20. New Orleans, Louisiana

Trip Start Jul 18, 2012
Trip End Aug 04, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Monday, July 30, 2012

NOLA, The Crescent City, The Big Easy, Belle of the South, Mardi Gras City, Nawlins, whatever you want to call it, it is a gracious and very friendly city. It seemed as if every person we met was inclined to help us or just talk to us as long as we wanted. We all got to be friends with the bell captains at the JW Marriott and our cab driver, Jeff, who gave us an impromptu guided tour of the Garden District.

We got here on Sunday, but on the way we saw two plantations. We toured the first, Laura, and just drove by Oak Alley, although afterwards I found our that Sylvan Energy's first acquisition was from the family that once owned Oak Alley! Laura, on the other hand, was not as attractive as Oak Alley, but the Tripadvisor comments about how great the tour was did not disappoint. We learned a lot about life on a sugarcane plantation and the many differences between Creole (basically French) and American (basically English) culture, and how, over time, Louisiana was Americanized. Although "White Gold" or sugar was the source of tremendous wealth, it was more difficult to operate than one may think!

After the plantations, we drove into NOLA, and checked in. We then went on a phantom/ghost tour in the French Quarter. There were some brutally evil people in Nawlins, as we were told many times the city was to France as Australia was to England, all the undesirable Frenchmen were sent here. You can imagine the depravity. These true stories resulted in "ghost" stories that survive to this day. It scared the kids, for sure!

Next, we walked up Bourbon Street. I'm sure that it was a lot tamer than normal, being a Sunday night in sweltering heat, but we still saw a lot of depravity, drinking, and craziness. The kids learned a lot about what is outside the Mt. Lebanon "bubble". They didn't feel comfortable eating in the French Quarter, so we had room service, which was actually pretty good.

Next day, we walked back down Bourbon Street because we were told there's a big difference between day and night. It was just less crowded and although the smells weren't as strong, you still got whiffs of the night before. We turned off Bourbon and went to Jackson Square. There we went to St. Louis Basilica, which was really beautiful, definitely French, AND air conditioned. Walked through Jackson Square past the buskers, including musicians, fortune tellers, guys painted silver (it takes 50 minutes to get set up and 3 hours to wash the paint off), and just plain panhandlers. We were never accosted though, and the musicians and human statues were actually pretty good.

We had the obligatory cafe au lait and beignets at Cafe du Monde, and a traditional Nawlins lunch of gumbo, rice and beans, muffaletta and jambalaya - all pretty good at the Market Cafe.

We then went to the Garden District where our cab driver proceeded to give us an impromptu tour, including The Newman School, Tulane, Loyola, Sandra Bullock's house and some other beautiful homes. He dropped us off on Magazine Street (a lite shopping district), and we walked around for a couple of hours before heading back to the hotel for a quick dip in the pool before our last meal in NOLA, the Commander's Palace.

Again, a great pick by Cathy, who also won the dinner sweepstakes with a pecan crusted Gulf fish. The desserts were also wonderful, including a parfait that Emily had, homemade ice cream for Maggie, bread pudding and peach shortcake for Cathy and me.

Well, we're all packed and ready for Birmingham, Alabama and later, Atlanta.

Laissez les bon temps rouler (let the good times roll, the slogan for NOLA). 
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