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01 February, 2013

New Orleans Revisited: Part One

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With all the Super Bowl hoopla and talk of New Orleans going on, I thought I would take a little virtual trip to one of my favorites cities...after Paris, of course...and revisit the Big Easy! My best friend and I spent a few days there to celebrate our 60th birthdays a couple of years ago. (Yes...do the math and you know how old I am!) If you love frenchiness with a Creole twist, you are gonna love this place!

I have just returned from a visit to one of my favorite places…New Orleans! The trip was in celebration of a special occasion that I will reveal in a few moments. If you have never been, you owe it to yourself to head on down to the Big Easy to spend a few days! I’ll bet you can guess why I love it so much….yes, it’s so very French Creole! It really feels like you have traveled to another country…another place and time! This is my third trip there and I certainly am not an expert, but I would like to share with you some of my favorite things to do in case you ever have a chance to go!

pageFirst and foremost, I think it is a good idea to stay in the French Quarter. If you do, you can ditch your car for the duration of your visit. You don’t have to stay in an expensive hotel. This was our first time at the Place d’Armes Hotel and I will go back (and they aren’t paying me to say that! lol) It is literally steps from Jackson Square, the heart of the French Quarter or Vieux Carré as some still call it. That’s our room on the second floor with the balcony overlooking the courtyard! You can hear the bells of St. Louis Cathedral as they ring their morning greeting at 7:30 am and as they say good evening at 6:00 pm….ahhhhh!

IMG_3297 Doesn’t this just look like a postcard? Here is Jackson Square with a view of the cathedral in the background…gorgeous! That’s Andrew Jackson on his horse…the hero of the Battle of New Orleans. (If you are old like me, a song starts up in your brain…♪♪ In 1814, we took a little trip...Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip ♪♪) lol  Be sure to head out early before all of the other tourists are out and about to really enjoy the atmosphere! And speaking of atmosphere…it is hot and humid there…very tropical, in fact…but in September, the rates have not gone up yet and I don’t honestly think waiting a week or two until October makes that much difference! I just told myself that the humidity was good for my skin! lol

IMG_3289 Cross the street at Jackson Square and head over to the Café du Monde, a French Quarter icon, for some wonderful beignets…French donuts…and café au lait made with their world famous chicory coffee! The menu is limited and the place is usually packed all day long. I love to sit in the outdoor section and people watch. Don’t be surprised if a street musician provides some music to munch by! Our guitarist played a wonderful selection of Beatles songs! Just a hint…don’t wear black unless you want to wear a powdered sugar badge all day long! lol

page1 We took the tour of St. Louis Cemetery #1 (there are several)…the oldest cemetery in New Orleans.  Of course, it came with its own resident black cat! Be sure to go with a guide because it’s not in the best part of town. Ours was very knowledgeable and interesting, so it was well worth the price. She told us that the French built the tombs above ground, not because of the high water table…although it’s a help in this city…but because the first tombs were based on the crypts at Père-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris! Interesting! Of course, many come here to see the tomb of the voodoo queen Marie Laveau…

IMG_3232 …but here’s the one I came to see! Do you know whose it is? Hint…it’s still unoccupied! Have you guessed? It’s the tomb of Nicolas Cage! lol Yes, he had this tomb built and a small section of the cemetery restored for himself! I am sure this is as close as I will ever get, although our guide said she saw him twice last week, as did our waiter at Arnaud’s! Too bad we were late!

748 Be sure to ride the historic streetcars that run through the oldest parts of the city! You can get an all day pass for $5 and see the sights outside of the French Quarter. A must-do is a ride on the St. Charles streetcars that run through the beautiful Garden District, where the English-speaking newcomers settled.

page1 We got off at the Washington Street stop and turned left, past gorgeous old Greek revival mansions and wonderful gingerbread shotgun houses (so named because you could shoot a gun straight through the whole house) and headed towards…

page2Commander’s Palace! They offer a less expensive menu during lunch hours, but be forewarned…no shorts! I had their version of tomato soup and grilled cheese…a fabulous crab and pepper jack cheese sandwich served with smoked tomato bisque…the best I’ve ever had! My traveling buddy and good friend Nan had the Caribbean shrimp salad served in a coconut shell. You cannot leave without having their world famous bread pudding soufflé with whiskey sauce…yummy!

