February 26, 2013

French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana (The other end of the Mississippi)

Around this time in February two years ago, we'd flown down to the other end of the Mississippi for a few days of Louisiana culture & cuisine.
It's getting to be that time of winter here in Minnesota, where a hint of wanderlust sets in.  We have a trip planned in a couple of weeks, but for now I've been looking through some photos of past explorations, and they brought me back to the bayou.
Louisiana was really a three part trip for us:
1.) Our visit to New Orleans' French Quarter.
2.) Our stay on Grand Isle, barrier island on the Gulf. 
3.) Last but certainly not least, the Spanish moss, southern live oaks, antebellum mansions & plantations of the deep south.
Three very different experiences in one region, that I'll share about individually.

New Orleans was founded by the French in 1718 and named after the regent, the Duke d’Orleans.
Passed to the Spanish for a while, it went back to France long enough for Napoleon to sell it to the very young U.S. in 1803. 
Part of our stay was with my aunt & uncle, who have spent many years in the NOLA area & know it well.
Our first day there, they drove us north to the city, to visit the French Quarter. Not the kind of sightseeing we normally fancy, but something you must experience if you visit New Orleans.

From the river walk to Bourbon Street, there were artists & street performers of all walks of life surrounding us.  Music, from jazz to blue grass to classical violin, filled the air. 

After spectating over a street show near Jackson Square, we stopped inside St. Louis Cathedral, the city's center of worship for 280 years, and the oldest continuously operating cathedral in the United States.
I was amused at the contrast to the life just outside.

Next to the cathedral is The Cabildo, where the Louisiana Purchase was signed.  
The architecture & history of the French Quarter is very charming. 
All those balconies!

Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre' (below)

My aunt & I bought yarn at the Quarter Stitch, seen here with a French Quarter Mule. 

More musical variety:
There were tubas booming outside the St. Louis Cathedral doors. 
We caught a glimpse of dueling copper covered pianos at Pat Obrien's. 
The shot below does not include the washboard instrumentalist that was with the group.

Doors at Preservation Hall, below:
"Preservation Hall. Now that's where you'll find all of the greats."  -Louis Armstrong

Not going to lie.  Bourbon St. was a little much for us. 
While the sounds & architecture are charming, the smell, and some of the sites, were quite unexpected to my modest self.  Most of the time we just had to keep our heads forward & walk.

We had lunch at the Gumbo Shop.  I tried more new foods in just a few days in Louisiana than I usually do in years combined.
My uncle Tom was determined that we experience a Louisiana crawfish boil, so we tried every restaurant & oyster house in the Quarter.  There had been a crawfish shortage, though, and we didn't find any until the next day in a small town away from the city.

Another taste new to our palette were beignets at Cafe Du Monde, which we enjoyed after dark. 
For some reason I didn't get a photo of Cafe Du Monde, but I made up for it in boxes of beignet mix brought home.

We wrapped up our day with more views of Jackson Square, and watched the Riverboat Natchez, getting ready to head up river.

A long & winding way from the quiet Mississippi River banks I grew up on.

Next up: Grand Isle, Louisiana  (The other end of the Mississippi, Part 2)


  1. Big cities and touristy places don't appeal to me much but.... But I think a trip next winter along the Gulf Coast including New Orleans is on the agenda for next year.... Great photos, Amanda.

    1. I'll post more next week - it was a unique part of the country to experience!

  2. I've always wanted to go there. I love seeing things, but my passion is eating new foods. A crawfish boil sounds fantastic, and I definitely want to try beignets.

    Lovely photos!

    1. This trip was definitely made a richer experience by the food!
      The beignets were the best! But I also returned home having tried alligator, and with a new appreciation for gumbo, jambalaya, & etouffee. I'll admit I'd never heard of andouille sausage or blackened chicken, or boudin balls before this visit. All are very good!
      Those cajuns & creoles really know how to cook.

  3. Ah, you captured some wonderful images of the French Quarter. So glad you came to our lovely state and had a great time! I've never been to Grand Isle, but I hope to go birding there in the near future. :)

  4. We love visiting New Orleans; thanks for the memories. For people originally from the Pacific Northwest (like us), the first time we were there it felt like we were visiting another country! I imagine it was much the same for you, being from Minnesota.

    All of your pictures are great, but my favorite of all is the street musician on the park bench. That picture really captures the essence of the downtown!

  5. Lovely photos, Amanda. I must confess that I had to look up where North Woods is in Minnesota. I have family living around Minneapolis area. You have a lovely blog. I look forward to coming back.

  6. Hi! Beautiful collection of New Orleans photos. New Orleans is very famous of Jazz.
    Wishing you a wonderful day.

  7. No vacays for us this year -- just enjoying the new chicks and the hope of spring. Love your memories of Louisiana.

  8. What lovely shots of New Orleans. The wanderlust always sets in as I wait for spring to arrive...

  9. I do like the look on the face of that mule!

    I have to say I am rather fond of the red-heads in my picture!

    Stewart M - Melbourne

  10. Would love to travel to New Orleans next year hopefully. Seeing these photos makes me want to go now. Thanks for sharing, looks so much fun!

  11. You're making me homesick, Amanda - great shots of the city I love!