Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Orleans - The French Quarter

Music Legends Park

We stopped for a few hours in New Orleans to get a feel for the area.  This was our first visit to Louisiana and unfortunately time was limited.  The thing everyone thinks about when you mention 'New Orleans' is Bourbon Street and the French Quarter.  We chose this area as our destination for exploration and found it easily due to the signage on the highway and our GPS.  Finding the French Quarter is easy...parking is not.  After circling around the narrow, one-way streets, we opted to pay to park in a hotel garage close to Jackson Square.

Jackson Square with the statue of Andrew Jackson and the St Louis Cathedral

Our limited time gave us incentive to move along.  We didn't 'shop' or relax in the many bars and restaurants in this area, that will have to be done at another time.  First stop was Jackson Square.  There were many artists selling their wares along the fence and a few street bands.  ESPN had a large area with a stage as the Sugar Bowl was going to be played at the Superdome that weekend. 

St Louis Cathedral was beautiful!  Right on Jackson Square and open to the public, we took some time to explore the architecture and art.  There was a wedding rehearsal going on at the time - it was interesting to listen in that there are NO restrooms available, even to the wedding party!  (This is an ongoing theme in the French Quarter, use the facilities if they are available where you are.)

The main altar in St Louis Cathedral

Looking backward, toward the entrance doors

We focused our wanderings on Royal and Bourbon streets.  Royal has a lot of the art galleries, antiques shops and a few B&Bs.  Bourbon street has more bars, restaurants and interesting street performers.  There were police present on foot and in mobile units.  We were not in this area late and were told it gets more crowded as the evening progresses. 

Interesting tiny EMS vehicle

Wow - fun to look, but we weren't buying!

The architecture and history make this a very interesting place to visit - the street acts, drunks, trannies and hookers also make this a very interesting place!  Signs are posted all over to 'watch your valuables'.  We had no problems, but again we weren't there when it was very crowded.

The ironwork and architecture are great!

Ironwork balconies on Bourbon Street

Lafitte's Blacksmith Bar - supposed to be the oldest in the US and haunted!

New Orleans and Louisiana have so much more to offer - we will be back with more time to explore.  We would love to take a cemetery tour, visit some museums and more.