Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New Orleans Day 2

We ended up being so busy in New Orleans that I didn't manage to post reports from the rest of our trip. I'm working on catching up.

At the recommendation of my college friend, Mary, we started off our second day with breakfast at Brennan's Restaurant, home of Banana's Foster, with Amy's niece Melissa. The building was originally built for Edgar Degas' great-grandfather, during the Spanish rule of New Orleans. It was yummy, though none of us tried the Banana's Foster. We highly recommend the strawberries with double cream.

French Market

After our sumptuous breakfast we headed to the French Market, and wandered through the flea market booths. An eccentric Cajun gentleman explained in more detail than we really wanted, how he crafts beautiful jewelry from scrap - making beauty from the destruction left behind by Katrina. And I added a bright pottery fish to my collection. After stopping to stock up on pralines for the folks at work, we stopped for a late morning snack of beignets at Cafe Du Monde.

From there we headed to St Louis Cathedral, stopping to admire the art displayed on the fence along the way.

St Louis Cathedral6
The outside of St Louis Cathedral.

St Louis Cathedral1
Looking down the main aisle.

St Louis Cathedral3
The organ loft.

Then we headed to Uptown to meet my college friend, Mary, at her parent's house. I'd emailed Mary for recommendations on places to eat and things to see and discovered that she was going to be in New Orleans for the weekend too. After a quick tour of her parent's house we headed off to lunch at a local bar for lunch. We spent lunch talking and laughing.

The local drink.

After lunch Melissa took us over to the Lower Ninth Ward to show us two of the oldest houses in that part of the city. Mary kept up a running travelogue on the drive pointing out the sights and offering stories about the city. There are still signs of the destruction of the hurricane throughout the city, but there are also signs of recovery in most neighborhoods. The houses we went to see are called Pilot houses and sit on opposite corners near the levee. Mary enjoyed seeing these almost as much as we did. She'd seen pictures of them before, but didn't know where in New Orleans they were.

Pilot House3
The Pilot house closest to the levee. This was taken from the top of the levee.

Pilot House6
The second Pilot house. Note the kumquat tree in the yard.

There are more pictures of the Pilot houses here.

Just a block away from the Pilot houses are these new houses. We're pretty sure these are part of Brad Pitt's efforts to rebuild New Orleans. If you click on the picture you can see what almost looks like a fourth house, but is actually a ship docked on the other side of the levee.

I'll save our first Mardi Gras parade for my next post.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

New Orleans Day 1

Today was our first full day in New Orleans. We arrived yesterday afternoon after a slightly bumpy but mostly uneventful flight. Amy's niece, Melissa, picked us up at the airport, which was great. We had a chance to meet her pups before heading to our hotel. We had dinner at Babylon Cafe, a small meditteranean restaurant - no frills but great food. On the way back to our hotel we spent quite a while sitting at an intersection while tractors pulled empty Mardi Gras floats down the street. Back at our hotel we were getting ready for bed when we heard drumming outside. We looked out the window to see what was happening to discover klieg lights illuminating the night, and a small brass band accompanied by a band of revelers following a police car down the street below our window. They got to the end of the block then turned around and walked back to where they'd started. The big fuzzy microphones at the sides of the road were clear indication that they were being filmed. The walk under our windows was repeated 4 or 5 more times.

Sorry about the quality of the photo - this was taken on a rainy night, through a window without a tripod.

Today was rainy so we headed off to indoor sights. First up the Audubon Aquarium.

Detail of the waterfall in the entry hall of the Aquarium.

We arrived at feeding time in the Caribbean Reef exhibit. This ray decided that sucking the food out of the jar was the best way to go.

sea star
To me this sea star looks like it's doing the wave.


The aquarium has a few non-aquatic critters, including this owl.

From the aquarium we walked a short distance to the Riverwalk Mall. The mall itself was uninspiring (though we were able to score a superbowl t-shirt for a co-worker). After lunch in the food court, we checked out the Southern and Beverage Museum, before heading back to the hotel.

Melissa will be joining us for our adventures tomorrow which, as long as the sun comes out, will include heading to the French Quarter for gawking, shopping and beignets. Then she's promised to take us on a short driving tour.