AndromedHa

New Orleans – day 2

Posted on: March 16, 2012

DAY 2 in NEW ORLEANS! A super packed day!

Feeling refresh and happy, we woke up pretty early – wrong! We totally forgot about the time difference: NOla is 2 hours ahead of Vancouver hahahaha… So, what we thought early was almost afternoon hahaha…. We promptly headed toward French Quarter since it is the main attraction from what I researched. When we stepped out from the hotel on Canal Street, we saw this big red streetcar! CUTE! Plus, I saw palm tress and the weather was hot and a bit humid for October. I felt like we were back in a tropical country! Canal Street is a main street in NOla that divides the Central Business District and French Quarter area. The differences between these 2 areas are very visible. Along our hotel street side, we can see tall buildings; while on the side toward French Quarter, you can see tourist shops, retails, and fast food chains.

 

At the hotel lobby ; Canal St. streetcar

We walked toward Decatur Street. Entering French Quarter area was like entering to another rustic world. The buildings were old, some looked like so dingy; but above all, they were charming with French architecture. We entered a tourist shop since it had an aligator statue in front and displays of small preserved aligator head and they were REAL! It is not uncommon to eat aligator meat in NOla since they are everywhere and eating them is one way to control their exploding population. The shop even sells aligator jerky and canned aligator meat in Cajun style! We were also surprised by how many varieties of hot sauces they sell! There were lotsssss and their names were very interesting too hahaha… And who can visit NOla without beads and masquerades! Whatever color of beads you want, they had it!

 

Along Decatur St.

Tourist shop

Continuing our pre-afternoon walk, we passed House of Blues, peek into small shops to check out the tours, and then we saw some people entering this houses that actually a museum. I forgot the name of the house and where it was exactly *remember, this trip was before my travel blogging habit so I didn’t pay much attention to directions and name…. sorry…* At Decatur St. and St. Louis St., we saw a bright red sign of Johnny’s Po-Boys restaurant. I knew that Po Boys is one of NOla original food and we decided to have brunch there. The history of Po Boys is pretty interesting since it’s short for Poor boys – so, yes, it’s a poor boy meal hehehehe…. It is nothing special actually. It’s a meat or seafood between the French baguette with veggies too – similar to Subway sandwich. However, they have lots of interesting meat for the sandwich: calamari, catfish,  crawfish, or even aligator sausage! The one we ordered that day was 1/2 catfish Po Boys and seafood gumbo combo. The sandwich was okay but the gumbo was not my taste. We only ordered little food for both of us since I knew that NOla food is delicious and I wanted to try them all! hhahaha…

House of Blues

Johnny’s Po-Boys

At the tip of Decatur St. and North Peter St., we went inside Hard Rock cafe to buy a pin for my best buddy – he collects Hard Rock cafe’s pins from different countries. We kept walking along Decatur St. to find Jackson Square, New Orleans’ famous landmark. It is a little garden in the middle of French Quarter. Inside, there is a monument of Andrew Jackson – who brought victory to US in the Battle of New Orleans against British. At the background, St. Louis Cathedral is standing elegantly. We took picture around the monument and went inside the cathedral. However, there was a service inside so we just took picture in the area where you can light candles. Outside the cathedral, there were a lot of people selling knick knacks and even, there were some fortune tellers. Right beside the church, there is Louisiana State Museum. We didn’t enter since we were not sure if it was opened or not.

St. Louis Cathedral & Jackson Square

At the corner of Chartres St. and St. Ann St., there is Muriel’s Jackson Square Bistro with its pretty architecture. Then, we walked around and found a “Witchcraft & Magick” shop. New Orleans is famous for its Voodoo tradition. Don’t put your negative mind into it too quickly. Here, Voodoo is a religion that rooted from African belief, in fact it “combines elements of European and African beliefs, and Roman Catholicism” (wikipedia). We browsed through the store and they sold different ‘potions’, charms, and gris-gris. We didn’t buy any since we don’t believe in those stuffs but yes, it was an interesting shop!

