Friday, July 06, 2012

Vacation 2012: No place but NOLA.

Day 2, part 1: New Orleans

Fleur-de-lis waffle from the hotel breakfast
With my trusty Fodor's print-out in hand, we hit the streets of the French Quarter bright and early for a walking tour. Of course, we were out there too early for many of the shops to be open, but we wanted to beat the heat and the crowds. It was a little strange to be there when the streets were so quiet, but it was nice to really see the Quarter's architecture without all the other tourists in our way.

Wrought iron balconies in the Quarter

Voodoo shop

Lindy Boggs home: Truman Capote
and Tennessee Williams both rented
rooms here (at different times)

Beleaguered mint plant

Colorful shotgun houses

Coffee (and root beer) break

Magnolia iced tea: Delish!
As we neared the French Market area, we saw what appeared to be a statue of a man with a trumpet. Upon closer inspection, we realized the guy was real! For some spare change, we had a nice encounter with the man Ryan started calling "the gray guy."

The gray guy put on Ryan's glasses, so for the rest of the trip, Ryan kept finding traces of that metallic paint on his frames.

In the French Market: We bought a few souvenirs here,
including Katie's new harmonica. With the shelter and the
ceiling fans, the market provided a nice respite from the heat.

Gator jerky stand

Well, YEAH, we bought some! "When in Rome," right?

We liked it! Spicy, spicy!
I'm pretty sure it's a law that if you're in New Orleans, you HAVE to get beignets at Café Du Monde. We were happy to oblige.
Because of the hordes of tourists,
the "To Go" window was the way to go.


but messy!

We weren't the only ones to leave a powdered sugar trail.

After some major dusting off, we walked toward the Mississippi River.

Home of Jax Beer, right across from...

Jackson Square, which is...

named for Battle of New Orleans hero, Andrew Jackson.

After walking all over the French Quarter (and meeting an entertaining tour guide and the visitor center), we headed back to Conti Street to visit the Musée Conti wax museum.

This turned out to be a pretty painless way to learn some New Orleans history via the wax figures.

Arrival of the "casket girls" (brought to New Orleans
to marry the colonists in the mid-1700s)

Napoleon arguing for the necessity of the Louisiana Purchase

Andrew Jackson

The Battle of New Orleans, the decisive victory of the War
of 1812. Without this U.S. win, the British Parliament may
not have approved the peace treaty to end of the war.

Madame Lalaurie's haunted house: This evil woman was
found to have tortured her slaves, and their ghosts are said
to haunt the Lalaurie house to this day.

The Pontalba buildings are next to Jackson Square and feature
the distinctive A&P ironwork (for Almonester and Pontalba,
her maiden and married names)

Mardi Gras costume
 Like most wax museums, this one features a hall of horrors filled with monsters.

Phantom of the Opera


The Wolfman

The Wolf Man and that guy (Sir John Talbot, maybe?
Brett will know this one!)

The Creature from the Black Lagoon
(and the man from Fort Worth)

Another view of "The Critter"
After our nice break in the cool, dark confines of the wax museum, we were ready for some lunch. We hiked back across the Quarter to find the Gumbo Shop, which my cousin had mentioned on Facebook a few days before our trip.

We ended up trading meals so all of us got to sample the
gumbo, jambalaya and shrimp creole. YUM!

After lunch we walked to Faulkner House Books, which was literally a minute from the restaurant.

William Faulkner wrote his first
novel, Soldiers' Pay, here.
From there we started our trek back to our car, but not before seeing more street performers and examples of that distinctive New Orleans architecture.

Then it was time to continue our journey east! Our planned visit to a couple of famous cemeteries and the Garden District would have to wait for our next NOLA adventure; the beaches of Alabama were calling our names.

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