Day Ten in America.. New Orleans

I should start by saying that I was completely unaware that the Thanksgiving holiday which is of course massive here would occur while I was in the States… here I am in New Orleans on Thanksgiving. It’s a blessing really – although a lot of the things I would like to have visited are closed for the day (there go my plantation tour, art galleries, and museums), the up side is the streets are empty, no traffic at all, and walking from my hotel to Jackson Square there is hardly anyone about – a couple of tarot card readers are setting up their stalls outside St Louis Cathedral. Interesting choice of location. One greets me with a cheery “Good afternoon Ma’am” – we share a laugh!

Lovely once they had put me in a room with a WINDOW! Could not fault them on service, cleanliness etc. Just wanted a window OK?! You can see how busy the French Quarter is this morning… not

It’s a beautiful morning and map in hand off I go for a walk, firstly to Jackson Square, the heart of the Quarter.

Also known as Place D’Armes – was re-named in honour of Andrew Jackson after he walloped the British in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. Lovely gardens with lots of benches, families with young children up and about early, and a cluster of African American older men smoking cigars and talking on a shady bench. That’s St Louis Cathedral tower behind the statue. BUT basically had the place pretty much to myself this morning.

I sit and enjoy the sun for a while, chat to a lady with four boys under ten with her (know how that feels), what I’m hoping is that I can tag onto a Guided Walk that leaves here at 9am… but obviously they are off for the holiday too, so I make my way to the bank of the Mississippi behind me. What a river!

I actually took this later in the afternoon… it’s definitely still a working port, boats this size were steming up and down all afternoon, and they were not travelling slowly either, I’m no judge of speed in knots, but at least ten miles an hour at a guess… it looked fast! There’s another impressive bridge there as well….. locals call it the GNO, it’s proper name is the Crescent City Connection, and its the furthest down river bridge over the Mississippi. Thanks Wikipedia!

I’m now walking along the top of a levee bank, its called the Moonwalk in honour of a previous Mayor named (surprisingly) Mr Moon. Not as good a job as they could have done but there are plenty of benches again, and I walk west towards the Garden District through downtown New Orleans. Deserted!

Not much going on here. Hardly anyone about in the business district.

I do like the way the Mardi Gras parade is such a highlight that the parking signs related to it are up all year…

How Mardi Gras started is an interesting story all in itself! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mistick_Krewe_of_Comus

Quick stop for coffee and I’ve reached the Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District. Bit of info – the French Quarter or Vieux Carre was where the original French settlers established the first town here in 1718, as the American’s started arriving they built in whats now called the Garden District. And there’s the Warehouse district in between! The Garden District is the vampire-y balconied lacework architecture that you expect to see here and I wander around very happily for ages peeking onto people’s verandahs and so on. Lots of the bigger houses have been converted into flats but there are many that are still expensive private homes… and they are lovely. The streets are shaded by huge live oaks and other tree’s I didn’t recognise, by now it’s lunchtime and I can smell roast turkey dinner’s now and then, and hear the clank of silverware and plates. Thanksgiving dinner!

Lafayette Cemetery No 1 – Lovely. Bit scruffy, paths all torn up, some graves under restoration, nice chap at the front gate to give you information, closes at 2.30pm. Lots of delightful inscriptions and memorials, and plenty of room for the imagination to run wild

This is pre Civil War – you can tell by the elaborate lacework.

Making my way back to the French Quarter, I come across Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Grill (closed, very upset guy outside telling me he came all the way from Mississippi for this and damn its closed) – stop in at Cafe Du Monde at the French Markets for it’s famous caffe latte and beignets (delicious little parcels of sweet doughy goodness drenched in icing sugar), and go sit up on the Moonwalk again in the warm afternoon sun and watch the world pass me by. And big ships.

Gosh there are some dodgy people up here now! No less than three homeless looking people come and scavenge through the rubbish bin near me, a couple walk past in leathery rags and I hear how one of their friends got caught stealing a bag of frozen chicken and spent six months in County Jail for it, and there’s another group of scruffy youngsters off their faces and harassing one of the girls for having hooker shoes on.. well they were hooker shoes! I head back to Jackson Square wondering why there’s such a concentration of down and out’s  in New Orleans… and there’s the answer, Cathedral volunteers are doling out a free Thanksgiving dinner to the street people. One of them, a toothless old dude, calls out to me very politely as I pass telling me I’d “better git mahself some free turkey dinner Ma’am and save mah dollars for mah bills and suchlike”… sweet of him!

Bit distant, but thats all street people eating Thanksgiving dinner! And a tarot card readers stall in between us.

Heading out for dinner that night I’m sorry that K-Paul is closed for Thanksgiving, have heard about Paul Prudhomme and thought a little haute cuisine would be nice.. but its into a Creole restaurant for Shrimp Étouffée… lovely, thick shrimp soup with a roe based sauce served with rice and a baguette. I’m happy! Bourbon St is starting to liven up for the night, I amble along listening to different bands playing, I hear all sorts but my favourite is the Bayou Bar where there’s a fiddle and banjo band.  Lots of street performers, dancers, I stop and watch one guy in gold doing a Michael Jackson with a milk crate, he’s fantastic! Kids would love this, but it’s bedtime for Mother. Wonderful day!

Lined with bars, clubs, and restaurants, closed to traffic in the evenings, and one of the only places in America you can walk around in public with alcohol – so they do, lots of it!

3 thoughts on “Day Ten in America.. New Orleans

  1. Full of admiration for your spirit of adventure and photographic skills !! Looks wonderful and dry too because, here in Blighty, it is damp and gloomy, soggy and saturated and really rather grim for some people.,Your parcel did arrive. Looking forward to hearing about it all. Take care, Ma. XXX

    • Photographic skills…. hmmm! more luck than judgement I fear but thank you 🙂 Yes have seen coverage of the flooding, Somerset levels were under water last time I looked. In Canada now, freezing cold but lovely to be here XX

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