2020 - Traveling During Covid
Over Labor Day weekend, we took a quick trip to New Orleans and to say it was a little different than we imagined it'd be, would be an understatement. We knew it would be a little different since Covid is still in full force, but I don't think we were quite prepared for how different it actually was.
Before leaving, everyone who had been to New Orleans told us how lively the streets were at night and how fun of a city it was -- well... to our surprise, everything closed down at 10:30 every night (I'm talking ghost town) and Bourbon street wasn't full the entire time we were there. Looking back, it wasn't necessarily a bad thing (it was a once in a lifetime experience to see NOLA in that "low-energy" state) and we truly made the best of it -- BUT we for sure want to go back when things go back to "normal" (if that ever happens).
Before getting into where we stayed and what we did during our stay, I'm sure a lot of people have questions on what traveling is like right now... so here's a quick run down. When arriving at the airport, you must wear your mask the entire time while inside. The only time I was asked to remove my mask, was when the TSA agent was checking my passport before going through security. Once on the plane, you have to keep your mask on, unless you're eating. We flew with two different airlines, one there and one back, and both served snacks and beverages (I was not expecting them to service anything!). Once we arrived in New Orleans, we started taking Ubers everywhere and all of the drivers were pretty strict on us wearing masks in the car AND not sitting in the front seat. Restaurants, Bars and Shops all required masks upon entry... but I'm pretty sure that's typical where ever you live. Lastly, we stayed at an Airbnb and the hosts took our temperatures when we arrived, before providing us with our access code for the house.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at an Airbnb called The Zydeco House and we absolutely loved it! Its located in Broadmoor, which is just North of the Garden District. The neighborhood we were in was beautiful... we walked to the trolley one afternoon and, besides being brutally hot, the walk was gorgeous -- so many unique and beautiful homes. The house is a shared residence with the hosts, so if you're not comfortable with that, this isn't the place for you. Eric and Douglas live in the upper levels of the home, with their three children. The rental is the ground level of the home and is equipped with 2 bedrooms, 1 full bath, 1 half bath, a full kitchen and two living spaces. Even as a shared residence, we had no issues during our stay...Eric and Douglas were very courteous of us and we're very hospitable hosts! We were warmly greeted by them upon arrival and they provided us with a lot of insight into the area, and tips on where to go. We encountered zero issues with noise and sharing the pool during our designated hours.
Since a lot of things were closed, we were very happy that we booked a rental with a pool - we spent a good amount of time in the pool and it made it feel more like a "vacation". Plus, the pool area was gorgeous and extremely comfortable.
Friday - 1st Full Day:
The first (full) day we were there was Nathan and mine's anniversary! We started the day off with breakfast at The Ruby Slipper - there are multiple locations of this restaurant, but we went to the one on Magazine Street. The food was amazing, Nathan devoured his meal and I don't blame him... look at it! The drinks were fun (and strong!) and we even got the sweetest anniversary shout out from our waiter. -- nothing like a little Southern hospitality to start our trip off right!
After breakfast, we walked around the French Quarter, stopped in a few fun shops and ended the afternoon by grabbing some groceries to have at our Airbnb. We Ubered back to our rental and got ready for our Bayou Kayak Tour!
Kayaking on the bayou was a lot of fun -- we really enjoyed the tour guides we had and it was a laid back and relaxed experience. We met the shuttle at a predetermined location and it was about a 30 min drive to the bayou -- we stopped at a gas station on the way there to pick up drinks or anything else you needed before heading onto the water. (we grabbed some adult beverages... and water of course!) The tour/kayaking part of the excursion lasted about 2 hours and even though we didn't see any wildlife, it was still an incredible experience. Here is the tour we booked - highly recommend!
PS: There were absolutely ZERO - I repeat zero - mosquitoes or bugs. I was terrified that I would get eaten alive, but I did not see a single one and out guide said that they are usually not an issue until the sun goes down... which I thought was so interesting, but didn't complain!
