New Orleans: Finally

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Sep 22nd, 2009, 02:44 PM
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New Orleans: Finally

New Orleans is dreamy. How did I not ever go there for so long. I'm 39. I grew up in Dallas. Never went to New Orleans. My mom is from a small town in Louisiana near Toledo Bend... I've been there many times, but never NawLins. I guess all the tales of debauchery never interested me, lol. So I grow up and move to New York City (so not filled with debauchery, ha) and finally make it New Orleans. The second I got off the plane, I felt relaxed. So close to home and surrounded by good southern folks. ahhhhhhh
The people of NoLa stole my heart. Met so many wonderful warm, funny, genuine, witty folks willing to open up and share stories. People love life and love to laugh in New Orleans. And my god, the food.... THE FOOD! The Foooooood!

And the city is filled with wondrous, ancient almost other worldly architecture. The streets reek of history. Legendary musician Bob Dylan puts it beautifully:
........"Everything in New Orleans is a good idea. Bijou temple-type cottages and lyric cathedrals side by side. Houses and mansions, structures of wild grace. Italianate, Gothic, Romanesque, Greek Revival standing in a long line in the rain. Roman Catholic art. Sweeping front porches, turrets, cast-iron balconies, colonnades- 30-foot columns, gloriously beautiful- double pitched roofs, all the architecture of the whole wide world and it doesn't move. All that and a town square where public executions took place. In New Orleans you could almost see other dimensions." -The Ghosts of New Orleans
by Bob Dylan

The Ghost Tour is another rich NawLins experience. As "Daneau" at the Tourist Information Center on the corner of Decatur and Dumaine says "get a Beverage of Your Choice to-go" before beginning the ghost tour. He was right. If you like ghost stories, you'll be in hog heaven sipping a yummy cocktail while walking the streets of New Orleans listening to the spine-tingling heart-breaking stories of the human drama and horror of this poetic and spiritual city. I humbly suggest taking the 6:00pm tour. We were in town during the summer months so the earlier time slot allowed us to still see the buildings in late evening light, enjoy the onset of twilight and wrap it all up at nightfall. Perfect for a spooky atmosphere. In case you're wondering: no, the ghost tour wasn't goofy and over-theatrical. Shoot, in NawLins they don't need to embellish their ghost stories.
Go to hauntedhistorytours.com and check out the details.

As most travel guides will tell you, please venture outside of the French Quarter to get a better appreciation and understanding of this amazing city and all it has to offer. Take the streetcar along the St Charles Street line. You won't be able to take your eyes off the gorgeous old homes and the beautiful oak trees canopying the streetcars.
See: http://www.neworleansonline.com/tool...treetcars.html
.....due to timing, we did not get off at any streetcar stops (we had to make it to our ghost tour) but I understand there is much to see at the Audubon Gardens and more great bistros and pubs on Oak Ave.

Finally, I cannot say enough about the Cajun Encounters Swamp Tours. The comfortable air conditioned bus picks everybody up in front of their respective hotels and wisks ya'll away along and over Lake Pontchartrain (a thrill in and of itself) and over to Slidell, Louisiana to the Honey Island Swamp. From there, you'll have time to peruse the photos on the walls and buy a bottle of water before you meet the gentlemen willing to share their knowledge, stories and love of this unique land. Their enthusiasm and appreciation of the ecology and wildlife will impress, entertain and educate even the slickest of city slickers. No kidding, they are a great bunch of guys. Those wonderful cajun accents alone will charm your socks off. And I haven't even mentioned the alligators yet! There's Big Al and Brutus and a Mamma named Cindy. We saw Al and Brutus and numerous baby gators. Learn how the locals fought to save these unusual creatures from extinction and what happens when good people keep good gators as pets. Not a good ending.
So many stories growing in these swamplands... and your local guide will tell you these stories unlike anybody else ...while you gently glide through the bayou and under the Spanish Moss. Our guide was Captain Ted Gauthier. You'll remember Captain Ted every time you think of Louisiana, especially the fabled Louisiana Swamps. He will add a beating heart and larger-than-life humanity to your preconceptions of the moss covered mysterious Cajun Country. Learn about the history, the Indian tribes that once gathered food here, the people who still liver here, the resources that thrive here, the movies that are filmed here, the animals that live here and the geographical frailties threatened by man's paradoxical intervention here. Come see it before it disappears, Guys.
http://www.cajunencounters.com/Swamp_Tour.html

ps: there's a whole lot of videos on youtube of various swamp tours near NoLa.
here's one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHrgPnp629I

....as they saying goes "laissez bon temps roulez"

Details of Our Visit:
HOTEL:
St Christopher Best Western, perfectly charming rooms with lovely renovations. cozy & convenient, just across Canal Street from the French Quarter

