February 19, 2018

New Orleans

by Rosemary West

On our way to New Orleans, we drove across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. Twenty-four miles long, it is considered the world's longest bridge over water.

Our first excursion was a walk through the French Quarter, the city's oldest district. The area is known for its distinctive architecture, historic landmarks, and a lively 24-hour culture of music, dining, drinking, and debauchery.

Balconies with elaborate wrought iron frames and railings are a distinctive feature of buildings in the French Quarter

This statue of Jean Baptiste LeMoyne de Bienville, founder of New Orleans, includes figures of a priest and an American Indian.

Drinking on the street is fine, as long as you use the right container.

Bourbon Street (aka Rue Bourbon, aka Calle de Borbon) has been here since 1721, when the streets were laid out.

"Do do that voodoo that you do so well." (Cole Porter)

Tabasco has been produced in Louisiana since 1868.

One of the most popular foods in New Orleans is the beignet, a pastry made of deep-fried dough covered with powdered sugar. People gladly stand in line at Cafe du Monde, which is open 24 hours a day and serves nothing but beignets and beverages. I wonder if anyone ever goes there just to order coffee?

We shared an order.

Local merchants have their limits.

Bourbon Street was named after the ruling family of France, the House of Bourbon; so was bourbon whiskey. It makes sense to enjoy both at the same time.

New Orleans is strongly associated with jazz music, and there are many tributes to musicians around the city.

Louis Armstrong

There are, of course, a lot of street musicians. Unfortunately, most of them seem to be aspiring drummers pounding relentlessly on overturned plastic buckets. But occasionally a real band shows up. These guys were performing in front of the St. Louis Cathedral.

Apparently, no one noticed the sign.

The church is peaceful inside...

...but, with or without musicians, it faces a noisy tourist zone that includes Jackson Square, Washington Artillery Park, and a riverfront area that is currently being renovated.

The centerpiece of Jackson Square is an equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans, and later the seventh U.S. President. This is a replica of the statue in Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C. There are also copies in Nashville, Tennessee, and Jacksonville, Florida. This 1853 sculpture by Clark Mills was the first in the world to be balanced solely on the horse's hind legs.

Jackson in New Orleans.

The original in D.C.

In nearby Woldenburg Park is "Monument to the Immigrant" a 1996 marble sculpture by Franco Alessandrini. An immigrant family stands behind a muse symbolizing hope.

It is still possible to ride a paddle wheeler on the Mississippi River.

Some people arrive, along with 2000 of their best friends, via giant cruise ships.

This wasn't the largest cruise ship we saw docked here.

New Orleans is also known for its old cemeteries. Much of the city is below sea level, there is a high water table, and the area is subject to storms and flooding. Not long after the city was settled, it became unpleasantly obvious that traditional in-ground graves were not suitable here. Above-ground vaults have been used since the 1700s. The cemeteries are sometimes called "cities of the dead" because that is what they look like.

Some families have maintained vaults here for many generations. There are also organizations that work to restore and protect the old graves and monuments. But time and weather are not gentle, and most of the tombs exhibit some degree of deterioration. Many are falling apart, or have already crumbled into rubble.

We took a tour of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, the oldest surviving cemetery in New Orleans.

Oddly, actor Nicolas Cage, who is not dead yet, already has a tomb here.

Downtown, not far from the cemetery, is another kind of monument: The old five and dime store, built in 1912, is now part of the Ritz Carlton Hotel.

We strolled through the Garden District, an area known for its interesting homes, including historic mansions with lovely gardens.

Although Mardi Gras was still about three weeks away, everywhere we went we saw homes, business, fences, and trees decorated for the holiday.

And, of course, parade-appropriate outfits for sale.

I would look maah-velous in this

Having had a great time new New Orleans, we were ready to go somewhere else. We headed for Texas.

Note: We were here in the second half of January.

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