Travel Tips: part three, Affordable New Orleans

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We have visited New Orleans three times in the past two years. The first time we stayed in a wonderful little bed and breakfast in the Faubourg Marigny district, within walking distance from the French Quarter.  The second time we returned to the same bed and breakfast, but ownership had changed and we felt much less welcome and comfortable there, so the third time we changed to a different bed and breakfast in the same neighborhood.  Unfortunately, that place proved unsuitable because the room was infested with bedbugs.

The owners were very upset and accommodating when we discovered the problem, and refunded our money immediately. They found us a motel room at their own expense for the night, and offered to help us in any way we might need. They also assured us that they would contact an exterminator the next morning and have the problem eliminated.  Because they seemed genuinely caught off guard and horrified by the discovery of the pests in our room and acted responsibly to help us, I am not going to identify the inn in this post.

My purpose here is to share the lucky finding of an alternative place to stay that resulted from this unfortunate event.  We did not move to the room that the inn owners arranged for us that night, because there was no place to park and the place was in the center of the excitement of the French Quarter.  We don’t go to NOLA for the nightlife – we go for the street art, the street music, the daytime markets, the gardens and the good food.

We left the bedbugs and the hand-wringing, appalled innkeepers, and drove to a parking lot next to a police station where I struggled nervously  with my phone connection, and searched for an available hotel with affordable reservations for a full week’s stay.  In town the available rooms were pricey. The lowestpriced room was listed at $2500, way more than our budget allowed.

So I began to search for rooms just outside of NOLA, and what we found was great!  A hotel in the town of Covington had a suite available for approximately $100 per night with our senior discount.  We made the reservation by phone and put the address into google maps.  It was 10 P.M. and very dark.  We were directed to a 23 mile causeway that crossed Lake Pontchartrain.

About forty-five minutes later we arrived in Covington.  The hotel was clean and welcoming. Our suite was spacious, and it had a kitchen.  Breakfast at the inn was included in the price, so that’s where we ate the next morning. The food served was delicious, including Greek yogurt; grits and or oatmeal; granola; eggs with salsa, spinach and cheese as sides; pastries; fresh fruit; fruit juice; coffee; waffles; and for meat eaters, sausage & bacon.

The hotel was across the road from a shopping plaza, that included a full grocery.  There were convenient gas stations within a mile.  We found a pleasant Mexican restaurant with a live jazz band where we had a delicious dinner one evening, and a vegetarian restaurant nearby where we had lunch on our last day in town. The little downtown Covington area had several interesting shops, including a charming old-fashioned hardware store.

We drove into NOLA every day, paying $5 to cross the causeway only in the direction into NOLA – the ride back across the causeway charges no toll.  When we had stayed in Faubourg Marigny the first two times we visited NOLA, we had parked our car in front of the inn and walked everywhere – except for a day trip to the garden district in our own car.  We had walked every day to St. Roch Market, Frenchmen Street, the French Market and the French Quarter.  One of the reasons we enjoyed the artsy, friendly neighborhood of Faubourg Marigny was the easy walk.  We thought that staying across Lake Ponchartrain in Covington meant that parking in NOLA would now be an issue. We found it to be less of a problem than we expected. The first day we found free curbside parking in Faubourg Marigny, half a block from Frenchmen Street, and visited all of our favorite places.

Our favorite restaurant, Mona’s, is on Frenchmen Street. It is a Middle-Eastern restaurant, with authentic cuisine and delicious Lebanese iced tea. We also enjoyed the food court in St. Roch market and a new Thai Restaurant on Royal Street.

On subsequent days we found public parking near Jackson Square. To park there all day in a lot costs $25.  We paid by credit card at one of the machines provided.  Jackson Square is a perfect location to begin a walking day in New Orleans.  There are artists and musicians around the park, creating a joyful atmosphere.  Café Du Monde is across the street, adjacent to the French Market.  Bourbon Street is a short walk. Frenchmen Street is a few blocks away.

In the future when we visit NOLA, we will return to Covington and drive across the causeway into town each day. The combined cost of the hotel, the causeway toll, and parking in town is comparable to the cost of an inn in Faubourg Marigny.  We liked the peaceful drive across the causeway, where we saw beautiful water scenes, pelicans and other waterfowl, beautiful sunsets, and little traffic. We enjoyed parking in the center of the excitement of downtown during the daytime. We liked the quiet and privacy of our hotel suite, and we enjoyed the quiet little town of Covington.

A vacation that could have been a bed-bug induced disaster turned out to be a fortuitous adventure.  We stayed a week in NOLA and spent less than $1000.

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Nicole

Writing for my life; working for social justice; grateful for community.

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