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New Orleans - Part 1

New Orleans - Part 2

New Orleans - Part 3




Tasting bourbon straight from the barrel
On the Kentucky

Bourbon Trail

Maker's Mark Lounge on 4th St in downtown Louisville
An Urban Bourbon Weekend


Read about some of our other train trips

Inside the Grand Hall
An Anniversary in St Louis by Rail


Boston's Freedom Trail


Getting ready to toast our trip!
Chicago to Seattle aboard the Empire Builder


Cafe du Monde is located just on the corner of the French Market; to get there, we decided to avail ourselves of one of the many trolleys serving the City.  An all-day pass is only $3.00, for which you can ride/transfer all day long (otherwise the cost is $1.25 per ride, not including transfers).  We got off the trolley not far from the cafe and could smell the coffee & chicory blend and the deep-fried beignets wafting our way.  The only problem was a pair of lines -- one for dine-in and one for take-out -- consisting of several hundred people with the same idea as we had.  The wait was worth it, but my suggestion would be to go very early or much later.  It's open 24/7 -- closed only on Christmas Day and when the occasional hurricane passes through...

After wandering and gawking a bit at the eclectic mix of shops and interesting architecture, we stopped for a bite at the Gumbo Pot restaurant (the place looked a bit "touristy', but for our second stop and not really knowing much, all worked out).   An outstanding Bloody Mary, followed by a bowl of Gumbo Ya Ya (a spicy, chicken gumbo with shrimp and andouille sausage: excellent!), Shrimp Cocktail (8 tender morsels served cold with red remoulade dressing: also excellent), and a couple of breakfast items (eggs and a huge pile of pancakes both very good) supplied the perfect sustenance for all of us before our boat ride.   The gumbo by the way, was awesome!   Now sated, we were ready for our tour aboard the last authentic Steamboat on the Mighty Mississippi River: the Natchez.

We got in line -- again -- and waited to board the boat.  Although it was not going to be quite as full as it could have been (and I was grateful for that), there were plenty of folks onboard.  The departure moves of the boat were amazingly slow and graceful; with an incredibly loud blast of the horn, the Natchez headed downstream.  We had taken a pass on the optional meal served because we wanted to be outdoors for the ride.  Although it was not cold, the wind was howling and we were amazed that control of the boat was possible, especially with the amount of traffic on the river.  It was an interesting ride and easy to see the Parishes that lay outside the levees... the ones that were under water just more than a half-dozen years ago. 

My only disappointment was the advertised jazz that was played inside the riverboat and not broadcast over the loudspeakers to those of us wishing to enjoy the view; we only heard the drone of the tour guide, which I could have done without.  A loud signal blast of the horn indicated that we were returning to dock; it was time for more adventure on shore...

The French Market was only a short distance away, so we hoofed it down Decatur Street past a beautiful Jackson Square (across from which a sidewalk performance of some sort or another seemed to be in perpetual progress...),  Swamp Tours, some very interesting shops with myriad masks, trinkets and dried alligator jaws, and arrived at a thriving market place -- packed with food stands at one end and clothing at the other.  Would it be freshly-shucked oysters, gumbo,  snapping turtle soup or some sort of spicy 'gator?  The group ended up sharing Alligator Kabob, Alligator Po Boy, Cajun Shrimp, washing it all down with an icy cold locally-brewed beer.  I only wish you could hear the Cajun accent when I tell you how good (and very spicy) it all was!

Photo of some 'gator heads in a local shop...We snapped some more pictures as we wandered down a few more streets and, upon reaching "the end of the line" -- so to speak -- at the old U.S. Mint at the corner of  Esplanade and North Peters, we boarded the trolley for a quick trip back to the hotel.  We needed to get cleaned up... for dinner.  Hard to believe it was only (still) Monday!

It was also hard to believe that a shower was followed by the desire for a very long nap!  The decision was made to skip the nap and simply stay at the hotel for some snacks at either Drago's or Spirits Lounge.  (We were actually pretty full from eating much of the day...).  We enjoyed a cocktail at the top of the Hilton and watched a glorious sunset, after which Spirits Lounge was chosen for some more Charbroiled Oysters before retiring.  Much more was planned for tomorrow and rest would be needed!

St Charles Streetcar - New OrleansUp and at 'em early, a gorgeous sunrise was viewed from the twenty-ninth floor while coffee was sipped and the day's plans were discussed.  It was decided that we'd try a different trolley: after taking the Canal Street trolley west to St. Charles Street, we hopped on another, this one headed south (mostly), along St. Charles Avenue.  But we couldn't all agree on a single destination, so we split up, Yvonne's parents headed to the WW II Museum, while we rode almost to the end of the line where we walked through the beautiful Audubon Park, directly across the street from famed Loyola University of New Orleans.

On the trip back, we decided to detour and check out a location (Camp and Lafayette Streets) from the Oliver Stone movie "JFK".  Needless to say, Hollywood takes many liberties with filming locations (If you have ever seen what can be done to a location used to film a movie, you know what I mean), and we couldn't be sure we were standing in the right spot.  But having just watched the movie before our trip, it was intriguing to be even near to the spot where part of one of the world's greatest -- supposed -- conspiracies had taken place.

The Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel (c) 2012 Waldorf AstoriaTo end the afternoon, we all met back at the famous Roosevelt Hotel, where former Louisiana Governor and once U.S. Senator Huey Long enjoyed a 12th-floor suite in the hotel during the 1930s.  Severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the hotel was closed indefinitely.  It was reopened thoughwith great fanfare in July of 2009 -- after a total restoration cost of $170 million --  as one of Hilton's premium hotels in their Waldorf Astoria Collection.  And it is absolutely beautiful!

(c) 2012 Waldorf AstoriaOur destination was the Sazerac Bar in the hotel because I wanted to imbibe a Sazerac cocktail, and I had promised that Yvonne would like their also-famous Ramos Fizz.  In fact, we all immensely enjoyed our beverages while discussing details of our escapades from the day, before we exited the well-appointed property, hopped on the Canal Street Trolley and rode it back to within a block or so of our hotel.

Dinner was going to start with fresh oysters from the Acme Oyster House (724  Iberville), and finish with an excellent dinner at Oceana Grill (739 Conti ).  It was late and we were all again, very tired; the bed at the Hilton was a welcome sight, although my eyes closed before I saw very much of it!





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