When our friends Dianna and Evan got engaged last July, we knew there was a chance the wedding would be in Louisiana, where Dianna is from. They were torn between having it there or in Oregon, but in the end, an opportunity came their way to get married at this amazing Bed & Breakfast outside of Lafayette, two hours west of New Orleans. The big day is coming up at the end of May, and Joe and I are going!
Dianna and Evan are planning a Southern-style wedding, complete with 200 guests, a “crawfish boil” at the rehearsal dinner, a huge bridal party (eight bridesmaids and eight groomsmen), a “second line” parade to marching band music (played by their DJ), and an outdoor dinner and dancing. Here is a glimpse of the property where they’ll be saying “I do”…
It’s a house that was built in the 1800s, which, according to the site, borders the edge of a “primordial Louisiana swamp”. I’m excited to experience not only the wedding, which is obviously going to be epic, but some of ‘the South’, as Dianna refers to it. She and I became friends five years ago while teaching English in Korea, and by chance both of us ended up moving to Portland. Dianna has told me many, many stories about her family, college years, and the Southern culture she grew up in. (Even though she has lived in Oregon since 2012, she still says “ya’ll” in approximately every other sentence. :)) This lady loves tradition, and has been dreaming about her wedding day since she was a little girl.
(Dianna, Evan, Joe, and me ~ first Portland Halloween.)
When Joe and I started talking plans for the trip, we knew we wanted to extend it a few days so we could visit New Orleans. It’s a city neither of us have been to, but that’s high on both of our ‘really want to go there’ lists. I suggested we invite his parents to join us, and the day after he mentioned the idea to them, they booked flights. Sue and Al have been to New Orleans, but since they live in Illinois and we only get to see each other a few times a year, this is a perfect opportunity to hang out. In blues bars. Eating gumbo.
It was also an excellent reason to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon on one of my favourite websites: Airbnb.
Most of you have likely at least heard of Airbnb, if not used the service yourself. But if not, the company’s tagline sums it up: Rent unique places to stay from local hosts in 190 + countries.
Joe and I are HUGE fans. Basically, rather than renting a hotel when you go on a trip, you rent a home. Or part of a home. Or a cottage. Or a treehouse/trailer/loft/converted garage. Pretty much any option you can imagine — for any kind of budget — is available, all over the world. The company started in San Francisco in 2008, and just keeps growing.
So far, we have used Airbnb for trips within Oregon as well as to Victoria. My favourite is… probably the Japanese Forest House we rented on the last night of our honeymoon…
which sits on an organic permaculture farm surrounded by rainforest, 15 minutes from the Oregon coast.
(We were seven-day newlyweds here, keepin’ it real in sweatpants and rain boots.)
In October, my girlfriends Leah, Sarah, and Kylee and I celebrated Leah’s birthday with a three-day weekend in Portland. As you can see, we didn’t have much fun at all. A total bust.
(Kidding. It was the best.)
We stayed at this Airbnb apartment in The Pearl District…
which I decorated with 8 x 10 colour-photocopied images of Leah and various friends of hers, taken over the last decade or so. The door, the bathroom walls, the kitchen cupboards, the bookcase, above the bed…all Leah pics, everywhere. (We also created a categorized trivia game to kick off the weekend, called ‘What would Leah do?’ You only turn 40 once, right?)
Our place had high ceilings and huge windows that looked out over the city. (These photos aren’t from the site, and don’t really do it justice, but it was cool pad.) For a girls’ weekend, it was SO much better than a hotel room, which always feels smaller than it should, unless you spend stupid amounts of money for something with an en suite. We basically had a three-day slumber party here, with plenty of excursions around Portland that mostly involved walking, shopping, eating, and sipping. And having a kitchen (unlike in a typical hotel) was a huge plus, since we could cook a few meals in, even if it was just eggs and coffee before heading out. (The place we rented isn’t currently available, but this Mid-Century Modern Loft is another awesome Portland option.)
The more I travel, the more I realize how much having accommodation you really like enhances the trip. I’m not talking about luxury (though I’m not opposed to that either!), but rather places with character that feel comfortable and welcoming, ideally with some sort of cool design aesthetic, whether it’s rustic, modern, or something in between. I can (and have) spend hours searching Airbnb for the ‘right’ place, in part because visualizing where we’ll stay is part of the fun of planning a trip, and in part because I love seeing all the different homes people are renting out. I also appreciate good value, so I take the time to make sure I’m choosing the best place for what I’m prepared to spend. But if you want to just find and book a great spot quickly, you totally can — the site is super easy to navigate, with beautiful photos of the rentals.
Point is, browsing Airbnb is a good time.
After a search of New Orleans options, we decided on Marais House, which is a ‘shotgun’ home — a long, narrow design with no hallways, a bathroom between the two bedrooms, and a kitchen at the end. It’s in a neighbourhood called Bywater, two miles from the French Quarter. It has a front stoop, high ceilings, bamboo and hardwood floors, and a cute little backyard.
We’ll be staying with Joe’s parents here for three nights, with the fourth night on our own.
The rentals in Bywater are quite a bit more reasonable than those in the French Quarter, and I liked the sound of the area. T Magazine (The New York Times Style Magazine) wrote: “If the French Quarter is the Crescent City’s West Village, Bywater is Red Hook — a raffish, working-class waterside neighborhood rapidly filling with artists and stargazers . . . a loose-limbed, provisional and deeply weird place.”
You can expect a post-Louisiana dispatch from me in early June, friends. And if you have any New Orleans suggestions, please send my way!
Now for the good stuff: Airbnb has put out an offer I can extend to you: a $25 credit toward your next Airbnb booking of $75 or more. Simply sign up for your airbnb account through this link, and you will receive the discount when you book.
(If you already have an Airbnb account, you can use the credit by creating a new account, with a different email address.)
To be clear, when you book with Airbnb using this code, I will also receive a $25 credit to a future booking, so this is a win-win for both of us. :)
What do you think? Have you tried Airbnb? I would LOVE to hear about any places you recommend, if you want to share! The more fodder for travel daydreams, the better.