November 17, Leaving NoLa Behind

New Orleans

Not too much exciting in the morning.  Mostly posting yesterday’s blog post and pictures and packing up.

Tom went to Walgreens for some last minute stuff – again – and he got me the pink fleur-de-lis studded T-shirt I wore to board the ship (official boarding picture coming later).

We got our stuff together and headed to the lobby to check out.  Lots of folks coming in, off our ship!  Many had been on a B2B (Back to Back):  the same cruise we’re doing plus a week like we did on this ship in 2009 to Belize, Roatan, Costa Maya.

There was some snafu at the port and the taxi couldn’t get us all the way to the luggage drop off so he sort of stopped in the street and took our luggage across the street for us.  Then a porter took it the rest of the way.

We got into the building and into Group B.  We were at check-in within about 10 minutes and on the ship within about 30 or so.

Embarkation pictures were taken in front of a green screen which I thought was weird since I knew that we’d eventually have the ship behind us.  Whatever!

We were early enough that we got a nice round table by a window in the Garden Cafe on 12 and had some lunch.

Another couple from Anaheim, CA joined us.  They’d stayed the night at Harrah’s and this cruise (except for port charges) was comped to them.  Depending on how well they do in the casino on this cruise, the port charges may be waived.  She explained to us about how Indian-run casinos pay out compared to non-Indian and said that Harrah’s paid like an Indian casino and didn’t know why.  She was using a “buffalo machine(?)” as an example as my eyes started to glaze over.

The announcement came that our cabins were ready so there was a mass exodus.

We opted for the stairs.  On our last Jewel cruise, Michael had us walking up and down the stairs most all the time and it looks like we’ll continue the tradition.

Checked out the balcony, took some pictures, Tom took a little nap.

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Tom napping

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Watching the busy port

I was reading on the balcony, and this machinery rolled by on a little track.  I got a couple pictures and the guys on it said hello.  I guess it will be to wash windows later, or the ship?  We’ll see!

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Another couple dropped by – part of their luggage had been delivered to our closet.  We opened ours and – Voila! – their stuff was in there.  They tried to tell us that maybe we were in their cabin, too, but that didn’t go over too well.

At 3:15 we went to the Tsar’s Palace for the mandatory life boat drill.  We didn’t have to take our life jackets or stand on deck waiting for stragglers.  Hooray!

After the muster, we went out on deck just to watch the last-minute luggage coming on board and ships and barges on the river.

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Tom under a lifeboat

About 4:00 we set out to find the Chapel since Tom was going to meet some folks there.  It turned out to be tucked away next to the Spinnaker Lounge on deck 13, forward.  I went out on deck to get some sunset pictures and listen to the band during the “Party Like a Norwegian!” SailAway.

About 5:00 the ship finally began to turn around for it’s journey down the Mississippi amid lots of cheers from the folks at the SailAway.  I must have napped just a bit…

Got some good pictures, and some sunset pictures.  I overheard one confused young woman who thought we were heading the wrong way on the river.  Hmmm… Do they teach geography anymore in school or did she plan to go to Ohio?

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Sail Away

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Sail Away sunset

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It started to get a bit chilly on 13 so I headed down to the cabin for my hoodie.  Tom was already there and so was our luggage.  Yea!

Major unpacking and figuring where to put stuff.  Everything away, suitcases under bed. Made good use of the hanging shoe bag I usually carry around. Done.

We’re doing “Freestyle Dining” so we can eat wherever/whenever we want.

On the way to Azura (6, Midship) we ran into the Photo Gallery (7, Aft).  We saw our Embarkation pictures and decided to get those.  When they added the ship in (remember we were in front of a green screen) it made it appear that portions of the ship were “bunny ears”  behind my head.  Luckily – thanks to the green screen – that’s being adjusted.  Isn’t technology grand?

