Monday, March 3, 2014

One Day in New Orleans

 We stayed in a BnB on Magazine street, which turned out to be a nice place to stay. It was a home built shortly after the civil war.  The original home on the property had been owned by someone who left for the war and never came back. There was a good neighborhood cafe just a few blocks up the street.  The food was so good the first night, we ate there again the second night.  DER had fried green tomatoes the first night and I had red beans and rice.  The second time I had a shrimp remolaude salad and DER had gumbo.  It was clearly a neighborhood gathering place with the advantage of being next door to a gelato place.  The first night we enjoyed a "marching club" coming by.  The were the 2.2 marching club and had a brass band.  The went 2.2 miles with several stops along the way at various pubs.  Many were wearing tutus.  They were just out having fun.

The streetcars were easy to ride.  For a $3 day pass you have unlimited rides.  We walked a few blocks to the street car through the Garden District.  New Orleans has a diversity of architectural styles but the classic old neighborhoods have some restrictions on what they can do to their homes.  The goal is to keep it historically consistent.  The hostess at the BnB said that you can't take out trees without permission from the city and that you must select from an palette of colors approved by the historical commission.
They were nice colors.  The tree roots tend to look like this after a while.

Below are some of the architectural features of the area. 

 This is iron "lace" to the right.
 This elaborate iron fence illustrates cornstalks with morning glory growing up them.                                  

 The Lafayette Cemetery with its above ground crypts was between our bed and the street car stops.        One crypt was that of the "consort" of  "so and so"  I guess it was fairly common for the French men to have a family in France and a family in New Orleans.                                

Many homes have windows that go to ground level with shutters.  The shutters often have these shutter holders.  These are working shutters - not just for decoration.

 These smaller houses  above are not typical of the neighborhood.
 The pink one sort of reflects what a shotgun house is like only the shotgun would have gone further back on the lot in a long narrow pattern.  The story is you could open both doors and shoot through the house.  There was no hall, just a series of attached halls.

 We ventured three blocks down Bourbon Street to find this cafe and have the classic New Orleans treat - a Beignet drenched in powdered sugar.  We went there because of the live music at the cafe.  The beignets are not anything like the Apple beignets at our local Dutch Bakery.  They are really square donuts without a hole.  Bourbon street is "seedy"

 We did enjoy some of the street musicians.  This little skeleton was performing "House of the Rising Sun" and was quite entertaining.  There was a nice clarinetist playing jazz over by the French Market - an outdoor market.                                                  

 Pedicabs were on all the narrow little streets in the French Quarter except maybe this one below.

 Where we found a guy working on rivets for these beautiful copper lanterns.  I guess the founder of the company had noticed that the lanterns were breaking at their soldered points so he started making this with rivets.  He had worked on the D-day landing boats which were made in NOLA and knew that rivets held up.  It was fun to watch him work.  He was the most interesting thing in the French Quarter.  I guess we aren't so much into overpriced jewelry or antiques.   Well, I love antiques but really what can you take home on a plane.

There was a Mississippi River front park which we enjoyed walking along.  The boats were surrounded in mist on the river.  It was an overcast day and the fog over the river did not burn off. 

 This church is the center of the French Quarter.  It is lovely looking out on it's park like public square.                                           

 Pecan Pralines are a classic street treat.  Ours was a little grainy and I don't know if they are supposed to be that way.                      

  We were hoping to find some jazz.  We did - in the National Preservation Jazz Park.  Who knew?  This is the Navy "Full Stream" Jazz Band.  They gave a 45 minute performance at a small hall near the French Market.  We felt lucky to have found them.  We were satisfied and later glad to find that we didn't have to stay out late (lots of drunks of the streets later in the day) to get our jazz fix.  They will be playing in parades during Mardi Gras.

 This ceramic panel reflects the history of the French Market - the oldest outdoor market in USA.  Today it is full of food vendors.  (Crab cakes, Gator burgers, Muffaletta.....) and vendors of odds and ends.  Think everything from sheets to belts to sunglasses - and lots of Mardi Gras beads.

We were there the week before Mardi Gras and enjoyed seeing the preparations.  The hostess at the BnB rode in a parade the day we arrived.  She had some fun stories to tell.   The float she was on had a portapottie on the float and it had a flat tire.  The parade planners have a plan for a flat tire.  No one gets off the float and a swarm of guys comes to fix it and the float is on it's way.  The common phrase for people watching the floats is "Mister, throw me some beads"  The beads find their way into many things, there is art work done with beads and the place we stayed had a well draped fence.  Many of the beads get recycled.  I was kind of glad to hear that.  There are a lot of beads.

On the way back to Lafayette we stopped at a plantation for a tour.  This is Houmas House.  We enjoyed the tour and would check out other plantations in the future.  There is a nearby one that focuses their tour on the life of slaves and is said to be the Senegalese source for the stories that became the Br'er Rabbit Stories.

 We learned that the great alleys of Live Oaks had a role to play.  They were a way of channeling the cool air up from the river to the house.  Before the Levees were built along the river it was common for their to be 30-40 Oaks.  Again our hostess shared with us that a neighbor had heating bills of $300 more per month when a large tree was taken out near his property.
These trees are loveable without that benefit.  They are covered in resurrection fern and their longer limbs arch down to the ground.
This particular plantation house is still lived in and has some modern features as well.  The owner or the gardener seems to have a fondness for frogs.  There were small frogs in several places.

So, would I go again.  I'd find out more about good music venues before I went and I'd take another plantation tour (though I will admit that they are not kid friendly).  I might ride a steamboat on the Mississippi River and I would check out the fairly new are apparently impressive World War II Museum and maybe the Aquarium of the Americas.  It would be easy to find good food and the people are friendly.  One local stopped as he drove by us walking and wanted to make sure we felt comfortable walking around his neighborhood.  The first night we chatted with a lady whose father had worked on the Everett Herald.  I guess we should try again on our next trip to see those cute kids that live not too far away.

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