We woke up this morning to bright, sunny skies. For a moment I thought I had taken a long haul flight throughout the night and arrived in Florida.
After a quick cup of coffee and playing with Bubba and Nipper, we took off to town to catch the beautiful rays of sunshine. The plan for the day was to visit the Garden District. At Floyd’s recommendations we also decided to venture north to the City Park.
Walked down Decatur street again and here’s what greeted us at Jackson Square:
The sun is out and business is brisk. Street artists, as usual, never fail to amaze me with their awe inspiring creations- like little diamonds adorning the fences of Jackson Square.
We decided to try the River’s Edge Restaurant this morning for breakfast. Be warned- the queue can get quite long here and unless you’ve had a bit to bite, I would not recommend waiting here for your breakfast.
We both had the Louisiana Omelette served with garlic potatoes and Creole sauce.
It is worth mentioning that our server, a lovely lady commented on what a nice camera my sister had, and upon chatting further, we found out that she was a former high school photography teacher who was laid off her job during the financial crisis. We see inspirational, resilient people everyday here in New Orleans- not one to dwell on the past, she went around serving tables with a huge smile on her face. I made sure that I left her a decent tip before we left.
Tummies filed up and we are good to go. After making some enquiries and obtaining a complimentary map of the Garden District, we joined the queue of presumably tourists waiting in line for the next St. Charles Avenue Line Streetcar to arrive. It was getting progressively hot and I suppose I understand now why public transport is not the most favourite mode of transport here. On average you can expect to wait for up to 25 minutes for a streetcar to arrive.
Tip: Wait at the Carondelet/Canal street stop in order to get a seat in the streetcar. If the streetcar gets too full the driver will not stop for you and you will need to wait for yet another 20 minutes for the next one to arrive.
St. Charles Avenue Line is the oldest streetcar in New Orleans. Service commenced in September 1835 and this is the longest route of all three streetcar lines.
Fares for streetcars are relatively cheap- hop on for $1.25 per journey, or you can buy a Jazzy pass for $3.00 which enables you to hop on and hop off any Streetcar for the entire 24 hour period.
Our first stop was Washington Avenue, where the famed Garden District is. The large, stately h0mes in the Garden District were built circa 1835, and used to belong to wealthy Americans who did not want to live with the Creoles in the French Quarter. Here are some pictures of the houses:
The ballgown style staircase has an interesting history. In the past, men and women had to ascend the steps from separate sides as men were not allowed to have a view of women’s… ahem… ankles.
Lattice trimmed roofs are a distinctive architectural feature of the houses in Garden District.
This is the Commander’s Palace Restaurant, a prominent gastronomy stop in the Garden District which serves good food. We did not have lunch there as we were still stuffed from breakfast!
Directly opposite the Commander’s Palace Restaurant is the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.
If you are a fan of Anne Rice’s novels, well this is for you. 1239 First Street was Anne’s home- note how the roots of the oak tree in front of her house have completely damaged the pavement directly in front of her house. Eerie yet mysterious. I would be inspired to write a novel if I were staying here too.
There are several other houses in the District which are worth visiting and also I hear that Nicholas Cage, Brangelina are also buying houses in this area. However houses are best viewed with your own eyes- photographs did not do them much justice and hence I have just inserted a couple of them here. You know what you have to do- a visit is absolute must!
After having tea at the Rink (a converted 19th century skating rink) we took the streetcar back into town:
Unmistakably vintage- check out the green colours on the streetcar!
Our next venture was to take the Canal Street Line Streetcar to New Orleans City Park.
The main feature of the City Park, is the New Orleans Museum of Art:
A tip for you art buffs out there- the museum is free on Wednesdays! It was a Tuesday so we decided not to go in (with all good intentions to return the next day but sadly, we didn’t).
However, the Sculpture Garden behind the Museum, is free all year round and here are some shots for your viewing pleasure:
The LOVE sculpture which is also available in New York and several other cities in America.
A Venetian moment, with gondola and all. Beautiful.
Oak trees line the garden -these are known as “Duelling Oak”. Imagine walking in the park at night, seeing all these cascading leaves sure gives out an eerie aura.