We went to Azura about 6:30, when lots of folks apparently wanted to eat, too.  Because we had to wait for 30 minutes, we got coupons for free soda or champaign in the bar.  We learned that “only Pepsi products” are available on Norwegian.  Luckily, we don’t have a very strong brand loyalty to anyone.

The wait was less than 30 minutes and we had a nice table for 2.  We both had French onion soup.  He had salmon, mashed potatoes and green beans and I had BBQ chicken breast, Caribbean vegetables and sweet potato fries  Yummy!

During dinner they announced that the Saints had won.  Lots of fans on this ship!

We chatted with the folks next to us – they’re from Canada.  She was from Canada originally, he was from England.  They’d been married 36 years and this was their first cruise.  She wanted to cruise the Mediterranean and this is a “trial cruise” to see it they like it.

Their daughter, son-in-law and grandchild live in London so they only see them a couple times a year.

Dessert time.  We had coffee, of course.  I had key lime pie, Tom had lemon sorbet.  Mmmmm.

8:20 – we hustled off to the Stardust Theater to see the show.  Since we were already on 6, Midship we’d just head to 6, Forward.

Unfortunately, we had to head through the Casino to do that.  We saw the Anaheim folks from lunch and said hi but they didn’t see us.  Maybe they weren’t doing too well and wouldn’t be comped.

I always hate going through the casino.  It’s always too smoky!  I understand that our next cruise to Panama on Princess won’t even allow smoking in the casinos.  Yea!

I held my breath and we got through ok.  The Stardust Theater was pretty full so we sat in about the 3rd row.

This preview show was called “A Taste of Things to Come” and was pretty good.  The cruise director (Alex) is from Uruguay.  He gave away some champaign to newlyweds (1 and 2 days each) and some jewelry to a couple married for 62 years.  The man thought it was 66 until his wife corrected him.

The house singers/dancers were quite good.  I always prefer live singing/dancing/music to recorded so I’m pretty easy to please.  They did a song and dance about vacations that showed a lot of good energy.

A comedian came out and he was pretty funny, although I don’t like when they comment on latecomers and possibly embarrass folks.  Other than that, he was funny – and wore a silly suit.

The band was from the Philippines but they managed to channel the Beatles and did I Want To Hold Your Hand.  Apparently, they do a Beatles tribute show at some point during the cruise.  They also appeared around the ship singing I Want To Wash Your Hands at meal time.

A selection of characters from Nickelodeon shows sang and danced.  Most, except for Spongebob Squarepants and Dora, the Explorer I didn’t recognize but the kids in the audience did.  Maybe this is the Norwegian answer to the Disney ships?

The singers/dancers came back for a selection of Mamma Mia! songs like Waterloo, Dancing Girl, Mamma Mia and more.  Love it!  There was a *bit* of singing along.

Back to the cabin by way of Guest Services (7, mid) and Decks 12 (walking around we ran into the Canadian couple) and 13.

The first day, at least, we got a lot of exercise walking and climbing.

Sat on the balcony a bit.  I tried to get picture of the pilot boat leaving us but it was just too foggy.

We saw a bit of the movie Chicago on TV.  I have the movie on my iPad so it didn’t matter that I shut it down early.

Tom went to bed and I got online to do my “Pender work”.  I like to keep that site updated daily, no matter where I am.

I read for about 1 minute maybe, then fast asleep.

Today’s Stats:

Sunday November 17th, 2013

New Orleans, Louisiana

Today’s Forecast:  Chance of Rain, 81F/27C

Sunrise: 6:29 am

Sunset: 5:02 pm

All Aboard: 3:20 pm

New Orleans, Day Two

New Orleans

Up fairly early again with no plans for the day.  I got yesterday’s blog post done, Tom checked email…just like at home.

We decided to take the streetcar to Canal, walk for about half a mile, then take the streetcar that runs along the banks of the Mississippi.

