New Orleans has been on my radar since I first learned about turtle soup and rode a boat through the “bayou” on the Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland. The city seemed so romantic and mysterious with its voodoo, Cajun accents, Old World architecture and moonlit nights on the swamp. Better known to the rest of the world for its jazz, booze and beignets, did you know that it also has a treasure trove of geocaches?
As soon as I arrived in New Orleans, I took a walk down Bourbon Street and I was itching to get started geocaching because I knew the area was littered with them, all placed strategically near famous and infamous locales. In the French Quarter alone, there are more virtual caches than there are in my entire hometown of Oakland, CA. However, it was late, the street was teeming with muggles, and I wanted to be fresh for my new adventure, so I waited for the next morning.
To start off a day of geocaching in the French Quarter, I suggest stopping at Café Du Monde for its world famous beignets. Be sure to wear white because you will be covered in powdered sugar before you finish your order of these delectable doughnut-like pastries. If you are in a hurry, don’t wait for a table. Instead, buy your beignets and an ice café au lait from the to-go window and eat them on a bench near GC4AE10 (Caché du Monde). This is the perfect guise to keep from being discovered by the throngs of muggles nearby. Beware, this one is a tricky one to grab because there are literally muggles everywhere you turn. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the café staff is well aware of this cache and very happy to help. I had no luck with this one and despite multiple staff members’ efforts to help me find it, we had to concede this one was missing in action. However, it looks like a good Samaritan has since dropped off a replacement cache so everyone please stay calm and cache on!
If you want to dine somewhere a little more scenic, enjoy your breakfast across the street in beautiful Jackson Square, with its view of the magnificent St. Louis Cathedral, which has been in existence since the 18th century. While here, you might also get a chance to hear some local bands perform between the square and the church.
You can’t beat the 25 cent martini at Antoine’s!
For a more sedate dining experience, walk a few blocks to Antoine’s, creator of the Oysters Rockefeller. You will find yourself immersed in old fashioned charm and service. Enjoy the special three-course lunch that includes an appetizer, entrée, and dessert for the low low price of $20.16. The price goes up a whole whopping cent each year. Indulge in the Baked Alaska if you have room for a second dessert (like I did). Take advantage of the 25-cent martini special, but be sure to pace yourself, because you are limited to three martini specials per customer!
If you find yourself in Pirate’s Alley looking for GCRJJG (Pirate Alley), stop in for a taste of absinthe at Tony Seville’s Pirate Alley Café . Feeling a little daring after successfully evading the muggles dancing in the square nearby while you were looking for this cache? Then have the bar wench pour you a glass of Ernest Hemingway’s creation, Death in the Afternoon, a potent mixture of champagne and absinthe that will rock your world. When you are warm and fuzzy, head next door to the wonderful independent book store, Faulkner House Books, which also happens to be where William Faulkner worked on his first book, Soldier’s Pay.
For a fascinating way to learn some local history, take a tour of one of the world’s most famous cemeteries, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 with Save Our Cemeteries. Here you will see the unusual above-ground graves for which New Orleans is known. Many famous locals, like Marie Laveau, the voodoo queen, and Homer Plessy, plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case, Plessy vs. Ferguson which upheld the “separate but equal” doctrine are buried here. Nicholas Cage built a pyramid shaped tomb here for when his time comes.
Finish off your day looking for GCHMBV (Menu Venue). However, if you are vertically challenged like I am, you may want to recruit a dinner date to help you snag this one. You can reward him afterwards with a wonderful meal at the renowned KPaul’s Louisiana Kitchen where you will have a taste of Chef Paul Prudhomme’s legendary Creole/Cajun cuisine. Chef P invented the “blackened” cooking process that this cuisine is known for. If you have any energy left, go across the street to the Napoleon House for a nightcap. Order a Pimm’s Cup at the bar located in this 200 year old building where Napoleon was invited to live while in exile. Since not much has changed, you will feel like you were transported back in time as soon as you step inside.
I found New Orleans to be a remarkable city. Even more beautiful than expected, I was especially impressed with the way the entire city was decorated for the holidays. There seemed to be green boughs, red bows and twinkling lights everywhere I turned. And the abundance of geocaches within walking distance of each other and in interesting locations just waiting to be found was an added bonus.
For a great source on all the fun and exciting events coming up in New Orleans, take a look at the City’s official tourism website. I found many ideas here when planning my trip. Laissez les bon temps roulez!