While I had been to New Orleans before, it was a good 20 years ago. My first tourism priority was doing the 10 kilometer volksmarch through the French Quarter and the Central Business District. I had thought things would be calmer post-Mardi Gras, but the French Quarter was still pretty packed. Or, at least the areas closer to the River and to Canal Street were. The route started out along the river and I mistakenly turned inland a bit earlier than they intended me to. That was fine as it gave me a chance to get the obligatory beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde. And, yes, I was also wearing a black tee shirt, so got rather spattered with powdered sugar. Still, that is part of the experience. By the way, I did the "to go" line and ate sitting on a bench by the river, because the line for tables was a good hour or more long.
Anyway, the French Quarter is pretty much the same as always. Lots of iron railings on old houses. Street artists around the squares. Tourists getting drunk on Bourbon Street. Street musicians, who are my favorite form of beggars. I did buy one thing – a Trumpy voodoo doll, which I saw in a shop window and couldn’t resist. I also stopped in a couple of vintage stores. One place had a dress I liked quite a lot but not in a color I would wear, while another had some spectacular hats. The other part of the walk went up Canal Street, past the Tulane Medical Center, down to Lafayette Square, around Lee Circle (where the Confederate Monuments were removed last year), past a couple of museums, and back to Canal Place. Overall, it was a good route for sightseeing, but a slow walk due both to tourist crowds and my compulsive reading of historic plaques.
My other major excursion was on Sunday to see the National World War II Museum (which I had passed on Saturday). I was somewhat skeptical, as military history is not an area that really interests me. Still, this had been on various lists of best museums in the U.S. so I thought it might be worth a visit. Bottom line: yes, it is worth going to and one needs to allow pretty much all day. I did pay the extra fee to see their movie, "Beyond All Boundaries," which provided a good overview of the war. Then I went through the sections on The Road to Tokyo and The Road to Berlin. In both cases, there are lots of videos to watch, including a wide range of oral histories. (You get a dogtag with your ticket and can follow one person through the war. I had chosen an Army nurse. But there are other oral histories you can choose to view, especially if your person was not involved in some part of the exhibits.) That emphasis on the stories of the people involved is what makes this such an excellent museum.
I should also add a word about food, since that is one of the things people always rave about in New Orleans. I have to say that I have had better food elsewhere in Louisiana (e.g. Lafayette, which is the largest city in Cajun country.) I had a disappointing breakfast one morning at Mother’s, where my omelet was overcooked and it took surprisingly long for the accompanying toast to show up. The other breakfast I had, at Ruby Slipper Café, was much better, though their coffee is not much to write home about. Jambalaya at Creole House was good enough, but I also saw service glitches, including two different servers dropping glasses of water. Drago’s was more disappointing. There was a long wait for a table, so I asked if the full menu was available at the bar. They said it was. The front bar was crowded, so they sent me to the back bar, which did not, in fact, have the full menu. I was tired and hungry so did eat there. The size of their fish and chips dish was more impressive than its flavor.
I also spent some time at Harrah’s Casino. Let’s just say that Vegas it’s not.
Overall, it’s a good trip. I still need to get to the Audubon Zoo some day, as well as eat at a couple of specific places in the Garden District. Some other time, alas.
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