|Scrumptious Grilled Oysters at Drago's|
Saturday, September 10th
Chris took me to New Orleans again! I invited him along to go sight-seeing with me, and he was kind enough to drive. Just before arriving in New Orleans, we stopped at Drago's Seafood Restaurant in Metairie, and man am I glad we did! Chris heard about their legendary grilled oysters on the Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." These were in fact THE best, most flavorful oysters I've ever had (and I've had my fair share) and Chris felt the same way. They're not cheap, but if you're ever in New Orleans, do yourse;f a favor and stop in for some.
|You Know You're in the Garden District|
When we got to the Visitor's Center we got some maps, watched the video, looked around the different exhibits on the colorful culture and sad history (wars, fires, Hurricane Katrina) of the city, and I snapped a few photos of the beautiful interior and wall murals.
|Makes Me Want to Trick or Treat!|
We spent the first half of the day exploring the wonderful architecture of the Garden District. "Tradition, opulence and beauty can all be used to describe New Orleans' historic Garden District. With its well-preserved collection of antebellum mansions, pristine gardens and southern charm, the Garden District certainly stands out as one of the country's most lovely neighborhoods, and a popular destination for visitors."
|Lafayette Cemetery #1|
As we walked along St. Charles Street we saw the nostalgic street car still in operation and TONS of beads hanging from the trees. No trip to the Garden District is complete without a peek inside historic Lafayette Cemetery #1, immortalized in film, literature and photography, yet just one of 32 above-ground "cities of the dead" within city limits. We stopped to rest at Still Perkin Coffee Shop, a light and airy little place with comfortable chairs, great customer service and refreshing frozen cappuccino.
|You Break It You Buy It, lol|
We grabbed some lunch at Butcher, a trendy little wine 'n sandwich shop, on recommendation from one of the locals, as an alternative to eating at Couchon's, which was only open for dinner. I don't have any idea why it's held in such high regard. My vegetarian sandwich (which was not the one described on their menu) was nothing special and arrived 15 minutes after Chris received his BBQ pork sandwich, which he said was dry. I also thought the hanging cuts of flesh on display (as a nod to old-school butcher shops) was a bit grotesque.
|'Scuse Me, You Mind if We Brunch on Your Patio?|
Next we drove over to the ever-popular, and original settlement of New Orleans - The French Quarter. "Established by the French in 1718, the location was, and is still, a valuable site for trade due to its strategic position along the Mississippi River. The district as a whole, is a National Historic Landmark, which boasts a storied history of international influence with cultural contributions from the French, Spanish, Italians, Sicilians, Africans, Irish and others - all evident in the development of this global port settlement.
|We'll Take It!|
So much of what makes New Orleans unique is captured in the melting pot atmosphere of the French Quarter - from the raucous party atmosphere of Bourbon Street to the bohemian elegance of Royal.
We walked up and down parts of the quieter Burgundy and Dauphine Streets (more residential than commercial), before immersing ourselves in the bawdy party atmosphere of famous Bourbon Street, "with a seemingly endless row of bars, music clubs, restaurants, gentlemen's clubs, historic restaurants, street performers, beneath its beautiful cast-iron balconies."
|They Couldn't Decide on a Front Yard or a Park, WOW|
In search of a better-priced strawberry daiquiri, we continued walking, exploring the calmer Royal and Chartres streets (characterized by hotels, antique shops and the courthouse), before finding a HUGE one for only $3 at Cafe Maspero! This was definitely a case of "you get what you pay for," as there was barely any alcohol or even taste for that matter, but Chris is a lightweight and I was still full from lunch, so that was fine with us, in fact we would've been fine ordering the $1 daiquiri, instead. YES, they sell a daiquiri for ONE DOLLAR :) Oh, and I had no idea we were sitting at the bar of a building with such important history!
We caught a nice sunset over the Mississippi River at the Moon Walk Riverfront Park, and saw a huge Carnival Cruise Ship make its way up the river as evening settled in. Then we walked over to the Washington Artillery Park monument on bustling Decatur Street at Jackson Square, for a jaw-dropping view of the Saint Louis Cathedral, reminiscent of the magical Walt Disney Castle (in my humble opinion)!
|At "Moon Walk" Riverfront Park|
We walked around the French Market District for while, I snapped photos of the shimmering Joan of Arc statue, we tried on silly hats and masks at an eclectic antique shop, then took a walk up and down Frenchman Street for a "locals' version of Bourbon Street,' an entertainment district with a variety of venue styles and music ranging from traditional jazz to blues to reggae to rock all week long, and many of the clubs don't even charge a cover!" We stopped into The Blue Nile for some jazz. The girl was talented, but I was expecting something more traditional, not a ditzy-seeming blonde.
|Who's Ready for Mardi Gras?|
Before leaving New Orleans, we went to Uptown for a late-night bite. We wanted to eat at funky Jaques-Imos Cafe, but with a line nearly out the door and prices at $30 a plate and up (which didn't seem justified as we looked at the plates of food), we walked over to Squeal BBQ, which wasn't anything special, but I didn't have much of an appetite anyway, and Chris was happy with the BBQ Rib Tacos and Jalepeno Mac n Cheese he ordered from our nice, friendly waitress.
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