Photographs by Jeanne O'Conner
The "Big Easy," was an eagerly awaited stop
on our road trip. It was a city we had never before visited and
were looking forward to the sights and sounds of this storied
Up to this point we had slept in a tent, a
KOA cabin with no facilities, questionable motels and some
decent but unremarkable cookie cutter chains.
In New Orleans we would be staying for three nights at the
Hotel Monteleone on Rue Royal in the heart of the French
This 126 year old grand dame of hotels
boasts five generations of family ownership, truly a remarkable
achievement in today's corporate climate. There are employees
working at the hotel with 50 years of service and it is not
uncommon for the hotel to host families who have been returning
as guests for three generations. As a guest, you know you are
not in a cookie cutter chain hotel when an attentive staff
member addresses you by name.
The Hotel Monteleone is a proud member of Historic Hotels
|The Monteleon's rooftop pool
The original 64 room building, called the
Commercial Hotel, had been occupied by Union Troops during and
after the Civil War.
It was purchased in 1886 by Antonio Monteleone who had
arrived not long before from Italy where he ran a successful
shoe manufacturing business. It wasn't long before the
Monteleone name appeared on the hotel's marquee.
|The Carousel Bar
Over the years the hotel grew to 600
elegantly furnished guestrooms and suites, making it the
Quarter's largest full-service hotel. During its long history,
many amenities have been added and not being satisfied with
perfection, the Monteleone family continues making improvements.
the late 1940's, Hotel Monteleone's world-famous Carousel Bar
opened and has been a highlight for guests and tourists ever
since. Unlike rotating bars of later years, usually located on
top of buildings, Hotel Monteleone's revolving Carousel Bar is
at street level giving patrons easy access from the lobby, a
great relief to anyone having an aversion to heights. On the
other hand the hotel's roof top pool is located on the 16th
floor, very unusual in the middle of the French Quarter. The
pool and adjoining bar give guests a feeling of being on a
tropical island in the sky.
more about the Monteleon)
Staying at the Hotel Monteleone afforded us
the opportunity of stepping out the front door and into the
heart of the action. No matter in which direction we turned,
there was something to see and do.
Bourbon Street protesters
Driving and parking in the French Quarter
can be difficult so we opted to leave our car parked in the
Monteleone's garage since many of the city's attractions are
available by foot and trolleys are a convenient mode of
transportation. They are frequent and inexpensive; one way fare
is $1.25 per person but only $0.40 if you admit to being over
The famous Bourbon Street is just one block away from the
hotel's front door.
Car traffic on Bourbon Street is banned at night and crowds out
for a good time fill the street. Highly amplified rock music
blares from bars nestled cheek to jowl as hawkers do their best
to lure customers inside. Of course there is also the obligatory
group holding up a large cross praying for sinners to repent.
|National WWII Museum
One night's visit to Bourbon Street is
sufficient to get its flavor.
Bourbon Street is for those who like neon lights, bar
hopping, noise and bragging rights to say they've been there.
Locals shun it, except for the restaurants.
The real music, and where the locals go, is
one block north of the Quarter to Frenchmen and Decatur Streets.
There each bar, tavern and restaurant offers a different
type of music. Not only is the music authentic and not highly
amplified, but prices are generally cheaper than on Bourbon
Daylight brings a different feel to
Bourbon, Royal and surrounding streets.
The architecture in the French Quarter is truly amazing.
Street after street is filled with historic buildings
dating back to a time when the French and Spanish controlled the
city. A Kodak/iPhone moment waits around every corner.
Iron grilled balconies festooned with flags
and plants are everywhere as are restaurants offering a
selection of gastronomic treats. When New Orleans was the
Capital of the Spanish province of Lusiana from 1762 – 1803,
that was the way it was spelled then, Bourbon Street was called
Calle De Borbon.
|Paddleboat on the Mississippi
the lobby of the Hotel Monteleone you can easily walk to the
Mississippi River and Riverfront Park, the IMAX Theatre, the
Aquarium and the NATCHEZ, an authentic Mississippi River paddle
wheel steam boat.
It's a big tourist attraction and fees for adults are $25 per
person and up for a bland, narrated 2 hour cruise.
If you just want to experience being on the Mississippi
than that's OK.
What you get to see, coming and going for two hours, is the
commerce of the river: tugs, freighters, boat yards,
a gas refinery and rusting factories including
one belonging to a major sugar manufacturer with
buildings so old and rusted it seems the only thing keeping the
walls standing is the rust. There was supposed to be live Dixie
Land Music during the cruise.
Apparently the band took the day off when we were there.
There are more interesting and less expensive ways to spend your
time in New Orleans.
New Orleans, face almost any direction, you will find historic
sites and museums, especially museums.
A short trolley ride will drop you almost at the foot of
the Contemporary Arts Center featuring local artists.
Next door, and not to be
missed, is the Confederate Museum and across the street from
that is the world class National WW II Museum
(for more about the WWII Museum) displaying the most
comprehensive collection of memorabilia of the war in the
European and Pacific theatres during that time I've ever seen.
These attractions are in the aptly named Warehouse/Arts
District. Live theatre is everywhere but for this visitors will
need easily obtained current information.
New Orleans is of course famous for its fabulous food. But that
is a subject for a specialized article.
(For New Orleans food) One fun place that I can
recommended is little vest pocket piece of space grandly named
the New Orleans Musical Legends Park on Bourbon Street.
It's an open air venue with bronze life-size statues of
famous musicians of the past.
On the bandstand, performers entertain from early morning
to late at night in old New Orleans style and it's free.
Cafe Beignet is located in the park offering reasonably
priced local foods and of course you must try one, or more, of
the locally famous beignets.
|New Orleans Musical Legends Park
on Bourbon Street
The park is only one block from the front
door of the Hotel Monteleone, an island of serenity in the heart
of New Orleans's French Quarter.