#MyBestFriendsWedding Chapter 7 Meets #TravelTuesdays – Nola Bach Weekend Activities

You guys know by now that I can write for days on end, but this entry will be three Harry Potter books-long if I don’t reel myself in. So I’m diving right into the day-by-day itinerary of the bachelorette I planned for my biff Michelle. Buckle up!

*If you want a version of the plain hourly itinerary without my schpeal, here you go!*

Thursday, March 1st: Arrivals, Set-up, Welcome! 

I flew out early on Thursday morning to set up the apartment. Vanessa (Michelle’s future SIL) and her friend Stephanie were also flying in early for a meeting with a client, and Ashtine (bridal party) would land in the afternoon. The bride and the rest of the crew would arrive at night.  I headed to our HomeAway rental (Michelle wanted us all together, so a hotel was not really an option) as soon as I landed – this place was kind of a miracle find after endless searches on AirBnB, VRBO, etc. because 1. It’s a newly built condo (in an old building), 2. The location is PERFECT, near Bourbon and Frenchmen but not in the midst of the party craze and 3. The price was about half of what all other rentals in the area. MIRACLE I tell you! Stephanie put together the welcome boxes for the girls before heading out to her meeting, and I had a light lunch at Cafe Envie right across the street while I waited for Ashtine to arrive. Once she landed, she came with me to the nearest Walmart (the one on Tchoupitulas, which has a full Liquor Store inside) to stock up on supplies for the apartment. I’ll link you to my shopping list, which includes some things I forgot (since I’m not a coffee drinker, I forgot about the cream and sugar, but there was some in the apartment thankfully). I ordered Uber Eats from Louisiana Pizza Kitchen to have at the apartment waiting while we got the girls at the airport. Caro had this awesome idea to get picked up at the airport in a party bus, so we booked with Luxe Limousine, and our driver Darrow was AWESOME! He was there early, and even accommodated our request to stop for a drink right before dropping us off. Thanks Darrow! Once we got to the apartment, we quickly changed, ate, and headed out to party on Bourbon! The best stop of the night was undoubtedly Cats Meow, which is always a great time with nostalgia-driven karaoke, and consistently great MCs running the show! We even got on stage for a rendition of single ladies 😉

 

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Friday, March 2nd: NON-STOP Activities! 

We started off our morning with light breakfast in the apartment from our shopping spree the day before, and we had planned to do the Panty Line Poem (an activity where all in attendance get a pair of underwear that celebrates a specific milestone for the bride/couple, and goes with a poem) for Michelle at this time. We caught her totally off guard and she absolutely loved it! Then, we headed to what would probably be the most memorable meal of the whole trip (and I knew it would be) – Atchafalaya. I came here during my first trip to Nola back in 2014, and it was my first meal priority for the bach. Their largest table accommodates 12 and we were 13 so they split us in side by side tables, but it was totally fine and WORTH IT. Try the grits. Just trust me. Then, we headed to the Gray Line Original Walking Cocktail Tour, which was a very informative and fun walk around hidden gems of the French Quarter with so much history and great boozy drinks! The group got to try Absinthe, Sazeracs, Sidecars (my personal favorite), Hurricanes (the good kind, stay away from the Pat O’Brien’s blend!), and more! After the tour we headed back to the apartment to get ready for the nighttime activity: Drag Show! Now I have to say, on the website, they advertised a Diva Royale “Real Housewives of New Orleans” show which I thought would be so much fun for the group, but they called us earlier in the day to let us know that they were merging the show with the guys from Hunk-O-Mania… aka male strippers. Basically, we were REALLY going to have a bachelorette now! Ha! One of the things Michelle was VERY clear about from the beginning was: no strippers. I knew it and I was 100% down to comply, but it just so happened that things took a turn (for our benefit) and so we just rolled with it. When we got to Mags 940 (the bar where the show is hosted), I was approached by the owner of the drag show to ask if we wanted to put Michelle in the hot seat. I said it was fine as long as Michelle was only in a drag segment and not with a male stripper. They totally respected our wishes and Michelle had an awesome experience on stage with a gorgeous, funny and great queen. The rest of the brides in attendance got the full Hunk-O-Mania treatment and we had A LOT of fun watching it, but Michelle (or her fiance) definitely would not have been ok with that lol! The show ran late and we were INCREDIBLY late for our dinner reservation at Three Muses, but they were SUPER accommodating and texted us through the show and accepted our rescheduling needs and OMG the food was BEYOND delicious. This was the one place I had not tried, and it was so so good. They also don’t take parties bigger than eight, so we had to split into two tables again, but it was fine/worth it. Michelle and a few other girls kept the party going down Frenchmen Street and that was that for Friday!

