Friday, April 25, 2008

New Orleans - the 2 Hour Tour

It's impossible to visit New Orleans and not play hooky at some point - that's why it's The Big Easy. Way too many diversions for all the senses - there's just no place like it in the U.S. So, I ducked out for 2 hours yesterday morning to wander about town and make sure I didn't come home empty-handed.

Always nice to start with a Canadian connection! Statue of Jean-Baptiste Bienville, the city's founder - who was born in Montreal. Learn something every day...


Street scene around the French Quarter, mostly Jackson Square - very familiar stuff, but just can't help taking a few photos on such a gorgeous day...



I had an Andy Abramson-inspired moment while walking about. I'm no globetrotter, but one of Andy's signature blog posts is a photo of the coffee cup he's enjoying at the various cafes and bistros he frequents overseas. So, here's my homage d'Andy, New Orleans style. Cafe du Monde is the obligatory place to do this in the Quarter, but even at 9:30 there was a lineup, so I made do a few blocks down at another cafe. It's a bit like having your Montreal deli at The Main, which is a very good Plan B when the lineup at Schwartz's right across the street is too long...


From this angle, the spoon makes a pretty good sundial in my cup...


Check this out. I love to rant about oversize SUVs, but y'know, before compact cars came along, everyday cars were pretty big too. Here's a big black Caddy, and it's as long as anything on the market today. Look a little closer and you'll see why. It's got THREE side doors! I did a huge double take when I saw this - never seen that before...


Ok, enough of the Quarter. Time to head over to the river walk. Here we go again - the river, the bridge, the train - all staples of life here and Southern folklore. You just can't escape it here, and now I can't get Proud Mary out of my head. Rollin' on the river...



Rip Rap - sounds like a good name for a rap song, but this is the stuff that saves live in this part of the world. I'm no Army Engineer, but something tells me you need a whole lot more than this to stay dry when the river swells up and crests over the banks and levees.



The river walk is a great public space, and there's no better place to walk about on a day like this. Quite a few monuments along the way, and I came across the Holocaust Memorial. Really nice to see this, and was another reminder of the contrasts and contradictions of New Orleans and the South in general. You don't generally associate the Jewish community with New Orleans, but there's a strong presence here, and the Jews actually have a very long and important history in the city's economic development. The same is true, actually for other important Southern cities like Charleston, which in fact is the first place that Jews settled in the U.S. Believe it or not, there were Jewish slaveowners before Emancipation - the world was a very different place then. Given that it's Passover now, I couldn't help but think how this is yet another quirk of Southern culture that could not have existed anywhere else.


The Canal Street ferry, making its way to Algiers on the other side. Can't help but try and channel Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn here, wondering what this must have looked like 150 years ago.


Wrapping up my walk at the foot of Canal Street, which is truly the great divide in New Orleans - another contrast in cultures, attitudes, religions, etc. Historically, the roots of the city lie on the right, which is where you find the French Quarter and the early heritage of both the French and the Spaniards. No business is done here other than tourism, but this is definitely where the good times roll. On the left is the "American" side, which is more recent and where you find most of city's commerce and nicer residential areas.


So, there you go. N'awlins in 2 hours, and I got back just in time to pack, check out, and get on my way home. Can't wait til next time...

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Posted by jonarnold at April 25, 2008 11:01 AM


Thanks for a fantastic morning tour of New Orleans!

(my morning, not necessarily your morning)

The balcony photos always make me want to visit and see it for myself!



Posted by: jules at April 28, 2008 08:00 AM

Thanks Jules - much appreciated. I'm no longer getting email alerts for blog comments, so sorry about being late on this. It sure is a fun place!

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