A couple of weeks ago it was Mardi Gras in New Orleans, which reminded me that I haven’t even finished telling you guys about my visit to The Big Easy, yet! (tsk tsk).
I bet you’ve all been waiting with bated breath since I posted about my Arrival in New Orleans, right? (‘yes’ is the correct answer– ha ha).
Cowboy and I were on a big road trip throughout the Deep South which included Louisville, Kentucky (where we toured the Home of the Kentucky Derby), the Country Music Capital of the World aka ‘Nashville’ (here and here) and then a few days in Memphis (here and here) before we finally rolled into New Orleans.
After we checked into our hotel in the French Quarter, we headed straight to our room to drop off our luggage. If you caught Part 1 of this story, you might recall the funny story about our room. When we arrived to the room and took a quick look around, we immediately headed straight back the front desk to ask for an upgrade (which the front desk agent originally offered, but we figured a basic room would be good enough).
What we didn’t expect, though, was the room to be windowless! I have trouble waking up most mornings–let alone if there is no sunlight (or heck, even daylight) in the morning. So a window is not really ‘optional’ for me. Call me crazy.
Fortunately the friendly woman at the front desk offered us a nice upgrade (again), especially when Cowboy mentioned that this was our first time in NOLA and we were celebrating my birthday here. Then–for only $70 more– we got a huge 2-level room with a living room area and not only a window, but a giant-sized balcony, too. Score!
This is MUCH better, don’t you agree? 😀
After we settled in, I contemplated taking a nap since I was completely exhausted. And it was barely even 9pm! If you know me you’re probably laughing right now because you know I rarely fall asleep before 2am. But I woke up way too early at the campground this morning (7am!!), then we’d toured Graceland, and we did some more sightseeing in Memphis….and then we did the 6-hour drive through Mississippi to get here in the 30+ degree (90 F) heat. Phew! No wonder I was feeling sleepy.
But there was no way I was going to fall asleep early on my first. night. ever. in New Orleans!! Instead, I just downed a couple of coffees, grabbed a quick shower and then I was ready to hit Bourbon Street.
The moment we walked out of the hotel and started walking up Bourbon Street, I was suddenly wide awake and giddy with excitement. We’re in New Orleans, dudes!
There’s something totally energizing about being on Bourbon Street. Even though it’s only Monday, it felt like a Friday night here. But you know this has got to be a party street just by the name of it alone, right?
Indeed! This is the heart of the French Quarter, and where you’ll see mostly tourists wandering around checking out the sites. From what we heard, locals avoid this street like the plague 😀
The boisterous street was jam-packed with musicians on every corner, several gaggles of party-goers, bridal parties, tour groups and random tourists such as ourselves. This is also where you’ll find a gazillion restaurants, bars and pubs, strip clubs, jazz clubs, a few shops, and several take-away windows–just in case you want a quick drink in between bars. (this was already sounding dangerous).
As we got to the busier end of the street and saw the two other hotels we’d considered staying at, and we were even happier about our hotel choice (Bourbon Orleans). While our hotel is still close to the street and all the action, it’s not right ON this crazy busy section of Bourbon Street. Thankfully!
Cowboy was pretty excited about checking out some live music so we found a small bar that had a band cranking out some great tunes. We got a drink at the bar and found a table so we could sit down and watch the band. Cowboy told me this was ‘zydeco music’, which I’d never heard of before. The music was fabulous!
We met a few fellow Canadians while we were here, too. It was fun comparing stories of our trips so far.
One great thing about this town is that when you want to leave a bar, you don’t have to chug your drink before heading out. We could just grabbed our beers and wander out onto the street!!! (?). It felt so weird that I kept looking behind us for cops. I felt like a teenager again sneaking drinks (ha ha…wait, not that I ever did that *coughcough*).
Cowboy was way too excited about drinking on the street, even if he doesn’t look like it here.
I enjoyed sipping my glass of wine while soaking up the crazy bawdiness (and insanity) that is Bourbon Street.
We decided to head over to Hotel Monteleone, just off Bourbon Street, to try to get a seat on the famous Carousel Bar. I wasn’t overly optimistic because I’ve heard it can be really tough since this place is a real hot spot for tourists.
A few fellow travellers told us that our best luck getting a seat here is when the bar opens at 11am. But since I’m not a big fan of drinking cocktails before lunch, we decided to throw caution to the wind and hit up the bar now, in hopes for a late-night bevvie.
There’s a good reason this bar is so popular: it’s an actual circus Merry-Go-Round that you can sit on and sip a cocktail while chatting with the bartender. You are essentially spinning, albeit slowly, and not just from the alcohol. Cool beans!
As many of you know, Cowboy is a bartender by trade…and we both love checking out restaurants or pubs that are in historic buildings such as Post Offices, Department Stores…. or Circus Carousels. This was right up our alley.
The circus-clad Carousel bar was installed in the (supposedly haunted) Hotel Monteleone in 1949. This circular bar turns on 2,000 large steel rollers beneath the bar. It looks straight out of a circus, complete with pictures of cute circus animals, bright lights and vibrant colours. It’s just fabulous.
It wasn’t crazy busy at all, surprisingly, so we were able to grab a spot on the bar right away. We were told later that we were sharing the same seats as Ernest Hemingway, Tennesse Williams and Truman Capote, all whom use to frequent this place. And, more recently, Michael Jordon and Dennis Quaid had been spotted enjoying a cocktail here, too.
We didn’t see any celebrities while we were here, though we did look around just in case. I think Cowboy had high hopes of running into Robert Plant here and buying him a Rum Runner or perhaps a Rusty Nail.
We decided to have a fancy cocktail, which is really a ‘must-do’ whilst on the Carousel Bar. While it was a nice change from our usual beer/wine, the drinks are pretty expensive ($12-14 range) and they weren’t really mind-blowingly great, either. But we didn’t mind the cost too much because it’s not often we get to sit on a revolving bar that looks straight out of a circus.
For some reason, Cowboy felt right at home here (he he).
You’re probably wondering how we managed to sip our drinks on a spinning bar without spilling them, right? (especially me, since I’m a well-known klutz). It’s not actually ‘a ride’, really, as it takes about 15 minutes for this 25-seat bar to make one revolution around the room. So it moves so slowly, you don’t really notice it (until you realize you’ve gone around the room, that is).
But I don’t recommend getting drunk on here, though, as that could be slightly dangerous. But with the high cocktail prices, there’s probably little chance of imbibing too much here, anyway.
Although it looks like Cowboy is spinning here like he’s on a ride, rest assured it’s just the wonky flash from all the lights.
You may have seen this bar featured in a few movies, too. We were told that Double Jeopardy (1992) with Tommy Lee Jones and Ashley Judd featured the Carousel Bar in a couple of scenes. I did see that movie, but can’t really remember much about it. I’ll have to watch it again sometime and check out the scenes at the carousel bar.
Before we left, we wandered around the hotel for a bit in hopes to run into a few ghosts. No luck, unfortunately (or rather, fortunately) but I did spot the odd kook here.
I hope you enjoyed our little stroll around New Orleans!
If you’re visiting this beautiful city, check out my first post for more info about our hotel and other highlights of New Orleans. Also feel free to leave a comment here if you want to ask me anything about our experience here in NOLA. If you’ve been to The Big Easy, I’d love to hear about what you liked about this city. Hopefully you grabbed a drink on the Carousel Bar, too.
Thanks for reading, guys!
Cheers, xo Dana