We did that until we got close to the riverfront.  I showed Tom where the paddlewheel was docked, as well as the Carnival Elation that was loading up for it’s next cruise.

We decided to go on the Creole Queen and got tickets for the afternoon trip to the Chalmette Battlefield.  While we waited, we walked up the dock a bit and got this picture of the paddlewheel

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Paddlewheel on the Creole Queen

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This was the American Queen steamboat. This is an overnight cruise that goes up and down the Mississippi.
From their website “There’s no more unique way to enjoy a Mississippi river cruise and experience the history, heritage and culture of America’s heartland than a voyage aboard a genuine steamboat like the American Queen. Stroll through charming towns and vibrant Mississippi river cities. Explore historic ports of call like New Orleans, Natchez, Mark Twain’s Hannibal, Chattanooga and Pittsburgh, just to name a few. Along the way, you’ll learn about the great events and people that have contributed to America’s history and culture.”

It was raining a bit so we decided to go in the old Riverwalk.  It’s mostly closed now for renovation – they’re putting in outlet stores, reopening sometime in 2014.

The Hilton conference rooms are still there, though, so we bought some snacks and used the restroom.  Of course, we got coffee.

It was time to board so we went back to the dock.  The first thing they did was take our picture – then make us get rid of the coffee.  Who knew we wore so much blue?

Creole Queen.  The coffee is soon to go :(

Creole Queen. The coffee is soon to go :(

This cruise had a lot of young kids on it, to celebrate Nadya’s 6th birthday. Fortunately, they mostly celebrated in the Queen’s room a couple decks lower than us.

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Another boat on the river

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Docking at Chalmette Battlefield

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Not a care in the world. Should we move for this boat? Naaah

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Folks were practicing old-timey dancing for some event coming up in January.

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More dancing

Right after this, all those kids came running off the boat, interrupting the park ranger who was telling us about the Battle of 1812.

The dancers taught some of the kids the dance they were doing and some kids were playing cards in the kitchen.

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Heading back

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Still heading…

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The birthday flag for Nadya’s party

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The Steamboat Natchez Dinner Jazz and Daytime jazz cruises … run daily, year round, in the style of authentic steamboats in New Orleans for centuries!

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The Carnival Elation starting a cruise to the Caribbean

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Waiting for the streetcar to take us along the Mississippi to the French Market

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We took the streetcar to the French market, had to get off and got right back on.  Off at Canal Street, transferred to a new streetcar.  Off to  get on the final streetcar for St Charles there (we’re getting good at this!) but there was a CVS on the corner and we decided to get more back medicine.  I sure hope I don’t need that.  I took only 4 pills down from 6 the day before.

Back home and a nap.  Hooray!  I’ve taken extra Cortef both days just to help.  I doubt I would have gotten as far as I did through the days without it.

When I woke up, about 10:00 my back pain was gone.  Hooray!

I most likely won’t be posting daily updates from the ship unless they have really good WiFi or my hotspot works really well.  Maybe when we’re docked a a port – we’ll see.

Tomorrow, the 17th, we board the Norwegian Jewel.  I’ll post lots of pictures and commentary when we get back.  Hopefully, no more back pain comments!

Beach Buddies

MaryO

 

New Orleans, Day One

New Orleans

Busy day!  We got up early-ish (it’s an hour earlier here) and decided to check out the sky deck.  Quite a view of New Orleans, including the SuperDome

From the Skydeck

From the Skydeck

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SuperDome

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Panorama of New Orleans

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Looking down on the Ashley House from the Skydeck

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Then down to the second floor to check out the laundry room, to see if we needed detergent or anything,  We couldn’t find the laundry room at all so we went to the front desk for directions, then back up to the 2nd floor.

Down to the courtyard,  I didn’t get many pictures because it was raining but here’s what I have…

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From here we went off to Walgreens for stuff we needed, forgot or just wanted.  We took that stuff home, then decided to go the other direction on the St. Charles streetcar.

