First stop, Bourbon Street. I had some preconceived notions about this infamous street, I'd been to Beal Street before in Memphis and expected something a little bit like that.... but oh boy... it's a whole 'nother crazier beast. Even at 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon it was wild and I can only imagine what this place looks like at Mardi Gras. The entire street is just bars, bars, and more bars, with the occasional fancy restaurant thrown in. You are immediately hit by a certain familiar scent of booze (and vomit), and out of no where someone pops a string of beads around you neck and then asks you for a tip. Um, okay?
Galatoire's so once our flights were booked the next thing we did was make reservations as far in advance as they allow. Galatoire's is an institution and totally classic New Orleans cuisine. We indulged on Crabmeat Masion (basically just a heaping helping of delicious fresh lump-meat crab with hollandaise) and then I had Etouffe for my main course because you have to!
The next day after T.J. wrapped up his presentation we hopped on the street car and headed to the Garden District. We made our way first to the World War Two museum where we spent a good chunk of time, it's really well done. We took the cable car deeper into the garden district and hopped off at the historic Lafayette Cemetery No.1. New Orleans sits below sea level so their cemeteries are huge labyrinths of above ground tombs. It's a bit eerie to wonder up and down the rows and pick out names and dates and quirky epitaphs.
Leaving the cemetery we set off on foot down the cracked wonky stone sidewalks (beware in heels, or flats, really just beware) passing wrought iron fences protecting drop dead gorgeous homes.
(This was T.J.'s favorite house, home of Archie Manning. Doesn't that look like the perfect front yard for throwing the football with Peyton and Eli?)
We took the long way back to the French quarter and walked along the Mississippi river until we reached the green awning of Cafe du Monde.
We grabbed an open table and a server appeared to take our order. The menu is simple (and cash only so come prepared) so we quickly ordered two plates of beignets and small chicory coffees. This place is a popular tourist spot but it is one hundred percent worth the hype. The beignets are hot and fresh (careful not to breathe in when taking a bite unless you want to inhale powdered sugar) and the coffee is perfect and I don't even really like coffee.
Later that night we met up with one of the graduated residents from T.J.'s program. He's station back in the southeast so it was fun to reconnect and hear about life outside of residency (we can see the light!). We went to a local sports bar near Tulane and had oysters on the half shell and fried catfish and pulled pork. Then we headed back to the hotel bar to wait for another couple to arrive from the airport. This sweet friend, the wife of another graduated resident, is sorely missed back in Washington, and I was so excited to reconnect with her. I love that even though we only had a few short years together in Washington, the Army and medicine will hopefully keep bringing us excuses to see each other throughout the years.
On Friday we slept in for a bit and then T.J. and I picked up a rental car and hit the road. We realized we would only be a few hours away from his grandma and aunt in Mississippi and who knows when we'll be that close again so we took this opportunity to drop in on them for an early supper. It was an easy drive and sweet reunion.
The night wouldn't have been complete without a late night trip to Cafe du Monde, conveniently open 24 hours. Nothing like beignets at 2 am with your friends to cap off a perfectly fun/ feels like we're back in college kind of night. And the next day we made our way back to the west coast with fond memories and good intentions to come back in the future.