TRAVEL | PERSONAL
felix's seafood restaurant
My hubby Steven and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago, and since the kids are away in California for a few weeks, we decided to do a short getaway to Neighboring Louisiana. And since neither of us had been to New Orleans, we thought it would be the perfect short trip for the weekend. Granted, it was an 8 hour drive, but it was nevertheless a nice retreat, a chance to see more of the state and meet a couple friends who lived in Shreveport for lunch. We met up with an old friend Matt and his mom Sherry who moved there and they told us a few of the good places to go, and what drinks to get while were were there. We were told that basically anywhere we go, food wise, it would be guaranteed to be really good.
So after lunch, we went about the rest of the drive and arrived at our hotel. We were surprised to learn that the parking garage was full, and we were advised to park just a block away at a garage just down the street. However, they did tell us that they expect a mass checkout the following morning, so just come back the next morning and get a ticket for the garage and just move the car. Ok, noted.
We were hungry and decided to go look around, with our first stop, the infamous Bourbon Street. We get an Uber, and our Uber got to us within a couple of minutes. We fortunately got a really friendly driver and told us all the happenings, and what to do, what not to do etc...so turns out, the reason why parking was so full is because there were 2 conventions going on that weekend: The 2022 Annual Swingers Convention, and there was also a Convention for the Blind. Steven and I looked at each other and laughed....ok now we get it hahaha! Don't ask, don't tell. We will just assume they "mingle". Although after a while, I got curious and looked it up on Google, and apparently there are happenings like topless parties, etc..... But I digress.
After we got dropped off, we looked around, and one restaurant stood out, just because I remembered the name from what our Uber driver said. She did say "Felix's"....so we walk in. The place was packed! But fortunately, we were able to secure seats at the bar. We ordered shrimp cocktail and calamari as appetizers (not pictured- sorry, I forgot as I was so hungry), I had the jambalaya pasta, Hubby had the dozen oysters on a half shell, and we shared a big huge margarita. NOTE: I DO NOT EAT SHRIMP AND PORK. But I went ahead and braved it, and tried the jambalaya pasta, and it was the most savory and flavorful dish I've had in a while (maybe ever)! Steven loved his oysters and said they tasted as if they came straight from the source. He also watched our bartender make our margarita and thought he saw her pour a whole lotta alcohol, but amazingly we could not taste the alcohol in our drink. After a few sips, we already started feeling it hit! By the way, another note, I don't drink very much, just because I don't like the taste of alcohol, but I really liked this one.
We were both happy with our meal. Once we were done, we went out and started going along Bourbon Street with a mission: where to find a hand grenade.
bourbon street and the hand grenade
We walk along Bourbon Street, and there were a lot of people just walking on the street. You don't drive on that street. I guess its understood that it is a tourist spot, and has been for years. People just walk up and down Bourbon Street at night. You will see a lot of happenings...people smoking weed even though it is a known fact that it is illegal in New Orleans. The cops just don't find any value in arresting people who use it. From what we've been told, there is a shortage of 1,000 police officers, so they need to pick and choose who and what offense they should arrest for.
We saw a lot of adult shops like Hustler, and women "dressed" for the night. If you're not careful, there are alcohol vendors who will just hand you shots, without really giving you an opportunity to say no, then you will end up having to pay for it. Yeah you can say we got "swindled" a couple of times. So word of advice if you decide to go...just ignore anyone who comes up to you or just say "no, thank you".
Eventually, we found a place that served the hand grenade, and it was about $11. We got ours on the rocks, and it was served in a grenade shaped glass, with a tiny hand grenade inside. At first, I thought maybe it was something you squeeze into the drink, but it was just there for decoration. We both sipped and it tasted pretty good. Reminded me of a lemonade drink. You can barely taste the alcohol.
By the way, one fact that we learned while we were here, you are allowed to walk the streets with an open container of alcohol in your hand!
walking around the city
The following day, we realized that we forgot a few personal items like hairspray and a small comb, small stuff like that. So we asked the front desk if there was a convenient store nearby, and we were told that there were a couple just a few blocks away. So we decided to walk around.
