Friday, June 15, 2012

The Big Easy

New Orleans, LA

Strolling through the Heart of the French Quarter

So much to see and only about 12 hours to do it, a challenge to say the least.  We stayed at a Quality Inn outside of the business district so we had to drive into the city and find some parking.  We drive in from I-10 on the North side of the French Quarter.  We decided to drive down Canal St., to the water front, around the market area - mostly to get a lay of the land.

Before parking for the day, we remember we wanted to see one of the unique cemeteries N.O.LA has to offer, so it was over to the Garden District to Layfette Cemetery.  Home to thousands of graves above ground, in tombs that house multiple people from a family over generations.  These works of art were fascinating to wander along.  All packed so close together, some damaged from time, others from hurricanes.

Over to the French Quarter where we started with a walk to Cafe Du Monde for world famous Benignes and Chicory coffee.  No, I still not a coffee drinker, but I did have a sip of Keiths.  The cafe was packed with locals and tourists alike.  A trumpet player belted out jazz to an attentive audience and the pastries, buried in powdered sugar melted in your mouth.  Servers with creole accents took care of the mobbed cafe.
Off to do some shopping in the Market District, I was on the hunt for a larger handbag and some unique souvenirs.  The market was filled with seafood, produce and tons of well priced knick knacks.  Silver jewelry, coffee mugs, mardi gras masks and "voo doo" type key chains.  I settled on a magnet, a new Coach-like bag and jewlery made by a local artisan, who was there to talk about his items.  Home made bath salts and a breezy summer dress also seemed to find their way into my bag.

We wandered past street artists (those guys painted in silver who pose like statues) and had to make a decision on the rest of our day... A storm was rolling in, we could see lightning over the Mississippi River.  We popped into the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch (burgers and salads) to wait it out, but it just would 't come in-land, till after we were done with lunch.  Time for a quick break in the Road-trip-mobile. We hunkered down in the minivan while most of the storm passed over us.

We braved the end of the rain to make it (more wet then we had planned) to Harrods Casino.  A beautiful, good sized money sucker who was not kind to any of us.  But we did get out of the storm long enough to walk over to a very quiet Riverwalk area where we so the Creole Queen paddle boat docked. 
As evening was approaching we walked back up Canal St. And entered famous Bourbon St.  An impressive 5 piece band was playing to a crowd right on the corner.  It was still early but the street was already a buzz with barkers in doorways enticing you to grab food, drinks or an adult show.  Folks were dining on upper balconies over looking the street while musical entertainers dotted the street.  It was fun to walk down the center of the road and watch the buzz of folks.  Minus the overpacked crowd of people, the walk down Bourbon St. was everything I had imagined and more.

We were worn out from all the walking, but most definitely a great day of sightseeing in a wonderful city.  So glad we made the trip.

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