New Orleans Part Two

Hello friends! I'm excited to share part two of my New Orleans adventure with you this week!

In my last post, I mentioned that one of the many things I love about New Orleans is the music. The street musicians are incredibly talented, and the music is vibrant and played with such passion. As you walk down the streets in the French Quarter from one performance to another the atmosphere has such an intensity, almost making you feel like you're living in a movie with your own personal soundtrack. I loved it.

Jackson Square was my favorite place to listen to the street musicians and constantly full of crowds of people stopping to take a picture or dance. The energy was contagious. Jackson Square includes St. Louis Cathedral shown in the picture above, a gorgeous park, and the Presbytere and Cabildo where the Louisiana Purchase was signed.

On the perimeter of Jackson Square you'll find Stanley, my favorite spot for lunch. The place was packed, so we were lucky to find a spot at the bar. I was mesmerized by every mouth-watering plate that flew by me.

I was told by a few friends that taking the streetcar through the Garden District to look at all the beautiful houses was one of the "must-do's" in New Orleans. Thanks to the advice of our concierge, we got on the St. Charles Streetcar early in the morning, and boarded at the end of the line to have our pick of seats. It's $1.25 for a one-way ticket, or $3.00 for an all day pass. We stayed on for the entire route, about 80 minutes total. When we got off, the line to board went down the entire block!  At the end of the route, everyone gets off so the driver can flip the seats to be facing forward for the return trip.

Most of the route passes through St. Charles Avenue which is lined with hundreds of gorgeous homes. Every mansion we passed appeared more outstanding and grand than the last. I am fascinated by old houses, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing so many balconies and turrets and arches. I am obsessed, and completely in love with porches. I looked enviously at so many estates with rocking chairs thoughtfully placed amongst extravagant wrap-around porches, and pictured the owners sitting out on a warm evening sipping cocktails and people-watching.

These pictures don't do the homes justice, and I often couldn't grab my camera fast enough to capture the beauty of the intricate structures as we zoomed from stop to stop. It was fun to look out at many of the trees lining the streets, covered in beads from past Mardi Gras parades.

Next on the agenda was an afternoon cruise on the Steamboat Natchez.

We arrived 30 minutes early to much longer lines then we expected.  While waiting to board, we were serenaded by a steam calliope playing old-fashioned tunes. We found seats outside on the third tier with spectacular views of the St. Louis Cathedral. The majority of the tour is narrated with interesting facts about landmarks and the cargo carried along the Mississippi, and concludes with live jazz music. It was a very relaxing two hours and fabulous way to see a different part of the city.

We had a great dinner at Arnaud's on our last night. We sampled the gumbo, more amazing bread that took up half of our table, and one of their signature cocktails. Brennan's is still my favorite, but Arnaud's was definitely delicious and worth visiting. The other unique thing about Arnaud's is they have a Mardi Gras Museum upstairs that's free. We had the entire place to ourselves and were able to admire the intricate and elaborate costumes of a woman who was queen of over twenty-two Mardi Gras balls. It must have been quite the workout to carry the trains on those gowns!

The following is a random picture that totally captures the whimsy of Nola. Unfortunately my friends and family were not rewarded with this classy souvenir.

I mentioned Cafe Beignet in my first post. On our first day, we visited Cafe Du Monde, the most famous place to sample beignets in the city, but the line was way too long.

We went back on our last morning dodging under balconies trying to avoid torrential downpours and lightning strikes. It was a pretty nasty morning, even from my Seattle weather standards so we chose not to sit outside. We brought them back to our hotel room, and although it was only a 10 minute walk, they just weren't quite as good as Cafe Beignet. I blame it on the weather, and would definitely give them another try. On the other hand, the Cafe Au Lait was lovely.

Just a few steps from Cafe Du Monde is the French Market with many fun shops, and praline manufacturers. I had never tried a praline prior to this trip. I found them creamy with great flavor, but really really sweet.

New Orleans is full of historical landmarks and museums, and there is so much we didn't have time to see. The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum was just steps from our hotel, and with my interest in medical history, it seemed like the perfect place to peruse. They offer guided tours most days at 1:00, and the cost was only $5.00. You can arrive about 15-20 minutes early for a self-guided tour of the second floor.  It turned out to be one of the most fascinating parts of the entire trip.

The first licensed pharmacist in the US worked at this pharmacy.

In the picture above are show globes that were used to communicate disease epidemics to the citizens of New Orleans. Different colors represented the severity of the epidemic and were meant especially for the illiterate portion of the population.

Our guide, Owen, did an outstanding job describing the conditions, equipment, technological advances, and history of the medical field in New Orleans in the 1800's and early 1900s. After hearing his one-hour history lesson, it was amazing to me that anyone survived those times.

I could not have asked for a better experience in New Orleans, and fully intend to visit again. I'm trying to talk Jen into going with me next time!