 

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Saturday, March 3rd: Sisters, Beignets & Aphrodisiacs! 

During my first trip to Nola in 2014, I had Sunday brunch at the Court of Two Sisters. I remember it being delicious and a great overall experience, so when it came time to do the bachelorette itinerary, it was a no-brainer for me to host a brunch here (and I really wanted it to be a full-on floral brunch outside in the courtyard, with the live jazz band! The whole nine…) but upon doing my research this time around, it seemed the service and the food quality and variety had dramatically worsened since that visit. They were receiving really harsh reviews and it seemed their best days were behind them. I battled between doing Commander’s Palace, Brennans, Cafe Amelie, and many other brunch spots but for some reason (floral courtyard jazz!) my heart was set on the Court. Fortunately, I kept checking reviews and they seemed to be improving closer to the trip, so I pulled the trigger and made the reservation. The said they couldn’t guarantee courtyard seating but they made it happen and it was GORGEOUS. We couldn’t have asked for better weather that entire weekend, and the brunch was simply whimsically beautiful AND delicious. Everyone loved the food and gave rave reviews to everything, except the gumbo, not that it was bad but they simply had a MUCH better version at Three Muses the night before. That’s still a 99% overall, so I’ll take it! After the court, I set up the itinerary to give us time to walk around, try Cafe Du Monde/Cafe Beignet, visit the French Market, and have a lax afternoon until our 4:00pm Aphrodisiac Tour from Witches Brew Tours. Now, I can’t remember where I found this and they’ve remodeled their website since I first found the info, but this tour was awesome. Our tour guide Marillyn was just a delight, so funny and knowledgeable and she had a blast with our group. She gave us background stories on aphrodisiacs and then took us to experience them first-hand – chocolates from Sucré, hot sauces from the Pepper Palace, a quick look at toys and other fun items at Mr. Binky’s Boutique, oyster shooters from honestly I can’t remember where, and if you’re up for it, you can also fit in a quick visit to a Voodoo shop just as a learning experience. Again, can’t say enough good things about Marillyn, totally made our last afternoon in Nola a memorable fun one! And finally, for our last Nawlins supper, I booked us dinner at Criollo, inside the Monteleone hotel, so we could fit in a quick visit to the Carousel Bar. I told the girls from before the trip not to get excited about the bar as it’s IMPOSSIBLE to get a seat on it, no matter the time of the day, so they knew it was more of a picture opp than anything else. To our huge surprise/delight/amazement, because of our party size, the Criollo staff welcomed us in one of their private rooms. We felt like the Real Housewives of all the cities rolled into one, getting such VIP treatment! It really was the perfect closing to the trip. We actually sang happy birthday to Michelle here because her birthday was coming up that following week, so we took advantage to get the festivities started. After this awesome dinner, we headed out to enjoy our last night experiencing all that Bourbon had to offer, and then we made our way back to the apartment for a few hours of sleep, and back home we all went!

 

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I hope you enjoyed my endless recount of this weekend that I will forever cherish as I hope Michelle and the rest of the girls do. New Orleans is a very fun city, not for everyone, but it’s definitely a top choice destination for bachelor/bachelorette parties because of their chill party scene, yummy food (seriously, you have to make an effort to find bad food in Nola), and cheap drinks!