Lots of interesting old homes.

From http://www.neworleansonline.com/tools/streets/saintcharles.html

St. Charles Avenue has been described most aptly as “The Jewel of America’s Grand Avenues.” It is, indisputably, the most superb collection of great mansions of the South. The Avenue offers to all an open opportunity to enjoy the lofty magnificence of true, gracious living from 19th century New Orleans.

Visitors to our City are able to tour the Avenue by foot, car or streetcar. A ride on the infamous Saint Charles streetcar provides a unique way to enjoy the splendor of the Avenue, from the statuesque monument at Lee Circle to its end point in the old town of Carrollton upriver.

The Avenue is also in glorious state as the place of residence for historic Audubon Park, for the City’s renowned centers of higher education – Loyola and Tulane – and a score of churches and Synagogues that are our City’s major centers of worship.

But above all, it is the place of residential grandeur where the wealthiest, the more powerful of those who built this great City once lived.

audubon-parkTom was looking at a map and saw that the Audubon Park and Zoo was right across from Loyola and Tulane – and it had a free shuttle – so we decided to go there.

Unfortunately, there was construction on the streetcar tracks so we got off at Napoleon and took a bus to Loyola.  We walked about a block and found the shuttle waiting, just as promised.

The Zoo was fantastic. Even though we saw only about a quarter of the exhibits,  we took lots of pictures, so many that Tom ran out of power.

Here are mine:

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Flamingos outside the Flamingo Cafe

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Flamingos. I tried to get this one with his neck extended.
I was fascinated by how they could wrap those necks around to rest their heads on their backs.

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Whooping Cranes

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About the Whooping Cranes

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Sun Bear.

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Tom’s hand inside a sun bear clar

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Sheep

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Goats

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White tiger sleeping

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White tiger.
White tigers are distinct for the normal coloration in that they lack the pheomelanin pigment that in normal tigers produces the orange color. They still produce the other color pigment, eumelanin, and hence are not considered albino. Compared to normal colored tigers without the white gene, white tigers tend to be somewhat bigger, both at birth and as fully grown adults.

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The he Asian small-clawed otter, is the smallest otter species in the world,[3] weighing less than 5 kg. It lives in mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands of Bangladesh, Burma, India, southern China, Taiwan, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Its paws are a distinctive feature, its claws not extending beyond the fleshy end pads of its partially webbed fingers and toes. This gives it a high degree of manual dexterity so that it can use its paws to feed on mollusks, crabs and other small aquatic animals.

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Feeding the goats and sheep

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More feeding time

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Still more food

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Adding oranges to the food

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Special treatment

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Getting greedy

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Should I or shouldn’t I?

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Where’s Mary?

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Leopard pacing

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Another leopard keeping a lookout

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This was in the Discovery area where we could interact with the birds, snakes and a variety of animals. I chose not to.

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Endangered Species Carousel
This beautiful carousel is decorated with oil paintings of Zoo animals and features a 60-figure menagerie including traditional horses, elephants, rhinos, giraffes and other vanishing species.

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This guy looked like he was meditating – or maybe plotting how to get out of the place!

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Hard to see with the shadows, but this is naptime.

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A peacock just wandering around

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Old trees line St. Charles Avenue

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More about the zoo from http://www.neworleansonline.com/directory/location.php?locationID=1249

Audubon Zoo is a New Orleans landmark and a living museum filled with some of the rarest and most beautiful creatures of nature.

There have been animals at this site since the 1884 World Exposition in Audubon Park. Today, Audubon Zoo is 58 acres of animals in their natural habitats. The Zoo consistently ranks among this country’s best.

Visitors are enchanted to find a unique wildlife haven full of New Orleans flavor, impressive 100-year old oak trees and a cast of animal characters.

Animal favorites include elephants Jean and Panya, the Komodo dragon and the white tiger brothers from California, named King Rex and King Zulu. But also look for bears, monkeys, snakes, orangutans, elks and more exotic animals than you can imagine!

