Saturday, May 31, 2008

Four Dead Armadillos and The Big Easy

Posted by Melissa
Yep - four dead armadillos. That is what we saw on the side of the road in the first hour or so after crossing the state line into Louisiana heading towards New Orleans. AKA Norlins, The Big Easy, The Crescent City or as we soon found out - The Big Stinky - well that was actually only Bourbon Street!

Our hotel, Place d'Armes was perfectly located across the street from St Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square. Check out the view from our balcony.
It had a typical interior courtyard so as soon as you walked through the front door corridoryou felt like you were in your own private oasis.
It was also just a block and half to Cafe du Monde for beignets. These puppies are served HOT and are wonderful. Is it possible to have too much powdered sugar? I don't think so!

The French Quarter is a great walking area. Everything was within just about 5 blocks of our hotel. We found big differences though right in the quarter - check out Bourbon Street compared to Royal Street - just one block away.

Bourbon Street- Very loud, stinky - pee with a slight note of puke. Yuck.

Royal Street - antique stores, high end jewelry stores, and quiet hotels

Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral are in the middle of the French Quarter facing the mighty Mississippi.
The Patalba buildings that flank Jackson square on the east and west were built by the Baroness Pontalba who also built Jackson square. She was major force in creating what we now see. She even built and landscaped Jackson Square which was previously used as a military ground (it was called Place d'Armes - just like our hotel). She was a pretty amazing woman who survived a murder attempt when her father in law shot her four times. She lived to old age with four lead balls in her body which caused lead poisoning. She built the Patalba buildings after returning from France where she had been shot. What a woman!

We took the St. Charles Trolley line out the the garden district and walked around.
We appreciated the open windows and slight breeze in the trolley as we are still not used to the heat and humidity. I did not know that even straight hair can frizz in this kind of weather!

The French Quarter is the original town and was built by French and Spanish colonists. The garden district was built by "American" or people that were moving to the area from the US prior to the Louisiana purchase. The French and Spanish built their homes right on the street with private courtyards on the interior. The Americans built there houses back from the street with their yards in the front. Apparently the French and Spanish did not get along with the Americans so there was a neutral ground area which is now the median going down canal street where they could meet up. Among other things the French and Spanish thought the Americans were stupid for building houses without interior courtyards so that they had no privacy. I tend to agree as I love the private courtyard idea.

That said - the houses in the Garden District were absolutely beautiful.

No, Kathryn, we did not buy a house. We did not even pick up a flyer!! Amazing, I know.

We enjoyed a carriage ride with a colorful character who narrated our ride and stopped in front of Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop for curbside carriage service. We enjoyed our first ever Hurricane. Boy do those go down easy.

Here is a little video of musicians in front of the Cathedral.

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