New Orleans - Day 2 (Thurs Feb 19, 2009 - 5:21pm-ish)

by tosca on Friday, February 20, 2009

Well, I'm totally shattered. I walk all around South Auckland (mostly because I didn't get my license until my late 20s bah humbug) and never really felt it but today - whoa. My feet are dead tired. Wandered on down to Bourbon Street at about 8:30am and bars were open and people were drinking. Now, whether or not they were coming down off a drunk from the night before, or getting their mood on before the start of the day who knows LOL Went to Cafe Beignet at 311 Bourbon Street for breakfast - cafe au lait and beignets. A small cafe au lait is $2.69 and it cost the same for 3 beignets. I was told they were like doughnuts with icing sugar sprinkled on but to me? They were damn fried bread LOL My mama could've been making a mint years ago LOL Yum, though =) The music playing there was fantastic.

After breakfast I played 'tourist' (me and a billion other people here roaming into those mardi gras shops that pump out zydeco or jazz and have atms - I shit you not - almost every 3rd of 4th shop has an atm) and picked up some souvenirs for the siblings/mum/dad/nephews. I'm sure I'm going to be broke before I ever get to Memphis LOL I am kidding mum/dad so don't panic!

Took a walking tour of the St. Louis Cemetery Number 1 up on/near Basin Street. As I passed under the Basin Street sign (and yes, I took a photo, I know I know, I'm such a hick) I thought of the lyrics, 'Basin's the street...where the black and the white folk meet...' Were they talkin' about the cemetery? I dunno. Ooh - saw Marie Laveau's tomb and no, I did NOT mark her tomb with 3 Xs. Local story has it that if you make a wish, mark her tomb with 3 Xs and leave an offering you come back when your wish comes true and circle your Xs. There were NO Xs circled. D'OH. Throughout the whole tour, and the history was absolutely riveting, I couldn't help but compare it with the way NZers (both Maori and non-Maori) mourn their dead. One of the things our guide (Renee) told us was that nobody is allowed to film movies inside the St. Louis Cemetery anymore, and the reason for that is because of the movie Easy Rider. Dad, I know you own it and have seen it recently, but go back and watch the cemetery scene where they're trippin' on acid and sitting on the lap of the Italia lady above the tomb - I was there this afternoon and according to the guide they weren't acting being off their face - they really were LOL Due to that scene, and the feeling that it was a desecration, no more filming in there ever. Films like Interview With A Vampire etc. were filmed at Lafayette Cemetery down in the Garden District, which belongs to the City of New Orleans as a whole.

Then walked down to the Garden District area. It kinda reminds me of the Thorndon area in Wellington. All of the homes (or most of them, anyway) are mansions and they're immense. Some amazingly beautiful architecture - the likes of which are probably in NZ (except maybe the antebellum stuff lol) and I will never have noticed. I saw Anne Rice's house, which she sold when she left New Orleans and is now owned by Nicolas Cage, only it's up for sale now for something like $2M. Also saw what used to be an old church that Anne Rice purchased - if you've read her autobiography you'll know what I'm talking about. I also saw the house where the Benjamin Button film was shot. I also saw John Goodman's house and uhh believe it or not but as we were standing outside it he came on down the driveway to get the mail outta his mailbox. How weird is that?? And, can I say, how normal? This place is so rich in history - there's just no way to cover it in the short 10 days I'll be here - I have a sneaky suspicion I'll never really get outta the French Quarter/Garden District, and I'm perfectly fine with that ;) I walked back (I know, crazy, I'll never do THAT again) via Magazine Street and the place is crazy because most of the traffic has been re-routed for one of the parades tonight. I saw a lot of the bleachers being put up and people, at about 3:30pm, were already lining up in the middle of the road (there's a grass strip with trees so it's quite wide) to get their spot to see the parade when it begins. I didn't stay for that - I wanted to come back and catch up on emails.

