Gulf Coast Parkway
shot us through Ocean Springs, Biloxi
and Gulf Po
rt. What was very interesting to see were the sandy beaches on one side and remnants from Katrina on the other side. There we endless areas where buildings once stood, but now only vacant lots exist, or, houses left standing are boarded up. Much was being rebuilt, and there were many pieces of land are for sale. Biloxi was filled with Casinos with lots of construction... very similar to Atlantic City. We eventually arrived in the Big Easy
Day OneNew Orleans
. We kicked it off right, having arrived right during Happy Hour we decided to walk around and introduce ourselves to the city in style...with a couple of Grenades. We proceeded to walk around the French Quarter hitting some of the main attractions such as Pat O'Brians. Christina's cousin Elke had sent her a clip from NY MAG that had suggested some bars to see in New Orleans..one was a road house bar outside of CBD so Christina wanted to go
. It turned out to be a mile outside the French Quarter..not too safe. Once we got there it was small Victorian Home (half of a home) that had become a Road House bar..very small. Everyone in there were throw backs rockers from the 60/70's with hippie motif. Jute Box had songs we never heard of, and no one in there had showered in months. We "tried" to blend in, but who is kidding who, with Brian in his Villanova hat and Jersey Shore Brave New World T Shirt, and Christina in her JCrew shorts. We waited around to hear the band play as they were setting up when we came in, but they didn't play while we were there. All they did was bring the stuff in, then sit around and drink. They looked like a typical southern rock band from the 70s such as Lyndard Skynard or the Alman Brothers. Eagle eye Brian then pointed out this huge cockroach run across so he looked at me and said time to go. We finished our drinks and trekked back to the Quarter..thankfully unscathed. We treated ourselves to a late night diner visit after that.
We decided to take the St Charles Trolley car out towards the Garden District and make our way to the Audubon Zoo via Magazine Street. We jumped off the Trolley Car and visited the Garden District's Lafayette Cemetery. As expected the Garden District was filled with gorgeous homes and gardens, ..we saw homes belonging to Anne Rice, Sandra Bullock and John Goodman
. We entered the Lafayette Cemetery and took time taking in the uniqueness in the manner in which they bury their dead in the Big Easy - since below sea level, they need to maintain above ground mausoleums. Each family owns a small mausoleum. When someone dies they don't embalm them, they place them in the tomb ad rely on the sun to disintegrate them and turn them into dust. When someone else dies they just pile them on top and begin the process all over. Interesting. While there, we spotted a woman taking intently taking photos of the tombs, but this wasn't what made us stare at her...she was wearing a hot pink tu-tu and tiara (see pix). She was walking with a normally dressed man, so Brian just assumed she lost a bet and had to wear it. From that point, we walked down the long stretch of Magazine Street to the Adubon Zoo. We had the best time at the Zoo. Most amazing sights were the Gorillas, Orangutans, Alligators (we are obsessed with Alligators) and the Giraffes. The pix we got of these guys were amazing, especially the Gorillas - they are so human like. We got a very funny video of the Gorilla..gotta see it. We also learned of caterpillars that sting that drop from trees..so gross...everyone was freaking out, especially Christina. On the way home, we walked through the Audobon Park.by the time we finally got home we were so exhausted. We took it easy this night and enjoyed a quiet dinner at the Palace Cafe, which was recommended by Christina's friend Laura, and was delicious.
We were really excited for today. We took a "New Orleans Rebirth" tour that gave us a basic insight to the city, but, shared with us the impact of Katrina. Crossed the bridge that crossed the body of water where the levys broke and saw the water lines 1ft to 4 ft, that still resided in many of the abandoned homes and commercial real estate. We visited two areas that were being redeveloped by sponsorship from Brad Pitt (The Lower Ninth Ward) and Harry Connick Junior/Habitat for Humanity (Musician's Village). Each program offered different levels of assistance. If qualified for one of Brad's houses, it had to be made as Green as possible, and if you qualified for one of Harry's houses you had to hold a musicians card and commit to 360 hours of service towards building new homes. While there, since we were in New Orleans between the Jazz Festival weekends, Tipitina's Events had sponsored an event where local schools could come to the area with their instruments to learn how to treat and clean them better, etc. Very cool. Once back at the French Quarter we proceed to just eat our way back to the hotel, taking in the required Malfetta and Cafe Du Monde's coffee and donuts. When ready for our final feeding session we headed out towards the Garden District and Tulane University and hit an area that our friend Mark had recommended - Jacque-imos, Maple Leaf Bar and Carollton Station Bar
. This area was definitely well known by the locals and repeat customers..it was crazy. We had a 2 hrs wait at Jacque-imos but it didn't matter, everyone was outside mingling having a good time. The food was excellent. We ended the night at Carollton Station Bar listening to some music.
We had a great time in New Orleans and enjoyed exploring area's outside of the French Quarter.April 26-29
Palace Cafe, Dinner - Very good creole
Jacque-imos, Dinner - Excellent and Fun
We made our way to New Orleans via the Bayou. The