The azaleas were blooming everywhere! They are worth a trip to see–sort of like seeing the trees change color in New England in the fall, or the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. in the spring.
The trees were huge and gnarly. I loved the fact they had Mardi Gras beads hanging from them everywhere.
Here we are with the Levinsons.
I liked the red lights on this trellis. It was funky and fun.
Below are some of the buildings we saw in the French Quarter. They were interesting architecture and full of interesting designs.
We never did see who the VIP was in the motorcade.
I loved the wrought iron details.
I got a kick out of this–I know, my sick sense of humor–but it was a windy day so all these mannequins’ dresses kept blowing up.
Ummmm . . . not really interested. One of the B&B guests told us they tried it and it was rubbery– like eating over-cooked chicken-flavored calamari.
Lots the last at the market. These pralines looked delicious!
Anyone need a sparkly new bra?
I loved this. More of the beautiful wrought iron.
Beignets! Cafe Du Monde is open-air and very crowded. It’s not a place to sit and enjoy the day–you get in, you get out. I think at a less busy time, it would be a lovely place to sit, though. Oh, if you try the beignets, don’t inhale! The powdered sugar dust is deadly. : )
We were so tempted, but figured most of our kids would object if we bought this for their kids. It was quite entertaining and anatomically accurate. The lady at the store said it was a top seller. : )
Below are various things we ran across as we wandered around.
Bob asked her for directions, but didn’t get far. : )
View of the Mississippi River from the Moon Walk. The river is about a half mile wide and 200 feet deep at this point.
Entrance to the park on Jackson Square.
These musicians were fabulous. The lady with the clarinet was fantastic.
View of the city from the Moon Walk along the Mississippe River. Historically, the river flooded every year. When it did, it laid down deposits of mud so the land near the river is higher than the rest of the city. That’s why the French Quarter didn’t flood during Katrina.
Not a combination you see every day! We tried the ice cream; maybe we should have had a bloody mary instead!
Here are a coupe businesses with discreet lines around them. The lines indicate how high the water got during Hurricane Katrina.
When people rebuilt, many put their houses on stilts. The side benefit is it created all kinds of useful space under the house. Here, they use it as a garage.
Here’s one of those X’s. It was made on 9/11/05 by a team that identified itself as CA3. It was an external search (“ext”) of the house. If any bodies were found, the number would have been placed below the “ext.”
Artist’s representation of leftover debris from the hurricane.
In the very poor neighborhoods, there are many houses that haven’t been restored. They are rotting away.
Another X. This house was searched on Sept. 21st, and they found no people inside–either alive or dead.
In this one, the natural gas was still on when they searched the building.
The close up of the X above is on this building. It indicates how high the water got–up to the second story.
Here are more of the houses that have been left to rot. It’s a problem in the city, because the rebuilt houses and the rotting ones are side by side. It’s a health issue. In the second photo, you can see the holes in the roof that were made with axes by people in boats to rescue people who were stuck in their attics by rising water.
Can you imagine what it must be like to live next door to an abandoned house? It’s quite a problem and is becoming a political hot potato in New Orleans. Should the city tear these houses down?
Before Katrina there was no evacuation plan. Now, if there’s an evac order and you can’t get yourself out, you can wait at one of these statues (found all over the city) and the city will give you a ride.
Below are some picture of the beautiful city park and statue garden. New Orleans has the 5th largest city park in the US. It used to include a golf course but it wasn’t rebuilt after Katrina. In fact, the city had 7 golf courses before Katrina and only one still exists. It’s the same with the hospitals. After Katrina, more than half of the city’s hospitals could’t re-open because of damage.
Palm trees were rare in New Orleans before Katrina. But since then, they’ve become popular choices for people replacing the many trees that died during the storm or shortly after. Many died from the salt water during the floods.
The park is full of live oaks that survived Katrina. The Spanish Moss is thick in many of them. The Indians used Spanish Moss to diaper their babies and to pack wounds. Later, when New Orleans was settled, they used it to stuff mattresses.
I look like such a dork. Being allergic to the sun can really be a pain in the neck.
This is the coffee shop in the park and its open 24 hours a day. It also has live music most of the day.
This one’s for you, Abby! Don’t worry, I promise it doesn’t move and can’t get you!
A man of letters?
All the waterways are interconnected throughout the city. So, you can kayak through the scultpute garden.
Now, for more of the French Quarter.
We had a lovely dinner at Commander’s Palace. It’s off the beaten path, but it’s hard to miss–that turquoise stands out!
The house specialty—pecan encrusted white fish. It was really good.
I had the shrimp on cheesy/garlicky grits. Yum!
Bob’s strawberry shortcake. It was really, really good.
My bread pudding soufle with a rum-laced sauce. : )
We found our way to the WWII Museum. It was a rainy day and I didn’t expect much, but it was fascinating. The exhibits on the Japanese internment camps were especially interesting. I highly recommend you spend some time here if you’ll be visiting New Orleans.
It was hard to take pictures in the WWII museum so I don’t have many to show you. However, I thought this was interesting. The quality on my pic is good enough to read if you zoom in. Click on the picture so it enlarges, then take a look. It’s very interesting reading.
We enjoyed the park and the sculpture garden so much on one of our tours, we went back for more. It’s a restful, cool, peaceful spot. Here are some more pics from that visit.
We found a little baby diet coke. It was so cute : )
This was Bob’s favorite. It has no visible support other than the ladder resting on the ground.
