We'd never been to New Orleans and when The Little Mermaid tour, starring our friend Eric Kunze, made a stop there it was the perfect time to visit. The time of year wasn't ideal. It was very hot and humid. But our hotel, the W French Quarter, was set in a lively neighborhood surrounded by shops and homes with balconies overflowing with plants so we didn't have to walk far to enjoy the sights. For longer outings we often used Uber to get around.
The sheer number of "must do" restaurants was overwhelming, one of the main reasons to visit this city. We feasted on crabcakes, gumbo and beignets until we couldn't eat anymore. Our final meal of the trip was one of the best dining experiences of our lives: Emeril's. We had no less than three waitstaff attending to our every need. Each course was impeccable: oysters, gumbo, pork chop and andouille crusted fish, ending with his famous banana cream pie. Despite his quirky TV persona, I developed a new respect for this chef.
New Orleans is the place to overindulge in alcohol, encouraged by incredibly cheap drinks. Our hotel's restaurant offered 25 cent martinis ("limit of 3 per person, because 3 is enough"). The city has a dark side as well. Many travel guides will tell you to be careful where you walk at night and to stay on heavily populated streets. Tea rooms offering tarot card readings, voodoo and white-faced witches are common as well as scantily clad strippers outside of clubs.
There has been much restoration since Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago, including the Sanger Theatre, which is where Eric was performing. Every performance of The Little Mermaid played to capacity crowds, enthusiastic audiences which included many little girls eager to see their favorite Disney story. They lined up at the stage door afterward to see Ariel and Prince Eric in person.
Only four nights in New Orleans was hardly enough to scratch the surface of what this city has to offer. We look forward to next time to explore all the places we didn't have time to see. One place would be the bayou, which we only saw from the plane as we flew home.