IMG_3512 Want to connect with old New Orleans and  see the interiors of some wonderful old homes?  Start with the Beauregard-Keyes House! It was the temporary residence of Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard in the 1860s and then, in the 1940s, the home of the novelist Frances Parkinson Keyes. Here is the stately 19th century mansion as it appears today and…

771px-BeauregardHouseChartresDown1900s …here it is the way it looked in the early 1900s. In fact, most of the French Quarter had fallen into ruin and was a low-rent district housing many of the Italian immigrants who had come to New Orleans seeking work. Only in the 1960s was it declared a National Historic Landmark to ensure that the wonderful old buildings would be preserved. Quite a transformation, isn’t it?

page1 A peek inside the home reveals rooms full of wonderful antiques, many of which were donated by both the Beauregard and Keyes families, including many personal items.

page2 Be sure to take a walk around the grounds to see the  lovely walled garden, visible from the street through a wrought iron gate, as well as a beautiful old courtyard with views from both the mansion and the servants’ quarters.

page If you have managed to walk enough to build up an appetite, how about dinner at Galatoire’s? (Please note that I have compressed several days into one. There is no way to eat this much food in one day! lol) Here you may not make reservations for the downstairs dining room and must line up on Bourbon Street to get in….but it’s so worth the wait! I had their wonderful shrimp rémoulade, followed by eggplant stuffed with crab and shrimp…heavenly! And you may have guessed by now that I was celebrating a special occasion…my 60th birthday!…with a candle atop their yummy crème caramel!

IMG_3281 Of course, in New Orleans, you must top off the evening at least once with a stop at a jazz/R&B club! We were fortunate enough to go to Snug Harbor to hear Charmaine Neville, niece of Aaron Neville and a real talent in her own right. What fun! The club is rightly named, since it is an intimate setting and several times during the evening, members of her family and her neighbors dropped in to join in the show!

I am making myself stop here and will continue next time with more about my trip to New Orleans! I hope you will join me as I continue to eat my way across the French Quarter in this city full of friendly people, fabulous music and wonderful sights!
See you next time! A la prochaine! Pin It!

14 comments:

  1. I've never been, but your post sure makes me want to change that!

    - The Tablescaper

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  2. Powdered sugar badge! LOL!
    I hate seeing kitties outside. I want to take them home with me to be safe and sound and healthy and ROUND! LOL!
    One good thing about being married to a police officer is that he can carry his gun anywhere he goes so I get a little cocky about the places I visit! Sad that there are so many desperate people in the world that don't think twice about hurting others. :(
    It is a dream to go to New Orleans...someday soon, I hope! My nephew is a chef there!

    xo


    Andie

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  3. Kate - I started following you on Pinterest and realized how much we had in common. Then, I came to your blog and saw that you spent a special birthday in New Orleans - that is where I chose to spend my 50th quite a few years ago)!! I will be following you here, too. Oh, could we ever talk - lol!!

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  4. Debbie - so sorry that I called you "Kate"! A woman on Pinterest had used one of your photos and I thought it was you!! I am still following you, though!!!

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  5. I love New Orleans and think that it might be time to plan a trip there...next year! LOL...this year is Paris, but I agree NO is so special. I lived there back in the 70's and have some crazy memories of it.
    hugs, Linda

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  6. It has been so many years since we have been there. We actually honeymooned in New Orleans (I can't imagine our parents let 2 twenty-year-olds go there)! Your photos make me want to go back...now!!

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  7. My favorite place in America and as close to Europe one can get with out leaving the USA. One place that I hope never changes. The food is amazing and each place is better than the other. There are lots and lots of historic house museums and I love them all. It is truly an enchanting place and I am glad I got to visit it again today on your blog. Thanks, Richard from My old Historic House.

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  8. Thank you so much. I love Nawlins! I haven't been in several years and would love to go back.
    My first trip was for our honeymoon, the second and third were for business. There is just something about that town that I love. I think it is the old world feel. I am looking froward to your next post.
    Loree
    www.garnergirl-loree.blogspot.com

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  9. I remember when you made this trip, Debbie. Thanks for sharing this again. Haven't been to New Orleans in many, many years.

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  10. I went to Nawlins for my50th...loved it! I didn't do as much touring as you did so that was nice to see! Next trip is NYC for my 60th....saving money now!

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  11. My favorite place in the states...best food, for sure...we went one year for the New Orleans French Quarter Festival...think it's time for another visit before we get too old to walk around!

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  12. Thanks for showing off my hometown so well! You brought back some great memories. After high school dances my friends and I would have beignets at Cafe du Monde and usually end up having powder sugar all over our formal dresses! I went to school via the St Charles streetcar- the smell and sound of it still bring back all of those feeling of being a teenager. You should also go to Cafe Degas, a great French bistro on Esplanade. Have the escargot, the cheese board and the ratatoille. I haven't been back to NOLA for a few years but always have a list of restaurants I want to visit when I'm there. I hear there are some great ones opening on Magazine st.

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  13. Debbie,
    What a lovely tour you've given us of New Orleans!
    A beautiful city and such great food!!!
    Thanks for sharing...and especially what a great way to celebrate your birthday!!!
    Fondly,
    Pat

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Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment! I appreciate my wonderful readers!... Debbie

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