A stately gander stares in the distance. Penny for your thoughts mate?
Having spent enough time traipsing and relaxing in the park, we waited for the next streetcar to arrive (a good 30 minutes wait) and take us back to town. Of course there had to be a bit of drama. Our driver proclaimed that as his relief driver had not arrived in time and he was finishing his shift soon, he said he would send us to the nearest stop, which was the St. Louis cemetery No. 1 so that we could catch the next available streetcar back to town. Whilst not really appealing there wasn’t much we could do, so we hopped in the streetcar and awaited our fate.
As fate would have it the driver received a call and then pulled the streetcar to a stop, proclaimed that he would take us all the way back to town and all of us applauded!
We were rushing when we got off the streetcar at Bourbon street as I really wanted to make it for the 8pm show at the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on St. Peters Street.
Trip Advisor advised that there would be a long queue so be ready to queue up as early as 7.15pm or 7.30pm. We finished coffee and cake at Antoinne’s Annex on Royal Street (Acme Oysters was closed as there was a huge party going on) and decided to walk leisurely to St Peter’s Street. We got there at 7pm and lo and behold, look how long the queue was:
Mind you the hall is really small and probably would not fit more than 100 people (seated and standing up) so I was beginning to get a bit worried. Since when did tourists in the western world became so kiasu?
As far as our adventure goes, tonight was truly a treat. A family of 5 from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania were queuing right behind my sister and I, and we started a conversation. They had three lovely girls who told us what they had been up to in the Big Easy for the past couple of days. I was really happy to meet this family and we took photos for them and even exchanged email contacts. I also recommended Mulates to them as the mother had, read a misleading review about Yo Mama’s being family friendly- and was stopped right at the door when she tried to bring her girls in for a meal.
Pat O’Briens, the creators of the legendary Hurricane cocktail wasted no time in sending their dapper waiters in green suits to take orders from people waiting in the queue. Of course it helps as well that in New Orleans you can pretty much drink any alcoholic drink on the street as long as it is in a “to-go” cup. My sister bought a Hurricane which we shared. Now if you have not tried one before, be warned. There are at least 10 shots of rum and goodness knows what else in there- so one glass or cup of Hurricane equals about 6 cocktails in a regular joint elsewhere in the world.
I obviously did not know that.
Finished our first Hurricane and I sent my barely of age sister (just kidding) to get us another Hurricane. Unfortunately the first Hurricane was beginning to take its toll on me (I be lightweight as they say it here in the Big Easy) and by the time we successfully squeezed into the Preservation Hall, I was feeling quite nauseous. Nevertheless I managed to have a good time listening to the traditional Dixieland Jazz and the legendary Shannon Powell, King of the Drums was playing that night.
Absolutely no flash photography or video is allowed- so this was the best picture we had of the performance. It was truly an amazing 45 minutes of live music and I was exhilarated. The locals at New Orleans will tell you that this is overrated and catered for tourists, but personally I think it is worth the queue and also well worth your $12 entrance fee, to see for yourself a part of the history of music in New Orleans. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band also tours around the world.
No fancy seats, no expensive drinks, just pure enjoyment of traditional Jazz.
After the show ended we were both starving, so we decided to take a chance at the Coffee Pot restaurant (just next to Pat O’Briens) for supper. Being quite tipsy from the Hurricane I was confused at this point as I genuinely thought the Coffee Pot restaurant was the same establishment as the Gumbo Pot cafe (which turns out to be a few doors down).
The accidental mistake turned out to be a great one. We had one of our best meals ever at the Coffee Pot restaurant. This is what we had:
Barbecued shrimp with French bread: Do not be fooled by the name, the shrimp is not barbecued but rather the sauce is. This is absolutely delicious and a must try if you ever visit the Coffee Pot restaurant.
Seafood gumbo- crabs, shrimp and everything that belongs to the sea. Divine!
For dessert we had “Lost Bread”- po boy bread deep fried and sprinkled with icing sugar. Simple but so… delicious.
And we also polished a red velvet cake
Like I said, one of the best meals we had and definitely tops my list for Barbecued shrimp.
We called it a night and cabbed it back to Marigny. I fell asleep in no time!