The Rest of the New Orleans Trip

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We had dinner at Emeril’s Delmonico. Yes the famous Emeril. Myra loved it. I was underwhelmed. Except for the service. The service was charming without being fawning. Otherwise, I’ve had equivalent if not better meals at the local Italian restaurant. The waiters might be a little more surly, but the bill less than half. Myra’s research informed her that January sixth was the start of the Mardi Gras season. The one event of the night was the kick off by the Phorty Phunny Phellows. Mardi Gras in New Orleans is organized around Krewes. From what I gather a krewe is loosely an organization that puts together a float and the marchers for the parade While looking through Yelp for local color, I found information about one Krewe that organizes and designs floats around science fiction, according to Yelp anyone can join – for $42-and march as R2D2 or pull the Starship Enterprise attached to a decorated tricycle.- but I digress. We quizzed the concierge at the hotel about how to see the Phorty Phunny Phellows- since they traditionally ride a street car down the St .Charles’ line which apparently wasn’t running due to construction. He didn’t know. He thought they might take a bus. But assured us we could make an effort to find out. “You do know what you will end up seeing is 2 minutes of people dressing up, hollering, from some road-based vehicle?” We made little effort and took a taxi to Emeril’s. Where we were then seated by the window. I had that window facing seat and while our attentive waiter was painstakingly describing the ingredients of the night’s specials, a street car filled with dressed up people slid by.

“Look now,” I rudely interrupted and Myra caught the last 3 seconds of the passing Phorty Phunny Phellows. A half hour later, moments after Myra returned from her street cigarette break, they road by again returning to their base. Myra caught another two seconds and carnival season was officially opened.

Of course, we ended the night at the casino. Harrah’s has taken the video silly games to an even new absurd level and I found myself in a fishing contest on a giant HD screen. Amusing way to lose my money.

The Garden District

Day 3

Up before Myra again and I took an early morning walk, this time in a rare interval of sunshine. Tired of the overpriced breakfast in the French Quarter I walked over to MacDonalds for $3.00 worth of coffee and oatmeal.. I wound my way back through the French Quarter and ended up in Armstrong Park and photographed sculptures of Jazz museums before returning to the hotel to purchase Myra the expensive coffee.

Armstrong ParkOne of the rare glimpses of  blue sky during our trip

Armstrong Park
One of the rare glimpses of blue sky during our trip

The guidebook technology debate continued. We decided to go to the Garden District, an area outside the French Quarters filled with houses dripping with gingerbread, any architectural style of columns you could think of and plants and flowers everywhere. The Garden District was far enough away that it required a form of transportation other than our feet so Myra was off to quiz the concierge again, and I stuck the address into Google Maps app on my cell phone. Which resulted in our annual travel argument since Myra forged ahead convinced that the bus stop was off to right while I stood at the corner that Google Maps predicted would be where the bus would pull up and it did. But Myra wasn’t there so we missed the first one. But I called Myra, at least she has a cell phone, and she returned and we got on the next one.

With electronic and hard copy in hand we did not pay the $20 for the guided tour of the district, but overheard the paid guide telling stories in Lafayette Cementery. With her deep southern accent, she explained that the docent of a large funeral home in New Orleans signed all her correspondence, “eventually yours,” when Myra laughed she looked peeved, so we headed off in our own direction.

I liked the old fashioned hearse carved  into the stone

I liked the old fashioned hearse carved into the stone

We got a rhythm going finally. Myra used her hard copy map and I read the explanations off the e-reader all the while being careful not to trip over pavement which was uneven in a multitude of ways. We saw a variety of genteel southern homes, including one purportedly haunted, where a woman at least fifteen years our senior exited while we were reading. “Is this your home?” Myra asked.

“No its my mother-in-law’s, she replied. Made me wonder how old her mother-in-law could be. Maybe she’s the one doing the haunting.

We took a bus down Magazine Street,- Myra beginning to see the usefulness of Google Map’s direction application. We waited for a long freight train to pass and then wandered around the River Walk. The day had turned dreary again.

 At the Mighty Mississippi

A very long walk down Decauter landed us in the French Market,where we had lunch at Johnny’s famous for their Po-boys. Then over to Frenchman’s Street where the music is supposed to be much more sedate and authentic than Bourbon Street. Of course not at four clock in the afternoon, so we had coffee-and hung out a long time in the coffee shop -with comfortable chairs and couches and variety of seriously reading people. I believe the screen to paper ratio was about 4:1 among the readers). A short hike to see the Plessey Vs Ferguson memorial. (Extra points if you know what that is) And then Myra- now sold on the Google Maps directions capacity had me locate a bus to take us back to the hotel. Unfortunately the bus took us back to the Casino.

We took the long walk back to Frenchman’s Street. (well near Frenchman Street anyway) where Myra had located a Bluegrass band at the Hi-Ho bar and we bought drinks. We walked a lot and ate a little and two very strong rum and cokes had me feeling no pain. We met Thomas who told us his Katrina story which had to do with evacuation and young love gone wrong, but not serious injuries and then we were so detailed in our explanations of where we lived (Thomas’s lost love had lived on Long Island, and we got into another squabble about whether we actually live on Long Island) that he asked us if we were cartographer’s. Thomas gave us his recommendation on where we should eat dinner, which curiously was the restaurant in our hotel. We sobered up enough to get a cab back to the hotel, only to find that the restaurant was not serving dinner anymore but maybe they would do us the favor of serving us spaghetti at the bar for $40. We had hamburgers across the street for $7.50. I enjoyed better than the dinner at Emeril’s. (The result of a lot of rum vs. a little wine?)

Day 4

This is what schools look like in the Garden District

Myra was off to the next leg of her trip by 10 am (Panama), but I had a six pm flight Inspired by the HBO show I thought I would take a look at the Treme neighborhood. The concierge tried to discourage me but I would not be discouraged – I had spent a career working in neighborhoods that could not be considered anyone’s Garden District. The gray damp that characterized the rest of the trip continued and though many of the homes are indeed inhabited again the look of the neighborhood could best be described as sad. I passed red brick school building that would not look unusual in New York City and over the carved in Public School lettering where banners displaying new inspiring names that had words like academy and preparatory school. Not a syndrome I am unfamiliar with

And this is what a school looks like in Treme

And this is what a school looks like in Treme

I was attempting to get to the starting point of the third Frommer’s walking tour I had loaded onto the Nook and after blocks of small damaged bungalows I was at house the guide described as a plantation home that had been moved to Esplanade Street, And there I was,- back in the world of Southern gentility and gingerbread houses. Ten more blocks of it, including the home of Edgar Degas’ family (who knew he had American roots). This walking tour ended at the Art Museum where I decided I didn’t have time to walk around and fortuitously ended up on a street car that ran down Canal Street. I had to wait while the driver switched the wooden back benches around so the would face the forward as I got on either the last of first stop depending on your perspective.

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I had lunch in Soubou on Chartres Street. Fancy food a butternut truffle soup with a crab salad and a 25 cents martini. Not much of a martini drinker, I managed to polish it.

I walked around the French Quarter a bit, bought stupid souvenirs and tasted every chocolate in the quite empty chocolate shop. “Go ahead, eat them all,” the clerk told me, very few people in the French Quarters on rainy day.”

I did my best.

And so did New Orleans- even in the cold and rain.

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One Response to “The Rest of the New Orleans Trip”

  1. myranee Says:

    I definitely come out of this as the eccentric (somewhat charming) or degenerate (less charming) sister here. But I like the account nonetheless

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