FAVORITE FOOD EXPERIENCES:
Felix's ...for Oysters and Red Beans n Rice
The Gumbo Shop ...for Jambalaya, Shrimp Creole and the New Orleans Sazerac (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sazerac)
Cafe Desire ....for late night Oysters and Bread Pudding
.....and of course
Cafe du Monde ....for Love, in the form of a Beignet and Coffee
HaveCanonWillTravel is offline  
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Sep 22nd, 2009, 02:56 PM
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You are pulling my heart strings. I'm from Canada and been three times, two before Katrina and once since. I absolutely love New Orleans and if they'll have me I'll be back next fall for an NAR Real Estate Conference - just can't wait. Wonderful report by the way.
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Sep 22nd, 2009, 03:08 PM
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i know what you mean Denise. it gets inside your soul. sniff sniff. i miss it already. my Jambalaya at the Gumbo Shop made me weepy with joy.
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Sep 22nd, 2009, 06:15 PM
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Great report! The swamp tour sounds fantastic and I can't wait to do that one of these days. The Gumbo Shop is a favorite of mine and my husband's--we eat there every time we're in town. I always think we should try some place new but then we go and have a great meal that leaves us wanting more! Thanks for sharing.

Quick question on the swamp tour--is it appropriate (and safe enough) for little kids? I've got a 3 year old and we've talked about doing one of these in a few years. Thanks!
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Sep 22nd, 2009, 09:19 PM
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hi Lee. well, there are times when the boat is barely moving and although the quiet stillness of the swamps is enchanting, not sure if a toddler would agree of course, that's a generalization. my niece for example would have probably LOVED this adventure at 3 yrs old. there was a young boy on our boat, about 6 or 7. he seemed as intrigued as the rest of us. not being an alligator expert, i think it is perfectly safe. i do wonder, though, about their ability to lunge ...wouldn't recommend hanging over the railing. no joke. then again, the captains wouldn't allow it anyhow. okay --found a video in which the guide is feeding the gator and he tells the passengers "don't lean over the side": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CB8ok...eature=related ...answers that

there's a small child on this one that sounds like she's having fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3B7hP...eature=related

okay, here's another video in which the captain says specifically that feeding them meat can be dangerous cause they can lunge 2/3 the length of their body. so, um, i wouldn't be anywhere near a captain feeding a gator meat. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eeq4W...eature=related

omigod, this one is funny! it shows how the gators looooove marshmellows, but won't eat other snack foods thrown to them. it's peculiar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHqsk...eature=related

i just love this video. it's all scenery and the CCR song "Born on the Bayou" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIuxQ...eature=related

Okay... THIS IS THE VIDEO I'VE BEEN SEARCHING FOR. I WANTED YOU TO SEE THIS BECAUSE THERE ARE SEVERAL SMALL CHILDREN ON THIS ONE and it is the same kind of boat we went on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpVkX...eature=related

wow, i could watch these videos all day. ....hope this answers some questions
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Sep 23rd, 2009, 06:16 AM
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Glad you enjoyed your visit, I'm sure there will be many more... Welcome to the club.
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Sep 23rd, 2009, 12:43 PM
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Thanks so much for replying to my question--and for all the videos! You are too sweet to go to all that trouble. I'll be sure to stay away from men feeding gators!!
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Sep 23rd, 2009, 01:07 PM
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Great report! Please 'splain about the canon...
TDudette is offline  
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Sep 24th, 2009, 07:00 AM
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I'm going to guess that is in reference to a camera...?
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Sep 24th, 2009, 10:09 AM
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Nice report. I'll be in NOLA in mid-November. I'll check out the ghost tour, sounds like fun and I always look for restaurant/food recommendations. Thanks!
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Sep 28th, 2009, 08:09 AM
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HaveCanonWillTravel,

Great trip report about New Orleans. I'll be heading there very soon!
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Oct 3rd, 2009, 11:31 PM
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haha! yea TDudette it's a camera. I've always been a canon girl!
(and that's the saying i put on my cap when i graduated from college)

Here's some interesting NoLa related Facebook pages I've found, the Open Sound is especially cool:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/WWOZ-9...1516821?v=info
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Open-S...ns/95751161713
http://www.facebook.com/FrenchMarket
http://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Or...ion/8287573418
http://www.facebook.com/pages/683-Th...ns/49499478938
http://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Or...696221?ref=sgm
http://www.facebook.com/pages/683-Th...478938?ref=sgm

yea, i think i'm obsessed.
thanks for reading guys
i like this site.
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Oct 4th, 2009, 03:26 AM
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Oh Lordy - we just got back last weekend from our annual few days in NOLA and you're killing me. I want to go back already......

Wonderful report - thanks so much for the information for everybody and putting a smile on my face!
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Oct 15th, 2009, 10:25 AM
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I'm going next week and can't wait - thanks for the links and reviews. Since I am also a "Canon girl" can I ask you which camera you took around the city? I'm trying to decide between my older Rebel or my new 50D. Should I be cautious about taking an expensive SLR around NOLA?

Bear in mind I have no fear taking it around NYC, but I *know* NYC.
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