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#TravelTuesdays – Weekend in N’awlins

Traveling is the greatest thing there is. Seeing the architecture, meeting the people, eating the food, etc. of a new place is the best kind of education and personal growth out there. This past weekend in New Orleans was one of the most fun and fulfilling experiences of my life. NOLA has it ALL: BEAUTIFUL sights, interesting people, and some of the best food I’ve ever had. Honestly, this trip was ALL about the food, so… Let’s just jump in!

  1. Mother’s – holy po’boys. Mother’s is a local right of passage type of place. It’s been around since the dawn of time, and its history is as rich as the bread pudding. BEST BREAD PUDDING IN ALL OF THE ENTIRE FACE OF THE EARTH. The end. Don’t debate me. The fried shrimp po’boys were off the charts too. Great introduction to the trip!
  2. Bourbon Street – if you didn’t come here, you didn’t go to New Orleans. We hit up a lot of bars, strip clubs (some by accident) and restaurants all around the area. There was fun in every corner! Some key nighttime stops in the area:
    1. Touchdown Jesus: someone told one of my friends about it, and we didn’t know what it was… until we saw it. Go towards the back of St. Louis Cathedral at night, and you’ll be greeted by the one and only!
    2. Pat O’Brien’s (Pat O’s if you’re cool): such a chill, cool, open bar, with some of the best hurricanes in town.
    3. Preservation Hall: oh man. What an experience! This was one of the unexpected stops we made. We were walking all around Bourbon and we saw a big line for this place, and we had no idea what it was for. We asked one of the people in line and they mentioned it was a Jazz show. That’s all we knew. We were too late to make it to the 7 o’clock show, so we lined up for 8. If you’ve ever wanted to travel in time, this is the place to do it. You walk in to this old, barely lit building, onto a very small area, standing room for the most part, with a small stage and some old chairs and instruments. The band starts playing. I don’t care how much jazz you’ve listened to in your life, you haven’t truly heard it until you’re here. The band was absolutely flawless and incredible. They took requests (donations required; go towards the back of your wallet if you want to listen to the classics, aka “The Saints”). Worth every minute, every penny. No food or drinks inside, it’s only a one-hour show.
  3. Atchafalaya: I can’t remember if we need to thank Yelp or Trip Advisor for this one, but holy brunch. We were trying to schedule a meal at The Court of Two Sisters, but their staff told us they were packed so we had to look elsewhere, and we found this GEM in the Garden District. It’s not one of the globally acclaimed stops, but rather a local hidden treasure, which we are so glad to have found and which I will recommend from here to the end of time. It’s about a 15 minute car ride from downtown. PS – we had multiple restaurant experiences all throughout the city where they told us long wait periods that turned out to be 10 minutes, or said they were full, but really weren’t. It seems like a common (stupid/douchey) practice in Nola. Go anyways.
  4. Pralines: typical New Orleans dessert. Best place to get them for the best price is right on Jackson Square at the New Orleans School of Cooking. Must try and must buy a few boxes to bring back as gifts (to yourself… so you can grieve the distance between you and your Nola trip).
  5. Criollo Restaurant & Carousel Lounge at Hotel Monteleone: delicious food (obviously need to try the bread pudding for dessert), great ambiance and awesome “digestive” setting a few feet over at the Carousel Bar! Never had a chance to actually sit on the carousel bar, but nonetheless it was an awesome sight.
  6. Court of Two Sisters: gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish, king’s cake, bread pudding… This place has ALL of New Orleans’ gastronomic heritage under one roof. It’s not the best version of each food, but it’s definitely a fun experience and good value. Recognized throughout as a must for tourists.
  7. Garden District: beautiful walk. Also, if you’re a fan of the American Horror Story “Coven” season, you can pass by the house where they filmed, and picture yourself as the Supreme while you’re at it.

There are plenty more things to do (we also visited Frenchmen Street, the Mardi Gras warehouse, a number of cemeteries, and more!), but I’m going to stop the list here because I’m getting depressed I came back home 😦 Here’s a little highlight gallery for your reference and my continued weeping…