Much of the zoo dates from early in the 20th century. The sea lion pool was constructed in 1928. Its graceful columns mark one of Audubon Zoo’s most romantic spots. Monkey Hill was built by Works Progress Administration workers to show the children of New Orleans what a hill looks like! At 28 feet, it’s the legendary “highest topographical point in New Orleans.” Today it boasts wading pools, a rope bridge and a safari trail.

At the Audubon Zoo, visitors can stroll through a real swamp right in the middle of uptown New Orleans. A Cajun houseboat on a lagoon full of 14-foot alligators faces a pair of playful black bears. A raccoon defies the laws of physics by snoozing on a narrow twig at the top of a tree. At the baby animal nursery, naturalists show visitors baby nutria, explaining why that innocent-looking fuzzy creature is jeopardizing the very existence of the swamps. Further on, the world-famous white alligators float in an exhibit constructed especially for them.

Rocking chairs throughout the swamp exhibit invite visitors to slow down and take in the ambiance of the swamp. An air-conditioned restaurant provides a welcome venue for a sit-down snack and drink.

Finally, after a bit of shopping in the souvenir shop, we found the shuttle bus driver and retraced our journey back “home”  It was naptime!  I was so tired I never heard Tom go out to buy groceries – or come back in.

My back has been bothering me since we got here, possibly from the plane, the luggage, the bed here, just because…  Whatever the cause(s) I took 6 Backaid pills to help but they didn’t really.  Maybe this will lighten up tomorrow.

We had frozen stuff we nuked for dinner then watched an old B&W episode of Perry Mason, the beginning of Drumline (I have it on my iPad so it didn’t matter that I missed the end!) then bedtime!

Traveling to New Orleans

New Orleans

For the first time ever, I got most of my packing done the night before.  I still work up about 4:00 am, with my mind racing, thinking about what needed to be done.

We got to the airport in record time.  Our flight was at 11:45 and we were there by 9:45 am.  Another first.

We found a table with a very interesting woman from Indianapolis on her way to Boston and chatted a bit, had some coffee and breakfast-y stuff.  Read a little, just relaxed.

Then I heard the final boarding call for our flight.  I hadn’t heard any of the others.  Raced over the gate and were the last ones on.  A poor guy waiting in stand-by almost made it on.

It was a pretty uneventful flight.  There weren’t even any events like coffee or peanuts :(

Even though we couldn’t carryon our carryons due to being last on the plane with the overhead bins being full, you’d think that they’d come off first on the carrousel but no.  I don’t know how last on became close to last off.

We got the shuttle bus Route #2 and headed for our home for the next few days.

The Wyndham Avenue Plaza Resort was the first stop! Their website says:

New Orleans, Louisiana is one of the prime vacation destinations in the world with a host of fun attractions, unforgettable special events like Mardi Gras, and epic nightlife complete with live jazz and blues seven days a week. Located in the historic Garden District, Avenue Plaza Resort is only minutes away from some of the most exciting urban districts, including the famous French Quarter, hip Magazine Street, scenic Jackson Square and St. Charles Avenue lined with grand architecture.

Just outside the door to these charming vacation suites you can easily catch the convenient New Orleans trolley line that travels straight to Canal Street and the French Quarter in just minutes and out to the fashionable Uptown district near Tulane University and Loyola University. You can also stroll through the Garden District to experience a real taste of the South, with the beautiful homes and historic landmarks that characterize this one-of-a-kind neighborhood.

We were greeted right off the shuttle by a most helpful gentleman who reminded us of some of the above and got us in to the registration desk.

After checkin, we got to our studio apartment, which is bigger than our first apartment was.  There’s a view of the pool out back, a courtyard and the “Ashley House”, which was built above ground. Despite being built in the mid 1800s Ashley House and its entire historic memorabilia survived the massive flood waters that devastated New Orleans.

