The French Quarter

As I believe I mentioned in my previous post, this RV park is also a marina. This is the view from our back window.

There are a number of services offered at this park including a shuttle that runs from the park to the French Quarter, and whoa! Count us in! There's no way we wanted to be driving our fat dually truck on the narrow streets of the French Quarter. We wandered over to the office to purchase our tickets for the shuttle. While there, I took a picture across the marina of this steamboat awaiting repairs.

To its left were two more.

We got off the shuttle on Toulouse Street in the French Quarter. It was about 10:30 a.m. and we were on our own until the bus returned to pick us up at 4:00 p.m.

New Orleans has a unique charm found nowhere else in America. For one thing, it is a very old city, and it shows, both in its interesting architecture, culture, and in its disrepair. There seem to be efforts to update infrastructure, and many of the streets (including Bourbon Street) are torn up and dug up to replace plumbing and other forms of infrastructure. It makes for a noisy and confusing mess in which to wander. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our time there.

It was hard to get good pictures of the place for the same reason it was hard to get good pictures in Charleston. The streets were narrow and clogged with traffic, parked cars, equipment, and people. Also, the light was all wrong in the morning.

We were just a few blocks from Cafe du Monde, which is the place that had our mouths watering since we left Portland. When we visited New Orleans in the late 90's it was a warm summer day and the green curtains you see in the image below were raised to create an outdoor seating area. That was how we remembered it.

The weather yesterday was windy and chilly, even with the sun shining brightly, and so things were closed up. Cafe du Monde is still an open-air market, but much more tightly packed together when outdoor seating is eliminated. Signs directed us to sit wherever we liked, but all the tables were full. We spotted one still dirtied from its previous occupants and sat waiting about five minutes for someone to clean it up. No matter. We were just happy to have a table.

While we waited for our server, we perused the menu stuck to the side of the napkin dispenser. We ordered two black coffees and two orders of beignets.

The challenge is to eat them without covering yourself from head to toe with powdered sugar.

Challenge accepted.

Oh, my, my. They were every bit as good as I remembered them.

After we'd eaten our beignets, we looked for a place to shower off. If they can provide showers on beaches to wash away the sand, wouldn't you think Cafe du Monde would offer showers to wash away the powdered sugar? Hmph. Once again...no one consulted me. It was noisy there, and so we took our coffees outside and drank them seated on a street-side bench. There is great people-watching in New Orleans.

So from there, we just sort of wandered the streets for hours on end. At the end of the day, we'd walked nearly six miles.

There are so many things about New Orleans that add to its charm. Even the signs directing us to the public restrooms were worth photographing.

Here is a sampling of the signs and shops we passed. Here, you could have your tarot cards read.

I knew you hexie people would love this floor.

Street names are on signs overhead, but also on tiles embedded in the sidewalk.

This store caught my eye. It says knitting and needlepoint. What were the chances there would be fabric inside? None, as it turned out.

There was a time in my life when I kept myself occupied with needlepoint, however, and they had some beautiful needlepoint kits inside. I was put off by the price. A piece around 14 x 14 was selling for $220, and the prices were similar on the hundreds of kits they had available. I inquired of the two shopkeepers...they are lovely, but what about those prices? As it turned out the canvases were hand-painted, and each one was truly a work of art. Also, the kits included everything needed to stitch them. I was sorely tempted by one of the cats (around $40), but then came to my senses and thanked them before walking out. (Phew! Close call!)

As for the signs...at each block was a tiled wall telling about historical street names.

Perhaps you need to have raised two boys to appreciate this one, but it's also an opportunity to say that if you're easily offended, you might not want to visit New Orleans. "Bawdy" is the word that comes to mind to cover all bases.

Nevertheless, you have to love a town where musicians set up in the street and start playing. And they were excellent...every single one.

And lo and behold, in our wanderings, we came to this. And you know...we love the parks!

It was situated in the oldest of the oldest part of the French Quarter...where the city of New Orleans got its start. It talked about the history (too many signs for me to read) and also discussed that the portion of the French Quarter you don't see from the street are the courtyards behind and surrounded by buildings. Walking through a tunnel leading to the visitor center it looks like this:

Standing at the far side, it looks like this.

Inside the visitor center (those doors at the far side of the image above), I found this cookbook, which I needed desperately.

Yes, it includes a recipe for beignets.

So, yeah. You belong to me.

And I love a wall that looks like this:

We stopped for lunch at this place. I took a picture there to show you that you could order Fried Alligator here. With tangy dipping sauce, no less. And, no, I didn't order that. I need more time to get used to the idea. I'm guessing it tastes like chicken. Maybe I'll just eat chicken.

While we were eating, some guys rode up on these scooters. Mike had to sit on one to see how it fit. They will go 22 miles on a charge. By the way, Mardi Gras begins on Saturday. It's the tricentennial, and so you know the city is gearing up in fine style.

Later in the day, I could get a little better pictures of the architecture. This picture was taken standing near Jackson Square.

