We scrambled to find a hotel room (thank goodness for cell phones) before we began crossing over swampland (alligators, anyone?) and then the vast expanse of Lake Pontchartrain. I couldn't stop looking at the lake long enough to take pictures, so this is a borrowed shot. When we crossed, the skies were heavy with gray clouds and the lake rough as the ocean on a stormy day...enough to send a little shiver up the spine. The causeway is 23 miles long-I think one of the longest in the country.
I couldn't help but be reminded of a dog our local shelter rescued from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He was a big, sweet, goofy boy. We called him Pontchartrain (Ponch for short).
This hotel became our home base. The Hotel Mazarin is in the French Quarter. It has all the flair offered by French-Creole heritage, and here's my totally uncompensated opinion...The Hotel Mazarin is beautiful, the staff friendly and helpful, and it's located within walking distance of anything you might want to see (including a few things you might not want to see-it is close to the infamous Bourbon Street, after all) in the heart of downtown NOLA. Oh, and get this. Along with hotel keys, we were handed coupons for a free drink in the hotel bar (nice!). As an added bonus, a bountiful hot breakfast buffet including just about anything you could possibly want, is provided free to guests. If I ever go back to visit NOLA, I promise you this is where I plan to stay.
The hotel not only had fabulous drinks, but musicians good enough to prevent any of us from sitting still. We sipped and enjoyed the sounds of New Orleans. Then we ventured out to find dinner.
Peche (French for "fish"), certainly satisfied. It is a trifle pricey, but later when I researched the place I discovered it's won awards from the James Beard Foundation for culinary distinction and has excellent reviews from magazines such as Bon Appetit, the Wall Street Journal, and Southern Living. I guess there are times when girls simply must splurge.
Along an only slightly intimidating walk in the dark back to our hotel, we forced ourselves to stop in a beignet cafe. After all, you can't come to New Orleans without savoring a warm, sweet beignet, can you?
Ahhh. The perfect nightcap. Next time, I'll tell you how we spent our second day in NOLA.