Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Big Easy (March 18, 2009)

Given the spontaneous nature of this trip, we had no plans for our first day in our destination, so we decided to take things as they came and planned a long, long walk. We started our day at the Cafe du Monde, which serves only coffee and beignets, which makes the perfect breakfast for a day of walking, because the coffee was fantastic (I didn't even use sugar until the beignets ran out) and came in a to-go cup when you ordered the large, and the beignets were covered in half a box of confectioner's sugar. The service was slow, but if I was more laid-back, I would have thought, Isn't it wonderful to sit here and relax while we wait for our server to take our order?, and the waitress did apologize profusely and tell us that it was a "very busy morning, Spring Break."

After that, we decided to walk along Magazine Street to the Garden District. We ended up walking straight past the Garden District, about two and a half miles from the French Quarter, to Casamento's, a good little hole in the wall, with awesome tile floors and really, really delicious oyster loaf. The kitchen is wide open, and you walk through it to get to the bathrooms, which I really appreciated, and the staff was ultra friendly. The walk along Magazine Street, although it left us with very sore legs (and me with a hurt ankle), was enjoyable, and we saw a lot of nice houses and many antique shops. I almost bought a fur stole, and now I'm a little sad that I didn't.

My biggest disappointment while we were walking was that we weren't seeing the Garden District (for some reason, I'd imagined a bunch of houses around a quad, and on Magazine Street, there are mostly just a lot of little shops), and this was alleviated when Roger and I walked over to St. Charles Street, and took the St. Charles Street Trolley, basically the highlight of our lives. Not only did we not have to walk two and a half miles back on our hurting feet, we actually got to see some lovely houses and those gorgeous trees with the Spanish moss hanging off them (what are those called?), which made me much happier than the shops on Magazine Street. And, the streetcar had open windows and there was a lovely breeze. It was great. When we arrived back in the French Quarter, we did a little bit of shopping (best shop: Fleur de Paris, a little hat shop that had tons of adorable cocktail hats for about $500 each) and Roger thought we should cut across a little alley way on our way over to the riverfront.

This was the greatest thing ever, because that little alley way was
Pirate Alley, one time home of - WILLIAM FAULKNER! Little did I know that though we missed Rowan Oaks (in case you couldn't tell, this was pretty much an enormous disaster to me), we would be able to see the apartment where he wrote his first novel. Apparently, you can sometimes smell Faulkner's pipe smoke in the bookstore, because the house is haunted. I also looked around the back parlor, which said private, because I think the bookstore owner lives there. It's an epic apartment. For an epic trip. This has been the highlight of my trip so far (the National Civil Rights Museum comes in with a very close second). I don't know what the highlight of Roger's trip has been, because he's still asleep.

We went back to the hotel and rested for a while, and then decided not to eat dinner to save money. We went instead to Gumbo Shop for bread pudding. It was pretty good, but I guess their gumbo was probably better. I really love gumbo. After that, we decided to get drinks on Bourbon Street, which is definitely like a big Disney World frat party. I had a mango daiquiri, which was fantastic and had a fair amount of alcohol in it, and Roger had a Blue Moon, and it was great to be able to enjoy them outside, where it was warm, and filled with people dressed up for St. Patrick's Day. Then, while we were walking around doing not a whole lot of anything, we heard sirens, and suddenly (spontaneously?) we saw this line of dragsters that we'd seen driving around all day. Each time we saw them, it got a little more surreal, and this last time, with the police closing off the street, really topped it. Turns out they were opening the St. Patrick's Day parade, where lots of people stood on floats and handed out green beads. Roger commented that most of the debutantes were heavier, something that interested me, as well. I'm interested in Southern culture in the same way I'm interested in all things exotic. Overall, it was a good time, and we even got some beads. (Did you know that the original beads thrown in the 1920s were glass? You can buy necklaces made out of them now, and they're quite lovely.)

A good day, overall. Today, the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Faulkner House

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