It was about 8 or 9 in the morning, and it was already so humid in the morning! I have not experienced this kind of humidity since I was living in the Philippines. The minute you walk out, you will start feeling the sweat build up!
As we were walking, we saw a lot of street art that reminded me of Deep Ellum in Dallas. There were a lot of murals - almost on every corner! Even the fire station had one!
the haunting of muriel's
After a couple of huge fires that occurred at Jackson Square in the 1700's, a very wealthy man named Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan built his dream home, restoring it to the original grandeur for his family and himself. Although Jourdan dearly adored his beautiful home, he was a man that could never quench his thirst for the thrill and excitement of gambling. In 1814 he wagered his beloved home in a poker game and crushingly lost the one thing he treasured most in life. The shock of the loss was so intense that before having to vacate the premises and hand over his beloved treasure, he tragically committed suicide on the second floor in the same area where Muriel’s Seance Lounges are situated today.
Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan is still with us today in spiritual form on the same piece of property that is now Muriel’s. His ghost doesn’t appear in human form, but instead as a glimmer of sparkly light wandering around the lounge. The Seance Lounges on the second floor are named as such because it is believed that this is where Jourdan spends the majority of his time. Patrons and employees of Muriel’s have also witnessed objects being moved around throughout the restaurant. It is believed Mr. Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan never left his true love and home in New Orleans; he continues to reside there to this day.
Although Jourdan is considered to be the main resident, he’s not the only spirit amongst us. They also have a slightly mischievous ghost in the Courtyard Bar that roams the property. Three times since March of 2001, glasses have flown from behind the bar 12 feet across to the brick wall and shattered. Perhaps some servants stayed behind to take care of him and go downstairs to throw glasses to release some angst. Other possibilities include previous patrons and owners of the property during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s; or that it’s Jourdan trying to get across to the other side or desperately trying to communicate with mortals he considers to be his family.
Many paranormal investigations have occurred over the years with several reports stating that they’ve seen unexplainable strange shadows while hearing unknown voices nearby. The most activity comes from the Seance Lounge, where very distinct knocks on the brick wall may interact as communication. Audio of a female’s voice has also been discovered when no female was present.
It is firmly believed that the resident ghosts at Muriel’s are harmless, and can sometimes be very entertaining. Those who have seen or felt a presence have never felt threatened and instead they have welcomed an old kindred spirit to dine, by always keeping a table reserved for Mr. Jourdan set with bread and wine three times a day.
Below center is a photo of the table that is set three times a day, with some having witnessed a shadow of Pierre looking over to see what is served for the day. It was said that you can even pay to sit and dine with Pierre himself. And the last photo is the window of the 2nd floor Seance Room where it is believed where Pierre's ghost likes to appear at times.
the haunting at lafitte's bar
You’re walking down Bourbon Street. You see the usual: groups of girls and boys wearing funky outfits covered in beads and holding hand grenades. You hear the usual: a jumble of rap, live jazz, and latest hits emanating from all corners. The music bounces off the walls and the Spanish balconies, entering your ears as you feel the vibrancy of people from all different walks of life coming together. The buildings, although many haunted with ghosts galore, are painted like rainbows covered in Mardi Gras beads that glisten in the sun. By the time you reach St. Phillips Street, the buildings have all blended together, except one.
Built in 1722 and operating as Blacksmith, Jean and his brother Pierre Lafitte utilized the structure to sell goods and enslaved people they had captured from their time aboard ship. This structure was once a blacksmith shop but has now operated as a bar since. It has been preserved over the years to keep its original look. Its amazing to think that this bar has been here since the 1700's.
