|Trinity Episcopal Church|
Garden District of New Orleans
Preparations for the trip first centered around restaurant reservations. Two months in advance were not enough to secure a table for some NOLA traditional establishments. Arnaud’s website warned they were booked until May. Commodore’s Palace wouldn’t allow online reservations and a call confirmed they were completely full for brunch on Easter Sunday. Amelie’s, a small venue in the French Quarter, apologized for its capacity crowd and could only offer to put us on a waiting list. Fortunately, finding a good restaurant in the Crescent City is easy and I could relax a bit with a confirmed brunch reservation at Coquette’s in the Garden District. It seemed prudent to firm up eating arrangements for other nights of our trip and those came more easily – Bayona on Saturday night and August, a Josh Besh restaurant, on Monday evening.
For accommodations, we used Airbnb for the first time. Our go to favorite home/apartment rental company had been VRBO – Vacation Rental by Owner. But younger friends promoted Airbnb as it advertised not only full apartments and houses but also single rooms or even a shared room. Prices can be as low as $30 a night in the Seventh Ward or $155 a night for a two bedroom spot in the French Quarters or $355 for a four bedroom house in the suburbs.
We booked half of a shotgun house on Magazine Street in the Garden District, complete with front porch for easy street scene viewing. Donuts and coffee were one block to the east and a neighborhood bar one block west. Our landlord lived next door and had coffee, water and cold beer awaiting our arrival. He knew the local scene and could suggest many music venues and local food choices.
|Diners at Commodore's Palace|
|Strawberry shortcake with mint ice|
cream at Coquette's in Garden District
|Lafayette Cemetery #1|
If Mardi Gras parades seem excessive, an alternative is the Easter parade. Three were available in the French Quarter with several neighborhood ones nearby. Bourbon Street Club owner, Chris Owens, was the Grand Duchess of her 32nd annual “patriotic” Easter Parade. Stuffed bunnies are tossed as well as the ever present beads. Another favorite family activity appeared to be picnics in the beautiful Audubon Park and then just cruising St. Charles Avenue with windows open.
New Orleans for the traveler has the feel of a foreign country as well as living in a time capsule. Much of the city has completely recovered from Hurricane Katrina and it has almost recouped its population loss from the storm. Despite recent crime surges due in part to a 30% vacancy rate in the police department, the city feels safe, friendly, and walkable. It certainly was on a beautiful Easter Sunday.