Despite our crazy first night on Bourbon Street, Ben and I were both up, bright eyed and bushy tailed, early the next morning! We had a street car to catch!
The St. Charles Streetcars, like many buildings and landmarks in New Orleans, have been deemed national historic landmarks and have been running along St. Charles Ave for over 165 years. Wowza!
For $1.25, you can ride on St. Charles Ave from it’s first stop in the French Quarter, through the Garden District, and into an area called Uptown.
When Ben and I told people that we were heading to New Orleans, the word we heard over and over again was “you’ve GOT to go to the Garden District!” So, to the Garden District we went.
We rode the streetcar for about 15 minutes before we started seeing Victorian mansions line the street. We had arrived!
The New Orleans Garden District is a neighborhood with one of the best preserved collections of historic southern mansions in the US. We’re talking MANSIONS, here, people. Not large houses…mansions.
The area was once filled with plantations, but the land was sold off to wealthy Americans who did not want to live in the French Quarter with the Creoles (we learned on our plantation tour that there was/is a distinct difference between Americans & Creoles!)
Originally, there were fewer lots with large homes surrounded by sprawling gardens, hence the name Garden District, but over the years, the lots were broken up so more homes could be built – and they are simply breathtaking!
We’re talking massive Victorian homes soaring skyward, wrapped in beautiful porches, covered in ivy – straight out of a fairy tale!
We walked and gawked. And just when we thought the homes couldn’t get bigger or more elaborate…they did!
We saw homes that were 3, 4 and even 5 stories high!
The flowers in the gardens were just beginning to bloom too – they were dazzling.
The cool things about these home – among the iron work, columns and balconies – is that, not only are they massive in the front, but they extend extreeeemly far in the back. I seriously saw one house that was it least 30 yards long!!!
This home thought it was in Miami.
We weren’t the only gawkers. There are organized tour groups that make their way through the Garden District everyday. I wonder how I would feel with so many people wandering around my neighborhood, taking pictures of my house?!
Just when we thought the homes couldn’t get more stunning, more charming or more…HUGE…they did. We stumbled onto this property and literally turned green with envy. This was hands down the coolest house I’ve ever seen. Ben had a few choice words for these people. Everyone should be able to live in a home like this – it least for a day!!
Oh, did I mention that beads are not just for Bourbon Street? Even way out here in the Garden District, amongst these aristocratic homes, the trees were still covered in beads. Hilarious.
We had a perfectly, perfect day.
Just the two of us.
Oh look – a fellow Iowan!!!
As we were waiting to board the streetcar back to the French Quarter, we looked down and saw seashells. We agreed they could only have been washed all this way by Hurricane Katrina. Absolutely crazy!!!
By the time we got back, we were famished from all that walking and jealousy. Mother’s Restaurant was right by our hotel, so that’s where we headed for lunch!
Mother’s has been open since 1938 and was one of the most highly recommended restaurants from readers like you, and Ben’s Dad!
Per their website, in a single year, Mother’s serves up:
- No less than 175,000 pounds of ham and roast beef.
- More than 40,000 pounds of turkey.
- A staggering 30,000 pounds of homemade sausage.
- Quarter of a million biscuits (and even more eggs!)
- A whopping 90,000 pounds of jambalaya.
- Some 25,000 soft-shell crabs and even more shrimp.
- An incredible 150,000 loaves of French bread.
- A spicy 1,500 gallons of Creole mustard.
- And an honest ton of hot pepper sauce.
The inside is no frills, and the walls are covered with famous people that have eaten there. You stand in line, order your food and they bring it right out to you. Although, you don’t give them your name when you order and we, for the life of us, could not figure out how they knew who ordered what and where they were sitting?!?!? We just ordered and hoped for the best.
The menu was so huge that I got flustered and ordered a Ham & Cheese Omelet. I know…what was I thinking…but, Mother’s is famous for their ham!
SO glad I did!!! The cheese was thick, luscious and creamy – and that HAM. Salty and thick. Oh, and it came with grits!!! I had never had grits and I’m not sure I will again. I just don’t “get” them. Oh well, it was fun to try.
My meal also came with two, freshly baked biscuits. Love. You understand.
Clearly, by now, you can guess what Ben got…another Po’ Boy! A Po’ Boy is a Louisiana sub sandwich made on bread with a crusty outside and a super soft inside. Per your recommendations, he ordered the Ralph, which is the Famous Ferdi Special with cheese. A Famous Ferdi contains baked ham, roast beef, debris and gravy.
You read that right – debris. Debris consists of the drippings and bits of roast beef that have fallen off of the bigger roast while cooking. Check out the “vat” on the left hand side! Debris is highly coveted at Mother’s. Totally normal.
And totally delish! This Po’ Boy was covered in debris and more “sauce” and was out.of.this.world. Soft, chewy and incredibly flavorful. What a sandwich!
These red beans and rice rivaled The Royal Sonesta’s too. Good Lord, I love southern food!
At this point, after a day of traveling and sightseeing, a night on Bourbon Street and a whole day of house gawking – we were beat. We waved the white flag and settled into our hotel room to watch basketball (RIP UNI national championship), order pizza, and take a vacation from our vacation for the rest of the night.
Day 2 = Epic. Southerners know homes and food!!!
Plantation tour and another night on Bourbon Street, comin’ up tonight!