The Witchcraft & Magick shop

Since it was almost lunch, I insisted my boyfriend to eat at Cafe Du Monde, the famous eatery in New Orleans. This cafe is famous for its French beignet (similar to sugar coated donut) and chicory coffee. Even my friend who lives in New Orleans recommended it and said that the beignet is super delicious! Apparently, the address that I wrote on my note was the gift shop of Cafe Du Monde. The actual restaurant was on Decatur Street. Since we were near French Market, we decided to go later. When we were there, it was near halloween/ thanksgiving time, so there were lots of big bright pumpkins. The front side of the market, there were lots of fruits & veggie stall and snack stalls. Then we found a stall that sells “Gator on a Stick.” Intrigued by the name, my boyfriend bought 1 and it was actually not bad at all. The gator meat tasted like a mixed of chicken and pork meat. However, once we ate the sausage, we could feel the heat inside our body – the same reaction after eating lamb. Another thing that I like about this market was its vibrant color. Not only the veggie & fruits, but also the stuffs that the stalls sold: rock candies in rainbow colored, hot sauces in different unique bottles,  and even their menu boards were so attractive! In one of the stall, there were pictures of famous people who visited the market and one of them was President Obama! As we walked toward the back of the market, we found a lot of stalls selling souvenirs and hand made crafts. My boyfriend saw the small alligator head again and bought one for his desk decor at the office hahaha… But not before snapping a picture of me fooling around with it 😛 And those gator teeth, they are really sharp!

 

Joan the Arc statue ; Gator on a Stick!

 

French Market with its vibrant colors

On our way back toward Cafe Du Monde – the restaurant – we passed Margaritaville. Since we were pretty hungry, we entered and ordered Crawfish Etouffee – another NOla original. We wanted to try crawfish so bad, but the dish only had tiny bits of crawfish – the taste was good though!

Crawfish Etouffee at Margaritaville

Along this street, there were a lot of restaurant and cafe. Aunt Sally’s Praline was a tourist destination too. Their pralines were good, but it was too sweet for my taste. We didn’t buy any since a box of praline was pretty expensive. A couple steps away, we saw this white and green stripped awning with lots of people hustling and bustling, yes! we finally found Cafe Du Monde! Even it was past lunch time, the cafe was packed! So, I decided to have take out beignets. Again, the line up was long! I waited for about 30 minutes but it was all WORTH IT! The warm beignets with powdered sugar were SUPER DELICIOUS! It worths the wait every second! Beignet is similar to donut. The outside was a bit crunchy but the inside was chewy and airy. *see… I always drool whenever I write about the food part! hahaha…* While waiting the line, I noticed that the cafe floor was dirty and covered with white powdered sugar. I even wondered why the servers didn’t bother to clean those up. Later, I found from our tour guide, it was actually one of Cafe Du Monde’s trademark since so many people ordered the beignet and whoever eats it always messing up the floor, so the server didn’t even bother to clean it up. Funny but make sense though! Oh yes, and this cafe opens 24 HOURS! So, if you crave for beignet and a good coffee in the midnight, go here!!! I forgot to take picture of the beignet – it was that good that my hands were busy putting those nyumiii beignet in my mouth hahaha…

 

Cafe Du Monde – the sugar on the floor

With beignet on hands, we browsed the streets, especially the famous Bourbon Street. In the afternoon, this street was so quiet. The bars on the left & right were open but nobody inside – which would be much different at night! We took a lot of pictures of the unique bars as well as the pretty French houses.

I LOVE the architecture of these buildings!

Bourbon Street during the day – so quietttt….

While waiting on the line at Cafe Du Monde, my boyfriend checked out one of the touring agent. He found a Swamp Tour to see alligators in their natural habitat and he signed us up. I forgot how much it was but I think it was about $60-70 per person for about an hour. The tour picked us up from French Quarter area and drove us 30 minutes away to the swamp. We got to ride an airboat! It was SUPER FUN! The airboat was super loud but they provided ear plug for your comfort. Also, if you sit in the front of the boat, be careful of splashing water, especially if you carry camera. Oh, and don’t forget to use mosquito repellent! – yes, there were mosquitos around! You can choose the bigger traditional airboat with multiple passengers if you have toddlers or seniors which was quieter than airboat. However, the 6 passengers airboat was more intimate and smaller; thus, we could go into small corner areas while searching for wild alligator. As we entered the swamp area, it felt like we were entering a set of horror movie – chilling but COOL! There were lots of trees and shrubs at the bank with Spanish moss hanging down. The tour guide, who doubled as the airboat driver, mentioned that in olden age, people used to collect Spanish moss and used it to stuff their mattresses. The tour guide also warned us about the snakes that might appear from nowhere! Scarryy… fortunately, we didn’t see any!

The Airboat! Super FUN experience!