It once housed prisoners of the Civil War, and is reputedly haunted by an ethereal woman in the parlor, a phantom pianist, and footsteps sounding in unoccupied parts of the house. Numerous “cold spots”, unusual electrical disturbances, and doors that are operated by unseen forces have been reported.

Though the ghosts in residence claim it was they who held the flood waters at bay, salvation was more likely due to the original designers building the property above ground because the common superstition of the day was that feared diseases such as malaria and yellow fever originate from the ground!

We’ll actually have to go check that out!

trollyAfter we got settled, we headed out four our first streetcar trip to Canal Street.  We got off at the end of the line, walked around a bit, then got something to eat at a Marriott.  Back on the streetcar for our new home.

I did a bit of work while Tom went out junk-food shopping.

Major nap, then shower, then bedtime.

We’re staying in the Garden District.  From http://www.neworleansonline.com/tools/neighborhoodguide/uptown.html

The Garden District is a dynamic community grounded in a strong sense of tradition. Some of its homes are still known by the names of the families that built them over a century ago, and official flags designating Mardi Gras Royalty are a common sight here during Carnival season.

Laid out in 1806 by Barthelemy Lafon as an open, semi-urban system of interrelated parks with basins, fountains and canals, the Garden District was “one of the earliest expressions of the Greek Revival to appear in New Orleans,” according to noted architect, the late Samuel Wilson, Jr. The streets still bear the names of the nine muses of Greek Mythology, and many of the mid-19th century Greek Revival and Italianate homes built in this classical setting remain.

Today stroll under the oaks of Coliseum Square or any of the smaller parks in the Garden District and you are likely to find locals playing with their dogs or reading on the grass. Walk down Magazine Street, the neighborhood’s commercial center, and feel the energy as antique shops give way to contemporary design studios, offbeat clothing stores, restaurants, and much more. Visitors can even find an old-world barber shop, operated by Irish barber Aidan Gill, who offers Guinness and whiskey with his hot towel shaves.

Dubbed the “Garden District” for its capacious showy gardens, this New Orleans Neighborhood is noted for its astounding scenery-just one of its numerous attractions. Visitors are amazed by the elegant homes and the stylish setting that lends itself to a very relaxing and enjoyable experience for all.

New Orleans, LA, January 10, 2013

New Orleans

Find more about Weather in New Orleans, LA
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Neither Susan nor I have been to new Orleans so we decided to go a day early to see what’s what…

My flight from DCA departed on time and arrived a little early at MSY…through a thunderstorm. The landing was a bit bumpy but I’ve bee through worse.

Walking to baggage claim, I saw a TShirt I’d have loved to buy but I figured they’d have them everywhere.  Of course, they didn’t.

I got to baggage claim and Susan was there.  Her plane had arrived an hour earlier but she’d had to have a connecting flight and left much earlier in the morning.

My suitcase didn’t take too long to arrive but it was wet from the rain :(

Susan had already reserved a shuttle, so we went outside and got on. Unfortunately, we had to wait for the shuttle to fill up before we left.

Because of the rain, we couldn’t see much of the city, but we were first off the shuttle.

We’re at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside and we are next to the Mississippi.

After a short nap (during which I started coughing – they had duck feathers in the pillows), we headed over to the Riverwalk Marketplace.

Riverwalk

 

 

The Riverwalk was a major disappointment. Most stores of the stores closed, no restaurants open. We got chocolate for later.  They turned the lights out on us at 6:30PM!

Gordon Biersch

We decided to look around for dinner and headed out to Gordon Biersch.   I had Pineapple mojito. Moroccan chicken. Bread pudding with ice cream, pecans, whiskey sauce.

We went to Walgreens for some incidentals.  Even they have beads and masks for Mardi Gras.  The parades start the 19th this year because of the Super Bowl.  I got a TShirt and Alavert for that cough.