This past February my husband Keith and I got the chance to board the beautiful American Queen Steamboat out of marvelous New Orleans. We took the 9-day round trip Southern Sampler trip up. We traveled up and down the Mississippi River in exchange for covering this for amazing journey for Senior News & Times of Illinois!
Mardis Gras fun
New Orleans was already bustling with Mardis Gras fun when we arrived on Sunday March 16th. During our taxi ride from the airport, the cabbie and said with Mardis Gras that police were even giving cab drivers tickets if they dawdled anywhere. Parking was that tight!
Luckily as pedestrians, we were able to walk around. It was fun enjoying the scenes and fun Mardis Gras souvenirs!
The Mardis Gras parade was just a block or so from our hotel the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. The section of the parade we saw, was family oriented with high school bands, children.
New Orleans Food
The food in New Orleans is amazing. We asked a policeman where to eat. He directed us to the French Quarter. We found the Coterie Restaurant Oyster Bar . There we shared a plate of seafood and amazing bread pudding. The feasting began early on!
The Hilton has a wonderful breakfast at the LeCroissant restaurant. This is included as part of the American Queen travel package. They included some fun New Orleans food. My favorite aspect was a fresh made omelet! There is also a mall The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk attached to the hotel and River Walk. Keith and I both took advantage of the chance to shop!
History in the city
Outside of the hotel, we came up on a bit of fun WWII history. We saw a statue of Winston Churchill donated by his daughter the Honorable Lady Soames!
We headed for the French Quarter stopping at the Creole Praline. The owner assured us his was the finest praline in the city!
There is history everywhere in this city. Several flags have flew over the city laying claim. We passed a statue of the founder of New Orleans, Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. We saw it as we proceeded to Jackson Square.
Jackson Square was the site of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Before this time, New Orleans was the Capital of the Spanish Province of Louisiana! The square was known as the Place d-Armes until 1856. The focal point in the square is a statue of Andrew Jackson. He was the hero of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans on horseback.
Behind the statue of Andrew Jackson is a historic Catholic Church, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis King of France. This church was completed in 1851. It is built over the foundation of a colonial 1727 church and has been the city’s center of worship for 280 years. It is the oldest active cathedral in the United States!
We travelled from the lovely French Quarter to Bourbon Street where jazz and is king. We spied a plaque of a home where Tennessee Williams stayed on Toulouse Street. There he wrote the short story “The Angel in the Alcove”. I would have loved to tour, but time was short!
We did however have enough time to take a mule carriage ride with a guide. He was was totally irreverent and a lot of fun. We covered tons of history in half an hour. We had a barrel of laughs to boot! Best $20.00 per person ever. He pointed out murals, statues and other historic sites we would have missed otherwise.
On our way back to the boat we took the lovely River Walk. We found tons of great statues and history along the way. One sad note we saw was that New Orleans was the Transatlantic Slave Route to Louisiana. It is ironic that not far is the beautiful Monument to the Immigrant. Those citizens fought so hard to come to America while the slaves were forced.
We were thrilled to get to see so much of New Orleans during our brief stay. From the Mardi Gras celebration, to fine dining, to history that lives on in the architecture and statues that stand today. New Orleans is a fascinating history and the start of our American Queen journey!