Time for a new house

Time for a new house
Time for a new house

Friday, December 21, 2007

New Orleans

This morning we woke and made a plan for “what to do in New Orleans if you have one day” from the Frommer’s internet site about the city. The plan worked fairly well and we walked to the French Quarter and began out day with Café au Lait and bignettes at the famous and historical Café Dumonde on Decatur Street. Classic New Orleans experience, with lots of street actors, street art in the square, and people sitting around drinking coffee. Then a walk along the Mississippi on the Moonwalk to the ferry that took us across the river to Old Algiers. Didn’t get off the ferry and just rode it back, but got a great view of the city from the river and some historical information about Mardi Gras displayed well in the terminal.
The fog was lingering, in fact it never lifted all day so I bought a warm fuzzy jacket that said “bourbon street” and we explored some of the shops on Royal Street and ate the traditional “Muffaletta” sandwich at a restaurant that was probably as old as the city itself. The sandwich is a treat of ham, pastrami, salami, some cheeses on a soft big round seeded roll with olive salad pickles and peppers piled high. One was plenty for two people and the internet search had already warned about this so it wasn’t a surprise. Walked through the French Quarter winding our way home and had a chance to visit the oldest above ground cemetery in the United States at St Louis Cemetery. It was fascinating, and in the fog made for way too many photo opportunities. We even found the tomb of a big family who emigrated from Malta in the late 1700’s and produced some very prominent New Orleans citizens.

We took a nice long break at home, reading and watching some tv, resting our feet, writing, and left on the little golf cart one more time to walk to the Canal Street stop for the street cars that go to the Garden District. The St Charles streetcars are historic electric trolleys, just like the ones in San Francisco without the hills of course. Interestingly, most of the passengers were local working folks and not a lot of tourists. Another noticeable thing about the part of New Orleans that we visited is the lack of Hispanic people, The news reports that the black folks aren’t coming back and the Hispanics are here now, doing the work, but most of what I saw in New Orleans were black people.

The streetcar took us to the Garden District where the houses are huge magnificent southern mansions with their very own New Orleans character. Walking through the streets reminded me so much of the novel “The Witching Hour”. Reading that story by Anne Rice was so graphic to me, in her detailed descriptions of the sights, smells and feeling of New Orleans in the steamy summer. The Anne Rice house called “Rosemont” is right there where I walked on First Street but I neglected to look up the address before our travels there. Looking at the photos later on the internet, though, showed her home to be similar to many that I saw in that neighborhood. It was the house that she wrote about in all her books about the Mayfair witches. Made me want to read the book all over again, but at the moment I am reading Gone With the Wind and thinking about Charleston and Savannah as Margaret Mitchell writes about them with a new mental picture.

Rode the car back to town and began the adventure of Bourbon Street in the early evening. What can I say, it’s Bourbon Street. The most famous on-going party in the country, I guess. I can’t imagine how it must be late at night or especially during Mardi Gras, but it was enough for me to see it as I did, in the early evening. We had a Cajun dinner at Le Bayou while watching the people walk by on the street, most of them laughing and carrying their plastic beer glasses and making a lot of racket. Stores filled with kitchy stuff, a voodoo shop, and of course the bars, bar after bar, all pouring music into the streets, and hotel rooms above the bars with people hanging over the rails made for a great image of what New Orleans is all about. Drinking, I think, and maybe eating is next. I’m glad I got to see it, and probably don’t have to do it again, but it was fun. Wandered back through the streets to the “safe” information center where we phoned the golf cart to pick us up and ferry us across the dark empty abandoned parking lot to our home. Very tired even though it wasn’t that late, but glad to be done and glad to have seen New Orleans In a Day.