Wednesday, May 09, 2007

New Orleans ... I love the Big Easy ! part one

So earlier this year when trying to decide where I wanted to go on vacation, I went through what everyone goes through...all the websites and travel magazines and trying to see what I could afford.
I decided on the one place that I have wanted to go to for years and the place that needed my money more than those Spaniards.


My fantastic friend Cindy ( who left me to move to North Carolina ) had lived in New Orleans all her life. A school teacher who left her hometown after the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Cindy was blessed in evacuating her family and her loved ones early but she did see everything we saw on television first hand.
So after making the decision to move and looking for a new job, Cindy ended up in NYC working at my store...and my bookstore was never the same again. She brought with her all the heat of Louisiana and lots of love to share with everyone.
So after hearing all the stories, I made the decision to go visit this amazing city and contribute to their "recovery"
Cindy arranged her new life in North Carolina around meeting me in NOLA to show me her hometown the right way.
I was so lucky to have Cindy be my tour guide...and she pulled some strings for me while there.

If anyone ever goes to visit NOLA and they want to stay in the French Quarter, I highly recommend the Hotel Montleone. Now its a little pricey and I lucked out with a very good deal, but its so worth it. With its famous Carousel Bar and amazing service, this hotel is just one block away from Bourbon Street and the Acme Oyster Bar.

On my first day in New Orleans I was on my own. After checking in and plotting my route I headed out to explore. The French Quarter is not big and so easy to get around, it reminded me of Old San Juan. I headed straight to Jackson Square and of course the first thing I saw were musicians playing up a storm.

Jackson Square is beautiful. With the St. Louis Cathedral at the top and the Mississippi River at the bottom, it was full of musicians and artists and fortune tellers. The Cathedral is the oldest active cathedral in the US. The area is surrounded by some amazing buildings, the architecture is beautiful.

The apartments surrounding Jackson Square are some of the oldest standing apartments in the US and they were not damaged by the flood.

So if anyone who loves coffee and delicious goodies must go to the Cafe Du Monde the minute they hit Jackson Square. OH MY GOD...this was heaven.

Cafe Au Lait and Beignets before ...

Cafe Au Lait and Beignets after...

I took the Riverboat Natchez tour up the Mississippi River, it was a two hour ride and as you went along the river we were given ample information and history of the area.

I was able to get some pictures of the infamous Ninth Ward from the steamboat. Seeing a FEMA trailer park which is still the home to many who did not leave after the flooding. The trailers are still all over and there are still many people living in them because they do not have anywhere else to go.

As you can see the river wall is not high at all and you can see how easy it was for the water to take control and destroy homes and lives. The walls and levees were no match for this amazing river. From 250,000 residents in this parish, only about 25,000 remain. There is so much more to tell you later on about the outlying areas which I saw with Cindy on Friday.

After finishing up the riverboat tour and finding a yarn shop in the Quarter (you all know those are the knitters travel rules), I headed back to the hotel to relax and then treat myself to an amazing dinner... yes I did try turtle soup. Walking down Bourbon Street in the early evening is an experience and later in the evening its wild.

Anyone can have a great time just walking around the French Quarter, going in and out of shops and just being in awe of this city that has been through devastation and its trying to survive and recover day by day.


Nancy said...

Everyone loved their souvies! Thanks. Ian took the postcard to school with him today to show off!

Harlem Purl said...

Sound like you had a great time. Thos pecan thingies you bought back were just divine. Thanks a lot!