Of course, no trip to NOLA is complete without a visit to a cemetery. It’s not possible to bury people in New Orleans because its below sea level and there’s too much water. So, they put them in crypts. The cemeteries look like cities of miniature buildings. Some date back to the 1800s, or even earlier.
Doesn’t it look like the tree is melting frm the bottom and it’s overflowing its container?
These tombs are used by a family for generations. We found slabs for people who were burried here as late as 2013. Others go back to the 1800’s.
Message received: DON’T TRY TO GET OVER THIS WALL. Got it.
The side walks are treacherous all over the city. It’s hard to see the sights when you have to keep your eyes on your feet. We found one spot where the tree roots caused a heave in the sidewalk that was nearly 3 feet tall. This is a little one by comparison.
Back in the French Quarter, we found the police ready to roll.
We accidentally ended up on Bourbon Street trying to get to the street car. It was gross and skeevy, even at 4 in the afternon. We didn’t see any mounted police, but every street corner had a group like this one.
Today was a hodge podge of things. We started in the Garden District and one of the Cities of the Dead. Next, we went back to the sculpture garden in City Park because we wanted to see more of it. We also stopped for lunch and had more beignets and some crawfish étouffée (yum!). When it started to rain, we headed for the National WWII Museum.
What a gem! The WWII museum was incredible. It had tons of exhibits and big explanatory boards, but my favorite things were all the movies that explained so many things about the war in great detail. It was fascinating, and heart-breaking, and inspiring. If you’re ever in New Orleans, make sure you spend all the time you can at this museum. It was wonderful.
We’ve been meeting lots of interesting people at the B&B. I’m most surprised by the Brits who are in town for a big Wrestlemania event. Who knew Wrestlemania was so big in Europe?
Tonight for dinner we had reservations at Commander’s Palace. We have some pictures here. Thank you, Sam, for helping with that! It was lovely and the bread pudding soufflé and the strawberry shortcake were our favorites. Commanders, like many other places in New Orleans, had to be rebuilt from the studs after Katrina, but they restored it exactly as it was.
We’re leaving New Orleans tomorrow. We have reservation in Key West beginning on Monday, so who knows where we’ll end up over the weekend?
Oh, one more thing. Can Catholics eat turtle meat on Fridays during Lent? Turtle isn’t a mammal, but then neither are chickens. Any thoughts?
Today we walked the French Quarter. I’ve never been to New Orleans so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Generally, it’s an old city. It’s history goes back 300 years, and more. So many of the buildings are VERY old and they are all crowded together with narrow streets in between. Of course, the French Quarter is known for the fancy wrought iron work on many of the buildings.
We walked along Royal Street which was filled with antique dealers. We also strolled through the French Market and visited the Cathedral. We stopped to listen to lots of good musicians playing on the streets. I put a short video here. We ate beignets at Cafe Du Monde and split a shrimp po’ boy for lunch. Delicious!
My favorite part of the day was the tour we took that showed how Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. We saw the levees and where several of the major breaches were. We couldn’t see them all because there were more than 50. We saw the 9th Ward and other places that were hit very hard. Some of those houses haven’t been touched since the day Katrina hit. We even saw several with holes in the roof where people had been trapped in their attics and were rescued. Of those houses that have been restored, many of them have been raised on stilts, some by as much as 20 feet!
After Katrina, the Coast Guard (and later, many others) went around in boats and checked each house for people who needed help. When a house was checked, they painted a big X just above the water line. The four quadrants of the X were each used for specific information—what kind of search was done, whether the natural gas was still turned on, how many bodies were found, the date of the search, the identity of the searchers, and many other details. In the 9 years since the hurricane, people have taken different attitudes toward their X’s. Some erased them as soon as possible but other have preserved them as sort of a badge of honor. Where they still exist, they indicate how high the water got because they were painted just above the waterline. In other places, especially businesses, they preserved the water line around the building in various ways when they rebuilt. Whenever you see a building with a line around it, that’s the waterline. Pictures of all these things are here.
Some facts we learned were amazing. For example, after Katrina, there were thousands of abandoned cars all over the city. It took the mayor more than a year to find a contractor to remove them. Can you imagine what it must have been like to have those flooded cars rotting on the streets for so long?
In the end, Katrina forced an older city to modernize. Many of those very old buildings had to be renovated from the studs out. We’re told it has vastly improved the appearance of the city. Another interesting thing is the school district. Apparently it was pretty corrupt and had an abysmal record. Katrina washed it completely away. Now all the previous public schools are charter schools and the level of education is much better. Some of the schools we saw that had to be rebuilt were beautiful.
Tons of construction is still going on. Most of the big projects we saw were new fire stations, police stations, community centers and schools. There are still many buildings that need to be redone, but they are the minority.
Please take a look at the photo gallery for more. I put a lot more details of our trip there.
1,950 miles traveled
Today we drove from Webster, Texas, to New Orleans. We arrived late in the afternoon and checked in to the B&B—which is beautiful, by the way. If anyone is planning a visit to New Orleans, I recommend Maisson Perrier. They were very kind to us and put us in our own little cottage in the back yard which is named the Abby Cottage. We took it as a good sign.
For dinner, we met Les and Gail Levinson, friends of Bob’s from his residency days at Hershey Medical Center. It was wonderful to meet them (for me) and to catch up on old times (for Bob). We really, really enjoyed the evening. Thanks, Les and Gail!