The Swamp

As we entered the deeper area of the swamp, we saw more wild animals, such as Louisiana herons looking for fish, owls, and ducks. After wandering around, we were brought to an area where there was a big calm open water. There, we saw one young alligator spotting us and moving toward our airboat! Personally, I never like alligator and crocodile since their eyes are so evil hahahaa… The guide said that the alligators in the swamp were used to airboat and tourist. That is why when we stopped our airboat, he willingly came close since the gator knew that the guide would give food. No… not meat but marshmallow! hahaha… Alligator detects food from its motion and when the guide threw a big chunk of white marshmallow, it sharply swam toward the marshmallow and ate it. But the gator was smart too! After one marshmallow, it quickly came closer to the airboat and was asking for more! Our tour guide was born and raised in Louisiana and super familiar with the swamp -and the gators too! He even touched the gator and scratched the area under its mouth – like you scratch dog or cat! Crazy guy! He said the gator likes it too hahaha… After a while, two more gators came closer since they knew there were food! We enjoyed watching them fighting over the marshmallow for quite a while. We then moved to another area to watch other wildlife in the swamp. Then the tour guide brought us to a small area and suddenly, he held a baby alligator! Later, we found out that the tour guide actually brought the baby gator all the time, just in case they couldn’t find any in the swamp hehehee… Ok… if you think ‘baby’ gator was cute… I totally disagree hahaha… Their eyes were more evil than the adult one – in my opinion – and those sharp teeth just made me cringe! However, my boyfriend seemed to be super enthusiastic! He was super happy holding the baby gator and happily posed while I took his pictures. I only touch its skin and didn’t have gut to hold it hahaha. I think this was the highlight of our whole trip! We went back to the dock to end the tour; then, went back to French Quarter.

Alligator…. :S

We arrived at French Quarter near Cafe Du Monde at about 5 pm. My boyfriend spotted a restaurant that served crawfish earlier before the tour and he really wanted to try. So, we went into Montrel’s and ordered one portion of crawfish. It was an early dinner for us and the restaurant wasn’t that busy. We seated promptly but the service was a bit slow. After a while, our steamed crawfish came and it smelt so good. The server showed us how to eat it and right on the first bite, it was awesome! Crawfish is a cross between lobster and shrimp that lives in swamp – it looked like a mini lobster. After ripping the tail from the head, you can peel the hard shell to enjoy the delicate meat. The meat was sweet and tender like a cross between shrimp and lobster! Then, don’t forget to suck the juices from the head – I know it sounds yucky but the juice was delicious as well!

Overlooking Mississippi River

Nyumiii CRAWFISH!

We went back to the hotel to take shower since my skin was itchy from the mosquitos and swamp water. After resting a while, we headed back to Bourbon Street – that is closed for cars every night.This time, the street was way more lively with colorful lights, loud music from bars, and lots and lots of people – drinking/ singing/ walking along the street. Just like in Vegas! To celebrate my birthday, I really wanted to go to Pat O’Brien’s. I saw this program in Food Network channel about 2 people competing to mix a drink in Pat O’Brien’s and it was interesting. So, I wanted to try their drink, especially the infamous Hurricane – I rarely drink alcoholic drinks and not really a big fan of it but since it was my birthday, I wanted something special that I could remember 🙂 Beside the bar, Pat O’Brien’s also has a dining room but the line up was super long. We were waiting in this line until we realized that the bar was actually at the back of the building and had shorter line up. We waited for about 5 minutes to get seated on the garden near the cool ‘fire’ fountain. Don’t forget to sign up for their Birthday Club to get a free drink! – I didn’t know beforehand and didn’t get the free drink 😦 We ordered The Hurricane and The Skylab – both were sweet drink – and just sat enjoying the night.

Pat O’Brien’s Bar ; The Fire Fountain ; The Hurricane!

We then briefly walked around French Quarter again just to feel the differences between night and day and took pictures 🙂 Before going back to our hotel, we checked out Harrah’s Casino. It was very late at night but there were lots of people gambling at the casino. We were pretty hungry after walking around so we checked out Besh Steak inside the casino but it closed already. Besh Steak is one of Chef John Besh‘s restaurants in New Orleans. He won James Beard Award and appeared in many programs in Food Network. Near the front lobby of the casino, there was a burger stand that still opened, so we ordered one big juicy burger as our supper 🙂 Tired and was still under the influence of alcohol from the Hurricane, we ended our day.

 

Bourbon Street at night

Around French Quarter

Harrah’s New Orleans Casino

New Orleans Arena

M.a.J

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