moved in after her mansion’s completion in 1832. However, there was much stipulation about what happened after those doors were opened. LaLaurie owned multiple slaves, and it was later found out that she tortured, maimed, and dismembered them within the attic and literal torture chamber.
Now, this lady is NEXT LEVEL RACIST. Okay? But the worst part was, she would act amicably to her slaves in the presence of other New Orleans society. It wasn’t until 1834, when a kitchen slave who was chained to the stove started a fire trying to commit suicide that police and the community had an inkling what was going on in the mansion. LaLaurie somehow escaped the mobs flocking to her house. She fled to Paris, where she later died at the age of 62 in 1849. LaLaurie was portrayed by Kathy Bates in AHS: Coven and is the most infamous villain of NOLA to date.
Marie Leveau was kickin’ ass and taking names during the same reign of terror as LaLaurie. Born in 1801, she rose to power by advising clients on affairs from law suits to lovers, and anyone who was anyone would come to meet her and seek her advice. She was also the lover of Christophe Glapion, who gifted her with her French Quarter house at 152 Rue St. Ann, now 1020 St. Ann Street.
Marie Leveau also DID own and operate a hair salon in New Orleans, where she serviced many prominent elites, so AHS totally got that right. An interesting fact about Leveau is that she was a devout Catholic. However, she knew the important of theatrics, and would invite others into her home where she would perform ceremonies for the spirits around her. The media spun these meetings as “drunken orgies” within the occult, which led to her reign as the Voodoo Queen. She was portrayed by Angela Bassett in AHS: Coven, and lives on in infamy through both media and folk lore.
Mardi Gras: Beads, Beignets, and Bars
Technically Mardi Gras was on March 5th of this past year, but really it’s time to rage anytime during the Carnival Celebration. My trip took place the 3rd week of February, or the week prior to the busiest time of year: Fat Tuesday. As someone who went to a party school (Go Cats), I *thought* I knew what I was getting myself into. I was wrong.
Bourbon Street. We all know it. I can now say I’ve partied at it. I grew up listening to my mom tell stories of NOLA and how she and her other college friends from Ole Miss would go there for some insane times (most memorably Halloween when there was a Grim Reaper with a literal scythe hanging out). There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to experience this party scene more than most.
Bourbon Street’s bars are FUN. You can also do pretty much whatever you want to, including bringing your drinks from the bar with you. The street is lined with flashing neon signs, to-go daiquiri huts, and patio’s perfect for throwing beads at all of the people down below.
The History of Throwing Beads
There really isn’t one? The colors have a more significance: purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. In the 1920’s, they just kind of started throwing glass bead necklaces from the parades, and it stuck. The tradition of flashing someone to throw them to you? That’s just some peak call-her-daddy behavior that we have all come to know and love. But, what better way to gear up for Lent and no fun for a month than to do the absolute most on Fat Tuesday? Now. Because I am classy, I made Ryan flash for all of my beads. Lol, actually anyone on a balcony will pretty much make it rain regardless.
So where should you take the party?
For karaoke, you have to check out the World Famous Cats Meow at 701 Bourbon St. It offers super cheap drinks, a full book of songs, and a guaranteed good time. Bourbon Bandstand is a lively spot at the other end of the street at 441 Bourbon St, but we all know you will make your way to both sides. Of course, you have to visit Fat Tuesday’s, home of the OG New Orleans Daiquiri, at 633 Bourbon St. to grab a to-go while you walk and discover where you want the night to take you.
We all know that a night of Bourbon Street will lead to a miserable morning without some greasy carbs to help us out. The perfect pairing is a beignet (or four) and maybe espresso from the Cafè du Monde Coffee Stand. Whether you walk or stumble over, you can find those beautiful green awnings at 800 Decatur St. You’ll be greeted by an open air environment and the sweet smell of powered sugar. But, the cafe is cash only, so come prepared!
Talk Derby to Me
If you’re wanting to get away from the rowdy Bourbon St. life during your visit, you might turn to visiting the New Orleans Fair Grounds. Home to the Louisiana Derby and seat of Louisiana horse racing, this race track hosts many up-and-coming foals and follies that become major contenders in the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, and Preakness. I just so happened to be visiting their media director, so I got the skinny on Louisiana racing life and all that it has to offer.
While Ryan was running stats for races, I was sitting in the press box watching the races below. This race track has a very opening environment and is a wonderful place to visit for horse racing pro’s and newbies alike. I even got the chance to go back to the stables and meet some of these gorgeous thoroughbreds and their trainers (#networking).
The New Orleans Fair Grounds are located at 1751 Gentilly Blvd. This is a great activity to do after a few days out and about, because general admission is free! To sit Clubhouse level won’t break the bank either, costing only $10.
New Orleans Museums!
If you’re looking to escape the heat, I would definitely suggest going to the New Orleans Museum of Art. Check it out Tuesday-Friday from 10am-6pm, Saturdays from 10am-5pm, and Sundays from 11am-5pm (closed Mondays). The museum is located in the City Park, and boasts three levels of both a permanent collection and rotating exhibits. Outside of the museum, you can also take a stroll through the eleven acres and ninety sculptures that make up the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden.
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of my experience was learning about New Orleans’ National World War II Museum. As it would turn out, the museum is the #1 tourist attraction of the city. What makes this museum so unique is that it is a truly immersive experience! At the beginning of your trip, you are given a card that represents a soldier who fought in the war. You are then able to learn more about your soldier as you go through the exhibit. Because of this addition, the museum is extremely personal and gives us the opportunity to learn about singular members, not just the whole. Further, the museum has temperature controlled rooms that follow the timeline and weather patterns/environmental factors of important battles and climates that were fought in throughout the war.
This actually is my favorite museum that I have ever visited, so I urge you to find time in your trip to go as well! It is open daily from 9am-5pm except for closures on Mardi Gras, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Admission is $28.50 for adults, $18.50 for students with a valid ID/children 5+, and free for children 5 and under. Admission is free for all World War II veterans.
Wrapping things up…
My trip to New Orleans was magical, and I would definitely return again and again. There is such an interesting history to the city due to it’s French and Creole background. This city is definitely not one to be slept on. So, in true New Orleans fashion, let’s raise our glasses to to the “Big Easy!”
all my love,
PS: Want more #MarMar Monday? Check out her posts on San Francisco, an Arkansas road trip, and the sights of Utah!