In a few places, we saw gaslights operating.

Also in Jackson Square, we saw St. Louis Cathedral.

In the shops and in the street art, I saw quilt inspiration everywhere.

And the gaudiest of outfits. These are all sparkly.

Oh yes, and this. Are you feeling adventurous?

What's the matter? Are you yella'?


Even living ones. Squee!

It's a little hard to see what this is, so I'll tell you...it's a small alligator dressed up in doll clothes.

And, of course, it was a doors, windows, and walls kind of day.

We wandered back to the bus stop at around 3:30. Along the way, we passed this shop.

Is your dog thirsty?

Inside the "barkery" there were all sorts of tasty goodies for your favorite woofie.

Pawpermints, anyone?

This was mainly a store for dogs, but on the back wall were a few things for cat lovers.

Plenty of purrds of wisdom.

We picked up this little catnip toy for the kitties. It's already been mauled half to death.

Back at the ranch, frustration abounds. That cat is walking back and forth. He lives on one of the boats in the marina, and he's flaunting himself to Smitty. Purrging him to come out for a fight.

Smitty's inside snarling, "Lemmeowt. I'll kill that pussy!"

As for us...we were tired. Our feet were aching. We had dinner at the restaurant in the park.

Day is done. There's nothing more on our agenda. We've visited New Orleans before, and so we're investigating other things we might do today and tomorrow before we move on. Nothing is decided yet, and possibly, we'll just have a couple of chill days. I reminded Mike there are still a couple of quilt shops in town. You never know...

11 comments from clever and witty friends:

Quilting Babcia said...

Definitely an overload of quilty inspiration here! I definitely think a quilt shop visit is in order in this historic city. Back in the day (like 43 years ago) THE place for breakfast was Brennans. Wonder if it is still there. Of course Cafe du Monde was a favorite mid-morning stop too. And one of the best dinner soups ever - turtle soup - at a name-forgotten restaurant. We were there at a working conference, but all I remember is the food!

Frog Quilter said...

Very cute post that had me smiling and laughing out loud.

Quilting Tangent said...

Thanks for tour, maybe one day I'll get there.

QuiltShopGal said...

Sounds like an absolutely wonderful time in New Orleans. Not sure I could handle the crowds of Mardi Gras, but there was a time when I would have loved to do so (when I was very young). I think you all enjoyed the best time ever...and no crowds.

gpc said...

All of it so familiar to me -- except the closed off space at cafe du monde. I've been there all times of year and I've never seen it closed off! And yes, you can tell @quilting babcia, Brennan's is definitely still there. :)

WoolenSails said...

Wonderful photos and i think this would be a place where a wide angle lens would be nice. Love seeing all the fun buildings and doors and Mike cracked me up with his photo, looks like fun;) Beautiful sky to end the day, gorgeous colors.


Brown Family said...

Part of the work going on in the Quarter is cleaning up the catch basins in the storm drains. They pulled 93,000 pounds of beads in a five block area!


Looks like you had a very colorful day! Poor Smitty! They just won't leave him alone!

piecefulwendy said...

Loved seeing Mike's smiling face as he sat on that scooter. Thanks for the tour; not sure I'll ever get to New Orleans, so it was fun to see your pictures. The beignets sound amazing. I have had alligator, believe it or not, and it wasn't all that impressive. Yes, a bit like chicken, but more chewy. Enjoy your chill days, if that's what they turn out to be. Otherwise, I know you two will find some fun adventure!

kc said...

OH.MY.GOSH. I'm so glad I started catching up with you HERE! This was one fun and filled post!!! We've been BY New Orleans hundreds of times, never stopping, mostly due to my fears of crowds and getting mugged, but maybe I could do it with hubby and puppy. At least I'll entertain the thought now, after seeing all your photos. Tho, maybe now that I've seen your photos I don't need to go in person? I dunno. Lemme think on that.

But those scooters - oh, my gosh....I want that alligator one! The gator dressed in doll clothes, nooooo, you can keep him. I'm hoping you purchased the sauce tho...I know someone who would love to try it....just sayin. I'd be willing to pay postage & reimburse cost of the sauce!

Those kitty signs were cute; if I could only remember them, I could embroider them. I bet they'd sell well at craft shows. I bet I could find a place to put that Fart Zone sign, too. Ironic, as we are planning beer brats and beans for dinner tonight, as a matter of fact.

Such a colorful town, and musical too. What fun you must have had!! Can't wait to see your next stop!! Thanks for all your shares!!!!

Kate said...

Looks like you had very nice weather for your wandering in New Orleans. It's an interesting place. You got some great photos.

quiltzyx said...

Looks like you saw many cool things in NOLA - love, Love, LOVE the pic of Mike on the Gator Skooter! What a fun quilt THAT one would be!! Did you get any of the Cat Champagne for the kitties? Funny, gold to make them sleepy (Valerian), pink to jazz 'em up! Lots of fun cat signs & shirt too.
The sunset shot is gorgeous!
Thanks for once again taking us along for the ride.