Greetings, fellow Norsemen! I`m sure most of you have heard about our beloved Vikes and their journey to defeat the dirty men of the Mississippi, the "Saints". And perhaps you`ve decided to pack the longboat and row down to bear witness to the slaying, perhaps planning on doing a little raiding and pillaging yourselves (insert random Katrina joke). More than likely, if you have, this will be your first trip to the mystical swampland known as the Crescent City... but you won`t know what to do, or where to go, how to get a decent flagon of mead, or find out that the closest bratwurst is 1,000 miles away! Even the bravest Vikings are no match for the cobbles and dark alleys of the Big (ch)Easy, and one street or another could mean the difference between your wallet making it back home or not. Fear not, brethren, for I give you, the high and low points of New Orleans...
Jackson Square and Saint Louis Cathedral.
Probably one of the most common tourist
traps destinations, Jackson Square is one of the most emphasized points of the city other than Bourbon Street. Directly across Decatur St from the Square is a grand observation area which overlooks the Mississippi river to one side, and St Louis Cathedral on the other. You`re going to want to avoid this area wearing any gear with a Vikings logo, name, or insignia visible, as the Taints PR department in conjunction with the NFL, have set up a stage right here to honor the beginning of the NFL season. Mass gathering point for belligerent Taints fans. Nestled right beside some of the more well-stocked souvenir shops in the city, the Old Jax Brewery, and very close to my favorite retail... The Cigar Factory of New Orleans... You`ll see the city the tourism industry wanted you to see...
Human robots, tap dancers, Brass bands, artists selling their wares on the square wrought-iron fencing... even many many fortune tellers. Beware the vagrant who shimmies his/her way up to you with the hook "bet ah kin tell yu where yu got dem shoos...". Also, right alongside the Cathedral and Cabildo is a very historic and picturesque spot...
Usually pretty safe place, even during twilight hours. Stories say it was a haven for international pirates, some others say it was a hub for slave trading... I don`t care. It has a pretty kick-ass pub i`d advise checking out, the Pirate Alley Cafe and Absinthe House. Not too big on the list of tourists, so it has more of a local feel.
Yes. I can guarantee you it will look like that Thursday.
Yawn. Bourbon this and Bourbon that. It`s what you`ve all heard it is, nothing more, nothing less. A shitload of bars, overpriced beers, gentleman`s clubs, daily muggings, and some decent restaurants. If you enjoy dealing with about a milliongajillion wasted frat boy Taints fans, other than the Superdome, this is it.
I`m warning you now, you are NOT going to be welcomed. Just stay the eff out unless you can come to terms with wearing a plain black shirt, losing the Minnesotan accent, and saying y`all and ain`t like there`s no tommorrow... or common sense. There will be lots of women... who look like women... and act like women. I`m not saying, i`m just saying... And i`m saying, stay away from St. Ann St.
The French Market and Cafe du Monde:
The oldest coffee house in the modern era, I believe... even before fire ravaged the city or something. It`s bland, crowded, the workers are rude... but the beignets are fucking amazing. If you like flea markets, go ahead to the French Market. The Cafe is kitty corner from Jackson Square, as is most everything on this list...
Except Magazine Street and St Charles:
Arguably the best part of the whole damn city, Magazine street is where all of the "elite" of New Orleans shop when not at Canal Place (which is actually a very very convenient place to park your car, corner of North Peters and Canal). and where you`ll find all of the artists of the areas that actually have places to live; St Charles is where all those "elite" people fancy themselves living.
Where to eat:
I don`t have forever and a day to type this out, so i`ll give you six picks: Two modestly priced, two moderately priced, and two OHMYGOD priced.
Modest: Mother`s (Tchoupitoulas and Poydras)
Excellent food, cheap prices, nice scenic Mardi Gras route part of town. Long. Ass. Wait, during peak hours. They`ll tell you they have the best Gumbo in the city, but they all use the same purveyors now...
Modest: Camellia Grill (South Carrollton and St Charles)
Same deal, awesome food, scenich oak filled South Carrollton Avenue... Long. Ass. Wait during peak hours.
Moderate: Port of Call (The Marigny, Esplanade Ave)
Certified dive bar, beloved by locals. Great burgers, with baked potatoes.. baked potatoes? WTF?
Moderate: Acme Oyster House (Iberville and Royal St.. one block east of Canal)
Oysters. Icky, slimy oysters. You know you wanna.
Expensive, seriously: Antoine`s (713 St Louis St)
Probably one of the greatest operating culinary experiences in the continental United States.
Expensive, seriously: Commander`s Palace (1403 Washington Ave, Two blocks south of St Charles, Two blocks north of Magazine in the Garden District)
Just edged out by Antoine`s, if you`re only staying two nights, and can afford it, treat yourself... you won`t regret the experience...
Where to stay:
Aside from the usual very nice hotel accomodations, The W, Marriott on Canal, Royal Sonesta, Windsor Court, Renaissance Arts... etc... Mrs Maisbikkja and I`ve really only stayed in one French Quarter hotel in my time here, Hotel Provincial. Loved it. Absolutely loved it. Door-to-ceiling windows opened to Chartres street below, where we could hear horse carriages and guided tours below. Nice location about two blocks away from the French Market, and phenominal rates. Haunted, too.
Where to stay away from:
Anywhere that looks creepy, feels creepy, or has creepy looking people, probably is creepy... even though that`s most of town. Use caution. Don`t go further from the river than Bourbon, and stay mostly on Decatur or Chartres. Even then, do NOT go east of Frenchman or Elysian Fields... and stay on the northeast side of Poydras if at all possible. New Orleans is NOT a safe city outside of the patrolled tourist areas, and even then, you know, shit happens. It`s a great place to visit, and many experiences to be had... just use caution, people.
Hope this helped!