Did wander down by the Riverfront again and decided not to pause there. I'm learning to avoid the people who hang out in doorways and open spaces with paper bags. Most revellers around here will drink out of plastic cups but then there are the ones with paper bags and hmm at home, they'd be the kinda homeless/stoned ones roaming around. Not so sure they ARE homeless/stoned here but they're certainly boozed up. Thought it would be nice to wander around Jackson Square as well but huh more paper bag/booze drinkers and nowhere to sit that I wouldn't get hassled. I've noticed that people call me sweetheart and baby girl when I'm at shop/kiosk counters. Am assuming it's generic. Did not get mistaken for a mexican today but DID get mistaken for an Australian aboriginal. The Garden District tour guide, Carla, was great - qualified historian so I had a great chat with her as we were walking around. She said initially she thought I was Hawaiian until I opened my mouth and spoke. Then she thought I was Australian aboriginal as our accents are the same (pfft *sniffs* ok). Then when I said I was Maori (had to spell it, pronounce it again) then she expressed surprise that I was so brown LOL Should've seen her face when I said this was actually quite fair in our family and that, years ago, it wasn't unusual to find us much darker. She said that because she'd heard so many people comment that it was cold she took that to mean we would all be pale LOL She said she was going to look up info about Maori when she got home. I have also learnt TONNES about the Napoleonic Code and how it pertains to Louisiana, and why the place is so unique and how come the people are so practical :-) Oh, and did you know Degas lived here? And is NOT very highly thought of! But that's a story for another time and believe you me, Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless have NOTHING on this place for family drama!!!

In about 2 and a half hours I have to be under the St. Louis Cathedral clock (but facing Jackson Square) to meet my next tour guide who's going to be taking a group of us on a Vampire tour. Yeah, I honestly paid $20 to be scared outta my freaking mind. What's worse is, I probably paid $20 bucks to pee my pants LOL Speaking of (and no I didn't, by the way), my introduction to New Orleans was via the airport on my arrival. I used the ladies bathroom (yeah, they're called bathrooms or facilities here) - uhh banos de las damas? is that right? - anyway, I had just shut the cubicle door when I heard Fats Domino singing 'Walkin' to New Orleans.' No jokes! They take their music seriously here :-) Oh god, I'm so tired - I can't belive I've gotta do this all over again tomorrow LOL I think I had about 4 hrs sleep, right. I'm staying at the Banana Courtyard (which used to be a bordello and OH if the walls could talk, eh) and it's near the I10 (a motorway, I'm guessing) and it's busy all day and all night long. Then, about 11pm, I decided to use the phonebook to see how close certain places were that I wanted to see (i.e. in the French Quarter or outside). Then got lost looking up restaurants (priorities, right?). Then got lost looking up electronic stores (yeah, I know, totally anal). About 12:50am I suddenly decided to re-organise my wallet by separting $1 bills from everything else. Turns out I had 19 of the little suckers! Then about 1:36am (I remember because I was lookin' at the damn clock at the time) I suddenly realised I should be looking for tattoo parlours under Tattooing D'OH. New Orleans doesn't have a whole heap, I'm sad to say - was going to be my own memento of this place. Ne'mind - will have to be a hangover instead :-)

Ok, I'm sure I've bored everyone stupid and cross-eyed by this point. If my feet are up to it I'll probably post again tomorrow night but uhh perhaps not. You can feel, no shit, the what's the word? Vibe! You can feel the vibe changing. It's so different here on Bourbon Street compared to last night. There's an expectant sort of feeling in the air - the revellers are out but apparently this is quite mild compared to how it'll be from tomorrow on. One of the guides told me to be on Bourbon Street at midnight on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) itself. Apparently the police (and there is a STRONG police presence here during the festivities) line up on horses and, at bang on midnight, when the St. Louis Cathedral clock starts ringing, everyone is rounded up off the street. You can go into the bars or what have you, but not be out in the street. Most people, drunk an all, head down to midnight mass - which I guess is where I'll head, too. I'm expecting it to be quite a sight :-)

MARKHIEM & JAXIN: I saw Emeril's Demonico Bar and Restaurant and thought of you both :-) One of the guides I spoke with said that they very probably will gladly hand over a copy of their menu.

Have bought a crap load of postcards so they'll be on their way soonish (once I find where a damn postal service office is). Au revoir!

One comment

Ok older sister mine, sounding still very structured but I'm super impressed about Jon Goodman! Can you say Blues Bros 2000? Hahaha :oP An abidiginal? Really? your coloring is practically ghostlike, borderline transparent if they're comparing you to an abbo! cute :o) Hawaiian? Now THAT'S super cool. The winos & piggys would just make you feel like being home again right? You're not looking at getting a tattoo over there are you? Isn't aids rampant over there? Careful....! Don't forget to get a menu from Emeril's. I think the boys would appreciate it more if it was stolen rather than obtained normally. As for the vibe, I can almost feel it all the way over here. Take full advantage of it and if there are strange people offering pills and weird concoctions, grab with 2 eager hands! Remember the aim here is fun right? Give those 'aren't talking but wish they would' walls a run for their (was gonna give you some xxx's but I know what you're like about affection. Even plasticised internet love hahahaha)

by MissJaqsin on February 20, 2009 at 1:32 PM. #

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