Once we got back from our kayaking tour, it was pretty late (we ended up getting stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on the way back) so, we ordered a pizza and played Yahtzee while drinking the night away! Yes, our Airbnb was also equipped with board games for us to use - score!
Saturday - 2nd Day:
Saturday we woke up, made breakfast at our Airbnb and headed out to catch the trolley (or streetcar). The trolley costs $3.00 for a day pass or $1.25 per ride. We walked through the Broadmoor neighborhood to get to the trolley and it was a beautiful, scenic walk -- hot, but beautiful. There were so many unique houses and the trees... the trees were insane! The trees have been there longer than most of the homes & you can tell, because the tree roots were breaking the sidewalks up! It was a much more difficult walk because the sidewalks were in all torn up from the trees growing, it was pretty crazy to see.
Once we got to the trolley, we stayed on it until the last stop - it takes your through the Garden District and Saint Charles; the views were great and the breeze felt nice. Also, even though the trolley cars are open (no windows), you still had to wear a mask while riding it. We got off at the last stop, which was in the French Quarter and we grabbed drinks and lunch at Cornet; we all decided to try fried alligator there and honestly, it tasted like chicken (haha!) After we finished lunch, we stopped at a rooftop bar we saw earlier in the day, Mambo's. It was the perfect place to stop and relax because there was a nice breeze up there and it was in the shade. We all enjoyed a couple drinks and then headed back to the Airbnb.
When we got back to our Airbnb, we enjoyed the pool for a few hours before heading out to a nice dinner, to celebrate our anniversary. We dined at Landry's Seafood House, right on the river and it was yummm. After dinner, we were all exhausted from being in the heat all day, so we called it a night early.
Sunday - 3rd Day:
We didn't have anything planned for this day, so when we woke up we booked a walking tour for later that evening. We wanted to learn more about the history of the city while also learning about the many "haunted" stories the city holds - this was the perfect tour for just that! It was a night tour, starting at 8:00pm and our tour guide Jess was amazing; very fun, sarcastic and quirky! During the tour, they allowed you to stop at a convenient store during the tour to grab something to drink (aka alcohol) -- actually, they encouraged it.
I think I forgot to mention that usually, on Bourbon Street, you can walk around with open alcohol and can leave restaurants and bars with open drinks... but that all changed with Covid. The only way you could do that was if you bought alcohol from a convenient store or grocery store - during our trip, we were not allowed to leave bars with open drinks.
Since the walking tour was in the evening, we had to fill up our day somehow. Nathan and I decided to take an Uber to a nearby Whole Foods and bought steaks and shrimp skewers for dinner - our Airbnb had a grill that you could use, in the pool area. We all spent the afternoon swimming, drinking and some of us napping (haha).
After the walking tour, later that night, we just roamed the streets - this was when we really realized how everything shut down at 10:30. Nathan ended up not feeling very well, so we headed back to the Airbnb and relaxed the rest of the night.
Monday - Last Morning/Afternoon
We had planned to rent motor bikes on our last morning there, and ride around the Garden District and into the French Quarter, but Nathan was still not feeling well the following morning... so I told our friends to go and do that without us. They highly recommended it though and said it was a lot of fun and they saw so many beautiful areas. Here's where you can rent the motor bikes (so you don't have to petal!).
After they were done biking for the day, we packed up and headed to the airport! Our Airbnb hosts were also very accommodating and let us stay past our check out time... it was originally 11:00am but we didn't end up leaving until around 3:00pm - (we made sure to give them a heads up on our flight times and asked them to stay past checkout far in advance).
TOURS WE BOOKED:
RESTAURANTS WE DINED AT:
That's a wrap!
It was different NOLA experience than we imagined, but none the less, it was a lot of fun! Its a beautiful city (Bourbon Street is a little smelly and dirty--but that's expected!) and definitely worth the trip!
Talk soon, friends!