When traveling to New Orleans, one should really plan to be there long enough to be able to eat all the wonderful and unique foods the city has to offer.
We did our best in the three days we had, so will definitely have to schedule another visit for some of the culinary delights we missed.
We stayed in the French Quarter which was very much alive and filled with a mix of tourists and locals, some who seemed to wander aimlessly looking for their next drink.
First impressions were gladness to see that the city seemed to be thriving almost nine years after Katrina, plus a bit of uneasiness at what I was witnessing on Bourbon Street.
However, after spending time in the quarter I soon began seeing and accepting the quarter for what it is – a place with a soul of its own fed from the music, the food and the creativity of the mix of artists and individuals that call it home. A perfect host to both those that contribute to its soul, and to the traumatized looking to self-soothe in the abundance of its sex and alcohol. The two provide a balance — it’s a complete circle — a complete, big easy, circle.
In between eating, we shopped in the French Market, the oldest open air market in the country; admired the southern mansions in the Garden District; danced at some jazz dives on Frenchman Street;
and strolled through beautiful Audubon Park.
We used the Trolley car to travel much of the city,
taking it from the Mississippi River, up Canal Street and out to the end of St. Charles, stopping at the Camellia Grill for pie.
On one of our evening jaunts, we walked around ending up at the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone on Royal Street, later traveling back up Bourbon Street which had grown even wilder in the late hour.
The highlight of our exploring the city was the National World War II Museum. If you enjoy U.S. history, this should be at the top of your list for a visit to New Orleans. The museum has an extensive collection of war craft and equipment, including a German enigma machine and a parachute dummy used as a decoy in the complex Normandy invasion plan.
Exhibits cover all aspects of the war from the Navaho code talkers, the critical role and contribution of women, to the allied troops’ discovery of the horrific concentration camps.
The film produced for the museum, Beyond All Boundaries¸ does an excellent job at presenting the timeline of events across the globe, tying the big picture together visually with details on both the European and Pacific campaigns.
Why the National WWII Museum is located in New Orleans instead of Washington D.C. is a fascinating story. Andrew Higgins was a swamp boat designer and maker working in New Orleans when he approached the US military with a design especially for amphibian landings. The famous “Higgins Boats” were built in New Orleans and credited by President Eisenhower as being responsible for the allied victory.
In the three short days we spent in New Orleans we went from my initial uneasiness, to feeling really comfortable and enjoying the city, to ultimately feeling we could live there.