Jean and Pierre Lafitte were both pirates. Pierre did not care for the Pirate life despite the fact that he was idolized by a young boy who once begged him to take him under his wing to learn on his pirate ways. However Pierre Lafitte told the boy to turn away from this life and never become a pirate. But the boy, wanting to convince Lafitte that he would be a good pirate, one night, decided to rob every house on the street to show Lafitte of what he could do. However, a couple of days later, as one of his men was looking at all the nice jewelry that the boy stole, he recognized one piece of jewelry that belonged to his wife that went missing! Angered by what he discovered, he pierced the boy with his sword and killed him.
Today, it is said that as you walk toward the restroom, you will sometimes see a boy, hunched over asking for help. But as soon as you find help, the boy will disappear.
madame lalaurie's house
The LaLaurie Mansion story begins in 1831. Then, a man named Edward Dufossat sold his unfinished home at 1140 Royal Street to a well-off, pleasant-seeming couple: Dr. Leonard Louis Nicolas LaLaurie and his wife, Delphine.
The couple completed the two-story mansion in the Federal architectural style. Situated on the corner of Royal and Hospital (now Governor Nicholls) streets in the French Quarter, it seemed like a handsome addition to the neighborhood. But life inside LaLaurie Mansion was nothing short of hellish.
There, Delphine had started to abuse and torture her enslaved workers. Though she was kind to enslaved people in public — and had even freed two of them — she made life in the mansion a living nightmare. Two people she enslaved even jumped to their death from the mansion’s roof rather than face her brutality.
But the extent of Delphine LaLaurie’s cruelty remained just a rumor until April 1834. Then, a sudden fire in the house broke out — and revealed the depths of her depravity.
When volunteers first arrived on the scene, they encountered a Black cook chained to the stove. She told them that she’d started the fire on purpose in hopes of ending her own life. Things only got worse as they moved through the mansion.
In the attic above the kitchen, the first responders found a group of imprisoned enslaved people. Many had been gruesomely tortured, with their bones broken, their eyes gouged out, and worse. “Seven slaves more or less horribly mutilated were seen suspended by the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other… They had been confined by her for several months… and had been merely kept in existence to prolong their suffering.”
Delphine LaLaurie fled. But the story of LaLaurie Mansion was just beginning. Following the fire at LaLaurie Mansion, the house embarked on an uneasy, erratic journey. After lingering in ruins, it was made into an integrated school, a conservatory of music, and a home for the homeless. At one point, it was partitioned into apartments. Eventually, it fell into private hands. But no one ever seemed to own the house for long. One owner apparently ended up in an asylum. Another fell into a coma. And even actor Nicholas Cage, who briefly owned the house in the aughts, lost it to foreclosure in 2009.
“I bought it in 2007, figuring it would be a good place in which to write the great American horror novel,” Nick Cage said “I didn’t get too far with the novel.” In fact, one day, as he was standing at the 2nd floor balcony, he saw a group on tour and asked if the reason why they were there was because of him. The tour guide replied and asked him if he even knew the history of the house. He said no. Later on, he decided to do the tour himself, and as he was hearing the story of his house and how gruesome the killings were, he did not even bother to finish the tour and walked away and never came back.
According to local lore, there’s a reason that no one owned the house for very long. Although Delphine LaLaurie was long dead, it is said that her horrific crimes made LaLaurie Mansion a deeply haunted house. As LaLaurie Mansion changed hands over the years, many who ventured inside have had strange, paranormal encounters. People have reported hearing tortured shrieks and moans coming from within. Some have smelled burning flesh or heard the dragging of chains. Others say they’ve seen actual ghosts, including a large Black man in chains and a white woman with glaring eyes.
As we end part 1 of this blog, I just wanted to share a few interesting facts I've learned at the tour.
If you see a red door, it means that the owners of that home have paid off all related taxes and debt. So a red door usually signifies wealth.
Another thing that signified wealth in the French Quarter are the amount of poles that were part of the structure. Because property owners were taxed according to the number of poles they had. The more poles, the wealthier you are. So if you see a building with a 2nd floor and 3rd floor with poles, those are called "galleries", those were considered wealthy owners. The 2nd picture shows a building with a gallery. The third picture (of Harry's Corner) shows the poles at the ground floor.