Nuns, Mexican and dead authors

Wesley and I made a list of about 25 things in and around Nola that we want to do together this summer. So far we’ve marked about 1/4 of them off the list. On Saturday, we checked off three of them: taking a tour of the Old Ursuline Convent, visiting Faulkner House Books and eating at El Gato Negro in the Quarter.

Our first stop off of the very-crowded street car was Faulkner House Books, a very cute little book store that is in the actual home of William Faulkner when he lived in the Quarter. I wish there were tours of the rest of the house because only one room and a hallway are open with books in them. The rest of the house was blocked off for workers only. Another draw to this place is that its actual address is 624 Pirate’s Alley – I don’t know why but I love that.

The Old Ursuline Convent, New Orleans

After checking that out, we headed to the Ursuline Convent. I looked up the convent’s hours for touring online and it said that there were only certain times (about four per day) that tours were available. We had missed the last time, but we figured we would just pass by and see if people could go in individually without a tour guide. We found out that all of these sites, including the city’s site, are wrong. There are no guided tours of the convent – there are only self-guided tours that you can take any time that they’re open. They are open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and the entrance/gift shop is on Chartres St.

The convent was really nice – and entrance was only $3 with our student IDs ($5 for regular adults). Not only is the building itself the only place to survive the fires in the 1700s and the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley, but it also gives visitors a chance to see what they say is the oldest free-standing staircase in the country, a scale model of old New Orleans that filled an entire room, and a lot of art that included 500-year-old books and bishops’ jewelry. Pretty cool stuff.

Our last stop before headed home was El Gato Negro – a Mexican restaurant. I had high hopes for this place seeing as we haven’t really been able to find a decent Mexican restaurant in New Orleans at all, not for lack of trying. I think that people in New Orleans maybe don’t know what authentic Mexican food is because they’ve never had it. When everyone at your local Mexican restaurant gets arrested for being illegal aliens (and dealing crack and meth-amphetamines), like what happened in my home town – then you can say that you’ve had authentic Mexican food. The closest thing this city has is El Gato Negro’s. Or so I had heard. Yeah, no. It was decent tasting, but far from authentic. I felt like I was at an On The Border. And it was a big pricey. But we did go to a Chevys Fresh Mex on Friday which was excellent. It was decently priced, especially for the amount of food you got, and tasted great, if not authentic. It looks like a chain, but we were okay with it because the food was good and it was the best customer service we’ve gotten since moving here.

Check out In & Around Uptown page for my restaurants and book store reviews!

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