A friend told us we had to visit New Orleans, so we did.
Mike and I took three days in 2004, a year and a half before Hurricane Katrina hit, and went there over the Valentine’s Day weekend. My step-sister kindly stayed with our two year old and we were free to go!
We stayed at what is now the Avenue Plaza Resort on St. Charles Avenue in the Garden District. After getting three different key cards to get into our room a front desk clerk accompanied us to the room. Of course that key card worked.
“These old places are haunted,” he said, shrugging.
The room was big, a little dated and faded, but it had a kitchenette and we didn’t plan to spend too much time there anyway.
We had a bite in the lobby bar. This was my first experience with the southern habit of using endearments on total strangers. Honey, sweetie, and sugar, were things we were called. It disconcerted me in a culture clash kind of way.
Dinner was at the Commander’s Palace, recommended to us. It’s a huge old mansion converted into an amazing restaurant. I think we ate in one of the bedrooms. Afterwards we sat near the 300 year old black oak in the courtyard; it was huge and gorgeous.
We took ourselves to the French Quarter on the historic St. Charles Streetcar afterwards and sampled some of the many, many bars. As someone told us, we didn’t take the streetcar after 10pm, but took a cab back to the hotel. On the streetcar in the daytime it was really interesting to get a good look at something other than the French Quarter.
The first morning when we woke up, we noted that we were on opposite sides of the bed than when we had gone to sleep. We chalked that up to one of us getting up in the middle of the night and not remembering.
Saturday, Valentine’s Day, we attended the New Orleans School of Cooking for a demonstration class and wandered the French Quarter and took in the sights. Dinner that evening was at the Palace Cafe on Canal Street; a lively place with great food and drinks.
The next morning we woke with me in the bed and Mike on the floor. I know for a fact that he had gone to sleep in the bed and he has never once fallen out of bed in the past. We decided that if one of us woke up in the hall the next morning, this place was officially haunted.
Sunday, we took a carriage ride tour and ate lunch at Pat O’Brien’s, birthplace of the hurricane (drink). That evening, one of the first parades of the Mardi Gras season wound its way through the French Quarter. The Krewe du Vieux only use live music and are known to be a little bawdy. We watched the parade in the pouring rain and enjoyed it immensely. The only beads I received were from a kind lady who was leaving and gave me hers.
The next morning nothing untoward happened upon awakening. A good thing. We headed home that afternoon after a walk through the Garden District and decided next time we would stay a little longer.