The Big Easy! The City that Care forgot! The Crescent City! Paris of the South! No matter what you call it, New Orleans is a city that stays with you. In your soul, in your stomach and in your heart! Whether it is the majestic homes of the Garden District, the timeless classic of the St Charles Street streetcar or the music and streets of the French Quarter they make you feel like you belong.
We arrived into New Orleans and found our RV Resort about 10 km from the French Quarter on Lake Pontchartrain in the Gentilly Neighbourhood. This was a great location as it was close enough to the action, but also far enough away that it was quiet too. Here we could relax in the mornings and work out in the afternoon. This RV resort had a restaurant/bar right on the property and on 2 evenings we went there and enjoyed the live music. We thought that New Orleans would be a place where we would not be able to cycle but to our great surprise the Lakeshore Drive along Lake Pontchartrain was very bike friendly and we even had a great route into and around the French Quarter. So, instead of leaving them in the trailer we were able to cycle 120 km in New Orleans. This was a blessing as the food was very good and the drinks divine.
Saturday was our introduction to the craze of the French Quarter. It was also the first weekend of Mardi Gras. The level of “crazy”
was starting to escalate and the green, purple and gold of Mardi Gras were flying everywhere. The sights and sounds of the French Quarter really made an impression on us. The night life and drinks made us wish we
came here twenty years ago. Jazz was being played on the street corners, and from the clubs.
Most of the buildings were built in the late 1700s and their character and ornate design stand out today. The balconies
lined with wrought iron or cast railings, the wood painted in gay colours and history oozing from every window. We spent most of our time just walking around
looking and listening. With the occasional stop at Pat O’Brien’s for a Hurricane or a ride around the Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone where
Hemmingway was also a patron years ago. When we were not close enough to one of our bars
we could easily stop at any of the many take out counters where they sold drinks to go. These are just a few of the reasons why we spent most of our time in the French Quarter.
Another part of New Orleans’ past is memorialized in their many cemeteries which have a unique feel to them. They really are a city on their own with the many tombs, the wall ovens and the coping tombs telling their stories in our imagination. The tombs are from the men and women who have made New Orleans it unique self. From the architecture to the Cajun food to the mystery of Voodoo the stories and myths are everywhere. The tomb of Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen to one of the city’s greatest architect who died penniless and is buried in the wall with the rest of the poor, are just two of the stories that come out of St. Louis and Lafayette Cemeteries.
A ride on the world’s oldest continuous running street car, the St Charles St. streetcar to the Garden District was also an
afternoon outing. The Garden District which flourished and showed the wealth of the American socialites in the mid-1800s is now a showpiece of the mansions built in this era.
The food that we ate was worth going back for. We had gumbo, jambalaya, shrimp, crawfish, catfish and of course muffelatta from Central Grocery and beignets from Café du Monde. Sometimes the location and food just come together as it did from the balcony table overlooking Bourbon Street with a jazz band playing below. We even found a more modern but old St Roch Market (est. 1875) after talking to some locals on a street corner. It reminded us of Eastern Market in Washington DC and here we had a some crawfish poutine, a mix of Cajun and Canadian flare, it was very good.
The sights and sounds of the Big Easy will definitely call us back again someday but our time has come to hit the Interstate again and head back to the beaches and shores of Florida.