Friday, September 18, 2015

New Orleans

We got on the road early and drove about 5 hours to New Orleans, stopping at a What A Burger for lunch.  What A Burgers are very popular throughout the southwest and southeast.  I have to say, they were pretty good.  I had a cheeseburger (they are famous for the burgers on 5 inch round buns) and it rivals that of our California beloved In N Out burgers.  That and an order of fries and a chocolate shake (also delicious), we waddled out of the place and back into the car for the rest of the drive.

We found gas even lower than this later on.......


Arriving New Orleans and into the French Quarter on a Sunday afternoon was interesting.  Very busy, people walking around everywhere, HUGE potholes in the streets, one way streets and lots of road construction going on.  Yikes.  I felt a bit like a salmon trying to swim upstream - getting to the hotel was a bit of a challenge, but we got there.  We stayed at the Omni on Royal Street right in the middle of the French Quarter.  I thought it would be fun, and knew that everything was walkable.  The location proved to be a great choice.  It's a lovely hotel and we were quite comfortable.

We had 1 1/2 days in New Orleans plus during that time I needed to get Indie over to a Toyota dealer for her first 5k mile service.  Since we weren't even at our trip's halfway point yet, I thought it best to try to get the service done while we were settled somewhere for a day or two.  It was either New Orleans or Savannah, so I opted for New Orleans.

We decided to take 2 walking tours - the first that evening - a ghost tour.  It was tons of fun!  Our guide gave us all sorts of entertaining and insightful stories about the history of New Orleans and some of the sadder stories of mayhem and murder.

The next morning we had signed up for a French Quarter history tour and we also enjoyed that very much.  When you walk around for 2 hours with someone showing you architecture, bringing to life the stories and history of various buildings and streets, it makes everything so much better - you appreciate what you are seeing instead of just walking by.

A big central feature of the French Quarter (besides the boozed out tourists on Bourbon Street each night) is Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral.  The Cathedral is the oldest operating cathedral in the country, built in the late 1700's.  Like all buildings of that era, it was built of wood.  Well, the first one burnt down and the second one was rebuilt a few years later, this time made of stone.  In 1800, the cathedral was expanded by adding the center piece.  It's a really beautiful cathedral.

In the middle of Jackson Square is a statue of none other than Andrew Jackson.  Sitting atop a horse.  That statue is there to honor Andrew Jackson for his victory in the Battle of New Orleans against the British in the War of 1812.

In the late 1800's and early 1900's, New Orleans had a number of streetcar lines.  Tennessee Williams lived here in the 1940's and wrote the play A Streetcar Named Desire, after the actual streetcar line called the Desire line.  With a heavy French influence in the city, he created Blanche Dubois for one of his main characters.

Some more NOLA trivia - all those iron balconies you see in pictures?  They are called galleries.
Pat O'Brien's bar is known for creating the famous Hurricane drink (yes it's yummy, and yes it sneaks up on you, so one is plenty!).  Next door the Pat O'Brien's is the famous jazz club Preservation Hall.
The streets in the French Quarter are all named after French royalty and Catholic saints. Creole and Cajun foods are popular cuisine - they are very similar but Creole cuisine includes tomatoes and Cajun does not.  The cemetery plots are all above ground, due to this whole area being on a swampy land, with a very shallow water table.  If you walk around any of the cemeteries, if you notice painted tombs, those belong to cemetery workers.  They are the only ones allowed to paint their tombs.

In the middle of our visit, after our morning walking tour, I drove Indie out to the Toyota dealership and they took care of the service for us.  One short hour later we were on our way back to the French Quarter, and Indie was ready to go again, plus she had been given a much-needed bath by the dealer.  They were terrific!

We spent out last night in NOLA doing a little shopping and walking off that What A Burger meal from the day before, not to mention the Cafe du Monde beignots, and red beans and rice and shrimp dishes we had.

Jackson Square

St. Louis Cathedral

 View from our hotel

 Creole shrimp!

 Street band

 Until you've had beignets at Cafe Du Monde..........

 Notice the design???

Typical architecture of brick buildings with 2-3 stores of galleries.

Sunset from our hotel rooftop viewing area.

Thanks for a swell time NOLA!  We'll be back again someday!

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